Category Archives: Reviews

Need Help Getting Reviews? Its only $299/mo and a ‘little’ cheating

Counterfeit_moneyGoogle, in their ever increasing focus on reviews, has created a marketplace where abuse of their review system has economic rewards. This is not new but the companies working in the space of getting reviews at any cost have become somewhat more sophisticated in circumventing Google’s filters and refining their pitch. And for as many opportunistic companies that look to help businesses “get” reviews by hook or by crook there seem to be plenty of small businesses anxious use their services.

I received this email four times over the past two months:

Subject: Re:here r your bad reviews

Your business reputation is in jeopardy!

I found a negative review about your business on Google. It only took a few short minutes to find a negative review about your business on other credible directories, and it didn’t take much longer to find even more.

No matter what kind of advertisement you do, people look you up in Google and other popular directories before contacting you and as soon as they see the negative reviews, they stop contacting you. If you want to safeguard your online reputation – and protect the steady growth of your business – then monitoring and responding to negative reviews like the ones posted on Google, Yelp, Citysearch, InsdierPages, Yellowpages, Mantra etc is crucial. According to the latest research at the Harvard university, 72% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Don’t let your bad review influence hundreds of potential customers. Reputation Management has quickly moved from being an option to a necessity.

We are Reputation Marketing experts and I want to send you a FREE custom Reputation Report that will reveal in detail your company’s online reviews. To get your free report call us at (866) 966-7396 and we can begin to rebuild your 5 star online reputation together.

Warm Regards,

Roland Sahak
Reputation Marketing Expert
Tel: 866-966-7396
Direct: 818-570-3363
Professional Optimizer

When I received it again last week, I couldn’t resist calling to see exactly what these reputation marketing experts offered. Any business that starts their sales efforts with spammy deception has to have an interesting tale on their route to finding and dealing with clients. I wasn’t disappointed. When I called, Roland himself answered the phone and this is what I learned: Continue reading Need Help Getting Reviews? Its only $299/mo and a ‘little’ cheating

How Many Reviews to Get the Star Treatment? Somewhere Between 4 and 5

Eagle eyed Phil Rozek of Local Visibility pointed out this example of a business with 4 reviews that is showing the new star treatment in the main search result for jewelry boston:

jewelry boston

I thought that  odd as previously it had seemed that 5 reviews was the limit to get the star treatment. Well it is odd. It seems that sometimes it is four reviews and sometimes it is five reviews. Go figure.

Here is a local carousel for a search (restaurants ellicottville, ny) where a listing with 4 reviews doesn’t have stars but 5 reviews does:

restaurants ellicottville ny

And another for a search for jewelry orlando which also shows no stars with four reviews and stars with five:

jewelry orlando   Google Search

There is some factor that causes Google to consider 4 enough to show the stars. What it is, is not exactly clear. Ideas?

Love-Hate Relationship? Zagat Brand Gets Increasing Visibility in 5-Star Carousel

I did not notice this before but as the new Local Carousel takes on the 5-Star treatment, it appears that the Zagat brand is taking on a higher profile or at least its Z is.

This seems odd to me given Google’s move away from the Zagat rating system and having laid off all of their temporary Zagat workers and replaced them with full-time workers from Frommers. Business Insider noted: “The future of Zagat book production looks extremely bleak,” says a source.  “The whole division as currently structured seems to be on death watch. Lots of chatter about outsourcing.

It all becomes weirder when you realize that they then turned around and sold Frommer’s back to its original founder. It sounds more like a soap opera than a business transaction but at least they got a lot of data.

carousel-only

 

As David Mihm asked in this recent commentHard to say whether Zagat or Frommer’s was the bigger waste of money for Google…especially when you take into account all of the integration and dis-integration costs. I wonder if anyone on Wall Street is considering Marissa’s track record here WRT her spending spree at Yahoo?

The Zagat name and logo is mentioned at least 3 times in the brand panel as well (go figure – don’t ask me to explain Google’s thinking. $20 million here, $120 million there….is data and the Z really that valuable?):

Continue reading Love-Hate Relationship? Zagat Brand Gets Increasing Visibility in 5-Star Carousel

Google’s 5-(orange) Stars Spreading Internationally, to Adwords & Rich Snippets

More folks are reporting the visibility of the 5-Star system on the main search results that Google has been rolling out. I am seeing them at work in Chrome on my Mac but not in Safari or Firefox and I am still not seeing them at home. There were also reports of them being seen in the Netherlands so they are obviously going global simultaneously.

I was surprised to see that the same orangey color was being applied to both rich snippet reviews AND to AdWord reviews. The orange is very visible on the Local Carousel but less so against the white background on the main search results. It would be interesting to see an eye tracking study to see if they disrupt searcher behavior as much as the yellow color does.

The 5-Stars have been permanently moved onto the G+ Page and the new Maps and are still intermittent on the desktop. They have not yet been spotted in mobile search or on the old Maps yet.

(click to view larger)

barbara oliver reviews   Google Search

First Reports of 5-Stars Returning to the Main Search Results

Update: We now have screen shots of the 5 Star treatment in the new Local Carousel

The last bastion of Zagat has finally been breached and reports are showing up of 5 Stars returning to the main search results page in the Pack. Poster Valesence shared her sighting of the new display at the LocalSearchForum.

Google announced the return to the 5-Star system in mid-May at the I/O Conference, along with the rollout of the new Google Maps. Phil Rozek reported their return to the Google+ Pages for local last week. The stars have not yet been reported on the new Local Carousel. But they are obviously undergoing testing and while they are are not universally visible  it is only a matter of time before both the Pack and Carousel results both show 5-Stars.

Google replaced the yellow stars with the Zagat system in May, 2012 when Google rolled Places pages into Plus. It was clear from August of last year that Google was testing a return to the 5 Star system and they were never removed from local AdWords display.

Here is the screen shot of a 7-Pack with the “new” star treatment:

Screen Shot courtesy of Valesence/LocalSearchForum

 

Google Local & Review Scams – A Simple Solution

Local scams involving Google are like dipthera on dog feces, very common. Whether it’s the hundreds of companies trading off of Google’s name, fake Google plaquesselling reviews, a company implying that they are Google and offering to “help” you claim your listing or claiming to be able to rank you first because of a special direct relationship to Google, scams involving Google seem to evolve with the local opportunity de jure.

To some extent Google has impacted the review for sale issue with their review filtering technology. However for most of these scams Google can do little to prevent them and G can only respond after the fact. It must be like whack a mole for their busy legal department.

But when this scam email came across my desk, immediately upon receipt I thought“well I better go check my reviews”… It is clearly a deceit but one that readily attracts the business owner. Yet it  is one deceit that Google could and should have solved long ago.

Re:here r your bad reviews

Your business reputation is in jeopardy!

I found a negative review about your business on Google. It only took a few short minutes to find a negative review about your business on other credible directories, and it didn’t take much longer to find even more.

 No matter what kind of advertisement you do, people look you up in Google and other popular directories before contacting you and as soon as they see the negative reviews, they stop contacting you. If you want to safeguard your online reputation – and protect the steady growth of your business – then monitoring and responding to negative reviews like the ones posted on Google, Yelp, Citysearch, InsdierPages, Yellowpages, Mantra etc is crucial. According to the latest research at the Harvard university, 72% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Don’t let your bad review influence hundreds of potential customers. Reputation Management has quickly moved from being an option to a necessity.

We are Reputation Marketing experts and I want to send you a FREE custom Reputation Report that will reveal in detail your company’s online reviews. To get your free report call us at (866) 966-7396 and we can begin to rebuild your 5 star online reputation together.

Warm Regards,

Roland Sahak

Reputation Marketing Expert

The solution?

Google should implement some form active notification when a business receives a review on their claimed Google listing. Ideally this notification is one that would bring businesses back to the Dashboard and allow them to respond to the review from within the Dashboard rather than forcing them back to the G+ Page to make a response.

Google could also provide some sort of active feed of the + Page that could be used by the business and 3rd parties alike although that seems unlikely given Google’s recent trends to keep data and people on their pages.

Regardless Google could stop these sorts of scams cold, provide some solace to businesses receiving reviews AND increase SMB engagement with Google’s new dashboard. This is a simple solution that should have occurred years ago but there is no time like the present. The new, plug in ready Dashboard offers the perfect environment to make up for lost time.

Google Local Adds New Troubleshooter to Move Reviews When a Business Relocates

house-moving-3Google has announced in the forums their ability and willingness to now move reviews when a business has moved locations and to remove reviews with significant brand changes for a given location. The request by the business to do so is done via a new troubleshooter form.

The guidelines that will apply to requests to move reviews can be summarized as follows: same business at a new location, reviews will be moved; New business at the same location reviews will be removed.

This new (and welcome) capability in no way affects the policy or procedure around removing inappropriate individual reviews –  flagging the review as inappropriate via the G+ Plage and if dissatisfied with the lack of response then filing a troubleshooter report.

Here are the specifics of the guidelines:

Change of ownership

If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that hasn’t changed it’s name, reviews will not be removed. You can use owner responses to respond to previous reviews and clarify any changes/improvements to the services your business is providing.

Change in name

If you are the new owner or manager of an existing business that has changed its name, reviews may be removed if your business meets specific criteria.

  • Rebrand: Reviews can be removed from the listing if there’s been a significant change in well known, distinct brand name changes. Hotels or fast food establishment that switch franchise affiliations or car dealers that specialize in a different makes of cars would qualify for review removal.
  • Name changes related to change in underlying services: For instance, a business that switches from Jade’s Chinese Garden Restaurant to India Palace Restaurant, or Al’s Sporting Goods Store to Performance Bike Repair, would qualify for review removal
  • Partners or other business affiliations that disassociate: For example, if Perkins and Rogers, Attorneys at Law becomes Perkins, Attorney at Law because Rogers has left the practice to form his own, all reviews would be detached. Note that all reviews would be removed, not just the ones that refer to a particular practitioner

Name changes that don’t reflect core changes to the business’s services aren’t eligible for review removal. For example, if Dasha’s Dry Cleaner becomes Dasha’s Super Dry Cleaner, or JFK Limo Service becomes Super JFK Limo, reviews will remain in place.

Out of business

If your business closes, reviews will remain attached to the closed listing.

Physical location (address) move

If your business moves from one location to another and keeps the same business name, Google will generally move the reviews to the new location. There are some exceptions for businesses heavily tied to their locations, like hotels, golf courses or scenic attractions.

Submit a request for us to move reviews using this form. Currently this is only available for users of the new Google Places for Business dashboard, but we expect to expand its availability soon. I will update this post when it is available more widely.

 

Some Tidbits from Google’s Rollouts Yesterday

The weird stuff from yesterday has come into clearer focus. New Maps, Back to the Future on Review Rating Stars (although red this time), New G+ (argh)….but here are some tidbits that might make all of the once and future changes a tad more understandable:

  • The new Google Maps is currently available by invite only. You must go here and request an invitation as it is still considered a preview.
  • However there is some leakage in the preview. To see the new Maps list view of local search results add the search parameter “&tbm=plcs” to a local search result. Even though the URL parameter indicates that this is the Places page (whose link was removed last week from the main search page), it currently is only visible to the public via the new Google Maps to those that have access to the preview.
  • Whether this view will ever be visible via the main search results is unknown. Certainly retaining the old url parameter makes it confusing. But it appears so far that local isn’t so much being rebranded as being absorbed into Maps and Plus. Still no real clear name for it. I guess that entitles us to make it up. Nominations are open.
  • Google is abandoning the Zagat rating system. I guess they are planning on selling it to Yahoo. Regardless, in another visible leak of the coming upgrade, you can see the new rating system on your Place Page G+ Local Page uh your (local and perhaps social) G+ Page by adding this search parameter “&rfmt=s” to the G+ Page URL.
  • In the current iteration of the G+ Page for Local with the new review notation, it appears that there is a bug that prevents owner comments from displaying. (Hat tip to Dave…welcome back btw)
  • If you are like me, and find the new, improved G+ layout to be way too distracting and hard to follow you can change it most of the way back by using this tip from David Fuchs:

Go to your home page
– Click “More” on top
– Scroll all the way to the bottom
– two icons choose the left one.

To fix the profile page

-Settings

Accessibility
[x] Change the presentation of some pages to work better with screen readers and other accessibility tools.

Access Your Local G+ Page with the New 5 Star Treatment

The new local result list display that was discovered today makes more sense when viewed in context of the newly updated Maps. Select the “Go to list of top results” link from the refinement pane and you will arrive at the new page. For those of you that don’t have access to the new Maps view yet, you can get to this list view by adding the parameter “&tbm=plcs” to a local search result URL as in this search for Jewelry Design Buffalo NY

Once there you can click on the Google Reviews link for any listing to see how the newly formatted G+ Page for local will look with the new red 5 star motif. Adding the parameter “&rfmt=s” to the +Page URL: https://plus.google.com/103156080483607740278/about?hl=en&rfmt=s will take you directly to the G+ page showing the new review stars.

Note the bold use of red number in summary at the top of the review sections that is significantly more obvious that the stars and immediately draws the eye down the page. I am sure that no one will miss the arbitrary 29 that was often given to those with averages of 30. Click the image to view it at full resolution. Or better just go there yourself. :)

red-star-plus-page

 

 

 

Google Local Returns to a 5 Star System In New Maps

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 3.23.36 PMAlong with a total revamp of Maps, Google has announced at I/O, the forum and their blog the return to a 5 star review system. You can request an invite to the new Maps here. From their blog post:

Users who opt-in to the new Google Maps will now rate businesses on a scale that ranges from one to five stars. The system maintains the precision of the former 30 point scale while improving the readability and accessibility of the business listings. Your customers will be able to find up-to-date, accurate information on your business faster than ever. As a business owner, you’ll notice that past ratings have been mapped to the five star system.

Here is how the new scores are now calculated:

poor/fair = 2 stars
good = 3 stars
very good = 4 stars
excellent = 5 stars

Some other notes from Google:

  • Users on legacy Maps, mobile (Android + iOS), Google+, Google.com, and other properties will continue to see 30 point ratings for several more weeks
    • If a user is opted into the New Google Maps and clicks on a “more reviews” they will be taken to a plus page where they will see the 5 star ratings
    • However, if the same user had just navigated to the page from plus.google.com they would see 30 point scale
    • Note that users just searching on google.com not coming from New Google Maps will continue to see the old results.
  • Google will no longer be asking users to rate on specific dimensions/aspects. For example, for restaurants users will no longer rate the “food”, “decor” and “service”.
    • Google will show just one overall score (they used an algorithm to translate the food/decor/service scores into a blended overall score).

To the dismay of many, Google replaced the yellow stars with the Zagat system in May, 2012 when Google rolled Places pages into Plus. It was clear from August of last year that Google was testing a return to the 5 Star system and they were never removed from local AdWords display.

The current iteration of stars appear to be universally red and it seems that they will roll out to all properties over the next few months. The new “Places” results that were spotted earlier will apparently be the results seen when visited from the new Maps interface.