By: Chris Emmins - KwikChex
Type 'Disgusting Hotels London' into a Google search and it shows 576,000 results. Repeat the exercise, replacing the word 'hotel' with 'restaurant' - 372.000 results.
You can repeat this exercise anywhere with similar results. New York will get 627,000 results for restaurants and 82,700 for hotels - in fact type in just 'disgusting hotel' and Google declares 1,700,000 results and 1,440,000 for 'disgusting restaurants.'
This is a simple way to understand how many accusations and criticisms are being placed on the web - and often the business owners on the receiving end are not even aware of the damage being done - and are not deserving of the criticisms. In the results you will find many mentions of leading brands such as Hilton (49,900 'disgusting' results), and Marriott (45,800).
KwikChex.com has been conducting research to define the scale and significance of the problems of online reputation and bad and fake reviews.The scale is astonishing - thousands of websites and blogs are already online carrying millions of reviews. Most reviews are anonymous and are often almost completely unmoderated.
Issues with the truthfulness and accuracy of sites such as "Trip Advisor" have always been a concern to the hospitality industry -
hardly surprising when they carry over 30 million reviews - but the growth in the number of review and complaint sites and the introduction of Google Reviews means that reviews are starting to hit the top of search engine results.
Google Map Reviews have several elements that make them more damaging.
- Being owned by Google, they are extremely search engine effective.
- They pull in many other reviews, including Trip Advisor.
- They often show bad comments at the top, even when they are outweighed by good ones
- They are extremely difficult to remove and have an accumulative, long term effect.
Below are some of the very many complaints being received regarding Google
"We have no records of these customers. We do a very good job of taking care of our customers. This is most likely a competitor. I have already flagged these as spam, but I have not had any response from Google. How can I get these removed, or at least investigated. This is very hurtful to my business."
"I have paid google thousands of dollars for PPC ads, yet they do nothing to investigate when there are false slanderous reviews being made against your business."
"I now have six outrageously negative slanderous reviews. We work very hard to maintain our relationship with our customers. I am furious that google is not doing anything about this. It is so easy for any anonymous person to post a message and there is no review from google."
Prosecution For Fake 'Good Reviews'
As previously mentioned, many businesses post their own good reviews or ask employees and friends to do so. There is clear evidence that this has been widespread in the hospitality industry and KwikChex has learned that sometimes this is in response to not being able to get fake bad reviews removed on Google.
'This is in fact illegal in the UK and the EU and in many other countries too, including the USA', where prosecutions have already taken place - in one case resulting in a cost to the business of $350,000
The KwikChex campaign and solutions are now being launched. They are designed to rapidly turn around negative reputation issues, converting a damaging situation into a very positive marketing strategy. They include:
'KwikChex Accredited' - verified membership that provides verification and support for reputable businesses.
'KwikChex Authenticated Reviews' - verified customer reviews that promote reputable businesses and protect the privacy of consumers. These can be posted to all review sites and provide a trusted validation service for real reviews
'KwikChex CleanUp' - a bespoke service that tackles and resolves reputation issues - turning around poor and damaging reputations, whether created by libellous attacks or by lower than acceptable standards. This can be used to directly and effectively challenge suspected fake and malicious reviews
'KwikChex Reputation Radar' - scanning millions of web pages and reviews to on a real time basis to alert businesses about new and existing references to their brands, locations, executives, competitors and suppliers.
'The Feedblack Campaign' - to report abuse and seek support and solutions, including help with remedial action on review sites. There is a dedicated website, Facebook and Twitter.
KwikChex is the new and most effective resource for business reputation marketing and consumer reassurance and is providing services for many types of business across the globe.