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Victoria & Vancouver SEO

Local Business Directory Goal Tenders and More

Local SEO | 29 Oct 2012

Real or fake, getting reviews passed the increasingly finer tuned review filters of many of our favourite local business directories ain’t like it used to be.

Once was a time I could leave the most ridiculous, illegible reviews from Indian IPs and have them stick no problem. Today, even with fancy software and methods even the worst case of OCD would think crazy, isn’t working.

On many accounts I have written posts on how to sneak past the review filters or “Goal Tenders” of many local business directories including Yelp and Google – no longer applicable :(

Alas, while these directories continue to tinker their systems, life must go on, and rankings must continue to improve. Reviews being an important piece of the local algo, there is no giving up. We must find a better way.

Yelp & Google Review Goal Tenders

Long ago I abandoned Yelp, deeming their filter unreasonable and/or impenetrable. Then came a post that confirmed my suspicions. Yelp is looking for active accounts. Accounts with friends, engagement, history, etc. So, what did we do? In real Adam fashion, I got my fake accounts friending my other fake accounts. Fake accounts having full conversations with other fake accounts. And what’s more, these same fake accounts reviewing all kinds other local businesses. As predicted, my review stick rate for my clients improved. IN FACT, reviews which had previously been deflected/quarantined/blocked begun to show up too!

Despite all this though, my stick rate never reaches higher than 60-70% (Yelp), which was a big improvement from my previous 0%. On Google+ Local, we have gotten it up to 60%.

Now I have the resources and time to make this happen, but I sure as heck don’t see Joe Plumber fashioning himself 50 Yelp, 50 Google+ etc. profiles and then creating dialogue between them all. So what directories should Joe focus on? Which should he drive his customers to? I just got off the phone with a new client of mine, who claims to have 15 REAL reviews, quarantined in Yelp. He asked his clients to leave reviews in Yelp. So, his customer would create an account, leave a review and report back. He later checked on it, only to find this review was useless. A wasted opportunity because Yelp’s filter blocked it. Rats!

I get it though, my client knows Yelp to be one of the more authoritative directories and figured it would be the place to have their clients leave their remarks. However, after this experience, he is sending them elsewhere. Another directory where he knows that he will still reap the reward from an authoritative directory, and have the review bloody show up!

Now, one thing my client didn’t consider is “does this directory get scraped by Google?” That is, does Google make note of the reviews found, and credit them to your Google + Local profile. And how long until Google does? 3 months? 1 year? Ever? As it turns out, he got lucky and picked a directory that is very quickly scraped by Google and credited to his listing.

Going forward, I provided my client with a list of directories I and others believe to be the most preferable. This list was partly on data collected by Darren Shaw and David Mihm – BUT there is one more pertinent step. Yes, these are the best directories, but are they the best spot for reviews? Can you even get reviews past their filter? If you can’t is it worth your customer’s time? And your hard work impressing them?

Based on the data collected by these two gentlemen, and just over 400 hours of my team’s manual data collection, I have almost completed a list that will rank directories by:

  • Most authority
  • Most commonly scraped
  • Most worthwhile to leave reviews on

Together, this data will provide you with insight into which directories are most worth you and your customers time, and which will give your local campaign the most push.

Stay tuned!

Related posts:

  1. If you’re going to do Something Wrong; At Least do it Right: Fake Reviews
  2. Google Places Cracking Down on Fake Reviews
  3. A few tips on Local SEO for Your Business
  4. Augmented Reality the Future of Local Business Marketing?
  5. Places Optimization: The Ins and Outs

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