Is Your Website Promoting Your Competition?
I’ve been in the technology business for close to a couple decades, and on a pretty frequent basis I’m quite amazed what solutions we once had to build, are now readily available to us (and usually reasonably priced). Then there is the other side, where I’m amazed that something could still exist with all the knowledge on industry blogs and social media. Even more frustrating, is people and companies pushing bad product and bad advice as a business solution. You would have thought I had a time machine preset to 2009 stumbling across the page from an auto dealership below from our Twitter feed. It’s not my intent to out anyone here, so names have been removed to protect the innocent. And “No”, I don’t have a time machine, (nor did I use my favorite internet time machine). This screenshot was captured on 3/26/2014. So, if this comes across a bit harsh, it’s not directed at the business who owns this site, rather the person giving them the advice to put it on there! If your web site has a page that looks like the the screen shot below, or kind of like it; you need to run (not walk) over to your IT department and have them remove it immediately.
I understand that someone told you to start collecting reviews and that directing customers to review sites from your business website was a good idea. When done right, this is a good idea. Applied this way, it is an unmitigated disaster. How many reviews have you collected from this page anyway? How many positives? How many negatives? Don’t get me started with asking a customer to copy/paste the same review across different review sites, which enables or promotes DMCA violations. (Read about them here and here if you don’t know what that is.) Now, let’s talk about the problems:
- Yelp.com Widget and a Link to Yelp.com – There are two links to the business’ Yelp page with a whopping 3-Star rating based on 8 reviews. And let’s not forget the advertisements for three IRF (Independent Repair Facilities) and 4 other dealerships. Why direct customers who can find this page on your site to see your 3-star reputation? We at SureCritic certainly understand that you are better than 3-stars, and some consumers will too, but given this is the ONLY data point on your site for consumers, it’s not a good situation. Most consumers don’t have the decades of experience working with a great dealer like you, so they are left to believe what Yelp (and by proxy) “you” tell them. Right now you are telling them that Yelp is right, you are a 3-star dealership. You might as well post a link to your completion on that page and save your potential customers a click. Would you do business with a 3-star dealership?
- Linking to Edmunds, Cars, Yahoo etc, – Regardless of what any SEO expert will tell you, backlinks still carry a heavy burden in the SEO equation. Given the SEO impact of such links, it’s probably not a good idea to be promoting businesses that rely on third party advertising for their source of revenue. This means advertising for competitive businesses and other dealer inventory on your business page are just a click away. Advertising portals are relying on your good name so they can increase revenue and sell more ads. Compound that with the fact that your ratings are in the tank on several of those sites…well you get the picture; you’re advertising for someone else!
- Low Review Count – Wonder why those good reviews aren’t appearing? Google and Yelp look at the click-stream and source of the reviews. They know you are trying to game them, and they don’t like it. As a result, you probably lost some positive reviews that might have otherwise stuck. Building review equity into a media portal is like building a house on government land. Would you do that? Same rules apply unless they tell you it’s your review data, there is no guarantee against eminent domain. Perhaps more alarming is that the above example isn’t even close to the most egregious I’ve seen. This business probably paid for this advice, you can’t fault the business, as their focus is selling cars, not digital marketing or SEO. So, for them, it’s not all bad; at least they are not incentivizing consumers to write reviews, which violates the terms and conditions of both Yelp and Google.
The best rule to follow is the simplest one: if you want your prospects to see it, place it on your web site.