Google Just Changed the Game on Local Search

If Local Search Marketing was hot before last week it’s now smoking hot! We’re going to tell you what has changed in Local Search, What it means for your business and how you can leverage these changes to your advantage so keep reading.
By the way, we’ve previously blogged over at UntangleMyWeb.com on how to Optimise your Local Business for Search so you may want to check that out after this post to refresh your memory on how to optimise your free Local Search listing in Google Places.
Only couple of days ago, Google introduced a big change in its result page that is affecting Local search and Local search marketing.
Read more here: http://www.mywebschool.com/blog/seo/google-just-changed-the-game-on-local-search/

Should You Trust Online Reviews?

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way that buyers and sellers meet and interact in the marketplace. Online retailers make it cheap and easy to browse, comparison shop, and make purchases with the click of a mouse. The Web can also, in theory, make for better-informed purchases—both online and off—thanks to sites that offer crowdsourced reviews of everything from dog walkers to dentists.
In a Web-enabled world, it should be harder for careless or unscrupulous businesses to exploit consumers. Yet recent studies suggest that online reviewing is hardly a perfect consumer defense system. Researchers at Yale, Dartmouth, and USC have found evidence that hotel owners post fake reviews to boost their ratings on the site—and might even be posting negative reviews of nearby competitors.
Read more here: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_dismal_science/2012/08/tripadvisor_expedia_yelp_amazon_are_online_reviews_trustworthy_economists_weigh_in_.html

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.”
Read more here: http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles.aspx/6974/TripAdvisor-CEO-discusses-fake-reviews-Google

In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5

In tens of millions of reviews on Web sites like Amazon.com, 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: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html?_r=3