By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
As I work with my clients, I find that many of them make the same mistakes when it comes to managing their online reputation. While there are many strategies available to take control of your reputation from internet bullies and professional extortionists, the purpose of this blog is to educate you about some of the landmines waiting for you as you attempt to do so. Avoiding these is critical to the success of your online reputation strategy.
Responding to All Yelp Reviews
Your Yelp account manager (you know, that person who keeps calling you to advertise) will try to tell you that the faster you respond to Yelp reviews, the better you look to other Yelpers. However, it’s critical that before you respond to any reviews on Yelp, you first assess the reviewer. How many reviews does he/she have? How many friends? How long have they been Yelping? If the answers are less than three, zero, and less than a month, you are far better off waiting 48 – 72 hours to see if Yelp ‘scrubs’ the review. You see, Yelp’s algorithm generally scrubs out ‘non-Yelpers’ – aka people who don’t use Yelp for more than a scathing review or two. If you respond too soon, it may give the review legitimacy and cause it to stick. Only respond quickly to those users who are obvious Yelpers (those with many reviews, friends, etc) and unlikely to be scrubbed. Let the rest marinate for a couple of days and they’ll generally disappear.
A La Carte Reviews Management
With excellent review management platforms like Podium (full disclosure I license Podium to my clients), it no longer makes sense to try to keep up with the growing universe of reviews sites on the internet one-by-one. Managing these sites from one interface and proactively driving your happy customers there will do wonders for your online reputation strategy. A la carte management is both inefficient and prone to internet trolls. Who has time to check a dozen review sites several times a day?
Thinking 5 Stars is Enough
If you have 5 stars (or better than 4 on average) across the universe of reviews sites, you deserve hearty congratulations! But if you mistakenly believe that simply having a high star rating is enough, you are sadly mistaken. Search algorithms are interested in the number of reviews, how recent they are, how many are coming in each month, etc. You may have five stars on Facebook, but if Yelp is getting more and more frequent reviews, it will rank higher in search. The good news is that if you standardize on a reviews platform, you can drive more happy customers to more reviews sites, and if you’re really good, Yelp will get pushed to the dreaded purgatory of Google page 2. Also, the more reviews you have, the tougher it is for a troll to impact your star rating and the sooner their review is buried.
Paying Customers to Leave Reviews
This is a HUGE NO-NO! Yelp has announced a crackdown on this practice and is prepared to slap a consumer warning on your site (like the one above) if it:
Making a Reviewer ‘Wrong’
When responding to online reviews, be sure to not only respond to the negative reviews, but more importantly, thank those leaving positive reviews. As tempting as it can be sometimes, never make a reviewer ‘wrong’. Your current and future customers will interpret your response to this unhappy client as the way they can expect to be treated if they were to have a similar experience with your company. Always acknowledge their issue, apologize for their experience, and offer a solution to ‘make it right’. The best reviews you can engender online are negative reviews you turned around and made positive. These will result in more business than generic ‘everything’s unicorns, rainbows, and lollipops’ 5 star reviews which can look suspicious when served in abundance. Future customers appreciate seeing current customers get taken care of the right way when there’s a service or delivery hiccup. Doing the opposite will drive them into your competitor’s waiting arms.
Stay tuned for my next blog, 5 Stars & Beyond – Reputation Hacks That Add Up.