Posts Tagged “Google+ Local”

What Posting Paid and Fake reviews Can Do for Your Business

Customer reviews are increasingly important to all kinds of businesses, especially those that are locally based. Not only do more and more people find themselves heading to sites like Yelp! to check out what their peers have had to say about a certain business before they consider using it, the number of reviews a business has on Google Local makes a big difference as well, not only to their reputation but also to their overall SERPs visibility.

Actually, garnering these reviews from real people can be hard work and when you are already very busy, as most of us are, it can be tempting to look for shortcuts and in this case, many people turn to posting – and even paying for – fake reviews.  The question is: Is there really anything good to be gained from doing this?

Yelp and Fake Reviews

As the current ‘king’ of business review sites, Yelp! is the one place many businesses really want to shine and therefore, not too surprisingly as more people realized, more fake reviews began appearing. The situation got so bad that both consumers and the media began questioning the validity of Yelp! as a helpful tool at all. This led to the company itself taking aggressive action to stamp the practice out.

Nowadays, when Yelp! discovers fake reviews, they don’t take them down and they don’t remove the businesses listing. What they do instead is add a big pop box that informs users that they are about to view a listing for a company that has, in their words, “been caught red handed paying for reviews”. Users are then offered the chance to either click through to see the proof of that or to go ahead and read what is there anyway, or both. Whatever a user decides to do at this point, the damage is done.

And how do they find these reviews? Well, not only do they keep an eye for unusual user accounts activity and IP addresses (a restaurant in New Jersey getting 19 great reviews from a user whose IP address pegs them in Asia is a little unusual – you would have to agree) but they also have a little sting team of their own on the case as well.

Google and Fake Reviews

Posting fake reviews on Google may be even riskier as not only do you risk your company’s reputation but its standing in the SERPs as well. It is rare for Google to go in for public shaming in the way that Yelp! do (although they have been known to), they simply serve up a SERPs penalty instead and not just against your Google presence but often against your website as well.

And by the way, it is not just fake reviews Google penalize for, they also frown on paid reviews as well, much in the same way as they do paid links.

Fake reviews on Your Own Site

So, how about if you add a few not so real reviews to your own site, that can’t be so bad right? Wrong. By doing so, you are making a direct attempt to fool potential customers and if you are rumbled for that, very few consumers will ever forgive you. This also holds true for having employees, friends or family post for you as well. In an increasingly connected world, it is actually very easy for people to make the connections between the business and these people rather quickly as well, especially via social media, making you look silly as well as dishonest.

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How to Make the Most of a Google+ Local Page

For any business that has a local focus, no matter what niche it is in, taking advantage of Google + Local is, these days, a must. Why? Because an optimized and properly maintained Google + Local page can help you reach as much as 97% of the consumers who search for local businesses on the Internet. A Google + Local page also helps with general search visibility.

Google Plus Local

The big question, of course, for those perhaps less familiar with Google + Local, is just what makes for a properly optimized page? Here are a few tips:

One Hundred Percent Completion

This may sound like a very obvious advice but a stunning number of businesses do not complete more than 50% of the information that Google offers them the chance to, decreasing the effectiveness of their presence.  Most often neglected are business hours, payment methods accepted and additional photographs of the business, all of which can significantly increase the chances that your page will show up prominently in a keyword search.

Make Sure You are in All Possible Categories

When you are offered the chance to categorize your business, try not to settle for just one. Take the time to explore what is available to you and just what you your business would fit into. For example, if you own a pizza restaurant, you can take advantage of ‘pizza restaurant, delivery restaurant, restaurant and fast food restaurant’.

Never, Ever, Fake Reviews

By now you have probably noticed the addition of the ‘local carousel’ at the top of a local Google search. The position a business occupies in this depends a great deal on the number of positive reviews it has, so it can be more tempting than ever to fake a few reviews, or ask your family and friends to add a few while you wait for customers to leave some.

This is something you must never, ever do. Google are coming down harder than ever on misleading reviews and those that are caught not only suffer in the local listings but their actual website is often penalized in the SERPs as well.

Add Your Own Google Local Map to Your Website

Google will auto generate a standard Google Map for your listing but for the best visibility, take advantage of the fact that you can add a specialized Google Local Map that features your logo and more specifics about your business to your website. To do that, go to Google Maps, search for your own address, click the link button and grab the embed code and then add it to your site, preferably on your Contact Us page.

Pay Attention to Your Listing

Once you have optimized your Google + local listing, don’t just forget about it. Businesses have the opportunity to add information, news and additional photos to their listing as well as the chance to respond to reviews. There are also analytics available that offer information about how and when your page is viewed, information that may prove very useful in general.

More Google+ and social media resources? Please visit our Marketing Resources page.

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