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!
Site reputation – that’s what hackers want to steal from you for their own personal gain. Don’t think that you need to just be using WordPress to become a victim. I’ve seen regular HTML website fall prey to hack attacks too.
It typically all starts with your user name and password being stolen. Hackers create a phishing page that looks legit that they hope you will click and then enter in your user name and password into. The best defense is to never click links in an email and if you do click a link, never share login information no matter how valid a site or form looks.
Instead, go to your login address using your browser and access your account without clicking a link. You will typically find that there is not a problem with your account or access. But the email you had received had some dire notice that you were going to lose access or your account would be closed. Be suspicious of everything.
Troy Hunt has it right in his article on how and why hackers want to get into your site and steal your credentials. His article is worth the read to allow you to make sure to stay safe. You will be amazed at the extent hackers will use, to mask their presence in an effort to steal your credentials and then your website reputation.
Rebecca has been my Executive Assistant for several years. Although my firm will miss her for her exceptional qualifications and head for business, it is time for her make a difference in the world around her.
A person of unique qualifications, Rebecca A. McCord brings to the table a very strong work ethic, desire to make our country strong in the global order and global marketplace, and a desire to succeed. She speaks Russian and French. Rebecca will be graduating in May 2019 but is scheduling job interviews now for full time employment after graduation.
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.
It’s the worst case scenario, you get a note from Google saying it looks like you’ve been hacked. Your website now has a tag on Google that says “this site has been hacked”, your traffic has plummeted and sales are way off. Why you!
Not all hacking is about stealing credit card information. Sometimes a hack is about stealing your traffic and your SEO juice. Only sites that are well-placed and popular are targeted for this type of hack.
The hackers know that you are doing something right and have Google’s attention and they want a piece of that action for their own benefit. What hackers will typically do in this case is to sneak in via WordPress and then move directly into your website, installing snippets of code that create folders on your server and a brand new XML site map full of spammy links pointing to websites that they are wanting to improve the placement on with Google.
Try to just delete the folder and you’re fine, think again. These scripts are propagating. Delete a folder and it will be back tomorrow in a new location with a new name. Plus the hackers will be logging in to add more junk and update their benefiting site list. It is all done to bleed off your traffic and steal the SEO juice you have.
The only way to solve this type of problem is by brute force. You’ll need to take everything down, wipe it clean and then reload only clean files plus a full new fresh update of all WordPress files. You may even have to clean your WordPress database and manually review each and every website page you put back.
When you do, make sure you are hardening your security, updating passwords and deleting files you don’t need where code may be hiding. These are smart, tricky, and unscrupulous people. They are not targeting you but for any other reason that your website is well-placed and popular.
Here’s what I do to help clients get positive reviews about their business. By rallying customers quickly when you do get a particularly damaging review, you can mitigate the damage fast.
1. Embrace Yelp. If you are a local serving business, grab your Yelp Business page. Then put the link to review you in your email signature, point customers to your Yelp page for a review in your blog and e-newsletter.
2. Ask for Reviews. When you finish a project or provide a service, get in the habit of asking for feedback. You can use an online form hosted back at your website what asks questions and provides a way to customers to rank you anonymously and let you know about the experience of working with you. Then email the client a link to the form and ask for a review and comments you can use on your website. I like to use a five star rating system for my own forms. I ask five questions and provide several radio button choices for the client to assign a rating.
3. Use Rich Snippets. Get your webmaster to code the reviews you receive in step 2 with Google’s Rich Snippet code for reviews. Google will show rated reviews that are posted on your own website with your own star rating in the Google.com index if it is coded properly.
4. Ask and Get Buy-In. Don’t be afraid of reviews, embrace them. Be open to changing what you do when you get negative feedback and make your negative reviews turn into positive ones with concern about improving your user experience. I had one client give feedback that he did not like how I required him to fax his signature to the agreement as he did not have a fax machine. Based on his feedback I moved to a digital signing app and even asked his advice on the use. He was happy to try it out and give additional feedback. I learned that customers want options that match their own technology skill sets.
5. Give Options. Choose more than one path to give you a review. Some clients do not want to set up an account at Yelp to leave a review, or do not know what a Google Account is and why they have to set one up to review you at Google+. But everyone can complete an online form that resides on your website if you email a link. Give options to allow those who do want to say something nice about you and your services and make it easy for them to do so.
If you need help getting reviews or need help figuring out how to resolve bad reviews or build great reviews, make sure to check out our Brand Booster program.