With local search and reviews becoming so important, I pressure my clients who differentiate based on location to take it seriously. Recently, as I was having this conversation with one such client, he asked me: “Well, if this local search stuff is so important, then why am I not running out and posting great reviews for my site; and bad ones for my competition?” Great question. And it quite honestly caught me off guard. My response is multi-faceted:
It can come back to bite you in the butt…
…if you’re dishonest about it. Search engines (or review sites) aren’t stupid, and neither are your customers for that matter. Every review site I’ve seen requires you to create an account in order to post a comment. Each user’s profile displays the amount of time they’ve been a member. When a person has only been apart of one of these sites for a few days and suddenly begins posting reviews (maybe rave ones for their own site and negative reviews for competition), it serves as a red flag for both other users and the site itself.
A Yelp forum thread from a few months ago discusses this topic as it applies to Yelp, but can relate to any local review site. Participants seemed to go back and forth about the morality of posting reviews for your own company, both with good points. I think the consensus is…
Honesty is the best policy.
Posting your own review doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if you’re trying to get your name out there. As long are you are up front and honest with both your connection to the company (owner, employee, consultant, etc.) and your true feelings about the company, other consumers can take or leave what you have to say. The person reading it can take your biases (positive or negative) into account and form their own opinions.
Case in point, a review of flyte by Rich:
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Remember Mom telling you that? I suggest staying away from negatively reviewing competitors altogether. No one likes to see one company slam another; if I remember correctly, competitor review commercials (think of most cleaning product ads) have among the lowest response rate from customers of all the possible marketing tactics. Plus, there’s no need to give others negative reviews – especially if they don’t deserve them. Worry about keeping your own reviews positive instead.