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.

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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.

15. October 2015 · Comments Off on Online Reputation: A Basic Glossary · Categories: ORM · Tags: , ,

Every person, place or thing has an online reputation. However, the term “reputation” can mean different things depending on the situation.

Here’s a glossary of various meanings when it comes to “online reputation.”

Online Reputation

Your online reputation (speaking of you personally and/or your business; healthcare ORM A Basic Glossary of Termspractice, etc.), is determined by what ranks high in search engine results. Do the results reveal positive or negative information? This includes online reviews; media coverage; legal matters; blogs and more.

For example, a positive online reputation can include:

  • Consistently earning 4- and 5-star reviews.
  • Local media articles and videos that share good things about you and your company.
  • Flattering photographs in Flickr, Google Images, etc.
  • A steady stream of company-produced and published videos in YouTube and Vimeo.
  • An updated blog with a minimum of one or two helpful blog posts per week.
  • Active social media accounts and participating in online conversations in Twitter, Facebook, etc.

These all add up to creating a maintaining a positive online reputation for both individuals and companies.

Of course, a negative online reputation is quite the opposite:

  • Negative reviews left by customers with little to no attempt by the business owner or manager to communicate with unhappy customers in trying to solve a problem.
  • Media coverage that may reflect your business in a negative way to current and future customers (complaints about your company; lawsuits; investigations and other legal matters, etc.).
  • Employee complaints on GlassDoor and other employment review websites.
  • Stale and outdated information on your company website or blog (if you have a blog).
  • Lack of activity and active conversations in social media accounts.

Emergency Online Reputation

While a negative online reputation can be corrected with the right strategy – and time – an instance could arise with any business or professional which may require immediate attention.

If something more severe occurs, such as a legal matter; product recall; several negative reviews, etc., your online reputation will most likely change as well. When this happens, you may need to take quick steps to prevent your reputation from going down the drain in a matter of days.

This action is referred to as “emergency online reputation.”

Typically, websites that contain large amounts of content usually earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines. These include digital newspapers, television and radio outlets; online review sites; courts and other legal websites (including arrest reports and mugshots). Therefore, if your “bad” news falls into one or more of these categories, it could quickly move to the Top 10 in search results almost overnight.

This means you’ll need to do everything you should have been doing all along, but you’ll need to pick up the pace; generate positive content; get it published online and increase your social networking activity.

Emergency online reputation can turn things around, but it can take up to three months (or more) to bury the negative posts appearing in search results. It all depends on the severity of your negative reputation.

On an individual level, emergency steps are required when an arrest report and mugshot photos appear in the Top 10 positions in search results, as well as lawsuits; ugly divorce proceedings; bankruptcy and other legal matters. White collar crimes such as embezzlement, fraud and insider trading troubles typically will also earn high rankings in Google. These kinds of problems make future employment difficult.

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is the process by which you are constantly creating a positive online presence to improve and solidify your company’s reputation or your reputation as an individual.

It’s like going to the bank and getting a loan: the best time to get a loan is when you don’t need one. The best time to shop for a new car is when you don’t need one.

Online reputation management is the same thing.

By consistently writing and publishing good content about your company; its products, services and its employees, you’ll easily fight off any minor negative burp that appears on the radar.

Individuals – including high school and college students – need to always be improving their online reputation as scholarship reviews and employment opportunities are on the horizon. Clean up your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. Remove unsavory photos and personal tags. Foul language in Twitter and blog posts also creates a bad online reputation for individuals.

An online reputation management (also called “ORM”) plan can be created within a day but the process of implementing a plan never ends. Always be on the lookout for positive content, photograph and video opportunities in improving and solidifying your reputation.

12. October 2015 · Comments Off on Yes, You Can Also Review Jails and Prisons in Yelp · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

reviewing jails on YelpRestaurants; beauty salons; chiropractors and many others can all receive good and bad reviews via customers on Yelp.com.

And so can prisons.

Lawyers, inmates and visitors have left reviews for prisons worldwide rating everything from the quality of food; power-hungry prison guards; lack of personal grooming supplies (i.e., toilet paper) to dress code policies for family members during visitation days.

Yelp allows anything or anyone to be reviewed as long as it has a physical address and the reviewer followed the site’s terms of service.

While you would almost expect every prison and most reviews to be negative, there are a few jails that regularly receive good reviews (see our video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/byPwKWgOfOE). For example:

  • The West Hollywood Jail has three reviews (as of this blog post) with an average of 4.5 stars (out of five). Reviewer Jim A. “highly recommended this place,” while D.W. says “the exclusive West Hollywood Jail provides far better accommodations than what you might expect.”
  • The jail in Santa Monica has one five-star review as the reviewer says he spent “one relaxing night there last month.”
  • The Atlanta City Detention Center has earned 3.5 stars from three reviews. Unfortunately, the reviewer offering five stars gave a simple explanation unsuitable for printing here.

Most prisons and jail profiles on Yelp have been properly claimed and include directions; public transportation opportunities; visiting hours. Some have added a few photos.

Yelp doesn’t offer any statistics about correctional facilities in terms of how many profiles exist or how many total reviews are currently published (Yelp is currently available in 13 countries), however the “review-a-prison” idea is gaining a little bit of steam.

Prisons aside, if you want to learn more about your business and Yelp, check out our Udemy course “Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp” at http://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp.

09. October 2015 · Comments Off on Udemy Course Review: Make Money Shooting Sports In Your Spare Time · Categories: Training Courses · Tags: , ,

Dr. Kevin Maples makes it sound easy:

All you need is the basic equipment and passion – and his course – and you’re well on your way to becoming a sports photographer.

Maples’ Udemy course “Make Money Shooting Sports Photos In Your Spare Time” ($19), walks students through a two-hour, 24-lecture presentation on becoming a sports photographer.sports photography course

Overall, the course is well worth the price and Maples does a great job of explaining everything from “DSLR” to “shutter speed” and “ISO.” Even if you aren’t interested in taking sports photographs, the second section on Digital Single Lens Reflex and camera settings will help you take better photos. Period.

As far as sports photography is concerned, this course is ideal for both the beginner and the photo hobbyist as some want to take local sports pictures and sell them to publications; coaches, parents, etc., while others are shooting action photos of their children; relatives and friends for personal use.

The course never gets too technical, even for this novice photographer. Some of the best tips I quickly learned included:

  • you shouldn’t take sports action pictures in “auto mode” because the camera doesn’t know what kind of photo you’re taking.
  • how your zoom lens works.
  • shutter speed.
  • ISO.
  • Camera settings that you can forget when it comes to taking sports photos and much more.

Once you are more familiar with your camera and its various settings needed in taking pictures at sporting events, the best way to improve your photography skill is to practice. The more pictures you take (and review), the better you’ll be. For example, when taking pictures during an outdoor sporting event, you’ll need to adjust according to lighting on a sunny day that might get interrupted by clouds from time to time. At an evening football game, you might have better natural light available at kickoff, but chances are good you’ll be shooting in the dark by halftime.

Later in the course, Maples goes in-depth on how to sell your sports photos either on a freelance basis or by working under a contract. Parents may hire you to take pictures of their child during a sporting event, but you may eventually seek bigger opportunities in taking more pictures for sports clubs, schools, etc.

Maples takes the course one step further by offering some ideas on how to price your photos and suggests many online and professional photo labs for print processing (and, no, you shouldn’t print your own photos; neither should you have them processed by a one-hour photo lab and Maples gives plenty of good reasons why you should order your prints via a professional lab).

The suggested price for “Make Money Shooting Sports Photos In Your Spare Time” is an absolute steal at $19 (at the time of this blog post). However, you can save $9 bucks and start taking the course for only $10 by using the following coupon code:

http://www.udemy.com/sportsphotography/?couponCode=MWM