There is a school of thought that says that a company must respond to every single review they receive via the online review systems. At a conference a few weeks ago, I took a contrarian position and received some blowback via Twitter. I’d like to explain my stance a bit further.
There are several issues with a policy that requires every review to receive a response.
First of all, doing so sets expectations. If you have that level of engagement with reviews, and aren’t able to maintain it, your brand can be damage. Small business owners know that that there are only so many hours in the day.
Some days you’re just too busy to monitor and respond to reviews. Then that day becomes a week, and then a month.
Meanwhile, you’re company is being flamed online because you aren’t responding. Much (some?) of that wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t expect you to respond to every review because of your previous activity.
Second, sometimes reviews are just plain nuts. Communicating with a lunatic reviewer is like wresting with a pig: you both get dirty and the pig likes it.
Third, as business owners, we’re all passionate about our companies. They’re like children to us, and we want to defend them when they’re attacked.
But, if you can’t respond calmly to a review, you’re likely to make things worse, rather than better.
If you must respond to a review that causes you to have an emotional response, you really should have your response reviewed before you post it. Preferably by someone outside the company that doesn’t have the same emotionally connection to the issue that you do.
The short version of all this is, if you’re going to respond to every review, be careful.
As another PubCon rolls to a close, I wanted to reflect on lessons either learned or reinforced. This is my first time to New Orleans, so most of the things learned regard this fine city.
Four Foci of Local SEO
Apparently, this concept was first popularized by David Mihm. I hadn’t heard it put this way, but it matches with my experience.
In short, there are four things an SEO needs to focus on for local sites:
- On-Site Optimization (I would include the Google listing here)
Each of these is roughly equal in importance.
I would include the Google listing in the On-Site Optimization bucket, although others include it in Citations. Six of one; half dozen of another.
Link Building is Still Important
The rumors of the death of link building are, as always, premature.
Link building is still a critical part of SEO, although the balance has definitely moved towards quality over quantity. If you are just building junky links, especially using automated means, you are likely going to run afoul of one of the Google updates like Panda or Penguin.
One change over the last year or two is that link building has become important for local SEO. In the “good ole days” circa 2009, you could rank for competitive terms without even having a website.
That is no longer the case. Link building is now required for local businesses.
But make sure you do it correctly…
Link Building Without Content is Dangerous
A link building campaign that is not run in conjunction with an organized plan to produce quality content is much more likely to draw unwanted attention from Google.
The good news is that quality content makes link building much easier. Offer your users content that they will want to link to.
Another benefit for local businesses is that they can build out their site’s profile for their city and/or neighborhood. You want Google to view your site as an expert geographically, not just for your industry.
Weather is Fun
During the morning sessions yesterday, a fairly strong thunderstorm rolled through the area. This included a tornado warning.
One could quickly determine who in each room was from the middle of the country, and who was from the coasts. The latter were quite obviously very concerned, and some seemed on the edge of panic.
Those of us from Tornado Alley realized that it wasn’t likely to be a strong tornado, and that the New Orleans Convention Center is one of the best places you could be in one.
To be fair, I would have been even more panicked than the Coasters were yesterday if it had been an earthquake rather than a tornado. Having the ground shake just ain’t right.
Also, many people in the room received automated notices on their app phones about the tornado warning. I believe this is service provider dependent, as some on iPhones got the warning, but I have an iPhone on AT&T, and did not receive one.
My visit to Bourbon Street was interesting, as I imagine it is for most people. Imagine Sixth Street in Austin, with the lack of rules of Vegas.
The concentration of strip clubs was way higher than I’ve seen in any other place. No, I didn’t go in any. Way too scary.
I got to spend a few hours Monday walking around the French Quarter. The French Market was nice, as far as open air markets go.
As a coffee lover, I had to pay a visit to Cafe du Monde. It was everything you would expect from a tourist trap, plus extra slow and surly service. So, the visit is done, and I won’t be going back.
The most impressive thing was the quality of the street musicians. This was a Monday morning, and their were fine jazz performances all over the place. Nice.
A few years back, I was working in a company that hired a new CEO. He moved from New York to Austin for the job.
After living in Austin for a few months, he asked me, “Brian, is it possible to eat anywhere in this town without having cheese on your food?”
New Orleans is like this, except with fried food. Just about every meal will have at least one fried item on the plate.
In general, the quality has been high, especially for seafood. Oysters, crawfish and catfish have all been great. Jambalaya at one place was fantastic, but just ok at another. I had etouffee at one place that was amazing.
The answer I gave to the question about cheese, by the way, was “no”.
The guys from GetListed.org University are coming to Austin for a half-day seminar on June 26th. Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm, Matt McGee and other experts will be giving a four-hour crash course in Internet marketing that will help you navigate the possibilities for marketing your business on the web. Attendees will learn Search Engine Optimization tips and techniques that will lead to sustained, long-term search engine rankings (and new customers).
The Seminar Agenda includes:
- Introduction to Website Optimization
- The ABCs of Local Search
- Understanding Your Website Traffic
- Getting Social Online
- Internet Marketing for the Do-It-Yourselfers
It’s regularly $89, but if you use the coupon/promotional code “ionadas” at checkout, you’ll get the class for only $59.
Capacity is limited, so register soon to avoid missing out!
If you’re in town on Thursday, October 20th, the Austin eMarketing Summit is a Can’t Miss event. It’s an all-day conference at the Austin Convention Center.
I’ll be speaking at 1pm on “#winning with Google Places”. Come learn how to get your Google Places listing to the first page of Google for your most important keywords.
There’s great content throughout the day, and at only $119, it’s quite a bargain.
But, I can make that bargain even better. If you put the coupon text EM95 in the Discount Code field during registration, you’ll get a price of only $95!
Our favorite conference of the year is coming up quickly, PubCon Vegas. Brian Combs will be at the show all three days, and can be found at the following sessions (all times local):
Tuesday, November 8th
10:00am-11:15am: National Company – Local Focus, Salon C (panelist)
11:30am-12:45pm: Google Places & Hotpot Optimization, Salon G (panelist)
1:30pm-2:45pm: How Do You Optimize For Universal and Personal Search?, Salon A (panelist)
Wednesday, November 9th
1:00pm-3:00pm: PubCon Labs
Thursday, November 10th
10:15am-11:30am: WordPress SEO & Installation, Salon G (moderator)
1:30pm-2:45pm: Protecting Your Brand – Competitive Intel, Salon B (moderator)
Note: Locations are subject to change, so check the schedule there.
See you in Vegas!