How to Deal With Negative Yelp Reviews

Online directories, such as Yelp, are very important for Online Marketing purposes. They make it easier for prospective clients to find your business and get important information such as business hours, direction, phone numbers and website.

negative yelp reviews

Prospective clients can also read reviews left by your previous patron as well as view pictures of your products. This kind of consumer to consumer data transfer is very important to online marketing.  It validates your business and gives viewers a neutral 3rd party perspective.

In theory, online directories are amazingly powerful resources that can help your business pick up new clientele.  The problem comes when businesses find themselves attacked by negative reviews resulting in a poor online reputation.  These reviews can be left by competitors, disgruntled ex-employees, or even isolated cases when clients leave unhappy that in no way generalize your business’ otherwise good reputation.

How do you deal with it?  Unlike social media site, such as Facebook, where business account owners have the ability to regulate what viewers can comment, Yelp and other online directory reviews cannot be regulated by the business owner.  Regardless of what you may hear, you cannot pay a reputation management company to remove a bad review or even Yelp itself for that matter.  However, there are still ways to help lessen the burden of bad reviews:

  • Actively encourage your satisfied clients to leave you positive reviews online that will dilute the negative effect of the bad reviews.  Over time the continuous addition of new reviews by your clients can have the effect of “removing” the negative reviews by making them the minority.
  • Make sure you have a Yelp link on your website, your Facebook page and other social sites.
  • Post your good Yelp reviews on your website so visitors will see them.
  • If you see a review that shows someone had a bad experience, reach out to them and offer something to make them feel that their concerns have been heard.  You can message the reviewer from your Yelp page.
  • Actively use your Yelp page.  Make sure you have claimed it and filled in all the business information.  Post photos to the page and you can even post updates for events at your business.  If your Yelp page is current, reviewers know you are reading it and may be more likely to post a review.

With lots of good Yelp reviews, your Yelp ranking rises which should mean more customers for you.  Just like with traditional marketing, keeping your customers happy is the most important thing you can do to be successful.

Embedding a Youtube Video on a WordPress Blog Post

Some things are almost too easy.  Take for example embedding a Youtube video in the body of your WordPress blog post.  What could be simpler?  Get the link, paste it into your post.  Except if you miss one little, non-intuitive detail your video clip wont show up and you’ll be left scratching your head.

In this video SEO consultant and trainer Ross Barefoot does a quick tutorial and points out the main pitfall to watch out for.  He also explains why it’s a good idea to compose a blog post for videos that you post on Youtube.  Total Video length is just under 6 minutes, so it’s a quick watch.

For more information on video SEO, please contact the team at Horizon Web Marketing.

Blended Search Results: The Impact on Your Local Business

It’s now possible for you to rank well in traditional search results on Google and yet be almost invisible.  This video explains why this phenomenon occurs for some businesses, and what you need to do about it.

SEO Consultant Ross Barefoot describes the impact of Google Local search.  The result of Google’s emphasis on providing local results to searchers is that many search engine results pages are heavily impacted by something known in the industry as the Google “7-Pack,” A block of local search results that can appear above all but the top 1, 2, or 3 traditional search results.  The 7-Pack will often show up for searches that have something Google calls “local intent.”   Here are the important take-aways from the video:

  • First, you need to be paying attention.  Do a search for your type of business (for example, if you’re a general contractor, do a search for “general contractors”) to see if the Google 7-pack is a factor for your business website traffic.
  • Secondly you need to understand where these local search results come from, and why you need to treat local search a bit differently than you’ve thought of it in the past.

Although the video doesn’t give you an in-depth lesson on everything you need to know about local search optimization, it lays out the way for you to determine whether you need to take action now.


Google Webmaster Tools and Blocked URLs

A Case Study in the Subtle Meanings Behind Webmaster Tools Verbiage

photo of a checkup illustrating website health checksWebsite “health checks”  are one of the standard services we provide to our online marketing and SEO clients.  The purpose of a health check is similar to that of a check-up in your doctor’s office: to alert you to any serious problems that can and should be caught as early as possible to prevent catastrophic problems later on.

Some basic health checks don’t require advanced experience to do, and a lot of in-house webmasters and even website hobbyists can keep their finger on the pulse of their site this way.

When we try to help one of our clients become a more active partner in managing their online marketing, we will occasionally introduce them to one of Google’s most powerful customer support mechanisms: Google Webmaster Tools.  You can perform some of your own Website “health checks” using Webmaster Tools, which is the primary tool we use for determine pain points in any website.

However, if you indeed are one of those intrepid DIY’s, there is a note of caution that you need to hear: Google Webmaster Tools can be notoriously open to misinterpretation.  Let’s take for example a recent request from a client to explain why they were showing a bunch of blocked URLs in Webmaster Tools.  They were understandably concerned.   Wouldn’t you be, if you opened up Webmaster Tools and saw the following:

screen shot of Google webmaster tools warnings

Click on the image to see it larger

But hold on there, you’ve run into one of the first gotchas of peering into the Webmaster Tools dashboard, especially if you only log in once in a while.  There might be a dire warning, but check the date.  Note the next screen shot:

Expanded view of Google Webmaster Tools dashboard showing warning messages

Click on the image to see it larger


In the case of this real world example, we can see that the notice is 2 weeks old.  So how do we find out if it’s still valid?

Simple, navigate to the “Health” tab and click on the (appropriately named) “Blocked URLs” tab.

An image of the health and blocked URLs tab in Google Webmaster Tools


So now we have another intimidating warning.  This notice says that Googlebot was blocked from 35 URLs, which in this case is basically the whole site.  Not only that, but notice that date, I don’t know what it means but it’s dated yesterday, so this is really bad, right?

Once again, not necessarily.  Notice the little question mark next to the “Blocked URLs” column heading.  Well, if it’s too small here’s a larger image, and also I’ve hovered over the question mark so we can reveal its secrets:

closeup of blocked URLs informational warning

So now we know: Blocked URLs are any that have been blocked in the last 90 days.  Again, this shows that the problem might exist, or it might already be an obsolete issue.  There’s one last place to go for us to render a pretty fair decision on this, namely the “Crawl Errors” tab.  What we see eases our worries, although there’s still some head scratching that needs to be endured:

screen shot of the crawl errors tab in Google Webmaster Tools


So here we see the report from Google, showing only one lonely “Access Denied” error.  If we really had 35 pages blocked, each one would show up as triggering an error.

The head-scratching comes in when we try to reconcile these screens.  Why does the Blocked URLs tab show 35 errors in the last 90 days, but this tab, even though it is covering the same 90 days, only shows one.  And not only that, but if you try to find that error in the blue line where error events are tracked, you won’t.  The blue dotted line shows 0 errors on each of the days in this period.

So the conclusion of this is simply not to immediately jump to a conclusion based on Google Webmaster Tools warnings or errors.  Take the time to look for dates and details.  In the long run, you’ll be ahead.


SEO or Web Marketing? Is There a Difference?

Otherwise Known as “What’s in a Name”?

Indian Guru ponders SEO and Web MarketingAfter long hours of contemplation and meditation, discussion, disputation, and argumentation, and finally after consulting a guru in a lonely cave in India, we decided on a new name for our business.  We are now “Horizon Web Marketing.”  Whenever a business takes the risk of re-labeling themselves, a hundred different conflicting priorities emerge.  As well as alternate choices.

As a company, we are heavily focused on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization (if you’d like a brief introduction to SEO, check out this video and transcript).  So the obvious question might be, why not “Horizon SEO”?

The Limitations of the Term “SEO”

This is what opens up the philosophical discussion of where Internet is taking today’s business marketplace.  Obviously search engines (read “Google”) have had a key role in driving Internet traffic and dollars, so it’s no wonder that the process of optimizing a site for better visibility in search engines has become a popular, controversial, and hotly contested profession.  However increasingly it’s obvious that the term SEO, while still very valid, is a bit too limiting to describe what we need to do for our clients.

Instead of making this blog post overly long, I’d like to take a look at just one example that we were discussing around the digital water cooler today (in other words in a Skype conference call): the complementary areas of usability design and search engine optimization.

Relevancy, Authority, and now Engagement

Increasingly Google, and no doubt Bing as well, is not just looking at things like authority and relevancy in determining how much or little they want to push your site up in the search engine results pages (SERPS).  In addition, Google is looking at the quality of the content on the site.  And in their quest to better identify the “quality” websites in a set of search results and favor them, Google will look at metrics that express “engagement,” which is basically how engaged a typical site visitor is with your website.

This brings us to usability.  Your site might be highly relevant to a search term, but filled with pages and pages of densely packed and confusingly organized text.  If this is the case the fact that your page is relevant to the visitors search will mean little, because they might click away, screaming, when they see your encyclopedic content.

Or if a visitor comes to your site and can’t see the point, can’t take action, can’t wait for the page to load, or experiences any other engagement killers, you’ve lost them.  This will then, in theory, disfavor your site in the eyes of Google.

Web Marketing: the Correct Paradigm

Therefore, (and I am getting to the point now, really) when we work with a client we can’t just focus on traditional SEO techniques, we also have to work with our clients on non-SEO factors such as usability.  It seems like the best way to describe the broad spectrum of what we do for a client as “Web Marketing.”  Thus was decided our naming question.  Well, that along with a coin toss by the Indian guru.