Thursday, October 12, 2017

More facts about cyber security and it is scary!

Social media – a hackers’ favorite target



Currently, according to in depth statistics, there are more than 1.6 billion social network users worldwide with more than 64% of internet users accessing social media services online. Moreover, social networking is one of the most popular ways for online users to spend their time, and a preferred way to stay in contact with friends and families.
This is precisely why cyber attackers love social media as well! Users that spend a lot of time on social networks are very likely to click links posted by trusted friends, which hackers use to their advantage. Here are some of the most popular types of cyber attacks directed at social media platforms:
  •  Like-jacking: occurs when criminals post fake Facebook “like” buttons to webpages. Users who click the button don’t “like” the page, but instead download malware.
  • Link-jacking: this is a practice used to redirect one website’s links to another which hackers use to redirect users from trusted websites to malware infected websites that hide drive-by downloads or other types of infections.
  • Phishing: the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by disguising itself as a trustworthy entity in a Facebook message or Tweet.
  • Social spam: is unwanted spam content appearing on social networks and any website with user-generated content (comments, chat, etc.). It can appear in many forms, including bulk messages, profanity, insults, hate speech, malicious links, fraudulent reviews, fake friends, and personally identifiable information.
social media hacking heimdal security
Why are cyber attacks on social media so frequent?
Because social media users usually trust their circles of online friends. The result: more than 600.000 Facebook accounts are compromised every single day! Also, 1 in 10 social media users said they’ve been a victim of a cyber attack and the numbers are on the rise. Now this is a cyber security statistic which we don’t want you to become part of.
How it affects you and what can you do to get protected:
  • Don’t click any strange links.
  • This is courtesy of HEIMDAL.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Secure your systems

To follow is just a quick look at securing your systems. Today threats are everywhere so be vigilant!

Prevent Network Intrusions with Multiple Strategies

A complete network overhaul isn’t always necessary to improve security. Many providers offer easy-to-deploy network solutions that incorporate powerful security features.
Firewalls built into routers, for example, allow IT staff to monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic and decide whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a defined set of security rules. A proven and reliable network security technology, firewalls create a barrier between secure internal networks and untrusted external networks, such as the internet. 
“Leverage next-generation firewalls,” Gheri recommends. “These devices can identify traffic based on applications. And good next-generation firewalls can apply different traffic optimization techniques to different kinds of application traffic.”
An intrusion prevention system (IPS), implemented either as a device or through software, is a powerful tool that examines traffic flows to detect and block vulnerability exploits, an approach attackers frequently use to access or cripple an application.
Intrusion prevention is a standard feature in most next-generation firewalls. “It provides base-line security, but be aware that an IPS should not have a blind spot regarding SSL-encrypted traffic,” Gheri warns. “Encrypted traffic needs to be decrypted and then matched against malware signatures and payload needs to be inspected for advanced malware.”
Segmentation, a technique widely supported by network technology providers, splits a network into multiple subnetworks, commonly known as segments. The approach allows organizations to group applications and related data together for access only by specific users (such as sales or finance staff). This technique can also be used to restrict the range of access provided to a particular user.
Segmentation is perhaps the simplest way to improve an organization’s security posture, since using network address segments to control access hampers cyber attackers. “It can also help to contain malware outbreaks,”
info by viztech

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What Amazon is thinking for the future and it is well unusual

I want you to read this it is funky and well shows you what the big boy is thinking:

http://www.techgistics.net/blog/2017/9/28/connecting-the-dots-on-amazons-patents-in-logistics


More to come soon.

Joe Rossini

Monday, October 2, 2017

The top 10 e commerce retailers distribution facilities

The 10 Retailers With the Most E-Commerce Distribution Centers

Digital retailing is tough. Not only do retailers need to find innovative ways to drive traffic to their sites and induce a sale, they need to be able to fulfill any and all orders at breakneck speed. Customers are making purchase decisions based on delivery times and the more DCs a retailer has the better its chances of meeting shopper expectations.

In its Top 500 Guide Internet Retailer ranks the top e-commerce retailers across numerous metrics including number of fulfillment centers. The entire report is available here, and a quick look at the 10 retailers with the most DCs is below.

Amazon. No surprise here that Amazon tops the list, nearly tripling second place finisher IKEA. Amazon has fulfillment centers in 19 states, to help process the 350 million SKUs the online giant carries. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 109.

IKEA. While the furniture retailer is known for its sprawling, warehouse-like showrooms, over $134 million of its revenue comes from web-based sales. In fact, IKEA's web sales increased 25% in 2015, with eight million monthly visitors.   Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 39.

O'Reilly Auto Parts. O'Reilly is growing not only its physical footprint as it looks to enter the lucrative northeast market, but its only presence as well. The auto parts retailer's web sales increase 14% last year and not account for over $176 million in revenue.  Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 23.

W.W. Grainger. The hardware and home improvement retailer stocks over 1.4 million SKUs. It has over 9 million visitors browse its site each month — a huge jump from the 4.5 million that visited each month in 2014. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 18.

Safeway Inc. While digital grocery sales are still in their infantcy many of the nation's top supermarket chain have made significant investment in the space. Safeway's web sales have been relatively flat year-over-year, but it still accounts for nearly $230 million in revenue. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 17.

Bed Bath & Beyond. The New Jersey-based home goods retailer continues to scale up its digital shopping efforts, with web sales increasing 25% year-over-year. The retailer is investing heavily in the mobile experience to capture busy on-the-go shoppers. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 17.

Sears Hometown/Outlets. The retailer operates two brands, Sears Hometown and Hardware storea nad the Sears Outlet Stores, with revenues north of $325 million. It sells home appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tool and hardware, and has fulfillment centers located in 10 states. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 16.

Estee Lauder. The cosmetics and fragrance manufacturer and retailer have over 8.6 million monthly visitors, and sports a 4% conversion rate. Its web sales have been growing by leaps and bounds, increasing to over $860 million in 2015, an increase of nearly 28% from 2014's total. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 14.

GameStop Corp. With the vast majority of its shoppers 34 years old and younger the video game retailer has a massive digital presence. Web sales topped the $1 billion mark in 2015, representing a 25% bump over 2014 totals. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 13.

Systemax. The industrial supplies, computers and electronics supplies retailer has web sales north of $1.4 billion, and hosts 3.7 million unique visitors per month. It sells over 450,000 SKUs and an average ticket value of $440. Number of e-Commerce Distribution Centers: 13.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Company cyber security and why we are at risk!

 To follow are parts of articles written by SolarWinds MSP:



Companies are overlooking seven basic security principles: 1. Security policies are inconsistently applied. 2. User training is massively under-prioritized. 3. Only basic technologies are being deployed. 4. Vulnerability reporting is often weak, or even nonexistent. 5. The majority of organizations make no changes to their technology or processes following a breach. 6. Widely accepted prevention techniques and processes remain overlooked. 7. Detection, response, and resolution times are all growing.

Did you know that:
77% of respondents reported tangible loss (monetary, legal action, loss of customer) from a security incident 23% of survey respondents reported intangible loss (of brand reputation, etc)

So, in hard commercial terms, what does this vulnerability cost a typical SMB or enterprise? Beyond the readily identifiable impacts of a lost customer or downtime leading to lost opportunity, what are the wider implications? In their “2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis,” 1 IBM and Ponemon calculated a standard cost per lost or stolen record of USD $158/ GBP £122. This calculation included direct expenses (e.g. engaging forensic experts, outsourcing hotline support, and customer relationship remedial costs such as discounts on products and services) and indirect costs (in-house investigations and internal communications). It also extrapolated typical values of lost customers and the impact of brand damage on future customer acquisition. This may not seem like a lot but $158.00 x tens of thousanmds and now you see what they mean! I have often heard that hackers go into banks mostly small banks and they dont steal thousands but maybe $1.00 or less! Tink if you did this to thousands of banks and once again you see a lot of loss. Banks will not do much for a loss of that size so the hackers come back and back until they are stopped!

Based directly on our research, the following represent the top seven pitfalls that are opening UK and US businesses up to massive financial liabilities, with the potential for something as serious as an extinction event. 1. INCONSISTENCY IN ENFORCING SECURITY POLICIES A security policy is clearly worthless unless it is correctly enforced and its suitability is regularly checked. However, only 32% of respondents could claim their security policies are reliably applied and regularly audited. On top of this, less than half or 43% enforce them only occasionally, 17% fail to audit their suitability, and 7% have no policies in place.

2. NEGLIGENCE IN THE APPROACH TO USER SECURITY AWARENESS TRAINING Despite all the commentary about its importance, only 16% of respondents considered user security awareness training a priority. A massive 71% pay lip service to it by either including security awareness as a one-off event at employee onboarding or reinforcing it once a year. The remainder, 13%, admitted they do nothing

3. SHORTSIGHTEDNESS IN THE APPLICATION OF CYBERSECURITY TECHNOLOGIES Six of the nine most typical cybersecurity technologies had been deployed by only a minority of respondents. Web protection, email scanning, and anti-malware had each been rolled out by 50-61%, but the remaining six (including SIEM, firewall rules, and patch management) had been deployed by only 33% at the most (SIEM), or 25% at the lowest (intrusion systems)

4. COMPLACENCY AROUND VULNERABILITY REPORTING Only 29% of respondents could call their vulnerability reporting robust, with the majority, 51%, optimistically classifying it as adequate. Surprisingly, as many as 19% have no reporting, and 11% even said they categorically had no plans to investigate its deployment or usefulness.

5. INFLEXIBILITY IN ADAPTING PROCESSES AND APPROACH AFTER A BREACH Following a breach (experienced by 71% of respondents), only 44% implemented new technology, and only 41% changed their processes. Meanwhile, 42% started looking into new technology, while 14% purposefully did nothing

6. STAGNATION I N T H E A P P L I C A T I O N O F K E Y P R E V E N T I O N T E C H N I Q U E S Of the nine key prevention techniques listed, only a minority of respondents had implemented all of them. The most prevalent technique was full disk encryption on mobile and portable endpoints, but even this was only performed by 43%. Application white listing was implemented by only 38%, and logging of authenticated users’ activity was used by only 41%.

7. LETHARGY AROUND DETECTION AND RESPONSE Over the past 12 months, detection times had risen for 40% of respondents; response times were up for 44%; and resolution times had increased for 46%. In contrast, in our 2016 report, detection times had risen for only 28% of respondents; response times were up for 28%; and resolution times had increased for 27%. This shows that the rate of decay (and complacency) is growing

ADVICE FOR MSPS The data and conclusions in this report make one crucial point overwhelmingly clear: Enterprises and SMBs alike are overconfident in their cybersecurity preparedness. This being the case, what opportunities do managed services providers (MSPs) have? Opportunity #1: Offer cybersecurity training to your customers. Training can make a huge difference in your clients’ security, so it’s absolutely essential that you arm them with the knowledge they need to prevent breaches. Whether you offer it as a service to build revenue or you offer it free to provide retention, training can cut down on the number of security incidents. That translates to fewer emergency calls and, ultimately, happier clients. Opportunity #2: Make sure your own house is in order. MSPs need to make sure their own security practices are up to par. You should review your practices and security technology stack not only for current best practices, but with an eye to the future as well. Does your security meet the current and future needs of the typical SMB or enterprise? Does it work well across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments? Can you serve clients in highly-regulated verticals? Opportunity #3: Prepare with disaster drills. MSPs can also offer to stress test their clients’ security via “war games.” Many industries run drills to help them deal with worst case scenarios: marketing teams practice their responses to PR crises, financial services organizations stress test their portfolios, and logistics teams plan for transportation hubs closing down unexpectedly. As an MSP, you can practice disaster events with your clients, both in terms of technology and processes, to discover weak points and make improvements. Are the lines of communication and equipment sufficiently robust? Are expectations and metrics reasonable? You’re likely to find a few upsell opportunities in the process. Opportunity #4: Determine the partnerships or skillsets you’ll need. Many security incidents require specialists to handle, so make sure to prepare before you need it. Whether it’s warding off DDoS attacks, protecting IoT at an architectural level, or implementing digital forensics incident response, you should either look to hire expertise in-house or partner with someone who can handle these for you. You never want to have to build new skills in the middle of a crisis. Organizations’ overconfidence combined with the prevalence of the seven pitfalls of cybersecurity create a perfect storm on which cybercriminals are bound to capitalize. But with the right approach, dialogue, relationships, and tools, MSPs can turn these flaws into lucrative opportunities. CYBERSECURITY: CAN OVERCONFIDENCE LEAD TO AN EXTINCTION EVENT? 1

I think that the above will happen. I worry about breaches to our national security, our infrastructure, our banks and more. Be prepared!!!

More to come from Joe Rossini

Mobile e commerce is growing fast

Some info on mobile e commerce:

  • Target is enhancing its mobile app with beacon and Bluetooth technology that shows a customer’s location on the app’s map as they move about the store, Target’s chief information and digital officer Mike McNamara said in a company blog post. In a video, he likened the technology to driving with GPS. 
  • Target's app will also point shoppers to nearby promotional prices, dubbed "Cartwheel" deals, for users of its mobile app. The new features are is set to go live in about half of Target’s stores for the holidays. 
  • The mapping capability comes a few weeks after Target began to move its Cartwheel savings app to its flagship mobile app.
  • A new voice technology integration from Unata, an enabler of digital solutions for grocers, will allow grocery retailers to offer voice ordering to their customers, according to a press release.
  • The new capability was developed in-house by Unata and can be used through a grocer's website or mobile app, a company spokeswoman told Retail Dive. Unata plans to showcase the voice ordering technology next week at the Shop.org Digital Retail Conference in Los Angeles.
  • The technology supports a number of conversation-driven shopping interactions, including comprehensive list building, updates on sales and offers specialized for the shopper, placing orders, finding store information and more, according to the company.  

Dive Brief:

  • More millennial-age consumers visit multiple stores in search of deals than their baby boomer elders do, according to research from consumer engagement firm First Insight. Some 71% of millennials frequent a variety of stores, compared to 57% of baby boomers, according to a report emailed to Retail Dive.
  • While most millennials do go online to search for deals (82%), the study found that same shopping behavior within both generational groups, as more baby boomers (65%), especially those with higher incomes, are also looking online for the best price rather than in-store, First Insight said.
  • Most millennials (92%) this holiday season plan to spend money in a physical store, according to other research from the International Council of Shopping Centers, which is forecasting a 3.8% year-over-year growth in retail sales for the season. On average, they plan to spend $554.40 on holiday gifts and related items, according to an ICSC report emailed to Retail Dive.


There is no doubt to me that the use of mobile by all generations is up and that being able to be found is important.

More to come.

Joe Rossini

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mobile e commerce is it real and why you should be there!


5 Reasons to Get Ready Now


Over the last decade, people have come to use their mobile devices over all other devices to browse and shop on websites. Is your brand prepared for this new mobile-first world?
If you’re an e-com business, this is the most important question to answer today. Why? Because every day you don’t compete on mobile, you become a little less relevant among your customers.
 Here’s what we’ll cover in this eBook:

  • Why retailers must have a strategy to tap into the monstrous growth of mobile sales.
  • Mobile consumer data from Black Friday and what it means for retailers.
  • Mobile marketing musts that are no longer optional, including in-app messaging, push and SMS.
More about e commerce and mobile usage:

  • An estimated 10 Billion Mobile Connected Devices are currently in use
Ignoring these trends in mobile eCommerce (referred to as m-Commerce in the industry) evolution means potentially missing out on more and more profit as these trends continue. Here are some tips to make your website mobile friendly:
  • Your website should be programmed to intuitively adapt to whatever device is accessing it in order to provide the most user-friendly experience
  • Tap-Friendly: make sure all buttons, links and calls to action have the appropriate size and margin to prevent errors.
  • Text Phone Numbers: Make sure all phone numbers are text and not images so users can tap-to-call, or copy and paste the number to share with a friend.
  • Visual Content: Since mobile websites are usually viewed on the go and on much smaller screens, utilizing visual content such as infographics and videos will be preferred over reading lengthy text.
  • Main Navigation: increase padding around menu items so it’s easy for the user to read and tap on menu items.
  • Contact Forms: Increase form input fields so it’s easy for the user to fill out the form.
Think of the above statement 10 billion!!!! You must be mobile or mobile ready on your web site!

More:

eCommerce Mobile Stats

  • 125 Million U.S. consumers own smartphones
  • 50 million U.S. Consumers own tablets
  • 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months
  • One third of all ecommerce purchases during the 2015 holiday season were made on a smartphone.
  • eCommerce dollars now comprise 10% of ALL retail revenue
  • 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations
  • An estimated 10 Billion Mobile Connected Devices are currently in use
Some of the above info came from emarsys and from Outerbox.

More to come! We make mobile web sites, we make mobile phone application.

Talk soon

Joe Rossini

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The new ad war is coming!

A new on line ad war is brewing and the good thing is it will give us all more abilities to market products. here is a hint:

As an early sales exec at Google, Tim Armstrong was well paid, but itchy for a bigger challenge, so he left to run AOL. Now, as the chief of both AOL and Yahoo under Verizon, he has the challenge of a lifetime: Making an ad business work when Google and Facebook are taking all the ad dollars.
“I think the worst thing we could do is — Facebook and Google are Olympic athletes with gold medal performances,” Armstrong said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “We have a differentiated strategy to partner with Google and Facebook, but not directly compete with them.”
Instead, AOL and Yahoo — which are collectively known as Oath — will find ways to give advertisers things the big steamrollers can’t. But Armstrong isn’t revealing much about his unique solutions, yet.
“I’m not going to go deeply into our strategy, but we have a different distribution model, different measurement model and different data model than they’re building,” Armstrong said. “I think you will see us, over the course of the next 12 months, roll out a series of products that are differentiated from Google and Facebook.”
“This is also not a winner-take-all market,” he added. “As big as those guys are, and they are big and they are ferocious from a competitive standpoint, there is so much opportunity left in the world.”
You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Some new things happening:

At a technology event in June, Amazon exec David Limp said he hoped there would be a day when the company’s virtual assistant, Alexa, worked with competing digital assistants like Cortana.
Turns out he knew that that day was coming.
Amazon and Microsoft announced on Wednesday that they’ve been working on a partnership to allow their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana, to speak to one another.
Starting later this year, owners of Amazon Echos and other Alexa-powered devices will be able to say: “Alexa, open Cortana” to start querying Microsoft’s voice assistant. Owners of devices running Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system will be able to summon Alexa via Cortana in a similar manner.

Cyber security:

In 2012, the New York Times’s David Sanger broke a bombshell story detailing a joint US-Israel cyber attack on Iran that undermined its nuclear enrichment facilities. The computer virus, dubbed “Stuxnet,” disabled 1,000 of Iran’s 5,000 centrifuges at the time.
In 2014, a Chinese hacking group, known as Unit 61398, penetrated the computer networks of major US companies like Westinghouse and US Steel in order to loot trade secrets. This was one of numerous such attacks by Unit 61398.
In 2016, Russian government hackers gained access to Democratic National Committee computer networks, stole sensitive information, and systematically leaked it in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
And just a week ago, the Washington Post reported that the United Arab Emirates had hacked various Qatari government social media accounts, sparking one of the most dangerous diplomatic crises in the Middle East in decades.
A new book, The Darkening Web, argues that stories like these are going to become more and more common as countries seek to project power in cyberspace. The author is Alexander Klimburg, a program director at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and an adviser to several governments and international organizations on cybersecurity strategy and internet governance.
Klimburg games out a few possible futures for the internet. One of them is apocalyptic: Imagine the world’s major powers unleashing malicious code on one another, irreparably destroying vital infrastructure. Another is an Orwellian world in which the internet has become a tool of subjugation, monitored and restricted by state powers. Still another possibility is that the internet remains free, controlled by non-state actors, and a wondrous instrument of global connection.
It’s hard to say which of these scenarios is most likely. For Klimburg, it’s a matter of mobilizing concern now before it’s too late. “Ultimately,” he told me, “it will take the attention of the free society that built the internet to save it.”

More to come soon!

Joe Rossini

Monday, August 28, 2017

What is happening in retail e commerce

In case you missed it: On the heels of Walmart announcing a partnership with Google that will allow shoppers to order products through Google Assistant, Walmart head of e-commerce Marc Lore will discuss the company's approach to innovation at Shop.org, to be held Sept. 25-27 in Los Angeles.

Retail is not dead! There are more than 1 million retail establishments across the US, and retail sales have been growing at almost 4% annually since 2010. Source: Census Bureau and NRF via NRF on Instagram.

Target has completed a $10 million makeover of its downtown Minneapolis store, and the new look reflects the retailer's focus on the shopping experience in the digital age. Specialty lighting replaces fluorescent bulbs, beacons let shoppers open in-app maps to navigate the store, and the grocery department sports a new upgraded design ( Look at the use of in store apps).


Casey's General Store is set to build new stores, increase acquisitions, expand its digital platform, improve price optimization and cut back on expenses, according to Wells Fargo Securities' Bonnie Herzog. The retailer is hoping to increase its footprint in small communities in new and existing markets, especially in Illinois and Wisconsin, Herzog said. (Again look at the potential use digital platform)


Amazon will take control of Whole Foods Market on Monday with a plan to immediately cut prices on a slew of organic items and ultimately meld in-store and online retail. The e-commerce giant will sell Whole Foods' private labels online and install Amazon lockers for the pickup and return of online orders in some stores.

The bottom line is that retail and business is continuing to move to e commerce and making their brick and mortar link even closer to the web! Review your SEO and e-commerce if you use it to sell more! We can help you, call us.

Joe Rossini

Friday, August 25, 2017

A little this and a little that..........

From Google:

Bad landing pages, especially on mobile devices, can kill conversions. There are high bounce rates if users can’t find desired information or the user experience is too cumbersome or slow.
To help advertisers improve mobile performance, Google announced a new Landing Pages tool at Google Marketing Next earlier this year. It’s designed to help marketers assess the mobile-friendliness of various URLs on their sites (as opposed to their entire sites). It is being rolled out in the next few weeks as a tab in the new AdWords experience.

Determining a marketing budget can be frustrating. Are you investing enough? Are your marketing dollars being applied in the most efficient way? How do you know if what you’re doing is working?

At Rossini.com we do not just pick one way to market we use multiple ways such as social media, blogging, submits to the search engines, PR releases and much more. I believe as the saying use to be "it takes a village" the more the better!

Do keywords really matter anymore? I say yes they do and at the very least it gets you thinking of what you do and how people should search for you. Short keywords are not good but longer more specific ones are. Make sure you have keywords in your programming.

From Facebook...

Facebook is curtailing the types of organic posts that Pages can convert into ads as it looks to make the purpose of its ads more precise, the company announced on Thursday.
Up until now, brands have been able to take any post published to their Pages and amplify its reach by paying Facebook to run it as an ad in people’s news feeds. That won’t be the case for much longer as Facebook continues to orient its ad product around delivering actual business results, as opposed to simple social engagement, which was something that COO Sheryl Sandberg emphasized repeatedly during the company’s most recent earnings call.
“We want businesses to utilize Facebook ad products that give them the best opportunity to achieve their business goals, and removing these inessential boosting options will reduce complexity and help them find the right products to get the best results,” said Facebook product manager Jyotika Prasad in an emailed statement.

Under what works....l

The popular narrative around the rise of the mobile web and smartphone apps has been one of increasing audience fragmentation. But the opposite may actually be happening — concentration and consolidation.
More digital media time is concentrated in smartphone apps than on the mobile web or PC. And most of that time is spent in a small number of apps, led by Facebook. Users are also downloading fewer new apps, so it’s getting harder to break through. Earlier today, comScore published its 2017 US Mobile App Report detailing these trends.
Digital media time spent with the desktop stands at 34 percent, with smartphone apps at 50 percent. Tablet and mobile web represent the remaining 16 percent. And though it sees dramatically lower engagement, the mobile web has roughly 2x the reach of mobile apps.

OK some of these tidbits comes from me and from Search Engine Land

Talk soon

Joe Rossini

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fake News, Terrorist propaganda! Google is moving to fight this!

Google is preparing to release new filters which would give advertisers greater control over the content they appear against.
According to the Times – which ran a front-page exposé earlier this year into how advertisers like M&S were appearing next to extremist content – Google is planning to grade videos and other online content under new parameters which include violence, nudity and political satire.
Offering an example, the Times said it “would hand advertisers the power to block their adverts appearing alongside a bawdy comedy sketch, for example, or risqué music video.”.
The additional safeguards are expected to come into force by the end of the year.
It comes after Google revealed that it would invest heavily in artificial intelligence in an effort to better identify extremist and terrorism-related content, specifically on YouTube.
YouTube claimed that during the past month of testing AI-powered detection and removal tools that over 75% of the videos it has removed for violent extremism were purged before receiving a single human flag. The platform has said it believes the accuracy of its systems have improved “dramatically” due to machine learning.
It’s part of an a four-pronged strategy to appease the industry after major advertisers, in wake of the Times investigation, pulled ad spend from YouTube and the Google Display Network.


This article from Google and By

I believe we must fight this on Facebook and other modes of social media. I believe our last election was interfered with on both sides and this needs to change and perhaps this is a nice first step.

Joe Rossini

Friday, August 11, 2017

It has been a while

Sorry I have not written in a while, I have been very busy. I guess I have learned the hard way again that working hard is not as good as working smart. I have made tons of calls and put out lots of quotes only to get rejected because the people I am quoting to have no intention of buying or spending the incredibly small amount of money for my products they want evwen cheaper. I guess the moral to the story is dont spend time if there is really no reason to spend time. If someone says they dont have enough money or they have been taken before and the owner really is afraid of being taken again either sell harder as to why you should move forward or just say thank  you, give them yur information and move on. I am ready to take this philosphy now. Bottom line is most people want everything but they cant afford ther big car or huge house so you downsize a bit. I can downsize my products but at what price? I am just going to ask up front do yu you have $1200 to $5000 for a great fancy shiny web site and if they hesiotate enough I thank them and move on. So I move on.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Is your network at risk

Is Your Site or Network at Risk?
"Web security" is relative and has two components, one internal and one public. Your relative security is high if you have few network resources of financial value, your company and site aren't controversial in any way, your network is set up with tight permissions, your web server is patched up to date with all settings done correctly, your applications on the web server are all patched and updated, and your web site code is done to high standards.
Your web security is relatively lower if your company has financial assets like credit card or identity information, if your web site content is controversial, your servers, applications and site code are complex or old and are maintained by an underfunded or outsourced IT department. All IT departments are budget challenged and tight staffing often creates deferred maintenance issues that play into the hands of any who want to challenge your web security.

If you have assets of importance or if anything about your site puts you in the public spotlight then your web security will be tested. We hope that the information provided here will prevent you and your company from being embarrassed - or worse.
It's well known that poorly written software creates security issues. The number of bugs that could create web security issues is directly proportional to the size and complexity of your web applications and web server. Basically, all complex programs either have bugs or at the very, least weaknesses. On top of that, web servers are inherently complex programs. Web sites are themselves complex and intentionally invite ever greater interaction with the public. And so the opportunities for security holes are many and growing.
Technically, the very same programming that increases the value of a web site, namely interaction with visitors, also allows scripts or SQL commands to be executed on your web and database servers in response to visitor requests. Any web-based form or script installed at your site may have weaknesses or outright bugs and every such issue presents a web security risk.
Contrary to common knowledge the balance between allowing web site visitors some access to your corporate resources through a web site and keeping unwanted visitors out of your network is a delicate one. There is no one setting, no single switch to throw that sets the security hurdle at the proper level. There are dozens of settings if not hundreds in a web server alone, and then each service, application and open port on the server adds another layer of settings. And then the web site code... you get the picture.
Add to that the different permissions you will want to grant visitors, prospects, customers, partners and employees. The number of variables regarding web security rapidly escalates.
A web security issue is faced by site visitors as well. A common web site attack involves the silent and concealed installation of code that will exploit the browsers of visitors. Your site is not the end target at all in these attacks. There are, at this time, many thousands of web sites out there that have been compromised. The owners have no idea that anything has been added to their sites and that their visitors are at risk. In the meantime visitors are being subject to attack and successful attacks are installing nasty code onto the visitor's computers.

This post compliments of Beyond Security

More to come soon.

Joe

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How can you help a customer with their business

I am often asked how I can help a customer make more sales or improve efficiency. As a web sales specialist with marketing in mind it is one of the first things I look at about a business and that is what does the web page tell me about that business. The web site today is like the yellow pages ads of yesteryear or the newspaper ads about a company. Your ad calls out in many cases to the potential customer to call. I know I often as statistics show that the big ads get your attention and draw your eye towards it. Web pages today are similar, a very well done, neat yet professional ad with nice graphics. The web site is your opening to the world and with search engines to do the work the old phrase let your fingers do the walking is true, you type what you want and up comes returns from all over the world. As a web marketeer, I look at ways to make sure that the web site meets the criteria of what the main search engines want. Make the web site fast, make it visually nice, make it interesting. Make sure internally the correct SEO programming is in place such as key words, descriptions, title tags and more.  Now once the web site is done, now you have to market it correctly. The web site can be used in many ways that I will get into soon to capture leads, and to allow your customers to get important facts. I have customers that have facts about heating and cooling systems. I have customers with facts about animals. Do you want to know about electrical systems, I have customers that have facts about that. How about putting white papers about your products on line to help your customers solve problems. The web site can be your way to keep in toch with your customers and to help them.

Ok enough for this small section, more soon.

Talk soon.

Joe

How to have a better web site ranking

There are many things a programmer can do to improve your web site ranking but here are a critical few:

Improve the content focus and the format of your web pages
The content of your web pages should align with the intent of the searcher when the searcher visits your website after a keyword search.
Make sure that your content has a clear structure and that the content that the searcher is looking for is easily available on your web pages. Use headers, sub-headers, bullet lists and tables to present your content as clearly as possible.
Improve the internal linking structure of your web pages
Link from your web pages to other web pages on your website that deal with the same topic. Link from pages that discuss the topic in general to pages that discuss specific points in detail. Use breadcrumb navigation to show your website visitors where they are.
The easier it is to find pages about a particular topic on your website, the easier it is for search engines to assign these pages to the right search terms. The website audit tool in SEOprofiler analyzes the internal link structure of your website.
 Increase the content length on your web pages
The more content a web page has, the easier it is to get high rankings (ignoring links from other websites). It is very difficult to get high rankings for very short pages with thin content.
Make sure that your web pages contain enough content to answer the questions of the web page visitor. Search engines love content rich websites that answer the questions of searchers.
The content of your web pages should have a clear structure, and it should be easy to understand.
Improve the mobile usability of your website
Mobile usability is very important. Most websites get more than half of their traffic through mobile devices. If your web pages don't look good on mobile devices, you will lose many potential customers.
The easiest way to do this is to use a responsive website design. Responsive website design means that your website adapts to the size of the screen. For example, go to www.SEOprofiler.com and change the width of the browser window. You will see that the design changes automatically with the size of the browser window.
 Switch your website to HTTPS
If your website uses HTTPS, you show search engines and your users that you're serious about data privacy. In addition, you show search engines that you're serious about your website because you have gone the extra mile to secure your site. Spammers usually do not do that.
Google prefers HTTPS sites. Although HTTPs has only a minor influence on the overall rankings, it is a signal that has a positive effect.
The switch to HTTPS should be done by a person who knows how to do it. Redirect your old HTTP pages to the HTTPS version of your website to show search engines that you prefer the HTTPS version.
 Redirect links to 404 error pages
Older websites often have hundreds of links from other websites that point to pages that do not exist anymore. Retain these links by redirecting the old URLs to the URLs of the new pages of your website.
Retaining old links can have a major influence on the rankings of your new pages. If possible, ask the linking websites to link directly to the new version of the pages. Check the log files of your website to find links that point to non-existing sites on your website.
 Remove errors that prevent search engine indexing
Some errors on your web pages can keep search engines from indexing your website. It is very important that you remove these errors from your website.
The website audit tool in SEOprofiler checks your website for these errors. Check your website to make sure that all pages can be indexed correctly by Google and other search engines.
 Resolve duplicate content issues

Duplicate title tags on your web pages can cause ranking problems. In addition, Google might pick th wrong version if the same content appears on multiple pages of your website (regular version, print version, etc.).
Each web page should have an individual title tag. If the same content appears on more than one page of your website, use the canonical tag to show search engines the version that they should index.

More to come this article came from Alandra seardn.

More to come.

Joe Rossini

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to spot spam reviews

Fighting Review Spam: The Complete Guide for the Local Enterprise

Posted by MiriamEllis
It’s 105 degrees outside my office right now, and the only thing hotter in this summer of 2017 is the local SEO industry’s discussion of review spam. It’s become increasingly clear that major review sites represent an irresistible temptation to spammers, highlighting systemic platform weaknesses and the critical need for review monitoring that scales.
Just as every local brand, large and small, has had to adjust to the reality of reviews’ substantial impact on modern consumer behavior, competitive businesses must now prepare themselves to manage the facts of fraudulent sentiment. Equip your team and clients with this article, which will cover every aspect of review spam and includes a handy list for reporting fake reviews to major platforms.

What is review spam?

A false review is one that misrepresents either the relationship of the reviewer to the business, misrepresents the nature of the interaction the reviewer had with the business, or breaks a guideline. Examples:
  • The reviewer is actually a competitor of the business he is reviewing; he’s writing the review to hurt a competitor and help himself
  • The reviewer is actually the owner, an employee, or a marketer of the business he is reviewing; he’s falsifying a review to manipulate public opinion via fictitious positive sentiment
  • The reviewer never had a transaction with the business he is reviewing; he’s pretending he’s a customer in order to help/hurt the business
  • The reviewer had a transaction, but is lying about the details of it; he’s trying to hurt the company by misrepresenting facts for some gain of his own
  • The reviewer received an incentive to write the review, monetary or otherwise; his sentiment stems from a form of reward and is therefore biased
  • The reviewer violates any of the guidelines on the platform on which he’s writing his review; this could include personal attacks, hate speech or advertising
All of the above practices are forbidden by the major review platforms and should result in the review being reported and removed.

What isn’t review spam?

A review is not spam if:
  • It’s left directly by a genuine customer who experienced a transaction
  • It represents the facts of a transaction with reasonable, though subjective, accuracy
  • It adheres to the policies of the platform on which it’s published
Reviews that contain negative (but accurate) consumer sentiment shouldn’t be viewed as spam. For example, it may be embarrassing to a brand to see a consumer complain that an order was filled incorrectly, that an item was cold, that a tab was miscalculated or that a table was dirty, but if the customer is correctly cataloging his negative experience, then his review isn’t a misrepresentation.
There’s some inherent complexity here, as the brand and the consumer can differ widely in their beliefs about how satisfying a transaction may have been. A restaurant franchise may believe that its meals are priced fairly, but a consumer can label them as too expensive. Negative sentiment can be subjective, so unless the reviewer is deliberately misrepresenting facts and the business can prove it, it’s not useful to report this type of review as spam as it’s unlikely to be removed.

Why do individuals and businesses write spam reviews?

Unfortunately, the motives can be as unpleasant as they are multitudinous:

Blackmail/extortion

There’s the case of the diner who was filmed putting her own hair in her food in hopes of extorting a free meal under threat of negative reviews as a form of blackmail. And then there’s blackmail as a business model, as this unfortunate business reported to the GMB forum after being bulk-spammed with 1-star reviews and then contacted by the spammer with a demand for money to raise the ratings to 5-stars.

Revenge

The classic case is the former employee of a business venting his frustrations by posing as a customer to leave a highly negative review. There are also numerous instances of unhappy personal relationships leading to fake negative reviews of businesses.

Protest or punishment

Consumer sentiment may sometimes appear en masse as a form of protest against an individual or institution, as the US recently witnessed following the election of President Trump and the ensuing avalanche of spam reviews his various businesses received.
It should be noted here that attempting to shame a business with fake negative reviews can have the (likely undesirable) effect of rewarding it with high local rankings, based on the sheer number of reviews it receives. We saw this outcome in the infamous case of the dentist who made national news and received an onslaught of shaming reviews for killing a lion.
Finally, there is the toxic reviewer, a form of Internet troll who may be an actual customer but whose personality leads them to write abusive or libelous reviews as a matter of course. While these reviews should definitely be reported and removed if they fail to meet guidelines, discussion is open and ongoing in the local SEO industry as to how to manage the reality of consumers of this type.

Ranking manipulation

The total review count of a business (regardless of the sentiment the reviews contain) can positively impact Google’s local pack rankings or the internal rankings of certain review platforms. For the sake of boosting rankings, some businesses owners review themselves, tell their employees to review their employer, offer incentives to others in exchange for reviews, or even engage marketers to hook them up to a network of review spammers.

Public perception manipulation

This is a two-sided coin. A business can either positively review itself or negatively review its competitors in an effort to sway consumer perception. The latter is a particularly prevalent form of review spam, with the GMB forum overflowing with at least 10,000 discussions of this topic. Given that respected surveys indicate that 91% of consumers now read online reviews, 84% trust them as much as personal recommendations and 86% will hesitate to patronize a business with negative reviews, the motives for gaming online sentiment, either positively or negatively, are exceedingly strong.

Wages

Expert local SEO, Mike Blumenthal, is currently doing groundbreaking work uncovering a global review spam network that’s responsible for tens or hundreds of thousands of fake reviews. In this scenario, spammers are apparently employed to write reviews of businesses around the world depicting sets of transactions that not even the most jet-setting globetrotter could possibly have experienced. As Mike describes one such reviewer:
“She will, of course, be educated at the mortuary school in Illinois and will have visited a dentist in Austin after having reviewed four other dentists ... Oh, and then she will have bought her engagement ring in Israel, and then searched out a private investigator in Kuru, Philippines eight months later to find her missing husband. And all of this has taken place in the period of a year, right?”
The scale of this network makes it clear that review spam has become big business.

Lack of awareness

Not all review spammers are dastardly characters. Some small-timers are only guilty of a lack of awareness of guidelines or a lack of foresight about the potential negative outcomes of fake reviews to their brand. I’ve sometimes heard small local business owners state they had their family review their newly-opened business to “get the ball rolling,” not realizing that they were breaking a guideline and not considering how embarrassing and costly it could prove if consumers or the platform catch on. In this scenario, I try to teach that faking success is not a viable business model — you have to earn it.

Lack of consequences

Unfortunately, some of the most visible and powerful review platforms have become enablers of the review spam industry due to a lack of guideline enforcement. When a platform fails to identify and remove fake reviews, either because of algorithmic weaknesses or insufficient support staffing, spammers are encouraged to run amok in an environment devoid of consequences. For unethical parties, no further justification for manipulating online sentiment is needed than that they can “get away with it.” Ironically, there are consequences to bear for lack of adequate policing, and until they fall on the spammer, they will fall on any platform whose content becomes labeled as untrustworthy in the eyes of consumers.

What is the scope of review spam?

No one knows for sure, but as we’ve seen, the playing field ranges from the single business owner having his family write a couple of reviews on Yelp to the global network employing staff to inundate Google with hundreds of thousands of fake reviews. And, we’ve see two sides to the review spam environment:
  1. People who write reviews to help themselves (in terms of positive rankings, perception, and earnings for themselves either directly from increased visibility or indirectly via extortion, and/or in terms of negative outcomes for competitors).
  2. People who write reviews to hurt others (for the sake of revenge with little or no consequence).
The unifying motive of all forms of review spam is manipulation, creating an unfair and untrustworthy playing field for consumers, enterprises and platforms alike. One Harvard study suggests that 20% of Yelp reviews are fake, but it would be up to the major review platforms to transparently publicize the total number of spam reviews they receive. Just the segment I’ve seen as an individual local SEO has convinced me that review spam has now become an industry, just like “black hat” SEO once did.

How to spot spam reviews

Here are some basic tips:

Strange patterns:

A reviewer’s profile indicates that they’ve been in too many geographic locations at once. Or, they have a habit of giving 1-star reviews to one business and 5-star reviews to its direct competitor. While neither is proof positive of spam, think of these as possible red flags.

Strange language:

Numerous 5-star reviews that fawn on the business owner by name (e.g. “Bill is the greatest man ever to walk the earth”) may be fishy. If adulation seems to be going overboard, pay attention.

Strange timing:

Over the course of a few weeks, a business skyrockets from zero reviews to 30, 50, or 100 of them. Unless an onslaught of sentiment stems from something major happening in the national news, chances are good the company has launched some kind of program. If you suspect spam, you’ll need to research whether the reviews seem natural or could be stemming from some form of compensation.

Strange numbers:

The sheer number of reviews a business has earned seems inconsistent with its geography or industry. Some business models (restaurants) legitimately earn hundreds of reviews each year on a given platform, but others (mortuaries) are unlikely to have the same pattern. If a competitor of yours has 5x as many reviews as seems normal for your geo-industry, it could be a first indicator of spam.

Strange "facts":

None of your staff can recall that a transaction matching the description in a negative review ever took place, or a transaction can be remembered but the way the reviewer is presenting it is demonstrably false. Example: a guest claims you rudely refused to seat him, but your in-store cam proves that he simply chose not to wait in line like other patrons.

Obvious threats:

If any individual or entity threatens your company with a negative review to extort freebies or money from you, take it seriously and document everything you can.

Obvious guideline violations:

Virtually every major review platform prohibits profane, obscene, and hateful content. If your brand is victimized by this type of attack, definitely report it.
In a nutshell, the first step to spotting review spam is review monitoring. You’ll want to manually check direct competitors for peculiar patterns, and, more importantly, all local businesses must have a schedule for regularly checking their own incoming sentiment. For larger enterprises and multi-location business models, this process must be scaled to minimize manual workloads and cover all bases.

Scaling review management

On an average day, one Moz Local customer with 100 retail locations in the U.S. receives 20 reviews across the various platforms we track. Some are just ratings, but many feature text. Many are very positive. A few contain concerns or complaints that must be quickly addressed to protect reputation/budget by taking action to satisfy and retain an existing customer while proving responsiveness to the general consumer public. Some could turn out to be spam.
Over the course of an average week for this national brand, 100–120 such reviews will come in, totaling up to more than 400 pieces of customer feedback in a month that must be assessed for signs of success at specific locations or emerging quality control issues at others. Parse this out to a year’s time, and this company must be prepared to receive and manage close to 5,000 consumer inputs in the form of reviews and ratings, not just for positive and negative sentiment, but for the purposes of detecting spam.
Spam detection starts with awareness, which can only come from the ability to track and audit a large volume of reviews to identify some of the suspicious hallmarks we’ve covered above. At the multi-location or enterprise level, the solution to this lies in acquiring review monitoring software and putting it in the hands of a designated department or staffer. Using a product like Moz Local, monitoring and detection of questionable reviews can be scaled to meet the needs of even the largest brands.

What should your business do if it has been victimized by review spam?

Once you’ve become reasonably certain that a review or a body of reviews violates the guidelines of a specific platform, it’s time to act. The following list contains links to the policies of 7 dominant review platforms that are applicable to all industries, and also contains tips and links outlining reporting options:

Google

Policy: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2622994?hl=en

Review reporting tips

Flag the review by mousing over it, clicking the flag symbol that appears and then entering your email address and choosing a radio button. If you’re the owner, use the owner response function to mention that you’ve reported the review to Google for guideline violations. Then, contact GMB support via their Twitter account and/or post your case in the GMB forum to ask for additional help. Cross your fingers!

Yelp

Policy: https://www.yelp.com/guidelines

Review reporting tips

Yelp offers these guidelines for reporting reviews and also advises owners to respond to reviews that violate guidelines. Yelp takes review quality seriously and has set high standards other platforms might do well to follow, in terms of catching spammers and warning the public against bad actors.

Facebook

Policy: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards

Review reporting tips

Here are Facebook’s instructions for reporting reviews that fail to meet community standards. Note that you can only report reviews with text — you can’t report solo ratings. Interestingly, you can turn off reviews on Facebook, but to do so out of fear would be to forego the considerable benefits they can provide.

Yellow Pages

Policy: https://www.yellowpages.com/about/legal/terms-conditions#user-generated-content

Review reporting tips

In 2016, YP.com began showing TripAdvisor reviews alongside internal reviews. If review spam stems from a YP review, click the “Flag” link in the lower right corner of the review and fill out the form to report your reasons for flagging. If the review spam stems from TripAdvisor, you’ll need to deal with them directly and read their extensive guidelines, TripAdvisor states that they screen reviews for quality purposes, but that fake reviews can slip through. If you’re the owner, you can report fraudulent reviews from the Management Center of your TripAdvisor dashboard. Click the “concerned about a review” link and fill out the form. If you’re simply a member of the public, you’ll need to sign into TripAdvisor and click the flag link next to the review to report a concern.

SuperPages

Policy: https://my.dexmedia.com/spportal/jsp/popups/businessprofile/reviewGuidelines.jsp

Review reporting tips

The policy I’ve linked to (from Dex Media, which owns SuperPages) is the best I can find. It’s reasonably thorough but somewhat broken. To report a fake review to SuperPages, you’ll need either a SuperPages or Facebook account. Then, click the “flag abuse” link associated with the review and fill out a short form.

CitySearch

Policy: http://www.citysearch.com/aboutcitysearch/about_us

Review reporting tips

If you receive a fake review on CitySearch, email customerservice@citygrid.com. In your email, link to the business that has received the spam review, include the date of the review and the name of the reviewer and then cite the guidelines you feel the review violates.

FourSquare

Policy: https://foursquare.com/legal/terms

Review reporting tips

The “Rules and Conduct” section I’ve linked to in Foursquare’s TOS outlines their content policy. Foursquare is a bit different in the language they use to describe tips/reviews. They offer these suggestions for reporting abusive tips.
*If you need to find the guidelines and reporting options for an industry-specific review platform like FindLaw or HealthGrades, Phil Rozek’s definitive list will be a good starting point for further research.

Review spam can feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place

I feel a lot of empathy in this regard. Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other major review platforms have the visibility to drive massive traffic and revenue to your enterprise. That’s the positive side of this equation. But there’s another side — the uneasy side that I believe has its roots in entities like Google originating their local business index via aggregation from third party sources, rather than as a print YellowPages-style, opt-in program, and subsequently failing to adequately support the millions of brands it was then representing to the Internet public.
To this day, there are companies that are stunned to discover that their business is listed on 35 different websites, and being actively reviewed on 5 or 10 of them when the company took no action to initiate this. There’s an understandable feeling of a loss of control that can be particularly difficult for large brands, with their carefully planned quality structures, to adjust to.
This sense of powerlessness is further compounded when the business isn’t just being listed and discussed on platforms it doesn’t control, but is being spammed. I’ve seen business owners on Facebook declaring they’ve decided to disable reviews because they feel so victimized and unsupported after being inundated with suspicious 1-star ratings which Facebook won’t investigate or remove. By doing so, these companies are choosing to forego the considerable benefits reviews drive because meaningful processes for protecting the business aren’t yet available.
These troubling aspects of the highly visible world of reviews can leave owners feeling like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Their companies will be listed, will be reviewed, and may be spammed whether the brand actively participates or not, and they may or may not be able to get spam removed.
It’s not a reality from which any competitive enterprise can opt-out, so my best advice is to realize that it’s better to opt-in fully, with the understanding that some control is better than none. There are avenues for getting many spam reviews taken down, with the right information and a healthy dose of perseverance. Know, too, that every one of your competitors is in the same boat, riding a rising tide that will hopefully grow to the point of offering real-world support for managing consumer sentiment that impacts bottom-line revenue in such a very real way.

There ought to be a law

While legitimate negative reviews have legal protection under the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016, fraudulent reviews are another matter.
Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Communication Act states:
Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful.”
Provisions like these are what allowed the FTC to successfully sue Sage Automotive Group for $3.6 million dollars for deceptive advertising practices and deceptive online reviews, but it’s important to note that this appears to be the first instance in which the FTC has involved themselves in bringing charges on the basis of fraudulent reviews. At this point, it’s simply not reasonable to expect the FTC to step in if your enterprise receives some suspicious reviews, unless your research should uncover a truly major case.
Lawsuits amongst platforms, brands, and consumers, however, are proliferating. Yelp has sued agencies and local businesses over the publication of fake reviews. Companies have sued their competitors over malicious, false sentiment, and they’ve sued their customers with allegations of the same.
Should your enterprise be targeted with spam reviews, some cases may be egregious enough to warrant legal action. In such instances, definitely don’t attempt to have the spam reviews removed by the host platform, as they could provide important evidence. Contact a lawyer before you take a step in any direction, and avoid using the owner response function to take verbal revenge on the person you believe has spammed you, as we now have a precedent in Dietz v. Perez for such cases being declared a draw.
In many scenarios, however, the business may not wish to become involved in a noisy court battle, and seeking removal can be a quieter way to address the problem.

Local enterprises, consumers, and marketers must advocate for themselves

According to one survey, 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. If some of those 10 reviews are the result of negative spam, the cost to the business is simply too high to ignore, and it’s imperative that owners hold not just spammers, but review platforms, accountable.
Local businesses, consumers, and marketers don’t own review sites, but they do have the power to advocate. A single business could persistently blog about spam it has documented. Multiple businesses could partner up to request a meeting with a specific platform to present pain points. Legitimate consumers could email or call their favorite platforms to explain that they don’t want their volunteer hours writing reviews to be wasted on a website that is failing to police its content. Marketers can thoughtfully raise these issues repeatedly at conferences attended by review platform reps. There is no cause to take an adversarial tone in this, but there is every need for squeaky wheels to highlight the costliness of spam to all parties, advocating for platforms to devote all possible resources to:
  • Increasing the sophistication of algorithmic spam detection
  • Increasing staffing for manual detection
  • Providing real-time support to businesses so that spam can be reported, evaluated and removed as quickly as possible
All of the above could begin to better address the reality of review spam. In the meantime, if your business is being targeted right now, I would suggest using every possible avenue to go public with the problem. Blog, use social media, report the issue on the platform’s forum if it has one. Do anything you can to bring maximum attention to the attack on your brand. I can’t promise results from persistence and publicity, but I’ve seen this method work enough times to recommend it.

Why review platforms must act aggressively to minimize spam

I’ve mentioned the empathy I feel for owners when it comes to review platforms, and I also feel empathy for the platforms, themselves. I’ve gotten the sense, sometimes, that different entities jumped into the review game and have been struggling to handle its emerging complexities as they’ve rolled out in real time. What is a fair and just policy? How can you best automate spam detection? How deeply should a platform be expected to wade into disputes between customers and brands?
With sincere respect for the big job review sites have on their hands, I think it’s important to state:
  • If brands and consumers didn’t exist, neither would review platforms. Businesses and reviewers should be viewed and treated as MVPs.
  • Platforms which fail to offer meaningful support options to business owners are not earning goodwill or a good reputation.
  • The relationship between local businesses and review platforms isn’t an entirely comfortable one. Increasing comfort could turn wary brands into beneficial advocates.
  • Platforms that allow themselves to become inundated with spam will lose consumers’ trust, and then advertisers’ trust. They won’t survive.
Every review platform has a major stake in this game, but, to be perfectly honest, some of them don’t act like it.
Google My Business Forum Top Contributor and expert Local SEO, Joy Hawkins, recently wrote an open letter to Google offering them four actionable tips for improving their handling of their massive review spam problem. It’s a great example of a marketer advocating for her industry, and, of interest, some of Joy’s best advice to Google is taken from Yelp’s own playbook. Yelp may be doing the best of all platforms in combating spam, in that they have very strong filters and place public warnings on the profiles of suspicious reviewers and brands.
What Joy Hawkins, Mike Blumenthal, other industry experts, and local business owners seem to be saying to review platforms could be summed up like this:
“We recognize the power of reviews and appreciate the benefits they provide, but a responsibility comes with setting your platform up as a hub of reputation for millions of businesses. Don’t see spammed reputations as acceptable losses — they represent the livelihoods of real people. If you’re going to trade responsibly in representing us, you’ve got to back your product up with adequate quality controls and adequate support. A fair and trustworthy environment is better for us, better for consumers and better for you.”

Key takeaways for taking control of review spam

  • All local enterprises need to know that review spam is a real problem
  • Its scope ranges from individual spammers to global networks
  • Enterprises must monitor all incoming reviews, and scale this with software where necessary
  • Designated staff must be on the lookout for suspicious patterns
  • All major review platforms have some form of support for reporting spam reviews, but its not always adequate and may not lead to removal
  • Because of this, brands must advocate for better support from review platforms
  • Review platforms need to listen and act, because their stake in game is real

Being the subject of a review spam attack can be a stressful event that I wish no brand ever had to face, but it’s my hope that this article has empowered you to meet a possible challenge with complete information and a smart plan of action.

more to come!~