Tag Archive | "Likes"

New Things I’ve Learned About Google Review Likes

Posted by MiriamEllis

Last time I counted, there were upwards of 35 components to a single Google Business Profile (GBP). Hotel panels, in and of themselves, are enough to make one squeal, but even on a more “typical” GPB, it’s easy to overlook some low-lying features. Often, you may simply ignore them until life makes you engage.

A few weeks ago, a local SEO came to me with a curious real-life anecdote, in which a client was pressuring the agency to have all their staff hit the “like” button on all of the brand’s positive Google reviews. Presumably, the client felt this would help their business in some manner. More on the nitty-gritty of this scenario later, but at first, it made me face that I’d set this whole GBP feature to one side of my brain as not terribly important.

Fast forward a bit, and I’ve now spent a couple of days looking more closely at the review like button, its uses, abuses, and industry opinions about it. I’ve done a very small study, conducted a poll, and spoken to three different Google reps. Now, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with you.

Wait, what is the “like” button?

Crash course: Rolled out in 2016, this simple function allows anyone logged into a Google account to thumbs-up any review they like. There is no opposite thumbs-down function. From the same account, you can only thumb up a single review once. Hitting the button twice simply reverses the “liking” action. Google doesn’t prevent anyone from hitting the button, including owners of the business being reviewed.

At a glance, do Google review likes influence anything?

My teammate, Kameron Jenkins, and I plugged 20 totally random local businesses into a spreadsheet, with 60 total reviews being highlighted on the front interface of the GBP. Google highlights just three reviews on the GBP and I wanted to know two things:

  1. How many businesses out of twenty had a liked review anywhere in their corpus
  2. Did the presence of likes appear to be impacting which reviews Google was highlighting on the front of the GBP?

The study was very small, and should certainly be expanded on, but here’s what I saw:

60 percent of the brands had earned at least one like somewhere in their review corpus.

15 percent of the time, Google highlighted only reviews with zero likes, even when a business had liked reviews elsewhere in its corpus. But, 85 percent of the time, if a business had some likes, at least one liked review was making it to the front of the GBP.

At a glance, I’d say it looks like a brand’s liked reviews may have an advantage when it comes to which sentiment Google highlights. This can be either a positive or negative scenario, depending on whether the reviews that get thumbed up on your listing are your positive or negative reviews.

And that leads us to…

Google’s guidelines for the use of the review likes function

But don’t get too excited, because it turns out, no such guidelines exist. Though it’s been three years since Google debuted this potentially-influential feature, I’ve confirmed with them that nothing has actually been published about what you should and shouldn’t do with this capability. If that seems like an open invitation to spam, I hear you!

So, since there were no official rules, I had to hunt for the next best thing. I was thinking about that SEO agency with the client wanting to pay them to thumb up reviews when I decided to take a Twitter poll. I asked my followers:

Unsurprisingly, given the lack of guidelines, 15 percent of 111 respondents had no idea whether it would be fishy to employ staff or markers to thumb up brand reviews. The dominant 53 percent felt it would be totally fine, but a staunch 32 percent called it spam. The latter group added additional thoughts like these:

I want to thank Tess Voecks, Gyi Tsakalakis, and everyone else for taking the poll. And I think the disagreement in it is especially interesting when we look at what happens next.

After polling the industry, I contacted three forms of Google support: phone, chat, and Twitter. If you found it curious that SEOs might disagree about whether or not paying for review likes is spam, I’m sorry to tell you that Google’s own staff doesn’t have brand-wide consensus on this either. In three parts:

1. The Google phone rep was initially unfamiliar with what the like button is. I explained it to her. First, I asked if it was okay for the business owner to hit the like button on the brand’s reviews, she confirmed that it’s fine to do that. This didn’t surprise me. But, when I asked the question about paying people to take such actions, she replied (I paraphrase):

“If a review is being liked by people apart from the owner, it’s not considered as spam.”

“What if the business owner is paying people, like staff or marketers, to like their reviews,” I asked.

“No, it’s not considered spam.”

“Not even then?”

“No,” she said.

2. Next, here’s a screenshot of my chat with a Google rep:

The final response actually amused me (i.e. yeah, go ahead and do that if you want to, but I wouldn’t do it if I were you).

3. Finally, I spoke with Google’s Twitter support, which I always find helpful:

To sum up, we had one Google rep tell is it would be fine and dandy to pay people to thumb up reviews (uh-oh!), but the other two warned against doing this. We’ll go with majority rule here and try to cobble together our own guidelines, in the absence of public ones.

My guidelines for use of the review likes function

Going forward with what we’ve learned, here’s what I would recommend:

  1. As a business owner, if you receive a review you appreciate, definitely go ahead and thumb it up. It may have some influence on what makes it to the highly-visible “front” of your Google Business Profile, and, even if not, it’s a way of saying “thank you” to the customer when you’re also writing your owner response. So, a nice review comes in, respond with thanks and hit the like button. End of story.
  2. Don’t tell anyone in your employ to thumb up your brand’s reviews. That means staff, marketers, and dependents to whom you pay allowance. Two-thirds of Google reps agree this would be spam, and 32 percent of respondents to my poll got it right about this. Buying likes is almost as sad a strategy as buying reviews. You could get caught and damage the very reputation you are hoping to build. It’s just not worth the risk.
  3. While we’re on the subject, avoid the temptation to thumbs-up your competitors’ negative reviews in hopes of getting them to surface on GBPs. Let’s just not go there. I didn’t ask Google specifically about this, but can’t you just see some unscrupulous party deciding this is clever?
  4. If you suspect someone is artificially inflating review likes on positive or negative reviews, the Twitter Google rep suggests flagging the review. So, this is a step you can take, though my confidence in Google taking action on such measures is not high. But, you could try.

How big of a priority should review likes be for local brands?

In the grand scheme of things, I’d put this low on the scale of local search marketing initiatives. As I mentioned, I’d given only a passing glance at this function over the past few years until I was confronted with the fact that people were trying to spam their way to purchased glory with it.

If reputation is a major focus for your brand (and it should be!) I’d invest more resources into creating excellent in-store experiences, review acquisition and management, and sentiment analysis than I would in worrying too much about those little thumbs. But, if you have some time to spare on a deep rep dive, it could be interesting to see if you can analyze why some types of your brand’s reviews get likes and if there’s anything you can do to build on that. I can also see showing positive reviewers that you reward their nice feedback with likes, if for no other reason than a sign of engagement.

What’s your take? Do you know anything about review likes that I should know? Please, share in the comments, and you know what I’ll do if you share a good tip? I’ll thumb up your reply!

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Google On AMP Adoption Rate: No Numbers To Share, But Likes Where It’s Heading

This morning, Google added AMP error reports to the Google Search Console and Google is heavily pushing AMP onto Google News publishers (yes, I am making an effort to test it here…


Search Engine Roundtable

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Friday Round-Up: Judge rules on Facebook likes, Pinterest shares news

labor-day-weekend-2It’s time for my weekly round-up of all the news that was too small or too late to print.

Does a Company Own Its Facebook Likes?

Turns out the answer is no. Bloomberg Business Week published a story this week about a legal battle between a TV network and a fan page. Stacey Mattocks started a Facebook fan page for the show “The Game” and amassed more than 2 million “likes”. When BET revived the show, they made a deal with Stacey. They turned her page into the official page then paid her to be an admin. Smart move until Stacey decided she wanted more then locked BET out of the page.

BET fought back by reporting Stacey for copyright infringement and laid claim to all of the “likes” on her page and the whole thing ended up in court. In the end, the judge ruled that neither party could lay claim to the “likes” because those are owned by the people who gave them in the first place. And since Stacey broke the contract by locking BET out. . well, she basically cooked her own goose.

What amazes me is all the time and money spent to fight this thing in court over what? Facebook likes? I bet a portion of those people don’t even care about the show anymore. BET, seriously, start your own official page and let it go.

Pinterest NewsPinterest Has News!

Pinterest has added a News tab to the notification section of their mobile app. What is “news” in the world of Pinterest, you say? “News” is a list of actions created by the people and boards you follow. Frank pinned two new pictures of his cat. Susan followed I Love Pugs. Harry liked 155 pins. (Harry needs a life.)

From a business POV, anything that helps spread the word is a good thing but how many people are actually going to spend time reviewing the info in this feed?

Moving on.

YouTube star Bethany Mota is going on Dancing with the Stars. This is why you have to stop slacking and get going on your weekly video uploads.

Facebook Test Lets Users Search Old Posts by Keyword – talk about digging up old dirt. This is going to lead to trouble.

And finally, in non-marketing but really cool crowdfunding news: Tiny Canadian town crowdfunding full-size USS Enterprise. 

They’re falling short of their goal (2,467 against the needed 2,000,000,000) so click here to help “make it so“.

That’s it for me. Have a safe and fun Labor Day Weekend.

Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

Google Maps is an incredibly convenient tool to search for places across the globe! How do websites like this work? Trace is here to discuss how satellites a…

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It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who Likes You Enough To Listen

I did an interview with Jeff Walker last week for a product I’m working on. If you have never heard of Jeff, he is the father of the Product Launch Formula, a proven model for launching virtually anything online.

I interviewed Jeff to learn his entrepreneur’s journey, like most of my interviews, so it wasn’t specifically about the … Read the rest of this entry »

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Why Doesn’t Facebook Share Names of Everyone Who Likes Your Page?

To seriously understand the business value of building and engaging with your Facebook audience, knowing who likes your Page is a critical first step in connecting your audience and your customer list to gain incredibly powerful insights.
Search Engine Watch – Latest

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Building Awesome Relationships For Links, Likes, and Love

Posted by Fryed7

Link building isn't really link building. It's relationship building. Links are just the proof of the relationship, as are the tweets, likes, sales… relationship building is link building. Your social graph is your linkerati.

Tom Critchlow encapsulates this with one of these Distilled Pro Tips:

Here's a few tactics and strategies to build and leverage relationships that lead to links, likes, sales and more. Outreach is for tomorrow. Relationships are for life. Let's go!

First, Work Out Why You Do What You Do

The single most important concept in SEO, marketing, business and life can be summed up with Simon Sinek's talk here. His theory of 'The Golden Circle' is central to everything you and I do, and yet is remarkably simple to understand.

Watch the following TED talk, if not now then today at lunch…. (I promise, it's worth it!)

Read more at Start With Why.

Everyone knows what they do. Some people know how they do it, whether that be a unique selling point, proprietary process or secret tactic. But very few people know why they do what they do. Very few people know why they get out of bed in the morning (it's not to make money or profit: that's a result). People who know why they do what they do prove their belief in what they do.

  • Rand and the folks at SEOmoz believe in making the internet, and internet marketing better. They firmly believe this is possible by advocating inbound marketing. They so happen to make and promote SEOmoz PRO software
  • Apple was built around the idea of challenging the status quo. They do this by creating products that are beautifully designed, easy-to-use and user friendly. They so happen to make computers.
  • 37signals believe in simplicity. They do this by creating software that anyone can use and understand "out of the box". They so happen to make productivity software.

What do you believe in?

It's incredibly frustrating working with people, doing SEO or anything, who don't know why they do what they do. It's also incredibly frustrating working with link prospects who don't know what they do!

This is your big action point before you move forward. Find your why. Use your why to identify other people and organisations who share your why. Find people who share your beliefs, and if you clearly understand your why, you don't necessarily need Followerwonk, Buzzstream or any of these link prospecting tools to find people who share your belief. Connect with people who share your why, who share your mission.

You need a reason to get in touch that isn't totally selfish ("gimme a link" just doesn't cut it). Find something they believe in and orchestrate a message, event or project around that. An interview for a blog post or guide, product review or maybe just some advice on a project? Of course, you could get your in by pointing out broken links to a webmaster. Ask yourself, if they knew what you were doing and knew you didn't reach out to them, would they be upset?

So, how to get in touch with these people…?

First Touch Contact Methods That Work A Charm

First touch methods

Your first touch needn't be as weird as this…

First touch methods should never interrupt or inconvenience your prospect, so I'd avoid cold calling (no matter how successful folks say it is, it ain't long haul!). Don't pin your prospects to the spot when you barely know them. Become respected by respecting your link prospects. Remember, you're building the relationship now. The links all come later :)

So…

Don't use email. Not for your first touch. Your inbox is bomb-proof fortress, as is your link prospects. Email from relatively unknown senders is just as bad as anonymous email (why should they care?). With email, it's too easy to be lazy and become less authentic.

As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it, it's as if we're all 19-year old dudes in a bar. We try to close on the first encounter. Don't. You've got to put a ring on it. You've got to get in the long haul game. Get their respect as well as their attention.

That was an extract from Gary Vee's Q&A at Inc500 Seminar 2011. You should *totally* watch the full thing here :)

Of course, events are a great way to acceptably meet your link prospects, without appearing as an unknown contact. To casually introduce oneself over a drink is not just acceptable, but welcomed. Of course, this is even better is to have already had your first touch.

In the SEO world, attending events like LinkLove London has been incredible for building relationships. It's not too often you get to casually talk SEO with a guy like Wil Reynolds (and all the speakers really loosen up at the after parties! :D ). But that's where relationships were formed…

LinkLove 2011 was in March. September 1st 2011, the Distilled Linkbait Guide went live and I called back upon those relationships to help get the word out. That's the not-so-amazing secret to getting links from places like Seth Godin's blog!

Pssst! If you're coming to LinkLove London and want to build deep and meaningful relationships with dozens of other smart SEOs showing up there (seriously, that's half the reason for going) then do what I do and try hovering around the registration desk where Distilled SEOs tend to gravitate to, and the nearest door to the main congress hall where speakers tend to stand between sessions. The Distilled guys will really thank me for that… :p

Oh, and at the after party, just make sure you're the first guy to get a drink into the hands of whoever you want to talk to, and you're away. You really can get one-on-one time with a speaker… you just have to be the one in front of them. See you there! ;)

There are plenty of opportunities where people are reaching out publicly for a response; there's a goldmine of relationship building opportunities at search.twitter.com. (You've read the awesome diet coke story on SEOmoz? And the response?) As a link building professional, you need to get as familiar with Twitter advanced search as you are with Google advanced search. There's a goldmine of relationship building opportunities on Twitter, and you don't have to be huge to make it work. Anyone can do this!

Alternatively, you can try an "inside job". Scour your Facebook friends, LinkedIn Contacts and Twitter followers for useful names and organizations to be introduced to. Names that share the same beliefs you do, then politely ask for the brief introduction. Again, make sure you have a reason, be it an interview, business deal or some way you can help them out.

When was the last time you checked where all your Facebook friends worked (oh, and your non-facebook "real life" friends too)…? I discovered a cousin of mine had ended up at Google. Through various Facebook messages, phone calls and emails I managed to fix a lunch in their London Victoria office with the Head of University Programmes there. Eating deliciously seasoned steak and ice cream whilst talking with folks at Google.

As an SEO, you're conditioned to spotting all sorts of link building opportunities… now you need focus yourself on relationship building opportunities. Think long haul :)

You can do this!

But if you really are out of ideas to get a 'strangers' attention…

…like, if I put a gun to your head and asked you if you had ANY other way of contacting this person…

Then try some of these tricks….

Invariably, you've got to initiate the conversation and the relationship. And for that you've got to send something physical.

Send a box. Yes, a box. A package in the mail. Spend your link building budget with FedEx. You can ignore emails… You can hang up the phone… You can shred letters… But it's really, really hard to ignore a box. People simply can't ignore a mysterious package marked "express delivery" sitting on their desk. *ooooh* shiny package!

So long as they don't think it's a bomb (!!), it's brilliantly effective for getting positive attention. Put something in the box that proves your belief, and don't ever be afraid to go bold with your budget here. You're making friends for life, remember? I tested this with Distilled last year, by shipping a 3D-printed model of their logo with messages in the package. Here's a (bad!) picture of it still in production…

Distilled 3D logo

This was produced via a 3D-printer before the final lacquer was added.

The great thing with couriering goods is you know whether or not they've received it (tracked delivery for the win!). The big bonus of a box is you get the *WOW!* effect. Naturally, surrounding people will come and have a look for themselves. Suddenly, you've sparked a conversation which will only lead to them reading your message with that degree of fascination.

Letters I've found to be less effective, since they can quite literally be mistaken for spam and you don't get the "WOW! Gather Round!" factor of a box. You'll have to make your letter stand out such that it doesn't look like a commercial too.

Take a leaf out of direct marketers books and try handwriting your addresses rather than mass-mailing, mass-printed stickers. Try varying the size, colour and shape of your envelopes. And please try my personal favourite – origami envelopes – just make sure you print onto good thick paper!

Don't mislead your prospects. "Traditional" outreach etiquette that Mike King talks about here still applies. Make sure you indulge in sharing your beliefs – prove your why – and show some enthusiasm for what you do. And since you share something in common, talk about something related, but off-topic to what you're mentioning.

Heck, you're an SEO consultant so maybe something to help them out with their marketing. That's a really easy win to show you care about them, what they do and are kind and human enough to offer help. You care about them, remember?

And of course, always make sure you personalise each method of outreach and give a very, very clear call-to-action with ideally just a yes/no decision needed from them. Something like "if you're interested in meeting on 1st April at 9am at The Epic Sandwich Shop, drop me an email at … or call me at …". Do the thinking for them, and people love it.

Next, use these relationship building tools.

Once you've established a relationship with someone, its kinda rude to use form letters. You don't form letter your mum, so don't form letter your link prospects. We live in a world where authenticity rules. It cuts through the noise and clutter. Caring about people and relationships really does build links! So throw out your f-ing form letters and start writing some real messages and building a real relationship.

Nothing… nothing beats a real face-to-face meeting. Meet someone for lunch or a coffee. They'll relax and you'll be able to have a casual conversation about whatever. Don't call it a meeting if you don't have to.

Why not ask if you can spend some time in their offices or with them actually working? Ask to help them out some day… you share the same beliefs and mission, and you have the rest of your working life to seal these kinds of relationships, don't you? Besides, it's fun!

Go out of the way for your new friends. My favourite link building tools aren't Google Docs or Buzzstream, but train tickets and a telephone. I travel the length of the country, and these days you can still get work done whilst travelling (gotta love midday off-peak first class fares!). Yes, this can be practical too!

Link building with trains

This is how I build links (and yes, those trains are supposed to tilt!).

For busier people, this may be difficult, but assuming you've identified people who share your why and your beliefs, the only resistance should be the logistics of where and when. If you run out of options, there are always relevant industry events to take people to.

Even better, if you've got many link prospects in one location, then run an event and meet them face to face. Spend budget on hosting an awesome party, and your link prospects will never, ever forget you. I think this was one of Tom Critchlow's tips again, but for $ 5k (about the budget of a decent infographic project?) you could put on a really, *really* awesome party!!

Keep in touch. Write (short!) emails now and again. Banter over Twitter. Share interesting links. Keep people in mind, like you do your friends.

Writing for Likes is Writing for Links

Remember, your social graph is your linkerati. Keep them happy by writing content they'll read and love sharing over time. Don't count on them "just reading it" either… ask them what they thought. Solicit comments from them. Get them involved, in a follow-up or response post or something. How can you provoke regular, positive responses?

The big point to building relationships is the benefits over time. You're not just shooting for one link like you might in your previously outreach emails, but hundreds over several years to the day you retire… and invitations to countless events. And sales. And referrals, Christmas cards, bottles of wine… you're not changing the status of a contact in a spreadsheet – you're making genuine friends!

Seth Godin sums it up…

Would your link prospects be happy putting you up for a night? And vice versa?

One of my favourite ways to create intrinsically social pages is to create pages about individual people. It's egobait, and it works. Write detailed, flattering content about people and they'll pick it up and be over the moon. They'll share it, their social graph will see it and share it and you'll begin to build momentum.

Pssst… you don't have to target the page around a person. You can still target it around a keyword, but make it about a person. Case studies like "How Barry Learnt Ruby in 4 Weeks" work well! You gain the social shares as well as the keyword focused page. Double-win :)

It's slightly more difficult to do with brands, since few brands are treated like people. Make pages about individuals. If you're targeting a bigger brand, then pick a big name from that brand. You don't know how a brand might react (there may be protocols to control tweeting etc.) but a person is much more likely to react in the way you want. It's easier to flatter a human than a brand.

Comb through your keyword lists and work out how you can make a page about a person. This can work with product pages, case studies, blog posts, landing pages, sales pages… pretty much anything :)

"Hmmmm… I'm Not Convinced…"

Maybe you can't be bothered to commit to such long term results. Maybe you've got to deliver by tomorrow to get your next paycheck, or renew your SEO contract or win budget or whatever…?

Or maybe it just sounds too much like hard work…?

Maybe, just maybe you're one of those guys who still uses comment spam, article spinning and other grey or "black hat" tactics day to day that make Rand sad. And maybe they even work! That's kinda cool, right? Covertly breaking the system?

I'll tell you what's cool. Being undisputed king of a SERP for years and years to come. Links are just one part of the signal, the signal of a relationship and approval. Google's algorithm is changing and Google's algorithm is all around us. Making friends is such a central part of what we SEOs do (and arguably, the most fun part!), but we don't pay nearly enough attention to it.

You're In It For The Long-Haul, Aren't You?

You've got to have the relationships around you that will last for years and years on end. The internet is still incredibly young (Google's just hitting puberty). And don't worry… you've got plenty of money to do this, because your marketing budget stretches for many years to come, as will your future relationships.

How long is your endgame? You've got to start thinking how you can build a system that build links. If you want to dominate in 5, 10, 20 years time then you need to set out the signals now.

You've got to start thinking long haul. If you're not "in bed", so to speak, with all folks in your industry, someone else is going to take your cake and eat it. You know your industry, so imagine your fiercest competitors cosying up with key industry figures over some joint venture, collaborative linkbait or something else.

Google+, Pinterest, Twitter…

The rise of all these social networks isn't the point. The point is you can now connect easier with these tools to people who share your why and your beliefs. You can build and maintain these incredible relationships that will make you win in the long run. Aim for where the game is going to be, not where the game is now.

This is how I build links, get jobs and make sales. These tactics and strategies will only become more effective over time, not less. Use them to chase your dream links…

…then let me know how it goes in the comments. :)

Thanks for reading!

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B2B Social Media: Jay Baer discusses social media ROI and Facebook likes [Video]

Video interview with Jay Baer on B2B social media. He answers questions on the power of social media for B2B, using ROI to prove value to your boss, the challenges of duplicate content and social media, and the Facebook “like.”
Marketingsherpa Blog

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By The Numbers: How Facebook Says Likes & Social Plugins Help Websites

Earlier this month, I wrote about how the promise of Facebook traffic has enticed millions of sites to use Facebook Like buttons and other Facebook social plugins. But does following Facebook’s socialist agenda really pay off? How about some numbers, courtesy of Facebook? Facebook provided me…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.




Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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