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How Contractors Can Protect Themselves From Online Review Extortion

If you’ve enjoyed my other posts (here and here) about how I despise Yelp’s business practices and lack of ethics, here’s another one for you.

I’ve told you about Service Champions, a company that used to have over 750 five-star reviews on Yelp that “mysteriously” vanished once the company stopped paying Yelp for advertising.

Service Champions is now down to a measly 81 five-star reviews and a 3.5-star average overall.

What’s happening is Yelp is burying Service Champions’ five-star reviews in the ultra-small, inconspicuous “Not Recommended Reviews” section at the bottom of Service Champions’ Yelp page.

Reviews that are not recommended by Yelp don’t show up in a company’s overall score or review-score breakdown. And the average person will never notice the 1,000-plus great reviews hiding on Service Champions’ Yelp page.

The other day, my curiosity got the best of me—I just had to know how much the “Not Recommended” reviews were impacting Service Champions’ score.

So I paid a guy on Craigslist $40 to tally the “Not Recommended” reviews and calculate the overall rating.

(Gotta loves Craigslist.)

Here are the results (remember, their average for “Recommended” reviews is 3.5 stars) …

Number of “Not Recommended” reviews: 1,302

“Not Recommended” reviews score breakdown:

1 Star – 35 (2.69%)
2 Star – 4 (0.31%)
3 Star – 3 (0.23%)
4 Star – 40 (3.07%)
5 Star – 1,217 (93.47%)

Average of “Not Recommended” reviews score: 4.84 stars!

If we add the “Recommended” reviews to these, the totals become:

1 Star – 86 (5.85%)
2 Star – 16 (1.09%)
3 Star – 16 (1.09%)
4 Star – 51 (3.47%)
5 Star – 1,300 (88.50%)

Grand total average for ALL reviews: 4.68 stars!

4.68 stars - shocked
The difference between a 3.5-star average (what Yelp says Service Champions has) versus a 4.68-star average (what Service Champions should actually have) is night and day.

Studies show a huge drop-off in prospect interest when companies dip below a four-star rating. That’s not just for Yelp, but also every other online review website.

Ninety-four percent of consumers said they would use a company with a four-star average, while only 57 percent of consumers said they would use a company in the three-star range.

What a difference one little star makes, huh?

This is why it’s important to constantly monitor your online reviews and generate new ones from satisfied customers. The amount of business you’ll lose out on with even an average online reputation is off the charts.

But how do you monitor your online reputation across 100-plus review websites AND generate a steady stream of new positive reviews… WHILE dealing with the 294 other aspects of running a business?

By having hired professionals manage your online reputation for you.

MYM’s Online Reputation Management (ORM) does everything you need to have a stellar online reputation that makes prospects want to contact you:

  1. New Review Soliciting – We shrewdly and respectfully email your customer list that you provide us and direct them to leave you a review.
  2. Subpar Review Interception – If a customer leaves you less than a three-star review (this number is customizable), it gives them a quick pop up that says, “Hey! Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. We want to make it right. Please call us.” This gives you the chance to take that poor review and turn it into a positive review.
  3. Brand Monitoring – You’ll be alerted every time a new review is published about your company. This is not limited to reviews we generate through the reviews process, but any review across review websites. This makes it easy for you to respond to negative and positive reviews quickly. (Which is something you should be doing—here’s how.)

Click here to find out more about MYM’s Online Reputation Management. Also be sure to use the free Review Scanner at the top of the page to generate an instant reputation report of your business.

 

P.S. I haven’t shown you a new client website in a hot second. That’ll change next week, as we’re rolling out a bunch of awesome new projects over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

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Don’t Pay Yelp and Your Online Reviews Will Sleep With the Fishes

it's mafia, it's extortion, it's Yelp

“To me, it’s mafia. To me it’s a racket. To me, it’s extortion.

To you guys, it’s Yelp.”


This quote comes from an Italian restaurant owner in an upcoming documentary called Billion Dollar Bully.

The documentary is about Yelp’s shady business practices by manipulating and removing reviews for businesses that don’t advertise with them.

Here is a trailer:

Yelp is a shady business
MYM has a client that could be “Exhibit A” for this documentary.

On 2/13/17, I told you about an MYM client who stopped advertising with Yelp, only to mysteriously hemorrhage their five-star reviews on Yelp immediately after.

At that time, they had lost 85 five-star reviews since 1/1/17 (from 648 to 563).

As of today, 6/8/17, they are down to… get ready for this…

81 five-star Yelp reviews.

EIGHTY-ONE.

Yep… Yelp “filtered” (a.k.a. deleted) 482 of this contractor’s five-star reviews in just four months. All because the contractor stopped paying Yelp for advertising.

This, in spite of adding OVER 100 NEW 5-Star Reviews since January 1st…

They SHOULD have been up to about 750 right now.

Instead, they sit at an abysmal 81.

It could be even worse by now—Yelp is still actively removing 5-star reviews at the alarming rate of 1 or 2 per day. Click here to check and see for yourself.

And oh by the way… they still have FIFTY (50) 1-star reviews… THE EXACT SAME NUMBER THEY HAD January 1.

Go figure.

The Italian restaurant owner is right: Yelp is the internet mafia. If you don’t pay, your five-star reviews go away.

Billion Dollar Bully proves that Yelp extorting business owners is nothing new. But I’m bringing up this issue again to show you how widespread the problem is and tell you to use EXTREME caution with Yelp.

If possible, don’t rely on Yelp as your primary (or secondary or tertiary) review source. Because it probably won’t end well for you.

Instead, stick to accumulating reviews on places like Google, Facebook, HomeAdvisor, Yellow Pages, and local review websites. (Basically, any review website that DOESN’T have a documentary dishing dirt about how terrible it is.)

Our Online Reputation Management (ORM) can help you.

With MYM ORM, increasing your positive online reviews on LEGITIMATE review websites—and improving your online reputation overall—is easy.

Here are three major benefits of MYM’s Online Reputation Management:

  1. New Review Soliciting – We shrewdly and respectfully email your customer list that you provide us and direct them to leave you a review.
  2. Subpar Review Interception – If a customer leaves you less than a 3-star review (This number is customizable), it gives them a quick pop up that says, “Hey! Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. We want to make it right. Please call us.” This gives you the chance to take that 2- or 3-star review, and turn it into a 5-star review.
  3. Brand Monitoring – You’ll be alerted every time a new review is published about your company. This is not limited to reviews we generate through the reviews process, but any review across 100+ websites. This makes it easy for you to respond to negative and positive reviews quickly. (To learn how to respond to online reviews, read my last blog post.)

Click here to find out more about MYM’s Online Reputation Management. Also be sure to use the free Review Scanner at the top of the page to generate an instant reputation report of your business.

 

P.S. If you want to learn more about Billion Dollar Bully, visit its Kickstarter page. MYM is in no way affiliated with this documentary; we simply respect the heck out of David standing up to Goliath.

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PSA: Yelp Extorting Contractors

Yelp Extorting Contractors

Let me tell you about the Curious Case Of Disappearing Yelp Reviews.

It’s pretty unnerving—especially if you’re a contractor whose online reputation relies heavily on Yelp.

Here’s the story…

I was talking to a client last week, and they’re currently having a huge problem with Yelp.

The client has been paying Yelp for advertising for several years now. The client started with a budget of a couple thousand a month and built it up to $10,000 a month.

Eventually, the client got frustrated with their inability to track the leads coming from Yelp. They were not able to distinguish which leads were coming from Yelp as a result of their ads vs. people just finding them on Yelp organically.

So at the end of December, the client yanked their ads. No spend in January.

That’s when the problem started.

Their five-star reviews mysteriously began to vanish.

January 1, 2017: 753 total Yelp reviews, 648 5-star reviews

January 31, 2017: 698 total Yelp reviews, 593 5-star reviews

Over the course of January, the client collected 43 new five-star reviews. Yet somehow they have substantially FEWER five-star reviews than they did BEFORE January.

What’s happening?

Simple… Yelp is steadily removing the client’s five-star reviews because the client stopped paying.

This is alarming, to say the least. The client has 50 one-star reviews; that means their ratio of five-star to one-star reviews shrunk from 13:1 to 12:1 in just 30 days.

This is not an anomaly, either. A quick Google search reveals Yelp’s “pay for play” system is common practice. In fact, they’ve been sued big time over this… and the circuit court judge ruled that it’s not illegal. Yelp says it’s just disgruntled customers who get bad reviews and suck and therefore complain.

Yelp extorting contractors

Yelp scrubbing five-star reviews is surprisingly common.

When the client called Yelp and asked what the heck was going on, they made up some mumbo jumbo about “algorithms.”

Really? What kind of algorithm removes five-star reviews… and ONLY five-star reviews?

That’s a pretty funky algorithm for a REVIEWS company to implement. It would be like Priceline inventing an algorithm that randomly un-booked people’s trips, or Amazon developing a system that suddenly cancels customer orders.

Let’s call it what it REALLY is: Extortion.

Since online reputation is so important to this client (they’ve spent YEARS accumulating their reviews), and since Yelp is holding their five-star reviews for ransom, the client caved and started advertising on Yelp again at $1,000 per month. They feel like they have no other choice.

So far, though, it hasn’t helped. As of today, the client has 661 reviews and 563 five-star reviews. They are now at an 11:1 five-star to one-star review ratio.

I have no idea what can stop the bleeding, or even if it can be. I’m simply warning you…

Do NOT do business with Yelp. Period.

If you have reviews on Yelp, that’s fine. Just NEVER, EVER give them your money. And realize that your five-star could “mysteriously” vanish in an instant for any reason (usually because you are not giving them money).

Honestly, if you want to build your online reputation, there are better ways than Yelp… literally over 170 of them.

That’s roughly how many review websites exist (both nationally and locally). And MYM can help you build an ultra-stout online reputation on as many of them as you chose.

Our Online Reputation Management…

  • Monitors customer reviews across all 170+ review websites
  • Converts happy customers into glowing, sales-producing online reviews
  • Can stop negative reviews BEFORE they happen
  • Turns positive reviews into automated SEO-friendly web and social media content
  • Provides regular comprehensive reporting regarding the “health” and status of your online reputation

All you have to do is keep performing the same great work, while we get your customers gushing about you online.

For more info, visit our Online Reputation Management page. Make sure you use the Free Review Scanner for an instant report on the health of your online reputation.

 

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