Online Reputation Management Blog

Online Retailers Fight Negative Reviews – What’s the Cost?

Online ReviewsCustomers today have a sense of freedom and power they didn’t have a decade ago when social media was still in its infancy.  But as social media has become a part of people’s daily lives, more people are turning to business review sites like RipoffReport.com and Yelp.com, as well as social sites like Facebook and Twitter, to post comments about a company or product.

Many purchasers will often read customer reviews before purchasing a trip, a toy, a smartphone or even making a reservation at a local restaurant.

There is an ongoing debate about the limits of consumers’ free speech rights and companies’ efforts to quash negative online reviews due to a recent incident over a customer review about KlearGear.com.  KlearGear threatened to fine the customer $3500 if she didn’t take down a negative posting about their company.  She had written the critique on RipoffReport.com.

According to a recent article in TechDirt, “Lots of quasi-legal action has been taken over negative reviews left by customers at sites like Ripoff Report and Yelp. Usually, it takes the form of post-review threats about defamation and libel. Every so often, though, a company will make proactive moves (usually bad ones) to head off negative reviews.”

In the Kleargear imbroglio, a consumer complained that her husband had ordered a number of products from Kleargear.com and 30 days later the products allegedly had not yet arrived.  The consumer tried to call the company to check on the status of her order but was allegedly not able to reach anyone, so she wrote about her experience on RipoffReport.   After the company saw the post, the consumer was threatened to either take the negative review down or be fined. [Read more...]

How to Use Instagram for Business

Instagram Photo SharingInstagram was first designed for creative photographers using an iPhone back in 2010 – an iOS mobile platform for artists to communicate with one another and discuss pictures and videos.  The platform provides filters and other tools so that people could enhance their images.

It is often recommended to post photos with clear captioning in order to truly foster conversation and get the feedback that artists need.  One of Instagram’s many perks is that you can also post the photos on other social media sites such as Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook – thus engaging your audience across multiple social networks simultaneously. [Read more...]

Google Algorithm Update Busts Mugshot Sites

mugshot removal websiteIt is being widely reported that a recent update to Google’s search algorithm has resulted in a major demotion of ranking for websites that republish arrest and mugshot information online.

According to a recent New York Times article, there are over 80 websites that reproduce mugshots from police and sheriff’s office websites, post them online, then charge up to several hundred dollars to remove the pictures.  There have even been news reports suggesting collusion and shared ownership between the mugshot and removal websites, so if an individual pays to have a mugshot deleted from one site, he or she may find his image appearing on multiple other websites.  And once these sites find someone willing to pay for the privilege of having their mugshot removed, they become a prime target for further exploitation. [Read more...]

NY Attorney General Goes After Astroturfing and Fake Online Reviews

Online Reviews - Reputation RhinoNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced that 19 New York companies had agreed to cease their practice of writing fake online reviews for businesses and to pay more than $350,000 in penalties.  As part of an undercover investigation, representatives from the Attorney General’s office pretended to be the owner of a yogurt shop in Brooklyn and solicited several New York SEO companies for help in addressing negative reviews on consumer-review websites like Yelp, Google Places and Citysearch.com, as part of their reputation management services.

The Attorney General’s office noted that several reputation management companies used IP spoofing to post fake online reviews and some sought to buy online reviews from freelancers located outside the U.S. who would write and post positive online reviews in an effort to evade filters and algorithms designed to prevent fake reviews.

Over the past couple of years there has been increasing focus on the importance of online reviews. A Harvard Business School study from 2011 estimated that a one-star rating increase on Yelp translated to an increase of 5% to 9% in revenues for a restaurant. Cornell researchers have found that a one-star swing in a hotel’s online ratings at sites like Travelocity and TripAdvisor is tied to an 11% sway in room rates, on average.  Gartner projects that by 2014, between 10% and 15% of social media reviews will be fake.

Kudos to AG Schneiderman for trying to clean up the mess! [Read more...]