Category Archives: Reviews

Google Review Snippets – Hall of Shame Favorites

Front page, full sentence Google review snippets are in full swing and I can’t take my eyes off of them. I have spent more time than I should looking for front page examples of smb armageddon. And I am finding them even on more highly rated businesses. And they can certainly add “color”.

Its still not clear exactly when or why Google includes certain snippets or no snippets at all. For example here is a knowledge panel for a hotel in Chicago with 22 reviews, some within the past 4 months, many within the past year and yet nary a front page panner. And there are some doozies in there.

Pubic Hairs
Bold is all Google’s

But here are some of the ones that I have seen on the Knowledge Panels that have struck me as powerful examples of what a business DOESN’T want to happen. There is no hiding any more. It will be interesting to hear from some owners once they start seeing these.

Bottom line is that a business with bad service can run but they can’t hide.

Please share your favorite “hall of shame” examples.

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Although this example from the other day is still one of my “hall of shame favorites”:
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Some others:

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Google Review Snippets – More Impactful by Half

With the rollout of review sentiment snippets to the Knowledge Panel in Local search, Google has again elevated reviews another notch in their visibility and impact. These “review synopses” are not just more visible but in being just one sentence and clearly highlighted they are more capable of having greater affect on the reader.

nightmares

In the previous incarnation of sentiment snippets (still extant on the about page) Google amassed a jumble of words that really had little affect and was easily ignored. The graph is clear but the sentiments provide little of value and no context :

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The new review synopsis on the other hand stands out and guarantees, by both the brevity and boldness, a higher likelihood of being read and a higher likelihood of impacting the searcher attitude:

Continue reading Google Review Snippets – More Impactful by Half

Using Google Reviews On Your Website

The question often comes up whether a business can and should use their Google & Yelp reviews on their website. Leaving aside the value to the user experience for a minute, I was curious about the legal issues involved.

A small business would be foolish to use those reviews if the costs of litigation, however remote, would be onerous. So I set out to answer the question by asking on G+. It lead to a lively discussion (be sure to read the comments) and a clarification/confirmation from Google themselves.

Here is what Google says about the use of the reviews:

“Google reviews content is authored by our users. We would suggest that business owners ask for permission from the author of the content before re-using the review on a business’s website or elsewhere. Usage of the Google brand itself is covered by these permissions: http://www.google.com/permissions/.”

Bottom line, you can use the reviews legally with user permission but might get in trouble using Google trademarks without explicit permission. Although a takedown order seems more likely than litigation. On the permissions page they note:

“All of our brand features are protected by applicable trademark, copyright and other intellectual property laws. If you would like to use any of our brand features on your website…you may need to receive permission from Google first”.

I am still exploring Yelp’s formal policy but given their litigious nature I would be hesitant to use Yelp reviews until this is clarified.

Are Younger Consumers More Tolerant of Bad Reviews? Or Do They Just Understand Them Better?

How Many Stars to Consider a Business

If your business has an aggregate star rating of 3 or less, you need to be concerned that shoppers might reject you out of hand. If, on the other hand you have a star rating greater than 4 most shoppers will accept you on face value. However we are seeing dramatically different standards within different age groups.

Several days ago I published surveys that clearly indicated that consumers perceive that a negative review corpus hurts a business more than positive reviews help them.
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I asked the following questions:

If you found a [business] online with negative reviews from customers, how likely would you be to choose it?

If you found a [business] online with positive reviews from customers, how likely would you be to choose it?

The surveys, in asking the questions in a broad way, left the question of what negative and positive reviews meant to the survey taker.

To answer the question of exactly where a searcher drew the lines I asked these two follow up questions:

When searching online for a local business, at what point on a 5 star review scale would you decide to NOT consider the business?

When searching online for a local business, how many review stars on a 5 star scale do you need to consider the business?

Here are the overal results to the first question (sample size 2500 American internet adults ages 18 and up):

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And the results to the second (sample size 2500 American internet adults ages 18 and up):

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It’s a little easier to parse this data by consolidating some of the results.  Essentially if a business is showing 3 stars or less, 82.8% would not do business with that business.

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Like wise, about the same percentage, ~84.5% would need to see something greater than 4 stars before considering any given business.

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And ~50% would need to see something greater than 3.5 stars to make the positive decision.

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The obvious conclusion from this, in a general sense,  is that if a business has a star rating greater than 3 than they will not be rejected out of hand and if they have star rating greater than 4 then most folks would consider that business favorably.

That make all kinds of sense but the research really turned up some interesting results when you started looking at the data by age group.   Continue reading Are Younger Consumers More Tolerant of Bad Reviews? Or Do They Just Understand Them Better?

Google Now Displaying Full Review Snippets in the Knowledge Panel

Off and on for the past few months Google has been showing reviews in the Knowledge panel for local searches. James Gibbons pointed out today that he was now seeing them more regularly. I would have to agree. This may be a more extensive test or it may be the new normal but many (not all) local listings with reviews are showing the snippets.

Interestingly while the specific review snippet comes from a single review, there are bolded/highlighted elements of the snippet that come from several reviews and the number is noted to the right. These highlighted snippets may or may not match the review summary snippets that are shown at the top of the about page.

They are, though, based on a principal word that repeats throughout the reviews. These bolded snippets are much more impactful when presented in the context of a full sentence. If the reviewer has a profile photo that will show as well. These photos add to a compelling presentation.

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It is not exactly clear why some listings show the reviews and others do not. (Note:These do not seem to showing on any searches in Europe, Canada or Australia yet.) For example both of these restaurants have 9 reviews. And both have 4 or 5 reviews done by users with G+ profiles. Yet one shows and one doesn’t. For reviews to show they need to have been created in G+ but that isn’t the only factor. It might be how current the reviews are as Tasta Pizza has had a review within the last month while the most recent for Angee’s is 8 months ago. Also note that in the example below, Google is only showing two review snippets not three as is typical. Another question to be answered.  If you have a theory why let me know.

Continue reading Google Now Displaying Full Review Snippets in the Knowledge Panel

Do Positive Reviews Motivate Consumers?

It seems intuitive that a negative review corpus would severely limit a business’s online opportunities. And likewise that a positive review  corpus would expand them. But these recent surveys indicate that a negative collection of reviews is much more likely to harm a business than positive reviews are going to help them.

In an effort to assist a client in quantifying the value of reviews and to help them better understand exactly what it would mean to a local business if they had negative or positive reviews, we conducted several large scale consumer surveys of 2500 US adult internet users 25 and older asking them whether they would be likely to choose or not choose a business with negative or positive review corpus.

As would be expected with a negative review corpus, ~85% of consumers indicated that they would be “not likely” or “somewhat unlikely” to choose a business with negative reviews. This response seemed independent of industry. It was heavily skewed toward the “not likely” with over 62% of all respondents indicating they would not be likely to frequent a business with negative reviews.

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However when asked the same question about positive reviews, consumers were nowhere near as likely to look upon positive reviews as reason to choose a business. Between 44% and 53% indicated that they were somewhat or very likely to chose a business with positive reviews. But the vast majority of those were “somewhat likely” rather than “very likely” indicating a degree of caution even among those that were predisposed to favor the business based on positive reviews.

47% and 56% of respondents indicated that would remain somewhat unlikely or not likely to choose a business based on positive reviews. That is a large degree of skepticism.  Continue reading Do Positive Reviews Motivate Consumers?

Reviews: Sometimes You Miss the Forrest for the Trees

dumbAmerican business is very focused on goals and measurements. This in particularly true is the sales world. Unfortunately when you treat reviews as the goal it can lead to bad outcomes. A review ask is one step in developing a long term relationship with a customer; it is not an end point. Making it a goal in and of itself can lead to bad outcomes.

Here is a question I received on Google Plus about review processes for a car dealer and my response (Full disclosure I am a principal in GetFiveStars.com an online review process management product which I think is pretty good but may bias my answers. )

Hi I represent a large auto dealership. This quarter we made it a priority to setup Google+ Local pages and start generating reviews. But unfortunately, Even though I have received over 100+ reviews I am seeing only 6 – 8 reviews on any page. This is causing the management to revert to other sites. Can you guys recommend if this issue is resolvable? As we have the quarter ending, we do not have enough reviews to show for all our work. Any recommendations from you will also be useful… 

My answer:
Well my first suggestion is to change
1)your expectations
2)your goals
3)and your methodology

My second suggestion… Continue reading Reviews: Sometimes You Miss the Forrest for the Trees

Reviews: If it is Good Enough to Do, It’s Good Enough to Do in Excess

footFile this under: Bosses come up with the worst ideas category or perhaps in the “it felt so good shooting myself in the left foot, let me do it in my right one as well” category.

This comment was recently posted on my GOOGLE: REVIEW CONTESTS VIOLATE GUIDELINES article from a Mrs G.

Mrs G. (1 comments)

So when is asking no longer asking. I work for a large company who is pushing the reviews so that they can get listed higher on the Google search engine. I mean wow, we are asking them when they come into the store, we are calling them and reminding them that we have not seen the review yet, we are going through our client lists and calling the ones we thing will give good reviews, now we are trying to get them to do the review on their phone before they leave the office. We even offer to use our phone if they did nor bring their and to help them sign up for a Gmail account if they do not have one. Are we going too far?

Dear Mrs G:

Remind me never to shop there.

Mike

 

Reputation Management Dilemma – The Review From Hell

This post recently showed up in the forums:

Link to your local Google+ page
Business name (as it is in your account): Bakersfield Funeral Home
Business location: 3121 19th Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301, USA
Business telephone: 661-871-8080
Business category: Funeral Home
Website: www.bakersfieldfuneral.com

An ex employee is trying to hurt the business after being fired for unprofessional misconduct. They made a fake google account and posted an abusive comment on our google listing and Google+ business page. Can you remove the comment and block his IP address from posting on our listing and Google+?

I followed the link to the local page and found this devastating (and only) review:

review-marijuana

He is in the funeral business so the obvious advice of asking your clients for additional reviews seems to be (wildly) inappropriate. “Gee I know that your loved one just died but if you were happy with the funeral would you mind leaving us a review?” or “Rate your funeral on a scale of one to ten, ten meaning you are willing to leave us a review.”  A clear non starter.

The only idea that struck me as reasonable was to encourage the businesses he does business with to add reviews from the G+ Pages per this David Mihm suggestion.

As Miriam Ellis noted to me in an email: Okay – that is truly terrible! Kind of made me wonder, if this is an ex-employee, if they actually made all of these details up or if any of it was true. 

Which is exactly the problem with this sort of review (assuming it is by an employee). It leaves the impression that it could possibly be true which really complicates the matter. Because of the way it was written it is very unlikely (although possible) that it would be removed by Google. If it is a fake employee review then the ex-employee really knew how to write it in a way that would be convincing.

Let’s assume that it is an employee. And that it is untrue.

What would you would suggest?

Is there a possible response that can be crafted to the review? What would it be?

Is this the rare time that legal action might be recommended?

Fake Reviews – Everyone is doing it, so it must be legal

I absolutely loved this thread at blackhatworld. The original poster asked:

Hi,

Does anybody know if it is illegal to sell fake online reviews?

I have heard about companies getting fined for posting / buying fake reviews, but can the seller actually get in trouble? If so then why does Fiverr allow you to post review gigs, I mean there is a whole section dedicated to them!

If it is illegal what I have in mind is putting in my T&C’s that all the reviews we post will be taken from other review sites for example:

If you have reviews on Amazon we will copy these and put them onto Review Centre.

Any advice would be appreciated!

A smattering of the answers that make it sound a bit more like dumbhatworld:

  • If you don’t say anything negative abut some one or some company it is probably legal. No one can punish you for good review even if it is fake
  • It’s not really illegal since there are so many people doing it..
  • Fake Review Not Problem But Need Different Different IP For Work
  • Slander is illegal so if you’re leaving negative feedback and lying in the process then yes it’s immoral and illegal. If, however, someone offers you a product in exchange for a review (much like what happens in the sales threads on here) then there’s nothing wrong with that, provided the review is honest and fair.

The answers went from dumb to dumber at least until one  poster finally posted a reasoned response based on some real (very painful) experience that I have covered previously:

I owned Glowing Reviews, which was sued by Edmunds last year for posting “fake reviews”, so I can answer with first hand info. (Just google ‘glowing reviews edmunds’)

Each country will have different laws, so I’ll answer with the US version. You need to read the FTC guidelines for testimonials(reviews) in advertising:
http://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/fil…mentguides.pdf

After consulting with attorneys, they believed that as long as a review could be tracked back to an individual it was ok. So, for example, if you collected reviews via comment card, phone call, and email and had a way to get back in touch with the customer, it would be ok to post.

At the same time, each site that allows you to post reviews (such as Amazon in your case or Edmunds in mine) has TOS that you’re supposed to follow. At every site you’ll find they require that the person posting the review is the actual person who experienced the service. So if you post on behalf of someone else, you’ll be violating the TOS.

I expected if any site ever got angry about me posting REAL reviews under my accounts, I’d get a C&D letter. I was wrong and got sued.

Someone else in this thread mentioned that it’s ok because everyone else does it. Well, good luck with that strategy. Lots of people do this, but do you always want to live wondering when you get the call from Wall Street Journal letting you know you were sued and what your comment is?

I can give more examples of legal issues causing headaches (twitter bots a couple of years ago, Yelp suing fake review posters, etc), but suffice it to say it’s probably better to find a better way to get your reviews up.

One more thing… If you incent the reviews in any way (Ie – leave a review on Amazon and you’ll get 25% off your next order), according to the FTC PDF I linked, they need to say that they are a paid endorser in their review. I’d expect to get sued less often by the FTC for “forgetting this” or doing it on a small scale, but if they decide to make an example of someone look out…

The bottom line? Fake reviews are illegal plain and simple. The rewards of fake reviews are positive. The risks on the other hand, while infrequent, are very high.