Last Monday, New York’s Attorney General busted 19 companies for promising to “carpet bomb” the local directories with positive Yelp reviews from real individuals and from false profiles cobbled together Frankenstein-fashion. Once the “carpet-bombing” has been completed, the business directory listing has officially been “astroturfed” with a layer of fake reviews pushing down the negative ones. Criminey, these practices have their own language! Even I didn’t know this practice was this entrenched. And it doesn’t need to be! Small business can get Yelp reviews and love on other local directories easily. I include all the steps free below! In case you were wondering what was behind the magic curtain of code and other mystical smokescreens many search engine optimization and reputation management companies erect, that’s it: fake reviews. Sigh. These companies make ethical search engine optimization specialistslook grimy.
Companies Are EAGER to Write Fake Reviews
“While engaging in the practice of writing fake online reviews is reprehensible,” Attorney General Schneiderman said, “What’s really amazing is how these so-called ‘reputation management experts’ couldn’t easily figure out that the yogurt shop was a fake business.” In other words, these companies were so hot to defraud consumers they didn’t even take the time to see if the caller was a legitimate business. They simply wanted to get those American Express Card numbers into their system on that phone call. The punishment? 19 companies agreed to pay $350,000 in fines or $18,421 each. Will this sting slow reputation managers’ shady practices. Perhaps for a while. For small business, the bottom line is that whatever is on the internet is there forever. Reputation Managers never actually REMOVE negative reviews or negative newspaper articles. They merely push these pieces of information “down” in the Google search engine rankings. Even getting them to page three in our fast-paced, first-page world renders them “disappeared.” That’s the best thousands of dollars to reputation managers gets you.
How Does Ethical Small Business Get Good Yelp & Other Local Reviews?
It’s easy. ASK. You don’t need a ton of reviews to outdo your competitors. In fact, on Google Local, just 5 reviews make a significant difference as to how you show up in the Local listings! Address each email personally. Add a little humor. Here’s a template to go from: “Dear _____________________,” Despite _______________’s cranky denials that we have entered the digital age, some of us at XYZ, LLC, are trying to update our marketing efforts. We have a brand Google Plus presence where you can leave reviews of our products/services. In fact, we would very much appreciate a review on our Google Plus page [link this to your Google plus page]. Just click that link, and then click on the box that says “write a review.” If you do take the time to give us a (hopefully positive) review, categorizing us as “excellent”, please try to be specific on how our services impressed you or what electrical mess we got you out of. Even 5 reviews will help our business tremendously! Thanks so much for your help.” Regards, Decent Small Business Person Who Refuses to BUY Reviews from Unethical Reputation Managers and SEOs
3 More Steps Small Business Take to Get Good Reviews
- The small businesses I work with are already dedicated to incredible customer service. They stayed small so they could practice business in an ethical, thorough and meaningful way. That’s why I love working with small business! It goes without saying that providing the best products and services form the foundation of great online reviews. I’m boring myself even saying this.
- Run a contest or sweepstakes! Give away the newest, coolest gadget in return for a review. It’s done all the time and it’s perfectly legitimate. I’ve even written you all a flyer requesting the review and providing the steps for getting it done. Download everything you need on our Free Tools page.
- Brace yourself for getting a bad review or two. The grumpy customers just come with the territory. Plus, according to a study conducted by MIT’s Sloan School of Management, some consumers leave bad reviews because they identify so closely with a brand they appoint themselves brand managers or conscience in chief. They want to be involved by donating constructive criticism. More on that weirdness in a blog post to come.
Informed Web Content Helps You Get & Optimize Your Good Reviews
The best defense is a good offense. A slew of positive reviews mutes the lone complaint. Cultivate your positive reputation now, so you’re prepared. If you’d like a little guidance, remember that Informed Web Content offers a free, no-obligation social, seo, and website audit. Want to just talk about how aggravating this all is? Feel free to call at 858-248-0667. You can explain your issues on our contact form. Just want to follow along for a while? Like our Facebook or Google+ or Twitterpages. We look forward to tackling your challenges in cyberspace!