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How ‘real’ is reputation marketing online?

online reviews and online reputation management for google local +How ‘real’ is reputation marketing online? Can you trust what you see?

If Google is now making reputation score a criteria in determining your online authority and rankings in the search results, it stands to reason that many online marketers are going to try to find a way to game the system.

So, can you really trust that a business’ online reputation is genuine?  What are the chances that it has been manipulated?  If anyone can post an untrue bad review, why wouldn’t anyone be able to post a false good review?

Well, Google is frustrating.  But not dumb.  They have algorithms that can tell fairly easily when a false good review is posted.  False bad reviews… not so much.

The reason is that bad reviews are often one off.  They’re either posted by a dissatisfied customer, a disgruntled employee or an unethical competitor.  If that person went around posting endless reviews on dozens of sites about your business, these reviews would probably be flagged as spam and that person’s IP banned from posting – or Google would simply discount all the reviews posted by that IP.

But that isn’t usually the way bad reviews are posted.  More often they’re sporadic, one off attempts to either vent or bad mouth.

When a business begins trying to manipulate the system by posting a lot of good reviews to bring up their score, this is usually easily detectable and these reviews will be flagged and the responsible IP or IP’s banned.

Here’s a white paper that explains how this works: http://www2012.wwwconference.org/proceedings/proceedings/p201.pdf  using the following 2 examples of a true and a false review – read them and see if you can figure out which is which.

To help illustrate the non-trivial nature of identifying deceptive content, given below are two positive reviews of the Hilton Chicago Hotel,one of which is truthful, and the other of which is deceptive opinion spam:

1. \My husband and I stayed in the Hilton Chicago and
had a very nice stay! The rooms were large and com-
fortable. The view of Lake Michigan from our room
was gorgeous. Room service was really good and quick,
eating in the room looking at that view, awesome! The
pool was really nice but we didnt get a chance to use it.
Great location for all of the downtown Chicago attrac-
tions such as theaters and museums. Very friendly sta
and knowledgable, you cant go wrong staying here.”
2. \We loved the hotel. When I see other posts about
it being shabby I can’t for the life of me gure out
what they are talking about. Rooms were large with
TWO bathrooms, lobby was fabulous, pool was large
with two hot tubs and huge gym, sta was courteous.
For us, the location was great{across the street from
Grant Park with a great view of Buckingham Fountain
and close to all the museums and theatres. I’m sure
others would rather be north of the river closer to the
Magni cent Mile but we enjoyed the quieter and more
scenic location. Got it for $105 on Hotwire. What a
bargain for such a nice hotel.”

Pretty intimidating, isn’t it? They both sounded ‘real’ but Google’s algorithm identified the first one as fake.

This is why you have to be careful if you’re thinking about undertaking reputation marketing.  The challenges are huge.  First of all, you do NOT want to ever post fake reviews. Never.

Not only is it dishonest but you run the real risk of damaging your ratings and your search engine results.

The key is developing a reputation culture within your business.  One which puts customer service first.  This is the attitude that garners rave reviews.  If you need help with this, of course, we can assist.

The next step is to have a system that facilitates the process for your customers.  If you’ve ever tried to post a review online you probably already know what a colossal pain it can be.  It’s certainly beyond the abilities of someone who is not very computer literate.  There are ways of overcoming these challenges, however they do require a fairly sophisticated system which not many reputation management companies have access to.

If you’ve been struggling with any of these issue, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to give you some basic advice to get you started on developing your 5 Star Reputation.

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