The olden days of internet advaertising

I have owned a power washing and carpet cleaning businesses since 2002. Back then, the internet was different. All you needed was a little paid advertising and you were in business. For a few hundred dollars per month, I was at the top of the page on google adwords, yellowpages.com, and several other online directories. This was enough advertising to keep 4 full-time people busy.

Paid advertising becomes a rip-off

Times have changed. Each year Yellowpages.com played my competators and I against each other so that we had to “bid” more and more to stay at the top of the page. I also was forced to bid more and more on google adwards. What started out as a few hundred dollars per month, escalated to over $2,000 per month in paid online advertising. At the same time, this advertising was becomming LESS effective. However I am ashamed to say that it took me over two years to start using tracking phone numbers to figure this out. The whole time, wasting thousands of dollars in ineffective advertising.

The rise of “reviews”

This trend of the cost of paid online advertising increasing while its effectiveness decreased was perplexing. Especially since at the same time, more and more people were using the internet. The answer was that people no longer looked to advertisements and listings to find providers on the internet. They looked for REVIEWS. This made a lot of sense to me because it reflected my own buying habits. I was ordering almost everything for the businesses off Amazon.com because I could read reviews on each item before I bought it. I used Yelp.com to find restaurants. Why roll the dice on a night out when you can just check Yelp.com to find the restaurants that have the best food and service?

The problem with reviews

At the same time, this was very stressful to me. People only seemed to want to leave reviews if they were angry. Each time we went out on the job, we were rolling the dice. If customer’s noticed minor damage on the exterior of their home that they attributed to our power washing, I paid for it, even if I knew there was no possible way we could have caused the damage because I was afraid that my business would suffer from a bad review.

The solution

I started to write positive reviews for my own business. I did this because I knew it would get me more customers, but also because I wanted to pre-emptively have a lot of positive reviews in preparation for that one inevitable unfair customer (or perhaps competator) who was going to go online and bash my business.

This worked great for Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com and a few other sites because they took any review that anyone posted. These companies cared little for their content and their lack of quality has resulted in drastically decreased market shared over the past few years. Websites such as Yelp.com and Google Local Listings (maps.google.com) posed more of a challenge. Each time I tried to write a review for my own company on either of these sites, the review either never went up, or dissappeared a few days later. I even had this problem when I tried to post them from different computers with different IP addresses. After doing a lot of reasearch and experimentation, I found this was because not only were these sophisticated companies tracking IP addresses and cookies, but they were also looking at other factors such as the posters location, how many other reviews they had posted, over what time span all their other reviews were posted, and even how many friends they had on facebook. This sophisticated approach to review validation made it VERY hard to post a fake review for my company and is the same reason why these websites are so trusted by consumers today.

However, I persevered and eventually worked out a way of posting reviews that cannot be identified as fake. This was not purely a “technical” solution of “proxy servers” and “IP address hiding”. Because these more sophisticated web sites were able to detect if reviews were coming from “real people”, part of the solution involved developing a network of actual real people to post reviews for me. I also found very good, english-speaking copy-writers. Many businesses grossely underestimate the importance of good copy. Consumers buying based on reviews are very savvy and part of the process is to look for “fake” reviews, ones wirtten by someone who is not a native english speaker or who obviously knows nothing about the business being reviewed or who just plain doesn’t sound genuine. Good copy is a key to This has been a boon to my businesses because not only am I able to protect my businesses from the occassional angry customer with a vendetta, but the abundance of postive reviews online for my businesses drive huge amounts of customers.

A serious guarantee

We guarantee this service 110%. 110% means that if you are dissatisfied with our service in any way, we will not only refund all of your money, but we’ll refund you an extra 10% on top of that just for your trouble.