Barack Obama Gets a Bear Hug

How easy is it to “game the system” on review sites like Yelp? To find out, just have the President of the United States visit you and give him a bear hug.

This story has been all over the news, so aside from liking the surprised look on President Obama’s face in some of the other pictures of this event, (and those aren’t even the one I’ve included here . . . copyright, copyright, copyright . . . ) I wouldn’t have mentioned this. Except last night, I couldn’t order take-out from a local restaurant, and it got me thinking.

After promising last week that we’re going to start talking positives here at Answer Guy Central, you might be disappointed to see me talking negatives. So let’s spin that out of here quickly; Beyoglu New York, a restaurant I used to love but changed my opinion of about six months back, put another nail in their own coffin when they stopped doing take out. I suspect I might have contributed to that business change at Beyoglu; search Google for Beyoglu New York Bread or Beyoglu New York Customer Service and you’re headed here.

But that’s it; this story is about about the amazing things you can do with search engine optimization, if you know how the system works.

After President Obama ordered pizza and it came with a side order of big dude squeezing, The Yelps started flying. And it was about politics; Republicans saw an opportunity to talk trash about our current President, while Democrats immediately came to the rescue of their President. And the initial result was that the pizzeria where Mr. Obama was hugged was trashed on Yelp. Things have improved; as I write this there’s a five-star review compiled by over 2,000 “reviewers” on Yelp.


We’ve already covered how easy it is to game the system in reviews at Yelp and how we need better ways to know if reviews are “real”. So let’s accept it and move on; reviews are problematic. Let’s talk solutions.

Google likes to point out that the best way to make sure you get found on the Internet is to create great content. We agree; content creation and SEO go hand-in-hand, and you can chicken/egg the issue all day long, but that doesn’t matter. And while we know that bad thing (reviews, in this case) rank as highly for SEO purposes as good things, we also know that how you present yourself matters. Building trust is easier when . . . what you say sounds trustworthy!

But you have to be talking. All the time. You can get the word out by social networking, working on your company’s own web site, or a combination of those things. You can do Search Engine Optimization by participating in discussions on other web sites.

You can even use picture-sharing services, like Pinterest, or Instagram.

Note that I’ve pointed you at my Pinterest account, but haven’t done the same for my Instagram. That’s because Instagram is set up differently than most sharing and social sites, and I can’t get you to my Instagram pictures from here. A flaw on Instagram’s part? Maybe, but I presume they’ve set things up that way intentionally. Instagram wants you to USE INSTAGRAM, and have made business decisions based on that.

Your job—or our job, really—is to get you traffic, and we use every tool at our disposal to do that. It’s why companies hire us to do their SEO. We know how, and it’s getting more complicated every day.

I love talking about this stuff. Want to play? Contact me here.

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