Sunday 21 December 2014

The big boys - make 2015 a better year for everyone

Just before Christmas the Scottish Courts rejected an appeal by the owners of a Highland guest house who had unsuccessfully sued TripAdvisor over two negative reviews. We won't be commenting on the whys and wherefores of that judgement here, but we will be highlighting some aspects of the case that have wider implications for us all.

First let's look at two separate issues, the one with TripAdvisor and another with Google.

Here are the two reviews on TripAdvisor which the hoteliers claim are false or fictional...

TripAdvisor should ask the reviewer for proof that they stayed - invoice or copy of credit card statement
And here is another review on Google...

This review (and the millions like it across Google attributed to 'A Google User') should be deleted, both for this reason and because it refers to the establishment under previous management

Points we have for TripAdvisor and Google (given that neither company is short of the resources to employ extra staff)...
  1. Please become more responsive to businesses. At least listen (with an open mind) to issues they have with individual reviews. Be prepared to question the validity of reviews
  2. For TripAdvisor: Do something about making sure that reviewers are real people; we are all heartily sick of reading reviews by 'MickeyMouse123'
  3. For TripAdvisor and Google: Get rid of out-of-date reviews. If there has been a change of ownership then lose reviews written about the previous management. If the review is over two years old: archive it (and don't include it in whatever secret algorithm you use to calculate the business's ranking or score). A three-year-old review is of little use to a prospective customer
  4. For Google: recent reviews (which are attached to some form of Google account) have credibility, those written anonymously - 'a Google User' - under the old Google Places do not, delete them

Friday 5 December 2014

Hotels and Google - the urgent need to re-focus

We have been predicting it for quite a while - and now it has happened; Google has made a major change in the way it returns hotels in search. It is live now in the US ( and the UK ( won't be far behind.

First - pre-change:

Now the new:

The impact:

A massive boost for Google reviews (you can just see the TripAdvisor listing at the bottom left-hand of the screenshot).

Action to be taken:

It is now more important than ever for hotels to ensure a steady flow of positive guest reviews to Google. Dialogue will do this - if you have any questions please speak to your business membership advisor.

In detail:
  1. Log into your Google My Business account and make sure your listing is 100% complete and verified
  2. Update your Google+ profile on a regular basis. New posts from Google+ can enhance your hotel’s listing and will have a positive impact on SEO
Google AdWords and Google My Business Integration

If Google My Business is new to you (it launched in June this year) read this first.
Google My Business integrates Google+, AdWords, and maps.
Last month Google AdWords location extensions began using information pulled from Google My Business accounts, making it more important than ever to ensure Google My Business profiles are 100% complete, verified, and accurate.
This will provide the most accurate location information to AdWords, meaning geo-targeted paid search listings are more likely than ever to be served.


Link Google My Business with your AdWords account. This is a simple process that allows your hotel location information to appear with your ads and informs AdWords location extensions. 

Ensure your location information is accurate in My Business, including the position of the marker on Google Maps. This will ensure AdWords location extensions are working in your favour, and also helps Google give users accurate driving directions and location information.

Monday 1 December 2014

Seen on the tube - Yelp are advertising in London

As most readers of this blog know, we follow Yelp closely. It is the biggest single review site on the planet, and it is a massive influence on consumer behaviour in relation to medium and small businesses in the US. The question for us and our clients is: will the same happen here in the UK?

Well, we know Yelp have made a big investment here, but there have been few outward signs. Until now...

Eliza D is a real-life Yelper - Eliza Dropkin, living in San Francisco, working for Move Loot, who spent a year studying at SOAS in London and has written over 100 reviews of everything from the London Eye to a Chinese deli in Soho, all from October to December 2012.

What next?

We have no reports of any Yelp salespeople pitching client businesses - yet. But we know what you can expect; the Yelp pitch is simple:
  • An advertisement - sponsored listing - at the top of search results
  • Sponsored advertising on your competitors' listings
Here is Yelp's own description.

You may expect an email something like this...

...and there's a report of their sales pitch and pricing here. Entry level appears to be around £200 a month. For those who would like to delve even deeper there's a purported voice recording of a (US) Yelp sales pitch here and their Glassdoor listing here.

If experience in the US is anything to go by they will target businesses with reviews as a first priority.  If you are approached we would suggest that you contact us before making any commitments.