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.

 

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.

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.

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.

23. September 2015 · Comments Off on Why Local Businesses Should Ignore Google · Categories: SEO · Tags: , , , ,

ignore googleYou can ignore Google if you focus on local SEO techniques. You will also avoid the dreaded “ranking stress.”

Local businesses – florists, plumbers, roofers, lawyers, dentists and many others – spend way too much time (and money) trying to earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines.

Stop it.

There are many other online marketing opportunities in which your local company can connect with new customers who need to find you for products and services.

If you focus on these techniques, not only will you earn more traffic to your website (and more customers), but your Google ranking will take care of itself. In addition, you’ll save yourself a lot of time; money and “ranking stress.”

Instead of Google rankings, work on:

  • Claim, confirm and optimize your business profile in Yelp, CitySearch, Manta and other review and mapping websites. Business information needs to be accurate and consistent in all review websites.
  • Make sure your Yelp profile is 100% complete. Include pictures and make sure you mention the location (city, town, etc.) of your business in the “About Us” section. Currently, there are over 130 million Yelp users per month and many of them use the Yelp app. In addition, Yelp typically appears in the Top 10 Google search results on many local search terms. A high ranking in Yelp is an automatic high ranking in Google.
  • Create a blog for your company website and write 2-3 blog posts per week. Typically, blogs shouldn’t be about you or your company. Instead, offer free advice to your readers on how to solve a problem; tips on how to save money, etc. Being helpful is much better than trying to convince readers that you have the best products and services.
  • Participate in social media, especially Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Again, be helpful; offer advice and tips; start and engage in conversations.
  • Take and publish pictures. Customers will stay on your profile page; website; blog, etc. two-and-a-half times longer if you publish pictures than they do with pages without pictures. Everyone on your staff should take pictures in the office; out in the field; on service calls; at conferences, etc. Local pictures do best for local businesses trying to gain more local customers.

This simple list is just a start, but these tips will definitely help you earn more local traffic to your website and gain more sales from new and existing customers. In addition, your Google ranking will improve, but local businesses shouldn’t worry so much about link building and Page Titles. A “local” focus will generate local business.

For more information on local search engine optimization; local marketing and online review websites, check out our courses here on Udemy:

Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website

https://www.udemy.com/earn-more-sales-by-increasing-local-traffic-to-your-website/

Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales by Mastering Yelp

https://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp

Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews

https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-management-negative-business-reviews

 

 

14. September 2015 · Comments Off on Promote Your Business And Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp · Categories: Marketing Course, Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: ,

Seeing an enormous training need with our clients, we created a Udemy course on mastering Yelp so businesses and professionals can learn how to position themselves higher in this (and other) review websites and attract more customers.

Mastering Yelp Promote Your Business

All types of businesses and service professionals – restaurants; furnace repair; dentists; lawyers and more – rely more and more on local customers in order to maintain and improve sales and company growth.

“One of the best ways for local businesses to attract local customers is by using online review websites such as Yelp,” says Steve Phillips, Vice President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC.

“This is why we created a Udemy course on Yelp so businesses and professionals can learn how to position themselves higher in this (and other) review websites and attract more customers,” he adds.

The recently-released Mountain Woods Media Udemy course “Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp” includes the following curriculum:

  • Learn more about Yelp and how it works.
  • Why Yelp can be your No. 1 business sales tool.
  • How to claim, confirm and optimize your Yelp business profile.
  • Why creating a strong photo gallery in Yelp is a key to earning more sales.
  • How to take your Yelp profile to the next level.
  • How online review websites work.
  • How online reviews are important for your business.
  • How some reviews never appear in your Yelp profile and why.
  • How to fix, repair and remove negative reviews in Yelp.
  • How to track Yelp Metrics.
  • Understanding Yelp Deals and other advertising options.

This two-hour course features 17 lectures, plus section quizzes and worksheets. Students will be able to participate in online question-and-answer discussions with other students and Phillips. Mountain Woods Media, LLC will announce “office hours” soon in which students will be able to connect live via Skype for more one-on-one training and instruction at no additional charge. Course updates will also be available for no extra fees.

“Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp” is currently available for $159 and can be purchased at: https://udemy.com/mastering-yelp.