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Ain't It Time To Say Goodbye To Angie's List? | Local Search

review sites reviews or advertisements unethical business practices consumer trust future of local rankings

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#1 clandestino

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 04:27 PM


David Trainer posted a good article at Forbes questioning whether Angie's list will exist much longer -- Ain't It Time To Say Goodbye To Angie's List?

 

As Angie's list membership revenue declines, ad revenue increases -- but after 18 years, still no profits.

 

The reason David brings up ad revenues is, of course, the desire for ad revenue may affect the objectivity of Angie's List in regard to reviews of businesses -- they're not really independent.  David notes -->

 

 

The company can try to claim that these advertisers don’t
have any say in reviews, but there is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.
The NBC affiliate channel 12 in Richmond, Va., did
a little digging
into Angie’s List and found that lower rated companies can
bump themselves up to the top of search results by paying extra money. In one
case, the top rated heating & air company showed up 12th on a
list of search results because they wouldn’t pay the $12,000 to $15,000
required to move up the list.

 

And, of course, this type of behavior will affect the trust consumers place in all review sites and well it should.  Many review sites, especially in the SEO space, are nothing but veiled marketing tools.

 

Will review sites ever be taken seriously?  Should they be?

 

In the area of on-line Small Business promotion, is this method of determining relevance just another g##### pipe dream?



 


Edited by chuckfinley, 14 September 2013 - 04:29 PM.


#2 Ken Fisher

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 05:28 PM

And I really thought Angie's was sincere...or at least her TV ads can make one feel that way. Amazing...

 

Now I don't take any of them seriously, but there will always be many that will.



#3 clandestino

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 05:38 PM

I agree, that is a really great television ad.  If only that was the reality.

 

A big part of the problem for Angie's List, other than "pay for placement," is they charge for you to be a member.  There's too many free alternatives. 

 

I think people will scan a couple different free sources and take them with a grain of salt.  But, if they see something that matches their experience and it's negative, you're done.

 

I tend to trust Amazon's reviews because of the sheer volume. 

 

For a small business, that doesn't happen, though.  Unless you're using one of these services that is a software add-on to your management system and it solicits your customers, screens reviews and then places only positive reviews on review sites.  The problem is, then your business sticks out like a sore thumb.  When checking reviews on companies, you'll see -- 2 reviews, 5 reviews, 4 reviews, 423 reviews -- who's going to believe that?

 

The whole thing is a scam and I don't think it will ever work for the "small business."


Edited by chuckfinley, 14 September 2013 - 05:51 PM.


#4 EGOL

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 07:18 PM

Chuck,

 

I think that you should register chuckslist.com and start publishing this stuff. 

 

I'll subscribe and pimp your site in my cre8asiteforums.com sig.



#5 clandestino

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 11:26 PM

I'll subscribe and pimp your site in my cre8asiteforums.com sig.

 

;)



#6 earlpearl

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 04:23 PM

Reviews and review sites create compelling content and issues. The issues are not going away. Businesses create false positive reviews. Competitors and people who hate you write false negative reviews.

Sites that live off reviews have a problem in that they deliver afraction of googles traffic. An ie and yelp have developed reputations for arm twisting smbs. I'm sure they have based on the highvolume of complaints from everywhere.

Google surpringly has not resorted to the ta tactics of An ie or yelp but it doesn't need to. Its traffic is immense. Its the huge monopoly.

The best example of the power of reviews I saw was onFB. Acousin asked friends to advise on aprodu t she was considering. She received an amazing wealth of great info. FBhas not figured out how to systemically create that YET

#7 clandestino

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 06:42 PM

I talked to a photographer that didn't want to create a Local presence because of the way businesses in his space trash each other with fake reviews.

 

I know that some such as Yelp create their own algorithm to sort out fake reviews, both positive and negative.  If you go set up an account with Yelp today and post a review, they won't include it.  They'll filter it out and it will show up behind a little gray link to the left at the bottom of the reviews.  You would have to know it was there to see it.

 

You need to have a history with Yelp before they will trust your reviews and show them right away.  Of course, the way people get around that is they set up lots of accounts and use them regularly for their clients.  I would think you would have to spoof the ip's to make it work, I don't know, but you would think that would be an easy one for Yelp's algorithm to catch.

 

Also, Yelp is starting to sue people that put up fake reviews --> Yelp Is Suing A California Lawyer For Allegedly Writing His Own Bogus Reviews  The attorrney says Yelp's suit is retribution for the attorney's winning suit in regard to Yelp's failure to deliver on an advertising agreement.  He said, she said - who knows.  Watch and wait .......

 

Yelp also sued AdBlaze --> Yelp's Newest Weapon Against Fake Reviews: Lawsuits

 

Credibility is the lifeblood of companies such as Yelp.

 

We'll see if they can clean it up .......


Edited by chuckfinley, 15 September 2013 - 06:55 PM.


#8 earlpearl

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:37 AM

Chuck:  I have no direct experience with Angie's list.  From what I've read some of the types of smb's that are listed there really hate Angie.

 

I have a good bit of experience with yelp.  Virtually all the smb's I know who have dealt with Yelp hate them.  hate.   There of course have been the claims of arm twisting and threats to either get advertising or threaten where one's smb will be ranked.   

 

I didn't experience either of those.  I've been solicited several times by yelp salespeople.  Originally it was several years ago.  Possibly the threats or intimidation could have ensued.  All I ever did was put them off.  I never received the hard sells.   Ultimately the yelp sales people must have gotten tired of calling on our smbs.

 

In the second round, in the past year one smb that is now getting reasonable yelp traffic received calls.  Frankly we saw we were getting the traffic and it was converting at a high rate.   I'm sure the vast majority was coming b/c yelp was ranking highly for various terms for that smb.

 

I was intrigued by the sales call.  Three things though.   A)   There was a faked attack ad showing on yelp for what was then over 3 years.  We had protested it years ago and we protested it again when the sales folks contacted us.  Nothing was done.  We actually forwarded inside smb info to convince them to take it down.  They didn't.  That friggin attack review was written by somebody w/ 3 total yelp reviews over 3+ years.   They refused to remove it.    (months after the last sales call it finally sunk into "filtered".).

 

Yelp's pricing is high.  That didn't dissuade me either.  It was frankly "transactional' to use their terminology.   If a prospect starts reading reviews they are far closer to the buying cycle.  

 

I specifically wanted something.  They wouldn't do it.  We never purchased their advertising.

 

But most smb's I've spoken to hate them.  HATE THEM.  The other day a friend managing a restaurant spoke to me about a late night attack review his restaurant received immediately following a rave review.  It was grotesque.  An "enemy" of the restaurant decided to use review "power" to communicate to the potential buying public.   

 

That does s*ck.  It is a reflection of how we as humans act....and whether they take down the attack review or not...who knows.

 

I'll repeat this though...reviews are compelling and interesting to readers and searchers.   The review sites get such a tiny percentage of traffic versus google that as economic entities they are at a disadvantage vis a vis google.

 

Reviews are simply one big large problematic issue.



#9 clandestino

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 08:52 PM

I just saw this today at SE Roundtable

 

New York State Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced that 19 companies have agreed to pay out a total of $350,000 in penalties for submitting fake reviews.

 

Actually, I'm glad to see this happening.  Fake review sites are everywhere. 

 

I refuse to make money by scamming customers with fake reviews or anything else.  This SEO marketplace is a little like the Wild Wild West -- needs some cleaning up so honest people will be willing to participate.



#10 clandestino

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 09:10 PM

Just read this --> Google Local Showing Review Removals To Submitter

 

There does seem to an "anti-fake review" trend evolving here.



#11 bobbb

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 10:19 PM

Actually, I'm glad to see this happening.  Fake review sites are everywhere. 

This even made CNN yesterday before I read the comment above. AC360 I think. My first reaction was: REALLY?

 

1) Does anyone expect that I think reviews are are for real.... in this day of the Internet

2) Doesn't a DA of a state have better things to do than look at reviews? More than half of ads on TV are not true. Next they will be telling me that matches on WWE are not as real as we may think and that winners are predetermined in advance. Nonsense


Edited by bobbb, 27 September 2013 - 10:20 PM.


#12 clandestino

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 04:19 PM

This is serious business, a Federal Crime.

 

The FTC closely regulates blogs and other online media now.  For example, you can't include a testimonial by Suzie Q that your weight loss products helped her lose 155 lbs in 30 days anymore -- even if it's true!

 

Taking care of the uninformed public sells politically.


Edited by chuckfinley, 28 September 2013 - 04:20 PM.
sp


#13 bobbb

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 04:41 PM

Maybe!

 

Seems time would be better spent by the Feds looking into the "false testimonials" of Madoff's business before it happened or into Goldman Sach's "false testimonials" of their toxic derivatives before 2008. Ah but then they would be fighting someone who can fight back and not some poor blogger saying that his [reviewed] product is the best. This can only be true for one.

 

Taking care of the uninformed public sells politically. (or seeming to) Yes of course I for got that.



#14 clandestino

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 05:06 PM

1) Does anyone expect that I think reviews are are for real.... in this day of the Internet

 

Topseos dot com claims to rank SEO's through a thorough and exhaustive process of review.  Many uniformed businesses take those reviews as true.  Bruce Clay said he doesn't have his company removed from the list because he gets lots of business from there.

 

The internet is replete with blog posts saying there is no review, highly visible firms are included without their knowledge (to add credibility), companies are included and then approached to pay to keep the rating live, and that topseos dot com is a "pay to play" service that uses many deceptive practices.

 

Industry In Revolt Now Turns On TopSEOs dot com

 

Why I don’t display my numerous TopSEOs awards

 

TopSEOs.com - A Review of the Top SEOs Paid Rating Service


Topseos.com Awards For SEO Companies Not Transparent Enough

 

And, it goes on and on and on....

Edited by chuckfinley, 28 September 2013 - 05:10 PM.
sp


#15 earlpearl

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 06:18 PM

Chuck:   I think google is simply expanding algo driven filters with regard to reviews.   Following Mike's article I was discussing a competitive local area w/ one of the active seo's.  I could see who he was representing b/c I follow him in G+ and his name was connected to one of the smb's in that PAC via a review.  His relationship w/ that smb is the same as Mike's with the one that got taken down, just not that obvious or open.  

 

Big G isn't that sharp yet.  They may not delve deep into the past.  We don't know, but the efforts by google are algo driven ALWAYS.   

 

Last year they took down a lot of reviews in the auto business by algo.  They discerned tons and tons of reviews were being written at "review stations" inside the dealerships.  Again that was algo driven.   Nothing more nothing less.  In the comments section at Mike's article I went over some past experiences w/ reviews and their filters.

 

Meanwhile if you can get in fake reviews positive or negative...they'll probably miss them on an individual basis.

 

I sincerely doubt they'll load up w/ people to read and evaluate reviews.   Its not worth it to them and frankly they don't give a hoot about the truth or not of reviews.  They only care that their results pass some mediocre muster.

 

Wanna see something weird.   Look up Max's Deli in Birmingham, Ala and go through the reviews.  You'll have to dig a bit b/c of the way google changed its presentation.  

 

First check the # of reviews for deli's in Birmingham at google and yelp.  Nobody gets tons of reviews...but Max's has  a ton at google.    Why?

 

The owner of Max's made a statement a couple of years ago that got caught up the in the political world.   He then got a swarm of negative reviews.  The story was picked up in one of the national press.   Then he got a swarm of positive reviews.    If you hit the time period when they were flowing in you'll see a lot of the reviews are totally political and have nothing to do with sandwiches.   

 

Its comical.  I'm surprised they haven't gotten around to taking a lot of them down.  I guess the engineers are stumped on how to do that via algo.   


Edited by earlpearl, 28 September 2013 - 06:19 PM.


#16 clandestino

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 09:40 PM

I thought what they might do is the same as Yelp has --> select some candidates based on spam reports, penalize them and then hand it over to the press for the FUD factor.



#17 earlpearl

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 07:57 AM

I thought what they might do is the same as Yelp has --> select some candidates based on spam reports, penalize them and then hand it over to the press for the FUD factor.

Over many years I haven't seen them operate that way.  Google is sooooo big and soooooo powerful and has sooooooooo much impact.   

 

They make a change.  They don't do a great job of announcing it.   It might go into a blog or in a change of their terms.   They don't seem to take it to the press.

 

If not for eagle eyed watchers of what google announces or does most would miss it.   I don't think google cares.   

 

You can get a sense of a change via the level of comments and complaints inside the google places forum.   (but to follow that its a job in itself).



#18 clandestino

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 03:18 PM

That it's all algorithm based is important to know.  Thanks for that one.



#19 cre8pc

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 08:44 PM

When I want to get a local referral, I go to Facebook.  I've never used Angie's list, Yelp, etc. because I don't trust the content or its accuracy.  I think there is a larger set of issues with these sites such as the ones you all mentioned above.

 

Companies do invest in fighting negative reviews so in a sense, search engines benefit by offering prime spots and adwords to ward off the evil junk.  I was talking to someone today who was joking about how her company laughs at the negative comments because they tend to be vents and comments made my people who are never happy or satisfied and in many cases, the situations are just not true.





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