Monthly Archives: March 2019

How to Get Better Reviews for Your Business (and Better Local SEO!)

business team excited about positive reviews and better local seoBetter online reviews are better for local SEO and better for business. Statistics prove the statement true; online reviews play an important role in building trust with potential customers. Research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land). More than 70% of customers say positive reviews play a part in trusting a business.

Search engines are also rewarding businesses for excellent reviews. Review sites are an integral part of a comprehensive and effective local search engine optimization effort. Fortunately, getting reviews—specifically positive reviews—can be easily integrated into existing operations, though it does require a strategic approach and implementation. The effort also may require outsourcing for a complete, optimized online presence.

Select review listing sites relevant to your business.

The list of online review sites may vary slightly for every business. Businesses need to select local directories and review sites relevant to their industry and their audience. The list is long, but can include significant sites like Google My Business, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and Manta. (Local SEO experts can assist with the process of selecting sites and planning a comprehensive local SEO strategy.)

The first site, Google My Business, should be on every business list and should include a complete profile. This guide from Search Engine Journal details the process to an optimized Google My Business profile. Once completed, the process for getting reviews that can complete the profile and build trust should be established.

Review business standard operating procedures for opportunities.

There are numerous opportunities for businesses to ask for reviews and deliver the service that generates positive feedback. Every interaction should be viewed as an opportunity to earn satisfied customers. Make staff members aware that they are part of the process, and that negative reviews can be left by customers at any time.

To elicit positive reviews, try to ask satisfied customers shortly after a good service delivery. This can be done by the salesperson who follows up, the staff member who delivered the service, or by a manager who contacts the customer to gauge the level of satisfaction. Customers typically respond to in-person requests. (A more in-depth list of ways to ask for reviews can be found in this post.) Once the opportunities are identified, assign the task to a specific staff position or party to ensure consistent requests for reviews are made. If the ask for reviews is made electronically, be careful of making the ask for a review on the review sites. Some review sites prohibit asking for reviews on the website.

Customers appreciate when the process to leave a review is simple, so take steps to make the process as easy and convenient as possible. If the request is made in person, send the link the customer’s e-mail after they have agreed. For businesses with an automated survey system, follow up survey responses with the link for a review. In the same way, include shortcuts to the company’s review sites in electronic communications, on the website, and on business social media sites.

Include review asks in training protocols.

The process for identifying and requesting reviews should be included in the procedure for training future staff members. For example, future sales staff should be trained on follow-up procedures that include the request for reviews. If the process is part of the registration process, train future staff on procedures for identifying satisfied customers and requesting reviews.

Another part of asking for reviews is responding. Companies should respond to every review and train the staff responsible on the correct ways to deliver excellent customer service to negative inquiries. Responses to negative reviews should be seen as an opportunity to showcase excellent customer service. If the resolution to the negative review is simple, respond publicly with a comment. For more in-depth matters, respond to the customer with private messages. If the matter is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, ask the customer if they would be willing to change their review.

2019 Online Search Trends Businesses Should Know (and Use)

ground on tablets searching for local businessesOnline consumer behaviors are always a concern for business owners. If they’re not, they should be.

A targeted marketing plan revolves around those behaviors. To reach customers, business owners should continuously be asking, “Where are our customers online? How can our business engage with them? What means are they using to find our business?”

In general terms, the list includes local search listings, social media, and review sites (read more about how customers find businesses here). The first tactic, local search engine listings, is one of the most significant and studies prove it. According to Google, more than half of smartphone users found a new company or product during an online search.

To get the full benefit of this information, smart business owners and managers (or their trusted marketing firm) not only understand the significance of search engines but apply the information to their marketing. Specifically, there are four recent internet search trends that should be on business’ radar and utilized in a comprehensive online marketing strategy.

Voice Search

According to Forbes, an average of one billion voice searches occur every month. That number is impressive, and demonstrates a growing internet search trend. Consumers are using their devices to find the answers to their problems. Voice searches make life easier for consumers, meaning the amount of voice searches are only going to rise. The one disclaimer follows the old adage about putting all one’s eggs in a basket. While businesses should adapt efforts to voice search, traditional search engine optimization tactics should still be utilized for maximum results.

The application: Businesses need to consider the enormity of voice search when producing online content. Online content doesn’t need to be oversimplified, but it should be written with relevant terms in the same way consumers speak. The major search engines recognize this rising search trend and factor voice-friendly content into rankings. This effort should be coordinated with efforts to improve local search engine optimization since, according to Google, nearly a third of all searches are location-based.

“Near me” Searches

The combination of the explosion of mobile device usage and voice search has resulted in an increase of “near me” searches. This category of internet search trends refers to any search relating to a location near the consumer, such as “near me” or “restaurants Madison WI.” The majority of these searches originate from mobile devices. Many of these local searches result in sales. Google says these consumers are ready to buy once they are in a store, as 18 percent of local searches lead to sales, compared to 7 percent for non-local searches.

The application: Businesses need to invest in local search engine optimization tactics (as detailed in this post about ways to get businesses found in local searches). This effort includes a complete Google My Business profile and update listings on review sites and local directories. Of course, local SEO only goes as far as getting consumers to the business website. A comprehensive SEO effort should include an optimized and fast-loading website that converts consumers into customers.

Question and ‘How to’ Searches

Website content is an effort that search engines and consumers appreciate. The effort should start when building a website with optimized content and continue with a regular content marketing production calendar. Regular, high-quality website content is a factor in search engine rankings and should be an important part of a business marketing plan. Content should be produced to fit the business sales cycle and recent internet search trends. Recent Google articles have indicated that consumers are using the internet to find answers, making ‘how to’ and question searches a top priority for businesses producing quality content.

The application: Businesses need to develop a comprehensive marketing plan with a custom content marketing calendar. All content should be produced with a clear deadline, posted regularly, and be generated with the latest internet search trends in mind. If there is a lack of staffing or expertise, these efforts can be outsourced to a quality content marketing firm.

Business Owners: Your Practical (and Complete) Digital Marketing Checklist

business team working off digital marketing checklistEffective digital marketing is a combination of online tactics that drives potential customers to a business. For most businesses, a successful marketing plan includes a website, social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, and e-mail. It should also involve nearly every person on staff.

The whole effort can be overwhelming—and overwhelmingly technological. That’s why we’ve broken down modern digital marketing into a complete checklist for business owners and managers. This digital marketing checklist can be divided up among appropriate staff members, or used to determine what tasks should outsourced to a marketing firm.

Website

___ Build site with optimized structure (i.e. schema markups, site maps, etc.) and HTTPS (for security and higher search engine ranking)

___ Organize content into easy-to-navigate pages (including About Us and Contact page)

___ Design website with uniform branding and content tone

___ Make website mobile-friendly for smartphone use (this is not optional)

___ Optimize website content (written) for search engines and voice search

___ Produce and locate optimized images and video

___ Build site with fast-loading speed (A one-second delay while loading a mobile website can decrease conversions by up to 20%. – Google)

Content Marketing

___ Add blog to website

___ Create content production calendar (with deadlines, topics and questions that follow sales cycle, responsible parties, etc.)

___ Add optimized posts with quality images, content, and video

___ Evaluate and adjust future calendars accordingly

Local Search Engine Optimization

___ Claim Google My Business listing

___ Update listings in local online directories

___ Develop a multi-channel strategy for eliciting positive reviews on review sites (i.e. Yelp, Manta, Better Business Bureau)

  • Ask for a review from satisfied customers with a follow-up e-mail
  • Have the salesperson at final meeting
  • Put a sign by the register asking for reviews
  • Include a flyer in product packaging with a request for a review
  • Ask for review when corresponding with customer in social media messages
  • Include a request for reviews in e-mail newsletters and with receipts

Social Media

___ Select social media site(s) where target audience is active

___ Develop plan for social media marketing (with deadlines, topics that follow sales cycle, posts, etc.)

___ Collect images and information for social media (outsource the task if needed)

___ Evaluate social media efforts periodically and adjust plan accordingly

___ Designate a staff member to monitor and promptly respond to comments and messages

Email Marketing

___ Develop multi-channel approach for asking for e-mail addresses

  • Add e-mail opt-in page to website
  • Ask for customer e-mail address at register
  • Post website page with e-mail request on social media
  • Have sales team ask for e-mail addresses at meetings
  • Include request for e-mail address in follow-up e-mails
  • Add postcard with ask for e-mail address in product shipments

___ Set regular schedule of e-mails (with deadlines and topics that follow sales and event calendar)

___ Produce regular e-mails in e-mail marketing programs (i.e. Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, etc.)

___ Regularly evaluate open rates and other data from e-mails to set future topics and schedule