This interview with Michael Fleischner of Big Fin Solutions is part of the Convirza Webinar Series. The following is the Q&A portion of the interview.
McKay: Great. Michael, that was great stuff. I think, regardless of the size or type of business, I mean, it’s a major issue. Even big companies, if I go on a company site and I’m trying to buy a product and there’s poor reviews or there’s people talking poorly about the specific product. Then I think it maybe is an big issue for smaller companies, where, if I’m going to hire somebody for a professional service like a lawyer for example or I’m going to a restaurant or whatever, a few negative things said or showing up on Ripoff Report, that can sink a business faster than about anything. So thanks for all the information.
We’ve got about 15 minutes for questions, everybody. The questions are starting to flow in. So I’m going to ask you this placeholder, Michael. as more questions come in here. We’ve got a few coming in already. So we encourage you to ask those. But first, it seems like you’re saying people have been and are currently sort of approaching this whole idea wrong. They maybe has some old school traditional ways of viewing it. How widespread is than problem? How many people are actually doing it correctly, overcoming the negative reputation, or how many people are doing it wrong? I guess this is my question.
Michael: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I know McKay, you and I have talked about this from time to time. The challenge that we generally had is someone may say, “Hey, I have a problem.” But they assume that someone else is taking care of it, right? So they might have a couple of people on the marketing team who are taking care of social media, they may have people working on the website who are doing “SEO”. But the reality is that, as we mentioned earlier, things are changing so quickly that the techniques, even that we used to recommend to our clients a year ago, we’re not recommending anymore for a couple of reasons, and you really touched on it.
If you’re a small business, then the stakes in some ways are much higher because it doesn’t take a lot for someone to say, “Oh, I’m not going to use the cleaner that’s five minutes from my house. I’m going to use the cleaner that’s 10 minutes from my house because I saw these online negative reviews.” When you’re a larger company, your product set might be so diverse that a couple of bad reviews on a product really isn’t going to make a difference.
But at the same time, what tends to happen is this stakes are higher with the larger businesses. So that the Fortune 1000 companies that we deal with, they’re the ones who are seeing Ripoff Report show up on their results. The small mom and pop companies that we’re working with, they’re the ones who see a bad review on Yelp. So I think it’s a matter of scale. But more direct to your question, I think that it’s changing so rapidly so that even if someone things they’re doing a good job today, you need to stay on top of these things in order to make sure that that page one always looks its best.
McKay: That’s great. All right, we got a couple of questions in now and I want to run through a couple of these with you, Michael. So we have a question from Andy who says, “First of all, do you solicit reviews from people, positive reviews, and how do you go about doing that? Is that an important part of this and how do you do it?”
Michael: Yeah, that’s a great question, Andy. There are couple of ways to do it. It really all depends on what type of review you’re looking for. So I’ll give you a good example.
We did some work with a service that had some negative reviews on Indeed, Indeed is a job site, and they were appearing on page one. Actually there were two separate listings on page one from Indeed that were negative. Of course if I’m a disgruntled employee, of course I’m going to write a negative review.
Now, what I found out in working with the company is that they do internal survey on a pretty regular basis, I think twice a year, among their employees and they never really ask their employees if they could publish positive reviews to the web. So we worked with them to change the process and they were able to address that Indeed issue pretty quickly.
If you’re a small business and you know you have that question like, “Hey, how should I handle reviews? Should I ask people for it?” there are a couple of ways to handle that. One is you could print business cards with a URL that says, “Did you have a good experience? Go out to Yelp, Google Places, whatever the case might be. Here’s the URL. We’d love to hear from you.”
But what we like to do is we like to encourage businesses to think about the middle ground. The middle ground is, “Can people give you feedback?” And if that feedback is positive, then reach out to them and ask them to leave a review where you really want that review, which could be Google Places, which could be Yelp, which could be some of these other sites. And there are dozens and dozens of ways to do that. That could be whole separate webinar. But some businesses build review websites, others just ask for e-mails or e-mail their customers and ask for feedback, and then of course ask for permission to publish that online.
McKay: That’s great. There’s a question here from Julie. This seems a strange question. And if you know the answer for this or I did, I think if anybody did, we would be extraordinarily wealthy. She says, “My Facebook business page was on page one, then suddenly disappeared. Why?” That’s a really good question, Julie. I think if someone can nail exactly why happened, we would know what we’d be much wealthier. Any thoughts on that question, Michael?
Michael: Yes. So things are always changing, right? so it’s not just what happened to that page. It’s what happening to all of the other listings on the first couple of pages. So we’d have to look at the specific situation. But I think what it does is just reinforce the fact that you can’t be a one-trick pony. That’s why we always say look at multiple social accounts. Use a tool that allows you to publish once, but push that content out on multiple site to make it easy to manage, and why we really feel that local optimization is so important today. Because, again, at least using the platform we’re familiar with, you can publish it once and push it out across 50 of the top sites. So that if you know one site falls off, it’s really not going to make the difference because right behind that, you’ve got Superpages and local.com, 411 and all these others.
McKay: Makes sense. All right, let’s go through a couple of more of these. All right, so Cara asked a question. She says, “We’ve been told that Yelp actually hides positive reviews from users who have no other reviews, which can ultimately hurt the profile if you ask people to review Yelp and they aren’t Yelp users.” Do you know anything about Yelp, how that all works, and what they do with reviews positive and negative?
Michael: Yeah, I don’t have that specific information. I haven’t heard that previously. But the goal with any review site, whether it’s Yelp or even Google Places, is to get a minimum of six reviews. Now, the reason the magic number is six is because, and I’m more familiar with Google Places, once you hit six reviews, that definitely starts to influence your ranking on organic search.
So with Yelp, let’s assume they are hiding positive listings, they would only be doing that for a certain period of time. So again, if you could solicit feedback from your customers and have multiple reviews, that really shouldn’t be an issue. And again, why you want to diversify, right, you can’t put all your eggs in your basket. Quite honestly, you know, I get this question all the time. “Which is better, one five-star review or a review score of three out of five if there are 15 people reviewing?”
I always say go after the three out of five. It’s more believable, it’s credible, and people are just looking to make sure that there aren’t a lot of negative reviews. I think whether you come out as neutral or positive, it’s always positive. So again, just a personal philosophy, and folks may disagree with me, but I think that’s really the case.
McKay: That’s great. A couple of other quick question here. From Andy, “Would you consider adding a note to your e-mail signature, for example, asking for reviews?” My personal take on that would be a yes. Provide a link to where you want them to review precisely. That’s a great way to do it. Any way you can generate more positive reviews, I think, is probably a good thing. Would you agree with, Michael?
Michael: Yes, but I would have amend that too, McKay, and I would say that I would add a feedback link. Because if someone has something negative to say, I want to hear about it before they post that online. So question marks, feedback, exclamation point, let us know. And then oftentimes, you can really discover some issues before they become problems.
McKay: That’s great. The other question we’ve had a couple of times on here, “I’ve heard of horror stories about people trying to positively review their own business.” The tools seem to be getting smarter in that respect. So those are good questions to have. I’ve heard those types of stories. Have your heard those as well, Michael?
Michael: Yes. So I think the key here is that you want to be genuine. Some sites actually, for example, on Amazon, if you’re publishing a book or selling a product, oftentimes you can leave a description or leave a comment, and you just want to be very transparent and say, for example, “Hey I’m the author of SEO Made Simple and here are the positives about this book and why you should buy it,” as opposed to creating 50 stealth Amazon accounts and going out creating your own reviews. Because you know, a lot of it is IT driven and you know these are big companies with advanced technology and it doesn’t take much for them to say, “Hey, you’re out of bounds and we’re taking you down.”
McKay: That’s great. Well, great. I think we’re out of time, Michael, but I do want to see if you have any final thoughts on just this whole concept of reputation management, maybe a couple of quick takeaways that we can start on immediately or ways we can improve in the immediate future.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I say to everybody who attended today, thank you again so much for listening. This idea of reputation management is only going to get more and more important as companies and individuals need to manage their online brand. So what you can do is really be proactive. Start today. Don’t wait you know until that negative, nasty, review appears.
If there’s a negative, nasty review and you need to address it, again, now is the time to really stop and think about what will be best for the longterm. So definitely give that some thought. Like I said, in terms of insider’s tips and strategies, focus on social, focus on local.
Of course if you guys would like more information on any of that, I encourage you to reach out to us here at Upward SEO or go to the forum and ask other people what they’re doing to manage those things because I think right now, they are the most important things to focus and, again, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy, but it certainly requires some attention.
With that, I’ll wish everyone luck and encourage you guys to continue to check in and see how things change.
McKay: Awesome. That’s great information, Michael. We really appreciate it, sir.
Michael: McKay, thanks so much and thanks to Convirza.
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