Thursday, September 6, 2012

Revealed. Google and Yelp Reviews Are Rigged

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Google the phrase: lawsuits against Yelp.  There is this amazing recurring coincidence that companies who ignore Yelp's sales effort or who stop paying Yelp, see their positive reviews go into a filter, and their negative reviews pop to the top of the listing.   Hundreds and hundreds of small business owners have seen their sales go off a cliff due to rearrangements of Yelp reviews.  In this economy, one wonders how Yelp lives with themselves knowing about these horrible results.  Even if they aren't doing it on purpose, you wonder why there is no effort to fix it or even to reach out to business with a hope for a better method.  Even a forum like Google has would help.

Google+ and Google Places are now merged.  So how is the great Goog doing on reviews.  They have no axe to grind and no dog in the race.  No money coming in that would taint their decisions.  One would expect that SMB's would be much happier with Google on the issue of reviews, and they are.  The good news is that it is rare for anyone to claim on forums or blogs that Google is screwing up the reviews on purpose.  The good news is that Google has offered their own help forum that sometimes provides a way to resolve these issues.  But here's the bad news.  Many, many bloggers and guru's feel that Google is just plain incompetent on this subject.  And, yes.  Companies are getting hurt by Google, too.

So what is a small business to do. Reputation management is of enormous importance in this environment.  Here is the short list.  Details do exist on this blog and

    ✓    Be aware of your reviews.  Use Google Alerts for your company name in every variation so that you know quickly if something shows up, positive or negative.
    ✓    Ask your best clients to post reviews.  Don't grow weary when some get lost or filtered out.  Keep asking. 
    ✓    Respond immediately to negatives by reaching out personally to the customer and seeing if you can work out something that results in a moderation or withdrawal of the review.
    ✓    If that fails, make a public response to the review.  Use kindness and show that you empathize with the reviewer and that action steps have been taken.
    ✓    Assume that your review stats are representative of the real world.  Take action internally to improve customer service.  It will help you on many levels.
    ✓    If the same employee's name keeps showing up, get rid of them immediately.  One bad employee could cost you your business or at least substantial income.

If you would like help with these aspects of your business, it is just one part of what we do for our clients. 

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