27. January 2016 · Comments Off on Negative Reputation – You Can Run But You Can’t Hide · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

This is an online reputation example of a business who thought they could take the easy way out and run from their negative reviews; customer complaints and media coverage.

Zombieland Zombie chase via FanPop Wallpaper

Before we get into the mud, the business discussed here will remain anonymous as there’s no reason for us to make their online reputation matters worse. In addition, for the record, this isn’t a client of ours nor have we ever been retained to consult with or help improve their online reputation.

Here’s what happened:

The company, which we will refer to as “The ABC Company” is a retail establishment with a single store location on the East coast.

When searching for the company’s name in Google, the first two results are secured by The ABC Company’s domain name. From there, however, it gets worse.

50 reviews in Yelp averaging two (out of five) stars.

Two negative blogs

A complaint filed with the Ripoff Report

All on the first page of Google search results.

So, rather than try to clean up its reputation, The ABC Company opted to purchase a different domain and changed their business name slightly to “The ABCD Company.”

Guess what? That strategy never works.

You see, your negative reputation will always follow you. If you (as an individual) or your business didn’t get it right the first time, then chances are good you’re going to fail the second time.

The “new” business continued to earn poor reviews; negative complaints; media coverage as well as an onslaught of comments informing everyone that “The ABCD Company” is the same as “The ABC Company,” etc.

The “new” business has secured the top two results in Google with their new domain name, but a fresh batch of negative posts follow, including:

Back-to-back negative news stories.

Those same 50 bad Yelp reviews (reviewers helped Yelp connect the new company with the old company).

A negative blog.

A legal matter.

Two more negative blogs and a negative Facebook Page attacking the new company round out the Top 10 search results.

Overall, the reputation for the “new” firm is worse than the original company.

Where do you start?

Well, besides shuttering your doors and never going into business again, this is an online reputation problem from a very dark place. It would require the following:

  • There’s obviously more here than just an upset customer or two, so other problems exist within the company itself. Processes, products, services and staff need to be corrected; modified and re-trained internally first.
  • Develop and implement a strong public relations campaign. Only new and fresh online media coverage (print and video) can outrank old negative URLs appearing in search results.
  • Blog every day. Maybe twice a day. Work on your company and brand name.
  • Share a ton of positive photographs in social media (Twitter; Flickr; Facebook, etc.).
  • Film and share your own positive videos on YouTube and in other social networks.

This online reputation problem can be fixed, but it will have to start internally and then publicly.

 

07. January 2016 · Comments Off on How One Post Ruined Holly Jones’ Online Reputation · Categories: ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , , ,

No one plans on ruining their online reputation.

However, in this case, Holly Jones of Indianapolis didn’t think before she posted her New Year’s Eve restaurant complaint on the establishment’s Facebook page.

This is a prime example of how quickly one’s reputation can be severely damaged (almost to the point of zero chance of recovery) and how a business’ posse quickly came to the rescue and defended its actions.

In a blink of an eye, the story when viral.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

Jones and her party were enjoying their New Year’s Eve dinner at Kilroy’s Bar and Grill in downtown Indianapolis. During the evening, a 70-year-old woman suffered a heart attack. Paramedics arrived; took the patient to the hospital, where she is recovering.

Rather than showing a little civility, mercy and care, Jones felt the need to post a message on Kilroy’s Facebook Page and blasted the restaurant; management; the suffering woman (who Jones said suffered from an overdose) and complained about her $700 bill.

Now, since the post was published on Kilroy’s Facebook page, the restaurant could have simply deleted her post. However, Kilroy’s Managing Partner Chris Burton blasted back….big time:

“This poor lady, who was celebrating New Year’s Eve with her husband and son, had to be placed on the floor of a completely packed bar and have her shirt removed in front of everyone so the paramedics could work on her. But I can completely understand why you think being intoxicated a******s that didn’t understand your bill should take priority over human life. I especially appreciate you making your server (who doesn’t curse) cry as well. I’m sure she really enjoyed working on New Year’s Eve just to deal with people such as yourself.”

Burton went on and told Jones that she was “cold hearted and nasty” and that he wouldn’t lose a second of sleep over her pledge never to return to Kilroy’s.

However, the fire storm was just getting started.

Enter local media, Twitter and here you go. Even at 2 a.m., the story was trending (#HollyJones). Holly Jones was getting blasted by those who never knew her; never met her; never had been to Kilroy’s; never had been to Indianapolis or, even been to the United States for that matter. Other Facebook users with the name “Holly Jones” were getting hate mail and anonymous threatening phone calls.

Jones took down her Facebook Page (claiming it had been hacked) and it appears she also lost her job as a hair stylist. Burton and his fans donated $14,000 in funds for medical bills of the heart attack victim

Did Holly Jones deserve it? Did she pick a fight with Kilroy’s and is now paying a huge price for her public post?  Did the restaurant manager go too far? Are the tables finally turning on restaurant review trolls?

Holly Jones

Some of the ongoing reviews and conversations on Kilroy’s Facebook Page from January 5, 2016

 

29. December 2015 · Comments Off on Yes, Angie’s List Lets You Get Negative Reviews Removed for Your Business · Categories: ORM · Tags: , , , , ,

by Leigh Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

We frequently hear from clients within the first line of their messages that we “must remove” the negative review of their business within search results. We spend a significant amount of time with clients educating them about the online reputation process and stand by our routine counsel that it is still almost impossible to have negative reviews removed … that bad press must be pushed down in search engines with good press.

However, this week, the Consumerist blog outlined how you can get negative reviews removed from Angie’s List once your dispute with a company is properly resolved.

Angies's List Removes Negative Reviews

 

In the article entitled “Angie of Angie’s List Defends Policy of Removing Negative Reviews If Customers Get Refunds” Ashlee Kieler details the Angie’s List process and terms of services for businesses if premium membership customers receive refunds from businesses for poor service performance. Angie’s List has taken a bit of a hit from some consumers declaring unfair censorship; however, Angie Hicks, the company founder, defends the resolution process saying that it has been an effective tool for 20 years. Stating that their goal is not to be a complaint site, the premium membership customers who choose to go through the resolution system are well informed that their negative review will be removed from the business’ listing should a resolution or refund be met. And although the negative review will be removed, the customer does have the opportunity to submit updated feedback about the business as long as it is positive.

While that agreement doesn’t specify at that point that the new review must be positive, a separate affirmative check box to start the resolution process does address the new review: “I understand that if the service provider resolves the issue to my satisfaction, the review will be deleted, and I will have the opportunity to update my review with a positive one.” – The Consumerist, December 14, 2015

In terms of businesses having an opportunity for a second chance, this seems like a reasonable process that keeps the marketplace civil giving both businesses and customers an opportunity to reach resolution and move forward, and perhaps make the internet a more welcoming place for review exchanges.

The Angie’s List company does heavily monitor consumer reviews – perhaps better than any other purveyor – and has a strong telephone availability for both business and consumer members. By using their call center team, it has allowed them to sniff out bad actors and provide review and resolution guidance.

22. December 2015 · Comments Off on The Opportunities for Building Positive Reviews for Your Business Just Grew Exponentially · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , ,

by Leigh Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

As a way to do some Facebook limitations testing and as a means of coming up with a new way to test potential interview candidates for our social media staff team, for a couple of weeks each morning I pushed myself to play with the Facebook Editor (https://www.facebook.com/editor) . This is an area of Facebook where you suggest areas or “edits” for improvement for business and place pages within the Facebook garden. The business pages suggested start out as places where you can make local business page editorial suggestions. As you become more adept (and pass Facebook’s muster) they will give you pages to suggest edits in far flung locations…like bars in the Texas desert, marketing businesses that are spamming keywords in alternative categories such as dentists, and fake pages you can report.

By helping me better assess Facebook activity for our clients’ various industries, it is also a funny way to pass the time over coffee — especially for business and media geeks. Facebook has succeeded in crowd sourcing a global editorial team that provides free edits of “business categories” to their business pages as a means of encouraging businesses to improve their business page content. There is a global team contest going on for the month of December, but you can still participate as an anonymous individual and the app will reward you personally with new levels and an accuracy rate. Am now just up to Level 12 with an 86% accuracy rate. I would probably have a higher accuracy rate if I hadn’t made some of my earliest edits “rebellion” edits for Trump Towers and businesses I had recently been burned by…but that’s another topic for another blog post.

Facebook Professional Services

As I started doing this for a few weeks, I became curious as to “why” Facebook was mobilizing and incentivizing a team of editors for all of these business pages. My question was answered when both Search Engine Land and WIRED magazine wrote articles regarding Facebook’s soft roll out of their “Professional Services” pages.

Facebook Takes on Yelp, but Doesn’t Get a Thumbs Up Yet by Brian Barrett on 12/15/15

Is “Facebook Professional Services” Facebook’s Stealth Project to Beat Yelp? Unannounced desktop-only feature gives people the ability to find the highest-rated businesses in a given area. by Martin Beck on 12/14/15

Apparently Facebook saw a window of opportunity for grabbing market share as there have been numerous rumors about Angie’s List being bought out or absorbed and Yelp and Google reviews enduring a plethora of small business lawsuits. We also wrote recently on our blog how Google Plus is Dropping Small Business Reviews.

This new Professional Services feature in Facebook is available to users anonymously via desktop by going to this link https://facebook.com/services . Visiting this link via Safari on a mobile device, took us to the page, but asked us to login to our Facebook account first. Visitors to the Professional Services area in Facebook are presented with a page saying “Find Local Businesses with the Best Facebook Reviews and Ratings” that has their current location pre-determined via a form box. We were a little puzzled as to how location suggestions were being routed as Facebook directed me to businesses only in Erlanger, Kentucky which is not really a “normal” shopping area in our area. For the sake of privacy, my Facebook profile is intentionally set to say I live in Northern Kentucky which is “normal” for 4000 users in our area. When we attempted to use the location override and insert our actual city location, we got the same thumbnail pictures results for Erlanger, KY which indicated the same businesses. But the sub-section of the page did serve up a logical assortment of business categories like wedding planners, business consultants, dentists, electricians, day cares, etc. Once I clicked on a specific category, I obtained better localized results for businesses in our area.

From the standpoint of building positive reviews; however, what was interesting is how many business results appeared with very few completed Facebook profiles, or reviews. Clearly, small businesses in our area need to get on board with enhancing their business profile pages within the Facebook walled garden. We see this as a golden opportunity for building positive business reviews for your business.  Take a look at your own business profile in Facebook and make sure it is what you want your customers to see.  If you are overwhelmed with the task, contact us and we can help.

Contact Mountain Woods Media for help with Facebook

 

11. December 2015 · Comments Off on Improve Local SEO, Increase Website Traffic and Earn More Sales by Publishing Videos · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,


Customers, clients and website visitors all love videos. In fact, videos are getting more attention these days than photographs.

Videos keep customers on your website longer, especially when the video is informative and entertaining.

Don’t worry: you don’t need to hire an expensive video crew with fancy cameras; giant lights with all the glitz and glamor. And, you don’t have to buy an extra piece of equipment or software in order to create videos for your website.

Instead, for starters, use your smart phone along with free software to help get you started.

Customers don’t need flashy graphics and scrolling text. What they are looking for is information about how to solve a problem or how your company can help them with your goods and services.

Videos can be short (even one or two minutes), but try to keep them under 5 or 10 minutes if you can. Introduce yourself; explain the problem and offer the solution. Done!

Publish your videos on your company YouTube Channel and on your website (like we did in this blog post). Share your videos via your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).

You can see more of our videos on our YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBrvlgZtguugEfgmuYD-jcw)

09. December 2015 · Comments Off on Google Plus Dropping Small Business Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , ,

Google Plus Dropping Small Business ReviewsIt’s not like many were that excited about using Google+ anyhow, so it comes to no surprise few are shedding tears over the Google+ update removing local business reviews.

Yes, small businesses will probably continue to update, improve and optimize their Google+ page. After all, anything you can do to help your business on any Google platform is a good thing. Right?

However, small businesses like – and need – local reviews to help promote their products and services. It’s almost like Google isn’t that interested in small businesses anymore.

Google says reviews are still visible and accessible on Google Search and Google Maps, which is probably the real way most prospects and customers find your business. Business owners will now be able to respond to reviews in “Google My Business.”

Again, do you get the feeling Google is pushing small businesses away from Google+ and making business owners do something else in order to respond to online reviews?

Google has been – and will continue to be – very confusing with its online review process. Google Maps; Google Places; Google Plus; Google+ Local and now – poof! – no more reviews but you can go here and here and here.

No wonder why small business owners struggle with online reviews and trying to maintain a good online reputation for their company.

Remember, Google+ was supposed to be the Facebook killer giving individuals and businesses an alternative. Google+ never caught on as many asked the same question over and over “why do I need to be here?”

Don’t let Google’s small business strategy and failures with Google+ worry you. Focus instead on those online review websites that are increasing website traffic and helping you earn higher rankings in search engines (i.e., Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others).

24. November 2015 · Comments Off on Buy a Course, Get Free Consulting · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , , ,

How to get Free Consulting with Mountain Woods Media, LLCWhile there are huge advantages in e-learning and taking a course online, it’s always nice to have the option to ask additional questions and seek further help.

This is especially true if you’re facing battling a negative online reputation; want to improve your business reviews, or prefer to have a second opinion on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

It’s because of these reasons, that we have decided to offer free consulting – yes, free – to anyone who purchases one of our courses on Udemy.com.

Here’s how our free consulting offer works:

  • Purchase any of our nine (9) Udemy courses. You can find a complete list here: http://bit.ly/1R3XQKX
  • Complete at least 10% of the course.
  • Receive an invitation link to connect with us on our private Slack.com account.
  • Consulting is limited to the topic relating to the purchased course.

Once you sign up for one of our courses, we’ll be sending you a “thank you” e-mail and remind you of our free consulting offer.

Slack.com invitations are sent out weekly to those who have completed the minimum requirements.

Consulting can include questions; evaluations; analysis; tips; tactics and ideas – anything that we can do to help you with your project or problem (other than actually doing the work for you, of course!).

Our Udemy courses are updated regularly as we are adding new lectures; new content, and updated lectures.

18. November 2015 · Comments Off on Creating an Online Reputation Management Plan · Categories: ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

online reputation management planningToo often, businesses and individuals only react when something bad has happened.

A flat tire, for example, may have been prevented by replacing your bald, worn tires a week ago. The snow blower can’t start because the spark plug is old, etc.

The same is true with your online reputation. A negative review; news story or legal matter pops up and, before you know it, Google is ranking the “bad” news before the good stuff. Only then, do you kick it into high gear; high a freelancer who owns a magic wand who can sprinkle fairy dust on your reputation problem and make everything better again.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as emergency online reputation management. Just like search engine optimization, ORM takes time. Repairs aren’t going to be easy. It won’t be fast and it probably won’t be cheap.

Therefore, the best way to prevent negative information from creeping up in search engines is to have a strong online reputation management program in place. This way, the “good” stuff will already be in place; will be indexed by Google and other search engines and you’ll have a better chance of keeping negative items pushed down in search results.

Your online reputation management plan should include the following steps. However, remember: ORM is like search engine optimization. It never ends. You should always be working to make improvements and updates to make sure your reputation is up-to-date; fresh and solid. Old news and stale content won’t work when it comes to online reputation management (or SEO for that matter).

  • Make sure you have claimed; confirmed, and optimized your online business profile with online review websites. These include sites such as Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others. We offer a complete list of the “Top 25” review websites in our courses “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” (URL) and “Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews” (URL).
  • Write and publish a blog and keep it fresh with two or three blog posts per week. Great content usually beats any online reputation management problem.
  • Write and publish press releases on your website. This can be a blog post or you can publish your press release on a “media” page.
  • Participate daily in social media, including LinkedIn (business and person); Facebook; Twitter and many others.
  • Take pictures of everything and publish photos on your website and in your blog. Share them in your social media networks; on Flickr; Google Photos, etc.
  • Videos are big and they are getting bigger. Try to do at least one (1) video per week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Information and advice offered in the video is far more important than the graphics and flashy backgrounds. Publish your videos on your YouTube Channel and share them via your social media networks. Also, give consideration to Vimeo for video publication.

Your company’s reputation is extremely important to potential customers. They want to feel good about who they are buying from and doing business with on a regular basis. It is a valuable business asset and should be treated with care.

05. November 2015 · Comments Off on Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

earning positive reviewsMountain Woods Media, LLC, a content development firm, has released its latest e-learning course on Udemy.

The course “Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews” is designed for large and small businesses; professional and medical services, and other firms who need to find and utilize ethical methods in earning positive reviews online.

“Many businesses worry too much about the one negative review in their Yelp profile instead of trying to earn more and better reviews,” says Mountain Woods Media Vice President Steve Phillips.

“In this course, we present some unique methods – many of which your competition won’t know about – in which you can earn more reviews. All of these review tactics are ethical and none of them violate policies set forth by online review websites,” he adds. “The important thing to remember with online reviews is to never ask for an online review.”

“Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews” covers:

  • How do Online Review Websites Work?
  • How do Customers Use Online Review Websites?
  • How do Businesses Use Online Review Websites?
  • Claiming, Confirming and Optimizing Your Businesses Online Review Profile.
  • The Top 25 Online Review Websites.
  • Techniques and Tactics To Help Your Business Earn More Online Reviews.
  • Worksheets and much more.

Currently, students can preview two (2) course lectures for free, including:

  • Lecture 1: “Course Introduction”
  • Lecture 2: “What Are Online Review Websites and How Do They Work?”

The 90-minute course features 16 lectures and several downloadable documents. Students may participate in online question-and-answer discussions with other students and Phillips. Mountain Woods Media, LLC will announce “office hours” soon in which students can connect live via Skype for more one-on-one training and instruction at no additional charge.

“Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews” is currently available for $149 and is available at https://www.udemy.com/earning-positive-business-reviews/

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Mountain Woods Media, LLC is a content development firm specializing in Search Engine Optimization; Online Reputation Management and App Search Optimization. Online Reputation is how a business or a person appears online through search results. The process by which one continuously improves their online reputation is called “online reputation management.” Fresh and positive content helps improve your online reputation in overcoming bad publicity; bad business reviews or making a life mistake.

* * *

Udemy is the world’s online learning marketplace, where over 7 million students are taking courses in everything from programming to yoga to photography and much, much more. Each of Udemy’s 30,000+ courses is taught by an expert instructor, so every course is available on-demand, so students can learn at their own pace, on their own time, and on any device. For more information, visit http://udemy.com.

20. October 2015 · Comments Off on Taking Caution With Your Online Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , ,

use caution with online reviewsMany business owners spend a lot of energy and focus when it comes to earning five-star online reviews with Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and other online review websites.

Perhaps, the aggressive drive to a perfect pattern of reviews and online praise has created a few black eyes in the industry recently, including:

  • Amazon has decided to file more than 1,000 lawsuits against Fivver individual accounts who have offered fake five-star reviews to Amazon vendors and Amazon hosted online retailers. So, the person “selling” the review is in trouble and not the Amazon vendor who is probably breaking Amazon’s terms of service by buying the reviews for products they sell within the Amazon platform?!
  • The New York Attorney General has announced that it has cracked down on bogus customer reviews and has fined 19 companies for posting grand reviews while giving bad reviews to the competition.
  • Some companies have a “gag clause” in their customer agreements. Weight loss marketer Roca Labs was recently shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for false claims and for its “gag clause” which threatened retaliation against any customer who bad-mouthed Roca Labs or its products.

Some businesses choose to ignore the entire online review process. Recently, we talked to a prospective client, who not only wanted hire us to delete a negative Yelp review, but they also wanted their entire Yelp profile removed (we explained that businesses can’t delete Yelp profiles; even if a business is marked as closed, the profile remains within Yelp).

Others, however, are purely interested in earning as many positive reviews as possible, but need to take heed and avoid these temptations:

  • Never ask customers, relatives or friends for reviews. It’s “OK” to let them know you’re on Yelp or you’re trying to improve your online review profiles, but avoid asking for good reviews.
  • Never buy reviews. Online review websites frown upon such practices and may hide your purchased reviews on your profile page (especially when the reviewer’s IP address is from Jacksonville, FL and the review claims your auto repair shop in Denver is the best in town). Yelp will place a consumer warning on your profile letting customers know they suspect many of your reviews were purchased which will quickly cast a cloud of doubt over all of your reviews.
  • Never offer discounts or trade services or products for reviews. This leads to poor business practices and things can quickly go sour if someone feels they aren’t getting a fair shake in exchange for the review.

Approach the review process just like you should your business: be honest and ethical. If you receive a negative review, be polite, professional and apologize. Show you care about your business and your customers.