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  • Law School Reviews on Yelp?

    This week, the attorney blog Above the Law paosted about Yelp’s new law school rankings.

    While gaining an accurate understanding of the pros and cons of various law schools is a good idea before investing a six figure sum of money, I’m not sure relying on Yelp reviewers is the way I would go. Talking to alumni and current students is likely to be much more valuable.

    Still, if you want to use Yelp reviews in your evaluation, there are some things to keep in mind:

    1) Look for trends.

    You should discount claims made in any single review, but rather consider the review corpus in its entirety. Do you see the same issues over and over again? Then those might well be real.

    Of course, if a law school only has three reviews, it’s hard to do this. The numbers should improve over time.

    2) Watch for competitors and self-reviews.

    If it looks like it was written by a competitor or someone from the law school itself, it probably was. I don’t know if law school reps will spend much time reviewing other law schools, but I suspect self reviewing will be all to common.

    3) Discount the lunatics.

    You know the type. You read the review and think, I sure am glad I don’t have this person as a client/customer.

    Some people can’t be pleased, and some are just looking for problems. Take what they say with a grain of salt.

    4) Read the responses (if any).

    Yelp allows companies to respond to reviews. I’m not of the opinion that every review must be responded to, but a response to negative reviews certainly shows that the company is monitoring their social profile, and might suggest a better customer service mentality than most.

    Any law school is going to have students with bad experiences. Like all businesses, it’s how you handle these problems that matters.

    Pro Tip: All of these recommendations apply to any Yelp listing.

  • Pardon Our Dust…

    I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the cobbler’s children not having any shoes. Well, this website has been a bit like that.

    Been so busy improving clients’ websites, and helping them rank, that this website has been rather ignored. In fact, it hasn’t changed much graphically since 2009.

    Now, with the impending Mobilocalypse from Google, it’s time to update the site so that it is Responsive.

    Part of doing this is putting a new WordPress theme in place. Sure, I could probably alter the existing theme, but WordPress theme’s in 2009 were missing many of the bells and whistles that are common now. For instance, many of the links and menus were coded by hand, rather than using WordPress’s nice menu system.

    Updating the theme would arguably take as long, if not longer, than installing a new theme would.

    But, still, many things are broken (or breaking) as I update the site. I decided to make the changes on the live site as:

    1) It’s faster than building a test site
    2) I’ll learn a lot about working on a live site
    3) It’s my site, so any impacts are mine own alone. I can’t say that about client sites.

    The downshot is that things will look a bit funky for a while, and even when things look good on the surface, there will likely be bugs running behind the scenes.

    So, that’s a fancy way of asking you to pardon our dust as the site is updated.

  • PubCon Austin 2015 Coupon

    Austin’s best internet marketing conference, PubCon Austin, is happening on April 20th in 2015. I can’t recommend this conference more. It has arguably the best content in the industry, and is also one of the best values.

    But, I can make it even a better value with a coupon for 20% off.

    Just use the coupon code:


    when registering. The discount code is good until March 20, 2015.

  • Reviews of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital

    In case you’ve been living in Tahiti the last few weeks (it’s a magical place), Texas Health Presbyterian is the hospital in Dallas where Thomas Duncan, a native of Liberia, became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on US soil on September 29. By their own admission, the hospital made mistakes in the way it handled Duncan and the situation.

    Let’s take a look at how Yelp and Google+ are handling the reviews coming in from all over the country from people who’ve never stepped in Texas Health Presbyterian. All data is as of October 24, 2014.

    25 reviews showing total.
    2 reviews since September 29th. They are positive, and look to be legit.
    7 reviews filtered. None of these since September 29th.
    8 reviews removed for violating content guidelines or ToS. 6 of these are since September 29th.

    68 reviews total.
    37 reviews since September 29th. 26 are clearly from non-patients. 7 appear likely legit. 4 are hard to tell.

    I’d love to look at more review services, but there just weren’t any others that had numbers worth looking at for Texas Health.

    In any case, here’s what these numbers say to me…

    I’ve certainly been critical of Yelp’s reviews in the past (both on this blog and definitely on panels), but I like their approach. Assuming the data is accurate and compete, showing what has been filtered and what has been removed is appreciated. I’d prefer it if I can see the actual reviews that were removed, but I can understand why Yelp doesn’t show them.

    And also to Yelp’s credit, there are no reviews showing that don’t appear to be from an actual patient or family member of a patient. I looked at Yelp’s review corpus a week or so ago, and there were several that didn’t appear to be legit, but I assume these are now in the Reviews Removed bucket. I suspect some of the filtering is being done by hand, but they seem to be giving it real effort.

    Google gives no information on what reviews have been filtered. For all we know, Google may have filtered out hundreds of them. I doubt it’s that many, but they give us nothing to base things upon.

    What I can look at is the reviews they show. 70% of their reviews since September 29th are clearly illegitimate. That’s appalling.

    Especially after Google has publicly and clearly stated that they want Reviews not General Commentary.

  • Content versus Ads

    My wife and I have been season ticket holders for the University of Texas football team for years. No, I’m not here to talk about a 1-2 start and a painful rebuilding process.

    I’m here to compare the usage of space between the real world and the online world.

    Like most stadiums, Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium has a jumbotron. The current version was introduce in 2006, and measures 25 meters tall by 41 meters wide. For about a week, it was the largest high definition television in the world.

    We quickly dubbed it Godzillatron.

    The problem is that most of the screen is used for advertisements, not showing the game or replays. We began referring to it as Adzillatron.

    Here’s a picture I took walking into the stadium before the BYU (I know. Don’t start with me.):

    Click on the picture to see a larger version.

    While this was taken before a game, it’s the same layout that’s used throughout the game. As you can see, much of the screen is taken up with advertisements.

    I thought it would be interesting to compare it against a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). I choose the keyword:

    los angeles personal injury lawyer

    Huge city and very competitive keyword. Google would have no shortage of potential ads to fill the space.

    My screen was set to 1280×1024, and I expanded my browser to fill the screen. Here’s the SERP that resulted from the search:

    Then, I categorized each section of the each picture into one of three buckets:

    Content: Directly of interest to the viewer/searcher. Either about the game or free search listings. I included the map as content.
    Advertisement: Some paid to get onto the screen.
    Other:: Everything else. Navigation, building name, etc.

    Lastly, I calculated the number of pixels used for each of sections, totaled them up, and compared them against the whole.

    Our beloved Adzillatron was 66.18% Content and 22.51% Advertisements. To be honest, I thought the ad percentage would be higher.

    The Google SERP was 29.04% Content and 21.46% Advertisements.

    So, as a percentage of the whole, each has about the same amount of advertisements. But the Google SERP has a great deal more space devoted to navigation and white space.

    If you’re looking at content versus advertising strictly, Adzillatron is about 75% content, while Google is about 60% content.

    So, what’s the point? Not sure there really is one, but I thought it was interesting to compare something that has so many ads that we make fun of it with something we see every day.

    Adzillatron doesn’t seem to have so many ads, at least in retrospect. Maybe we should go back to calling it Godzillatron.

    Note: Carousel results have much less space dedicated to advertisements. Perhaps that’s why they seem to be going away.

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