How your good reputation can kill your business

Is it possible that your good reputation could kill your business?

Quite simply yes, and I’ll show you how your good reputation can be dangerous below.

Having spoken with over 3,000 contractors over the last couple of years I always watch to see how a business markets themselves online. While I was checking my Twitter feed one night, one of the companies I follow posted a tweet saying that they had over 1,000 reviews on a particular contractor review site. Getting reviews is not easy, and getting to that number takes a lot of effort and dedication, so I thought I would take a closer look. What I found left me in shock.

For obvious reasons I won’t call out the name of this business and this certainly isn’t an isolated situation but for now lets just call this business the ABC Company (not exactly original but safe for the purposes of this article.). ABC Company has (as of Dec 10/2014) 1064 reviews on one site. Very Impressive. How many reviews do they have on Google +? (Probably the most important site to have reviews for local SEO purposes) ZERO. In fact, on all other reviews based sites that come up on Google within the first couple of pages they have exactly 14 reviews total outside of this one main site. See a problem yet?

Recent studies show that greater than 80% of people put more weight into online reviews than that of the advice from a friend or family. As a homeowner at what point does the amount of reviews go from being important to being borderline ridiculous? We are not talking about a global brand here or a Grammy-winning recording artist. Would you think any less of this company if it only had 525 reviews instead of a 1000? More importantly, would you be more likely to hire them because they had 1000 reviews vs. 200?

This is a dangerous situation for a company to be in for a couple reasons.

The first reason is it looks odd, and a bit suspect.

If this business gets a dozens of reviews a month and they are ALL going to one site people might start to think that they are A) not all above board or B) they are all being solicited by the business so they lose some of the “organic” authenticity that makes reviews so important. What are the chances that 1000+ people would all think to go write reviews on a business on one particular site?

The second reason is that this does little to help their SEO or Local Search.

It does wonders for the review site itself, but for this business the only benefit it gets is that is that if someone searches ABC Company this particular listing will come up front and center. Great, right? Well what if this review site went down tomorrow, what if it went out of business, or were faced with a fraud scandal or something that put their level of trust in jeopardy with the general public or Google itself? What happens to ABC Company now with a grand total of 14 reviews?

The Danger

I read an article recently that talked about Yelp and their weakest link being that 75% + of their traffic comes directly from Google. Now, it’s probably safe to say Google isn’t going away anytime soon but what if Google changes their algorithm and puts less of a focus on reviews? Where does that leave a multi-billion dollar company like Yelp? Well, it leaves them scrambling to rebuild their traffic sources, that is for sure.

The Solution

Having a diverse portfolio of reviews is smart. A smart investment advisor will tell you not to put all your retirement nest egg in one investment — can you imagine investing every dime you own in Facebook? Better yet, what if you had put all of your money in MySpace? You shouldn’t put all your reputation capital into just one site. Nobody can ever predict with certainty what Google will do. The way to protect your brand is to build a reputation that shows balance across a multitude of places, so that regardless of where a homeowner looks and places their trust, your brand will be front and center.

A solid review strategy is building it out on a foundation of choice. Give your clients options on where to place their reviews. You don’t need 15 reviews a month on one site to show you are active.

  • Find all the listings that show up for searches for your particular line of business. If you are a plumber try a number of searches for plumbers with an incognito (private) browser or cleared cache to see what comes up.

  • Claim all of these accounts with your contact information and address (this also can help your SEO)

  • Start pushing some reviews to each of them. It really doesn’t take 1,000 reviews to be seen as a reputable business in the trades and home services. (if sounds like a lot of work there are platforms you can use to automate this.)

At the end of 12 months with some effort you are going to have a well-balanced reputation that will show up more often than not in homeowners searches regardless of their search term or device used. Most importantly you have built foundation will be solid and remain with you as long as you keep creating happy clients.