Things may be getting ugly real soon at Yelp and other sites that allow anonymous reviews of businesses. In Virginia, a judge ruled that deliberately false statements are not protected speech. The problem is, the business owner suing in this case hasn’t proven that these anonymous reviews contain deliberately false statements.
Online reviews certainly change the way certain laws can be used in court. Previously, if you didn’t like a certain business, all you had to do is tell a friend. What you said to your friend in the privacy of your conversation couldn’t be disputed, but online reviews can.
Even if they’re anonymous.
Yelp and other sites have been hiding behind the First Amendment since their inception. That party might soon come to an end, however, if more businesses sue in states where the laws allow them to question the legitimacy of reviews.
These matters are complicated by the fact that a competitor can pay someone to post fake reviews of your business. Not many people, that I know of, would consider that protected speech. If you’re a business owner, I doubt that you’d want such fake reviews influencing people’s decision to do business with you. And that’s the problem. Right now, they can.
So will anonymous reviews soon be a thing of the past? Andy Beal has an interesting suggestion. Maybe it’s time for Yelp to introduce a verified customer attribute, but that makes me wonder just how they’d be able to do that.
What’s your take on anonymous reviews and social review sites like Yelp?
There are many things that can kill your reputation online, but one of the things that will kill it fastest is getting caught buying fake reviews. That’s true whether we are talking about Yelp reviews of your business, reviews of your product on Amazon, or reviews on Google Places. Fake reviews are a reputation killer.
Don’t believe it? See what happened to Samsung.
The sad part about this is Samsung has a strong reputation for making quality products. So why would anyone associated with the company feel the need to post fake reviews of its products? They should be able to get plenty of positive reviews for their products.
Whatever genius came up with this idea should be fired. They should be replaced by someone who can encourage their customers to post positive reviews instead. For instance, run an in-store promotion where you give away a product by random drawing that includes anyone who has posted a review of Samsung’s products. That way, you encourage people to post reviews and reward them for doing so.
It is important to protect your online reputation. The best way to do that is to build great products, provide excellent customer service, and don’t do anything stupid.
If you own a local business and you’ve been wondering how you can use the search engines and social media to attract more customers to your business, then I highly recommend Google Places. It just got a whole lot better.
More and more, Google has been embracing social media. And Google Places is becoming a nice blend of social media with search engine optimization benefits.
The Lat Long blog outlines some of the recent changes that Google Places adapted to make it better. I must say, the changes are a welcoming upgrade. Here are some of those changes and how they can benefit you.
- Google Places is now more personalized. You can upload your photo and all of your reviews will appear in one location for easy referencing.
- You can make friends on Google Places – not a bad idea. Your friends don’t have to be local. If you travel a lot, you might have friends all over the planet. Each friend is a connection to more local places in every area of the world where you have friends. You can share each others reviews through any Web interface including your mobile phone.
- It is now a lot easier to rate and review local businesses of any type.
- You can search for specific types of business in any location and review the ones you want.
- The new Google Places web design is a 100% improvement.
The best way to use Google Places is to be a reviewer. If you are a business owner, don’t just sit back and wait for reviews. Be proactive. Review other businesses and you will develop new contacts in your local area. Those contacts will see that you own a business and are more likely to visit your business if they like and trust your reviews.
Business reviews just became a lot more social and those social benefits carry more search engine optimization benefits. Thank you Google Places.
All the search engines have a place for local businesses to claim a local listing. Google Places, Bing, and Yahoo! Local are all tied to the Maps feature at the search engines and each one has a way for customers to write reviews of the business. All the reviews – positive and negative – have the potential to help your business rank in the search engines.
You’ve heard the expression “content is king.” What that means is any content has the potential to help your site, or your business, rank.
Let’s say, for instance, that your business listing at Google Places has 50 reviews. Forty five of them are positive reviews and five are not. Even those five negative reviews are helping your local business listing rank at the top of the search results for searches related to your niche.
But your website can benefit from negative reviews too. Add a reviews page to your website and allow your customers to write reviews on your website. The more reviews you get, the more likely you are to have that page rank in the search engines for searches related to your business.
While negative reviews can help, you can encourage positive reviews by providing excellent customer service and by asking your good customers to write reviews. If you add your Google Places listing and your website’s reviews page URL to your business cards, brochures, and shopping bag inserts, you’ll encourage customers to write reviews of your business. Provide them good service in the process and they’ll be good reviews.