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.

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.

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.

02. October 2015 · Comments Off on Don’t Worry About The ‘Haters’ When It Comes To Business Reviews · Categories: Mountain Woods Media · Tags: , , ,

HatersOnline reviews – both positive and negative – can go a long way when it comes to earning new customers and trying to maintain an ongoing positive online reputation.

Unfortunately, some businesses choose not to participate in the online review process because they fear an onslaught of bad business reviews. Let’s go ahead and put this myth aside:

  • Customers can leave reviews for your company whether you claim and confirm your business profile in Yelp, Manta and other review sites. Just because you haven’t claimed your profile, doesn’t mean it won’t be active in review websites. It’s best to participate so you can communicate with your customers and earn higher rankings by completing your profile.
  • Former employees and “haters” might indeed leave bad reviews for your business. However, review websites (such as Yelp) have algorithms in place to recognize and hide negative reviews from profile view. Even so, most intelligent customers can easily spot a fake review (good or bad).
  • Competitors might also leave your business a bad review. Yelp will automatically remove reviews that are proven to have been written by a competitor.

Overall, don’t let a few worrisome reasons keep your business from claiming, confirming and optimizing your business profile in review and mapping websites. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. For instance:

  • For each business profile you claim and optimize, you’re giving your business another opportunity to be seen by a future potential customer. Overall, there are approximately 50 good review websites that allow businesses to set up free profiles.
  • For each business profile you claim and optimize, that’s one more inbound link from a reputable website pointing back to your company’s website.
  • Many review websites, such as Yelp, rank high in Google on local search terms. Therefore, if your business can earn a higher position in Yelp, it will automatically earn a higher spot in search engine rankings.
  • Since more and more people are relying on smartphones and tablets, they are also using review apps, such as Yelp, in order to find restaurants; coffee shops; hotels and other businesses. You’ll want make sure your business is visible and up-to-date so future customers can find you in various review apps.

Learn more about online reputation management; Yelp and earning more local traffic to your website by previewing (free) these courses in Udemy.com:

“Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews”
https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-management-negative-business-reviews

“Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp”
https://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp

“Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website”
https://www.udemy.com/earn-more-sales-by-increasing-local-traffic-to-your-website

 

 

30. September 2015 · Comments Off on Online Review Websites: How They Work and Why They Are Important For Your Business · Categories: Mountain Woods Media · Tags: , ,

online review websitesThere are dozens upon dozens of online review websites that encourage participation from both individuals and businesses. These include sites such as Yelp, Manta, City Search, Google+ Local and many more.

Individuals (your potential customers) can create free accounts and use review websites to find more information about your company; get directions and leave reviews, etc.

For businesses, review websites are extremely important in gaining more local customers. Participation is required if you want to take it to the next level with local search engine optimization (SEO).

Here’s why:

  • Review websites, such as Yelp, for example, give your business more visibility to more local customers. Some users are addicted to the Yelp app on their smartphone and only use it for locating businesses or for finding products and services they need.
  • There are approximately 50 (or more) high-quality and high-traffic review websites – all of which give you another opportunity for your business to be found in Google search results and in other search engines. For example, if a customer is searching for “Greenville, SC florist,” your website might be ranked high in search results, but the review website might also be ranked high. This gives your business another opportunity to be on front of a local customer.
  • Participation in review websites gives your business another online source of generating new traffic to your website.
  • Review websites create inbound links pointing to your company’s website. The more review websites your company is listed in, the more links you have gained from credible websites pointing to your company’s website. SEO experts call this “link building” (the act of one website publishing a link pointing to another website).

Unfortunately, some businesses refuse to participate in review websites. Why? Because they fear potential bad reviews might be published for their company. However, individuals (again, your customers) can add your business to any review website and they can also leave reviews for your company whether you choose to participate or not.

As a local business owner, you need to claim and confirm your business profile in review websites and begin taking control of your company’s image in Yelp, Bing Local, Yellow Pages and other business listing websites. Once you “own” your business profile, you can then start optimizing your profile for better rankings and improve online conversations with your customers.

25. September 2015 · Comments Off on Steps to Take in Repairing a Negative Online Reputation · Categories: ORM, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

Bad newReputation Repairs travels fast and, unfortunately, it can usually earn high rankings in Google. This means customers can quickly see:

  • Consumer complaints about your company (Better Business Bureau, etc.).
  • Business layoffs and news that hurts your firm’s image.
  • Negative reviews.
  • Lawsuits and other legal matters.

Before you know it, negative news and reviews can definitely have an impact on your business and bottom line.

So, how can your business recover in terms of reputation repair?

Let’s assume your business is facing such a scenario and doesn’t have an online reputation management program in place. Note: Developing a digital crisis program in advance will help prevent a panic rush to repair a negative online reputation.

Unfortunately, it can easily take three-to-six months (or longer) to fully repair and recover from negative search results. Here’s a simple outline you can follow in order to get started:

  • Repair negative reviews in Yelp, Manta and other online review websites first. This is the only “easy” task you will have. The best approach here is to reply to the complaint directly within the review site. Be polite and professional in your response. Apologize and offer to fix the problem. This will go a long way in showing your efforts to make the customer happy. In most cases, satisfied customers will remove the negative review or edit it so that the review is a positive one for your company.
  • Create positive news. The best way to do this is to create a blog on your website (if you don’t have one) and begin to write and publish daily blog posts about your company; your staff and your products and services.
  • Get active on social media with positive posts in Facebook (1-2 per day), Twitter (5 Tweets per day) and LinkedIn (1 per day).
  • Take photographs and post them daily in social media; Instagram; your website; review websites and blogs.
  • Record and publish 1-2 videos weekly in YouTube and Vimeo. Publish links to your videos in your blog and in social media.

It’s not going to be an easy uphill climb, but you can recover.

For more information on recovering from a negative online reputation and bad reviews for your business, visit our Udemy course “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-management-negative-business-reviews

 

16. September 2015 · Comments Off on What Happens When You Can’t Repair A Negative Review ? · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

negative reviewsOver the lifetime of your business, you’ll find that not all customers and clients are going to be happy and your firm will be the recipient of a negative review.

It’s not the end of the world. Most negative reviews can be repaired and problems can be resolved. In fact, many unhappy customers will eventually update the review or remove it, once the problem has been corrected.

Still, there might be a stubborn customer who will never update or remove his negative review no matter what you do to fix the damage. This stubborn individual is all about revenge and tries his best to ruin your business’ online reputation.

Don’t worry. Here are some steps you can take to overcome the professional negative reviewer.

  • Always try to solve the negative review by communicating within your profile’s review area. This will show current and future customers that you are reaching out and trying to fix the review. It will later become apparent the negative reviewer has no interest in solving the problem and he will eventually appear to be the “bad” guy in this dispute.
  • Remember to remove your emotions when replying to a negative review. Be polite and professional.
  • Even if you feel you’re right, apologizing usually diffuses a negative reviewer. Most reviewers want to be happy and work out the dispute.
  • Don’t get into a back-and-forth argument with the reviewer. The more you argue online, the worse it will be for your business. Arguing shows current and future customers that you’re not willing to work with your customers on a matter and may shy them away from becoming future customers.

Recently, we helped a medical practice in California deal with a negative reviewer. By researching the reviewer’s profile, we quickly found out that he was a serial negative reviewer in Yelp and would regularly leave one or two negative reviews for businesses each week. Unfortunately, most businesses would ignore him and never respond or offer to repair the problem, which makes the negative review more valid.

For more information, be sure to purchase our Udemy course “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” at https://udemy.com/online-reputation-management-negative-business-reviews.

 

24. August 2015 · Comments Off on How To Improve Online Reviews For Your Business · Categories: ORM, Training Courses · Tags: , , , ,

improve online reviews and business reputationMany business owners – especially those who own and operate restaurants and hotels – may actually rely on the reviews left online by their customers.

Customers don’t want a bad experience or poor service. They really don’t. However, if they leave with a bad experience, they usually turn to Yelp or another online review website to share their opinions with the world.

As a business owner, you can learn from negative reviews, improve your online reviews and take steps to ensure better reviews and better communication with customers. Here’s how:

  • Make sure you’ve claimed and confirmed your business profile with online review websites; business listing websites and mapping sites. These would include services such as Yelp, Google+ Local, Bing Local, Manta and others.
  • Optimize your business profile with complete and accurate information. This includes correct address; telephone numbers; services and products offered; business hours; payment types accepted (including credit cards); photographs and videos. The more information you complete, the better your business will be ranked within the review website.
  • Keep your profile updated. Add new pictures and videos on a regular basis.
  • Respond to customers who leave reviews. Correspond with all customers through the review website. This shows other customers that you are grateful for good reviews and that you’re eager to solve any problems or poor customer experiences with your business. This goes a long way with potential new customers.
  • It’s perfectly fine to ask regular customers; family or friends for a review. Tell them you’re trying to improve your business’ reviews and, if they are willing to leave your business a review, you would appreciate it.
  • Never offer discounts or free services or food in exchange for good reviews.

For more information on earning better reviews, check out our course “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” on Udemy.com.