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Managing Online Reviews to Improve SEO

By MichelleHummel
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Online reviews have become a real presence and concern for businesses.
 First there was the Better Business Bureau [BBB]. It was a staple for years. Before buying a product or contracting for a service, consumers checked the BBB rating of companies.

Today the market has changed. It has evolved. It has expanded. First, there came Angie’s List. Now there is Yelp and dozens of industry specific rating and review sites.

Good ratings can drive traffic and bring prospective consumers. Bad ratings can turn away prospective consumers. If you have no ratings or reviews, you fall beyond the competition. What can you do? What will you do to drive positive customer ratings and reviews?

Listen to what one bankruptcy law firm is alleged to have done. The law firm, McMillan Law Group, received its first review on Yelp-a negative one star review “Would never recommend. Didn’t abide by their own agreement. Communication was very poor.” Soon thereafter, positive reviews began flooding the Yelp listing for McMillan Law Group. Is it consequence or foul play?

Yelp is alleging foul play. One positive review came from a confirmed employee of the McMillan Law Group, one from a soon to be wife of an attorney employed by the McMillan Law Group, and 4 positive reviews were submitted from a computer at the McMillan Law Group IP address. There is more. The McMillan Law Group is accused of engaging in a “circle of San Diego lawyers who trade positive reviews” on Yelp. Yelp asserts that this conduct:

• Is a breach of the Yelp User Agreement,
• Intentionally interferes with contractual relationships,
• Is a violation of the Unfair Competition Statutes, and
• Amounts to false advertising.

Yelp is demanding an amount exceeding $25,000. Wow, who would have thought? Who would have thought this could lead to some heavy legal allegations?

So what can you do? What should you do regarding online marketing and reviews?

  1.  The same rules of advertising apply to online, so follow traditional advertising rules when participating in online activity.
  2. Read those long User Agreements before participating in online activities.
  3. Review your and your staffs’ posts, comments, endorsements, and reviews for accuracy and truthfulness.
  4. Develop best practice social media and online policies for your company.

Have a question about company online practices or customer testimonials? Click here to schedule a Virtual Sidebar. Get answers to your online and social media questions.

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