TripAdvisor CEO discusses fake reviews, Google

HNN: What is your stance on fake reviews and what is TripAdvisor doing to combat them?
SK: “We’ve been dealing with the issue for 10 years now so we have a decade of expertise at catching folks that are trying to spam our system. Ninety-eight percent of our audience when we surveyed ‘Do you trust the reviews,’ the answer was ‘yes’ because they read the reviews, they go and they stay and it matched expectations. The system works.
“I totally understand hoteliers being concerned if they get a bad review and some will immediately assume it’s false. Everyone I know comes in, looks at the overall picture and they throw out the best review and they throw out the worst and they form an opinion on the rest. If you’re delivering a good service and that one horrible review comes up—maybe fraudulent or maybe because the person just got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning—it will disappear in a few weeks because the new reviews will take its place. So we know that the fake review is not an issue when you look at the overall volume of reviews we have.
“We also know that hoteliers, it’s almost their personal reputation, so they care a lot about it, as they should. Because everyone’s entitled to their opinion, we wanted hoteliers to be entitled to their opinion. And so with every review, good or bad, the hotel can write a management response to tell their side of the story. Sometimes the best response is: ‘I’m really sorry you had a long wait to check in. We find that unacceptable as well. We apologize and we sincerely hope you’ll give us a try again.’ As a consumer, if I read that, I say, ‘You know, that stuff happens.’ But, if I read that in 10 reviews I’m not going to stay there because they actually do have a problem.”
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In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5

In tens of millions of reviews on Web sites like, Citysearch, TripAdvisor and Yelp, new books are better than Tolstoy, restaurants are undiscovered gems and hotels surpass the Ritz.
Or so the reviewers say. As online retailers increasingly depend on reviews as a sales tool, an industry of fibbers and promoters has sprung up to buy and sell raves for a pittance.
“For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business,” offered one entrepreneur on the help-for-hire site Fiverr, one of a multitude of similar pitches. On another forum, Digital Point, a poster wrote, “I will pay for positive feedback on TripAdvisor.” A Craigslist post proposed this: “If you have an active Yelp account and would like to make very easy money please respond.”
Read full article at:

Google Instant Hits Singapore's Shores

Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. In Google’s words “We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”
They claim that the most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want.

Faster Searches: By predicting your search and showing results before you finish typing, Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search.

Smarter Predictions: Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, predictions help guide your search. The top prediction is shown in grey text directly in the search box, so you can stop typing as soon as you see what you need.

Instant Results: Start typing and results appear right before your eyes. Until now, you had to type a full search term, hit return, and hope for the right results. Now results appear instantly as you type, helping you see where you’re headed, every step of the way.

Google Instant Launch Video
Did you know: (from Google’s own webpage on Google Instant)

Before Google Instant, the typical searcher took more than 9 seconds to enter a search term, and we saw many examples of searches that took 30-90 seconds to type.

Using Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search.

If everyone uses Google Instant globally, we estimate this will save more than 3.5 billion seconds a day. That’s 11 hours saved every second.

15 new technologies contribute to Google Instant functionality

Feedback has been coming in from around the world. The Telegraph offers some insight on the impact of Google Instant on SEO consultants:
“Without the psychological full stop of pressing return, and with users able to see points of interest as they type and consequently refine as they go, it’s plausible that searches will get longer and more specific (feeding, not starving, the Long Tail). It’s also likely that ranking in the hallowed top 3 or 4 positions will become even more important, given that users probably won’t look further down the page while typing. If your result appears in those 3 and it answers the query, it’s going to get a very high Click Through Rate (CTR).
All of the above, of course, depends on one significant point: users actually going to the Google homepage, instead of using the search bar in their browser. Google Instant changes the way people can interact with search, but it far from sounds the death knell for search optimization.”
Check out Google Instant, and let me know if you agree with Google’s statement that “in time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way”.
More details are available at the Official Google Instant Webpage.

Digital Coupon Adoption Takes Off In Companies

The number of special product promotions featuring digital coupons increased 84% between the first half of 2009 and the first half of 2010 — largely thanks to new marketing initiatives via retailer Web sites and social media, according to Kantar Media, which operates a Web site-tracking service called Marx.
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New Talk – "Marketing On A Zero Budget" – 9th April

Come to our next informative talk on “Marketing On A Zero Budget” and learn:

How to market effectively online to get more clients

How traffic generation and social media can work hand-in-hand to increase your business sales and branding

How to leverage on web analytics to track your online marketing return on investment

Date: Friday 9th April, 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Click here for more details and to register.
Seating is limited so do register early if you are interested in attending.