The Cafe at Queensgate, a Richland (WA) restaurant, is an excellent place in my hometown for lunch: good food, helpful staff, and a terrific, bistro-style atmosphere.
You’ll notice that I didn’t link to them at all in that paragraph; I’d love to, but like so many small businesses, they don’t have a web site. And they do have a reputation management problem: Use a search engine to find the Cafe at Queensgate, and you’ll find a 1-star review on Google Maps that was written a couple months ago, and another 1-star review on Yahoo Local that was written more than four years ago.
I ate there last Thursday with David Mihm, who was in my hometown for the Learn About Web conference on Friday. Luckily for the Cafe at Queensgate, we didn’t do an online search for them until after we ate there, because — like many others, I suspect — if we had seen those reviews before lunch, we probably would’ve gone somewhere else.
This episode on Thursday was just the first reality check. The conference itself was a series of reality checks. During many of the sessions, speakers (including me) asked for a call of hands in response to various questions like “Who knows what Flickr is?” and “Raise your hands if you know what SEO and PPC are?” David wrote about some of the percentages that replied to those questions and others. Meanwhile, over on my Hyperlocal Blogger blog, I wrote about what I perceived as a fairly strong interest in local blogging among the attendees — further evidence that blogging has reached the mainstream.
I’m left with this nagging thought that we still have so far to go as an industry to reach small business owners. I’m sure I’ll think about it more next time I’m eating at the Cafe at Queensgate, the terrific Richland restaurant without a web site that has two inexplicably poor reviews….