Yelp is experiencing a little bit of “gulp” these days especially with their online scandal and accusations of manipulating restaurants and blackmailing them for good reviews.
That just can’t possibly be good for business, and is certainly not the greatest business model Yelp.
But the victims are really the small business owners and their establishments. Imagine, all that work to fund, build, and grow a small business just to be burned at the stake thanks to Yelp and Google.
But regardless of whether the accusations are true there’s an important lesson to be learned, one that we should unequivocally listen and respond to:
Establish and maintain your reputation online or someone else will (and perhaps capitalize on it, for the good or the bad).
Take it seriously folks. Take it very seriously.
For example, a Google Search on “Perry Noble” gives me the following results. Please notice the 4th result:
It’s a link to a blog titled “I Hate Perry Noble!”
Wow, seriously. The 4th result. Thankfully it’s a bit of “trickery” on the blogger’s part as he expounds on how he really loves Perry.
*WHEW.* Disaster averted.
But in terms of Yelp and the reviews about a few of the establishments, the restaurants did not receive the same table serving of Grace and light-hearted humor. The reviews were devastating to some of the restaurants, resulting in even higher rankings than the Perry Noble example in search with titles like “This restaurant SUCKS! NEVER GO HERE!”.
Darn.Too bad. One person’s bad experience has colored now every single Googler who’s looking for a good burrito on a thursday night. And then Yelp, as the accusations suggest, then tries to offer a “fix” to the bad reviews by paying for them to be somewhat removed.
The point is that although this is an extreme example the possibility obviously exists, and it can happen to you. In fact, it’s already happening, you just don’t know it.
So, take control of your online reputation by establishing your brand, either with a robust website or a blog that can provide better and more relevant content to who you are and what you do, and as a result will give the Googlers the stuff that really matters: