Monday 26 September 2022

Partner with HelpHound

Here are the reasons we think you should partner with us. And when we say 'partner' we mean a partnership of equals - we share all our revenues with our partners. Unlike the dictionary definition above, where only the profits are shared!

1.  Free Membership for your business - then a significant income stream

By introducing just two businesses you effectively gain free membership for your own business.

And that's just the beginning - by introducing more than four businesses a year (that's just one every three months!) HelpHound Partners begin to earn a significant income stream. Extra revenue for your business for no input bar the introduction - you earn the gratitude of the referred business and earn an income for your business at the same time - and we all help each other in these troubled times.

2.   Thanks from the businesses you introduce

Referrals or introductions, call them what you will, almost always involve some element of risk for the referring business. Not so in the case of HelpHound: our members never fail to see their online image improve. 

Any business you introduce will...


    • look more impressive on their own website

    • look more impressive in Google searches - how much do you think a competitor would value being in the position Winkworth in Blackheath finds itself in here?
    • increase its Google score by between 0.2 and 0.5 on Google 
    • be compliant with CMA regulations - most businesses are currently in breach - knowingly or unwittingly - where reviews are concerned
    • support its SEO - it's no accident that Winkworth Blackheath lead local search in the example above
    • show stars in local search; the five gold stars next to the rating of 4.9 and the '247 votes' above are not Google stars, they're taken directly from the business's own reviews on its own website (as you can see if you compare both screenshots or perform these searches for yourself)
    • drive revenue up - measurably, as a direct result of their HelpHound membership

3.  No downside

None whatsoever. Except our membership fee, of course. But then they can even negate that by becoming a partner in their turn.

What kind of business is best suited to becoming a HelpHound Partner?

The simple answer is 'any business at all'. We will never turn away a prospective client or partner, but those businesses best suited to generating significant revenue through a HelpHound Partnership are those that already have an advisory relationship with their clients, those in...
  • advertising
  • any sales or marketing enterprise - estate agency is an obvious example
  • public relations
  • web services
  • legal services
  • financial services - accountancy being the most obvious
  • insurance
...we're sure you get the drift. The sort of business where the client will not be surprised when asked, 'Would you like an introduction to a business that will help you look even better than you currently do in Google searches?'

Of course, the best possible introduction is 'Would you like to know how our business got to look so great (whilst complying with the law)?' So, if you are reading this and are not already a member then that's the first step. But the day after you join there's nothing to stop you from introducing your first partner business.

Welcome to HelpHound Partnership - where everyone benefits.

And finally... the mechanics

Simply send an email to your business contact along these lines, copying in

'We use HelpHound to maximise our review management without losing sleep, it's the only safe - and legal - way of having all our hard work and great customer service reflected in our Google score as well as the underlying reviews. I'm dropping you this line to introduce them to you.'

And we'll take over from there. The next thing you will see is a credit from HelpHound against your own membership fee.

Monday 5 September 2022

Looking the best your business possibly can

We've already established in the previous article that scoring 4.0 on Google will leave a business languishing at the bottom of the Google rankings in most business sectors, certainly in the sectors that are key for professional businesses: financial, medical, legal, estate agency, recruitment etc. To even begin to make the top 5 in local search a business needs to score 4.7 or more.

Now let's look at the solutions many businesses in these sectors are currently adopting in order to achieve such scores.

1.  Cherry-picking

Everyone's favourite: simply hand-pick happy customers and then invite them, and only them, to write a review. How do we know? Easy. It took us less than a minute to find this example and then about the same amount of time to establish that this law firm is cherry-picking by analysing the pattern of its reviews: out of a total of 46 reviews five are older than 3 years and two - both rating it 1* - were posted after 2019. It almost certainly cherry-picked its happy clients in 2018, achieved a perfect 5.0 with 44 reviews and hasn't asked anyone for a review since then.

And - be sure - if we can tell so can the CMA. Cherry-picking is illegal.

2.  Gating

Really just a sophisticated version of cherry-picking: send a questionnaire out to every customer asking them to rate the business and then only invite those who respond with 10 out of 10 or 5 stars to write a Google review.

There's a variant that involves using one of the diminishing band of review sites - get the customer to write a review there and then only invite those who have posted a 5* review to the review site to copy that review to Google.

Again: illegal.

3.  A moderated system

Moderation: 'the act of having an independent agency read and check every review before publication' is the only sure-fire - and legally compliant - way of ensuring a business looks as good as it deserves. 

Why? Because moderation focuses on identifying reviews that contain errors of fact and statements likely to mislead the reader. 

And, by their very nature, those kinds of reviews also tend to be ones that carry the 1* ratings. If they can be corrected before publication, then the business's score will rise.

There's a reason we are able to drop the anonymity of the business above: that's because they are fully compliant with the law - the CMA regulations. They don't cherry-pick and they don't gate. They are able to sleep at night for two crucial reasons: they don't fear the CMA will come knocking and they know that unfair, inaccurate or misleading reviews will benefit from moderation.

We often meet people who say 'but we can respond to our Google reviews and correct errors of fact and any misconceptions then'. So you can, but by then most of the damage is done: the score is set in stone (as well as the impact it has on the business's overall score), irrespective of your response (Google* won't change it, even if you have cast iron proof that the review is in error); as well as that the harmfully and unfairly negative review will stand and will be read by your prospective customers. 

Why not just invest in moderation and that concern - and the potential harm caused by a factually incorrect or potentially misleading review - goes away?

*Appealing against a Google review. In short: unless the review has contravened one of the following... will struggle. That doesn't mean you shouldn't appeal, we conduct Google appeals on behalf of clients on an almost daily basis and are sometimes surprised when one that does not fit neatly into one of the categories in the above checklist succeeds, but you will note that the following are not prima facie grounds...

      • errors of fact
      • misleading statements

...and that's exactly why moderation is so valuable.


We estimate that our clients score between 0.2 and 0.5 more on Google than if they had simply gone it alone - compliantly. That may not seem like a lot, but in the context of a competitive marketplace where over 90 percent of potential customers are influenced by Google scores and reviews and almost all businesses score above 4.0 it is almost always the difference between being at or very near the top of a ranked Google search and at or near the bottom.


If your business falls into either of categories 1 or 2 above - don't panic, you're not alone! - but you need to seriously consider 'going straight' by adopting a moderated system - as soon as possible. If your business has yet to engage with Google reviews for fear of the damage factually inaccurate or misleading reviews might do to your Google score then solution 3 is for you.

It's not only the CMA you need to be concerned about, your competitors will soon cotton on - if we can easily identify businesses that are cherry-picking so can they, and they won't hesitate to use that information in competitive pitches in order to devalue your Google score.

Spin that around and be able to say 'We invite all of our customers and stakeholders to write reviews, so the score you see and the reviews you read are a genuine portrayal of our business.' And you will find out just what a business winner moderation can be.