Always be on the look out for new link building opportunities. And some of the best can emerge from your day-to-day business activities. Chatting to a restaurant owner about a bad review on TripAdvisor.com led Ken McGaffin to an interesting site on travel technology. The site was a good prospect in itself but from that single prospect, he quickly built a campaign of many thousands of link prospects.
I have a friend, Cameron who owns a good family-friendly restaurant just down the road. I’m a regular there on Friday evenings and last week we got chatting about online business – and particularly TripAdvisor.com and the pros and cons of customer reviews. It’s great when the review is positive, but if you’re in the hospitality industry, it’s hard to please everyone and occasionally the odd negative review is inevitable.
He’d just had such a review and was worried about it. He asked me what he should do because such bad reviews will of course put people off going into the restaurant.
Off the top of my head, I gave him four quick tips:
1) Respond immediately. If someone complains don't wait, don't get angry and don’t take it too personally, just reply as soon as you can.
2) Be professional, polite and honest in your reply. If the reviewer has been rude, don’t rise to the bait: ignore anything that makes your blood boil and just stay cool.
3) Share the comments with your staff and make sure they know what customers are saying about you online.
4) Encourage your customers to leave reviews. Let them know you welcome their comments, something like, “if you’ve enjoyed our meals and family facilities, please leave your comments on TripAdvisor.com”.
Let’s get advice from an expert source
Back home later that evening, I thought about my advice: it was probably fine general advice but I'm not in the catering industry and restaurants are not my area of expertise. Advice would be much more powerful if it came from someone in the catering industry.
So I did a quick search on Google, ‘how to reply to a bad review on tripadvisor’ to see what industry sources might come up. Here’s the result:
One of the top results was an article published on Tnooz.com a site I hadn’t come across before. The link led me to an article written by Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor, giving top tips on how to respond to a review.
So I've found a news article that is relevant, comes from a respected source and gives some good tips on Cameron’s question.
That’s what I hoped for, great! I sent Cameron a quick email with a link and that could have been the end of the matter. But that would be a missed opportunity. Tnooz.com could be a good link prospect for anyone in the travel industry.
Here’s what I would do next:
- I'd leave a comment on the article and thank the author
- I'd treat it with a comment along the lines of "useful advice" or even "great article"
- I'd follow the writer on Twitter or other social media sites
- I'd write a post on my own blog linking to the article and describing how I found it useful
And of course, I'd implement the advice and make a mental note to get in touch with the publication when I knew whether the advice had worked or not. That helps me in a number of ways:
- The comments will be read by the writer and if I say something useful, they’ll remember me
- At some point they might do a follow-up article, and if they like my comment could include me in the next article.
Now all of these things are good to do from a business point of view. The article answered what for me was a difficult business question.
Tnooz.com as a link prospect
Tnooz.com could well be a potential link prospect for anyone in the travel industry. It would be worth finding out a bit more about them. So I looked at the ‘About us’ page:
There are good contact details – they make it easy to get in touch – always a plus point!
I’d look round the site and ask the following questions:
- Are there stories about other businesses similar to my own?
- Any article submission opportunities?
- Opportunities to write to a specific journalist?
- Opportunities to get listed – are there directories on the site?
- Who are the writers on the site?
- How often do they write articles?
- Is there an editorial calendar?
- What social media profiles do the writers have? Twitter for example is popular with journalists
After having a quick look around here’s some of the things I found:
A story on a Toronto-based start-up:
I also found that the site has a number of ‘nodes’ (writers and contributors) throughout the world (details at http://www.tnooz.com/nodes/:
Next I found this ‘how-to’ article posted by ‘Special Nodes’:
‘Special Nodes’ turn out to be a generic byline for guest articles (each of which gets a link to the author’s site).
Summary to date:
- By searching on Google with an important question, I’ve identified a site that provides the answer – and they could be a good link prospect
- The site lists plenty of editorial contacts to which stories can be pitched
- The site links out frequently to other businesses
- The site publishes ‘how to’ articles often written by guest writers who get a link in return
- The site has a network of ‘nodes’ – writers and experts – throughout the world who could be approached with a local story.