This is the struggle for businesses and it is real – get a bad online review and how do you deal with it and move beyond it.
First, you should not ignore a bad online review. That does not mean that you have to respond to each and every one, but you definitely want to think about your strategy and what to do if and when you get one.
Consider the following…
1. Review the legitimacy. Should you change something you are doing?
2. Decide if you should respond. Not every comment about your business deserves and needs a response.
3. If you do respond, don’t respond in anger. Craft your response and sit on it for several days, read and re-read your response. Make sure you are not venting.
4. If you know who left the review, try to fix the problem and then ask for an update to the review they have posted.
Negative reviews can be very damaging to your business but sometimes your own response can make it even worse. You should be regularly monitoring your business reputation online and looking at what others are saying about you. Especially as Google and Bing are now highlighting reviews that they find around the web and meshing them with location specific results in the Knowledge Graph side bar on their search pages in the four pack of location specific businesses.
As a Google Local Guide, I review every place I visit and every place I eat. With over 300 reviews and photos uploaded to Google, I am just one of many who are helping Google index local businesses, build reviews and improve the accuracy of Google Maps.
Google does not pay me for these services, but I do receive special Google branded products and other perks for being a Google Local Guide.
Here’s what I’ve found out as I travel my local area.
Reviews really do matter.
People actually look at the photos I post for about a business.
Negative reviews mean I probably won’t visit.
I am constantly evaluating my store or restaurant experience.
If I receive poor service, I will write about it.
Even for lower end restaurants food presentation is important.
People actually read what I post about a business.
I do not tell business owners I am reviewing them.
I myself select who I trade with based on online reviews.
Reviews are more important than a nice website.
The bottom-line is that you are on display and being rated with every phone call, every visit, every plate that is served. You may have the best website, but if your visitors do not receive the royal treatment when they call or visit, you’ll set yourself up for a negative review. Get several and they can damage your business and sales!
Don’t damage your existing SEO when you launch a new website. Once you have changed page URLs, all inbound links pointing to your website (that helped you garner your old website’s placement) will be broken and the SEO juice gone.
I recommend taking time to do an .htaccess file redirect in the root of your server; list your old URLs and then redirect to the new page that is the best match. If you have a very large blog, consider leaving the old blog up and then starting a new blog site on the server, having multiple incidents of WordPress so you do not lose thousands on inbound links if you have been a very active blogger.
This is of particular importance when you are moving from a PHP or HTML site to WordPress as the format of your website links will be different.
For many well-placed websites, setting up a new domain and leaving the old site untouched may be the best solution. In fact, if the old site is well placed organically you can point your pages to your new website (not with a domain forward, but rather with links in the footer and content). This may pass some of your SEO capital to your new site to help it get established.
When you want a new site and build one, but do not come up with a plan to address your historical inbound links, you break what you had and literally have to start all over again building SEO placement. Don’t damage your existing SEO out of ignorance.
Overwriting your existing website with new URLs without a well-thought out process can really damage your online placement and may be very hard to recover from, so move thoughtfully and carefully.
Errors, they may your heart beat faster and stomach clench especially when they impact your website. But, not all errors that are reported in plugins such as Yoast or even WordFence are real errors.
For example, today the Yoast SEO plugin flagged my site as not having a home page that was visible to search engines. But on additional testing and review of files; both the robots.txt and .htaccess file there was not issue. Additionally, on testing in the Google fetch feature in the Google Search Console – no errors were triggered. The Google bot was fully allowed even though Yoast said it was not.
Sometimes errors you see are false positives. But, that does not mean you can simply mark them as ignored or disregard them all together.
All website errors should be reviewed and corrected if found to be true. Don’t guess make sure that you do not have a problem each time one is brought to your attention.
Once you use AMP on WordPress, and if you want to use AMP pages on your regular HTML site, you’ll need to do a little research. There are lots of sites and information from Google on how to set up and how to validate your new AMP pages.
This is what I have learned in the process of working on my own website pages.
The original and new AMP page need to be pointed to each other. The AMP page points to the original page using a canonical reference telling Google that the non-AMP page is the original. The non-AMP page then points to the AMP page so that Google can discover it using a special meta tag amp reference.
There are specialized AMP image references and specialized CSS references. Additionally, Google will require that the viewport be set in the page head section to validate the page.
It is not complicated to set up these static AMP pages, but it is complicated to get them to validate. That being said, the future for Google is all about AMP and mobile. With a little effort you can make your blog and website more attractive for Google to index (and cache) in this new “Mobile First” world.