Four Tips for Getting More Online Reviews

More and more businesses are looking for ways to encourage customers and clients to provide online reviews. They do not want to seem pushy or desperate, but they know how important reviews are nowadays.

If you want more online reviews, but you are not sure just how to get your customers to take action, try one or more of these four tips:

  1. Make Leaving a Review as Simple as Possible

If leaving a review for your business is complicated, or it even seems as if it might be complicated, you are discouraging people from doing so. You need to make it seem as simple as possible to leave a review. It should be something a customer can do in just a few seconds. Increase the ease with which someone can leave you a review by providing direct links to the review sites you use in your newsletter, in emails, and on your website.

  1. Be Direct When You Ask

There is nothing wrong with asking customers directly for reviews. If a person does not know what you want from them how can they provide it? Nearly two-thirds of people will leave reviews if asked, but that number drops significantly when there is no request.

  1. Reward Customers for Leaving Reviews

You are not allowed to pay for reviews, but you can offer initiatives to customers for sharing how they feel. Coupons for the future or small prizes are usually appropriate, as long as you check the bylaws of the review site you are using.

  1. Follow-up with Reviews

Make sure you are responding to reviews, good and bad. Never let a review go unnoticed, even if all you do is click like or give a thumbs up to the review. You want to let people know you appreciate the time and effort they are putting into providing your business with a review.

Want more tips on increasing online reviews? Give us a call!

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Boost Your Social Media Marketing Game with these Tips!

If you have not made social media part of your marketing strategy, your business is missing out.  Capitalizing on social media trends is an effective way to spread the word about your business.  But the whole concept can be overwhelming, especially to those who haven’t been using the internet or social media for the majority of their business lives.

If you are looking for ways to make the most of current and social media trends for your business, check out these tips:

  1. Make Content Personal

Your social media content should be professional and should focus on your target audience.  A careful look into your analytics can reveal what your audience finds appealing and what they want.  Learn about their interests and try to cater to their needs.  Personalizing your social media content is a great way to prevent things from sounding generic and to keep your posts interesting and engaging.

2. Live streaming

Live streaming video is now one of the most effective ways to reach out to your audience.  Most social media platforms have incorporated some type of live streaming in recent years and if you have not yet taken advantage of this feature now is the time.  Your audience will love seeing behind the scenes and getting to know more about your business.

  1. Strong Content

Everyone knows how important high-quality content is, but it is often disregarded when it comes to social media.  There is more of a “drive by” feel to social media, but this can cost your business.  Make sure you are representing your brand on your social media channels just as you would anywhere else.  View your social media content as a gateway to your website and other content.  You need it to be welcoming and appealing, just like all of the other content you feature.

  1. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing might be something you think is for other types of businesses, but this is not the case.  All businesses can benefit from influence marketing.

Statistics show about half of all Twitter users rely on influencers for product and service recommendations.  There is a certain trust that exists between influencers and your audience that cannot be duplicated in any other way.  Using influencers to promote your products or services is one of the best ways to connect with your audience in the modern business world.

Want more tips for using social media to promote your brand? Give us a call!

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These SEO Tips Help No Matter What Google Says!

SEO might seem like the guiding principle for everything you do online, but sometimes you need to step away and look at the big picture.  A truly strong online presence goes beyond SEO and sometimes you will need to bend Google’s “rules” to accomplish your goals.

No matter what the latest tips and tricks from the king of SEO might be, there are several things you always need to be doing regardless of the ebb and flow of trends:

  1. Consistently Adding Authoritative Content

Authoritative content should be one of your most important priorities.  Google wants users to get the most credible information possible, but they are not always clear exactly what that means.  Where does that leave you?

Use the E. A. T.  method.  This means you should take Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness into consideration when creating content.  You should ALWAYS be working to add authoritative content to your site and creating insightful, reliable material that can help people learn more about your industry, products, and services.

It is also a good idea to offer longer pieces of content.  A lot of people who are searching for your products and services want a detailed look into issues related to your industry.  Offering long-form content pieces that drill down on a certain topic really helps to establish authority.

  1. Target LSI Keywords

Everyone knows keywords are important for ranking in search engine results, but targeting LSI keywords is not just about ranking.  LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.  These types of keywords have no direct effect on your ranking, but they can ensure you cover important information related to your topic.  This, indirectly, will help you get rankings for relevant search terms and ensure you aren’t guilty of keyword stuffing.

When you are not using LSI keywords, Google struggles to pinpoint SEO correlations and overlap in content.  So instead of repeating the same keywords over and over, find ways to incorporate LSI keywords into your content.

  1. HTTPS

Finally, despite Google saying it is a minor factor, you need to get SSL certificate! This means your site is secure and it reassures site visitors they can shop with confidence.  This is especially important if you are requesting information from site visitors.  No matter what Google might say, do your business a favor and make sure your site is secure.

Looking for more SEO tips? Give us a call!

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Worried about Negative Reviews? These Three Tips Will Help You Turn Negative into Positive!

Online reviews are a great tool for expanding customer awareness of your business online, but a negative review can leave a less-than-favorable impression on those searching for your products or services.  Despite the risk of someone saying something negative about your business, reviews are too powerful to avoid.  Data shows, reviews are among consumers’ most trusted ways to vet a product or service.  A whopping 84 percent report trusting online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.

The key to dealing with the occasional negative review of your business is to have a plan in place for managing them when they occur.

These tips will help:

  1. Do not Hide from Negative Reviews

It is important to respond to negative reviews and show you care about what happened to the person saying negative things about your business.  You should respond politely and look for ways to fix the problem when possible.  Use the person’s name, apologize for what happened, show you understand their concerns by rephrasing what they have reported, and try to offer a solution.  Even if the problem cannot be fixed entirely, it is important to show you want to fix it and that you care what people have to say.

  1. Be Honest and Upfront

It might be tough to hear criticism about your company when you are working hard to do everything right, but how you respond to negative feedback shows a lot about your company’s core values.  It is important to not deny or respond defensively to a negative review, even if you do not agree with it.  If you think it is fake or fraudulent, you have the option of reporting it.  But if you believe something was really interpreted by a customer as negative, you should own up to it and try to make them happy.

  1. Be Thankful for the Feedback

Not only should you thank the negative reviewer for their feedback, you should be truly thankful for it.  One negative review that calls your attention to a problem can save you hundreds of customers! How? One person took the time to point out a mistake that was made and now you can work to avoid making that mistake in the future.  This is much more valuable than making a customer angry and never knowing how they feel or what they are sharing with other people.

Want more tips on using reviews effectively? Give us a call!

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Google Review Rolls Out New Features for Reviews and Short URLs

Google is one of the most important tools you have available to you as a business owner.  And while it might sometimes seems as if Google is complicating your life or making it more challenging to run a business, the truth is the tools provided by Google are designed to help you grow your business.  No matter the size of your business or your industry, Google will help customers find you.

A few of Google’s most recent changes are specifically designed to help businesses make the most of being a part of online search.  The reviews people leave for your business via Google are some of the best advertising you can get and for the most part, it is all free.

Testimonials and reviews allow people who are searching for your products or services to see what other people have to say about your business.  Recently, Google announced it would recommend that a business share a post with a positive review.  According to Google’s Twitter post related to the new feature, “…Google My Business will provide suggested posts to help you showcase positive reviews left for your business… These posts are automatically suggested based on 4 or 5-star reviews recently left for your business…”

It might seem like a minor update, but it can have a major impact on your business if you are trying to strengthen your brand.  It allows you to show off what you’ve accomplished and what you’re able to do for customers.  Allowing you to share your bet reviews allows you to boost your visibility and improve the public’s perception of your business.

Consider it Google’s way of allowing you to “cyber brag” about your business.

There is also speculation that Google is allowing businesses to add shortened names and URLs to their company profiles.  This will make it easier for you to share information with potential customers.  The format will be g. page/[yourcustomname] with a five-character requirement for the name and clicking on the link will take searchers to the same Google My Business page you typically use.  It is just an easier way of listing it and helping people find your business via GMB.

Want to learn more about how Google My Business can help you grow your online reputation? Let us know!

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What is Responsive Web Design and Why Is It Important for Your Business? 

Designing a website for your business might seem confusing, but it does not have to be.  There are a few important factors to consider and as long as you address those you will likely have a solid website that represents your business.

One of the most important aspects of successful web design in the modern business world is responsive design.

Responsive design is a design methodology that takes into account how users will access the site.  It uses the availability of data storage to access a number of images and layouts. Responsive design occurs within the coding of the site and makes it possible for the content of the site to fill the screen on which it is being viewed.

For instance, there was a time when websites would look different based on how they were viewed.  What you would see on your desktop computer was not what you would see on your tablet or mobile phone.  Designs viewed on mobile devices were often unappealing, not user-friendly, and left out a great deal of information.  Responsive design solved this.  By creating a page that would adjust in size to the size of the screen, it became possible to view a website the way it was meant to be viewed regardless of the device.

You might be wondering why responsive design is relevant.

Obviously, you want people who view your website to like what they see and be able to find the information they are searching for without hassle.  But as more and more people are using mobile devices to access sites on the go, responsive design is now more important than ever.  Depending on your business, the majority of people accessing your site will be doing so from a phone or other mobile device.  Your site must look good and be easy to use on the go.

If you have not considered updating your site to responsive design, now is the time.  If your site does not look the same on a mobile device or look how you want it to look when accessing it on a mobile device, it is time to improve it.

Want more information on responsive design or ready to update your site? Give us a call!

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Four Tips to Help You Guard Your Online Reputation

If you are concerned about your business’s online reputation – and you should be if you own a business – there are several things you can do to protect its reputation. Here are five of the most important:

#1: Make sure you are providing top-notch service

The best thing you can do to make sure your business does well online is all of the same things you would do to run a successful business IRL (in real life). Do all you can to make your customers happy and when you come up short, admit to your mistake and correct what went wrong.

#2: Request reviews, especially when you know you have hit the mark with a customer

Online review sites are one of the best tools you have for protecting, improving, and growing your online reputation. You should not be afraid to ask for reviews from customers; especially those you know are going to leave you glowing reviews.

It is also a good idea to monitor your reviews and take time to respond to them. This is especially true if someone leaves you a negative review.

#3: Admit to your mistakes

Chances are you have made a mistake here and there with customers. Even if you were not convinced the error was yours, it is still a good idea to take the customer at their word and try to correct the problem. Offering refunds and other incentives when your business has failed a customer is a great way to improve goodwill and boost your online reputation.

#4: Make an adjustment to your business model when needed

If something is consistently generating negative attention and earning you bad reviews, fix it.

For instance, if you ship items to customers and they are always complaining about the length of time shipping takes, find a way to speed up your shipping. If that is not possible, do everything you can to make sure customers know they will need to wait a long time for their order and it will be worth it because of an incentive you offer. Maybe your prices are the lowest in the industry or you offer free shipping or you get a free gift with each order.

Pay attention to what is not working and be flexible enough to find a way to make it work for your business. Want more tips? Give us a call!

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Can Online Testimonials and Reviews Affect Your Business’s Credit Score? You Bet!

Keeping your business’s credit score as high as possible is important. It can save you money and allow you to do things you might not otherwise be able to do, especially when you are working within a limited budget (and what business owner isn’t?)

Most business owners also understand how to protect their credit scores. Borrowing only what they can afford to repay, paying their debts on time, and being generally responsible with their business’s profits.

But there is one factor business owners might not realize has an effect on their credit score – their online reviews.  The reviews posted on Yelp, Google, and other review sights might impact your business’s credit score.

How so?

First, it is important to realize your business’s credit score is not one single number that is the end-all-be-all of lending analysis. Typically business credit score are an accumulation of several factors. The usual items you would expect, like the debt to income ratio, the amount of money you have borrowed, whether or not you have repaid debts in a timely manner, etc.

But there are also other factors that affect a business credit score that are not a factor with personal credit. These include:

  • Online reviews
  • Whether a business’s number of reviews has an upward or downward trend
  • Responsiveness to reviews
  • Age of the business and when it was incorporated
  • Number of Employees
  • Annual Sales

Why is there so much emphasis on business reviews when reviews have nothing to do with money?

It is because in business reviews, you actually do have to do with money. Reviews can be an indication of how successful a business is and what its future might look like.

Lenders care about a business’s reviews because it gives them a look into how your business is operating, how people feel about your business, and how big of a risk they are taking when lending you money.

Online reviews and testimonials might not tell a lender how likely you are to pay back a debt, but review trends can indicate how a business is doing overall and how happy consumers are with that business.

Obviously, online reviews will not be the only factor that will affect whether or not lenders take you seriously, but if you are operating a business, your credit is yet another reason why you need to take reviews and testimonials seriously.

Want more information? Let us know!

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Could “Premium Features” Be on the Horizon for Google My Business?

Are you ready to pay for some of Google My Business’s most premium features? It is a drastic change that might be just around the corner for the search engine giant.

Google sent out surveys to GMB users to gauge their interest in paying for access to premium features that could enhance their listings. The survey asked a few qualifying questions to determine the business owner’s marketing budget for the year and then brought up the possibility that new Google My Business features could be rolled out as premium offerings.

The proposed new features might include

  • Google customer support
  • “Book” button on your business profile
  • Promote your “Book” button
  • Verified reviews
  • Promoted map pin
  • Call reports and recordings
  • Verified bookings
  • Automated message responses
  • Automated response for reviews
  • Google search results placement
  • Get leads from competitor profiles
  • Background check
  • Instant quote
  • Request quote
  • Offers
  • Featured review
  • Google Guarantee
  • Remove ads from your business profile
  • Verified licenses
  • Video on your business profile

The survey even went as far as listing potential packages available that ranged from $10 to $70 and asking survey taker to select which package they would most prefer.

All indications are that Google is seriously considering offering premium features in GMB in the form of subscription bundles. It is assumed that whether or not this actually occurs will be based on the survey responses. After all, why roll out the features in fee packages if nobody is going to buy them. There is speculation that if people would not be willing to pay for the packages, some of the features could be added to Google My Business as part of the platforms free offerings.

So what is your verdict? Would you be willing to pay for upgraded or premium features in Google My Business or are you content with the service as it is for free? Let us know!

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Three Ways You Can Attract Local Clients with Google My Business

Google has revealed that about a third of all searches have local intent, meaning people are looking for businesses near where they are located. This means that if your business is local, you MUST make sure it is showing up in Google’s search results. Completing, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business listing is one of the best ways to make sure this happens.

How does Google My Business allow you to attract local clients?

It Makes Sure Consumers are able to Find Your Physical Location

GMB allows you to list your exact location and the listing includes a map showing searchers just where you are. It is also easy to call and schedule a reservation or appointment right from your listing.

It Provides Useful Information to People Searching for Your Products or Services

Your Google My Business Listing can and should include the following:

  • Hours of operation
  • Busiest times
  • Directions
  • Photos of your location and special features
  • A ‘call now’ button for mobile users
  • A description of your business

You should update your listing, too, to include important and timely information, such as holiday hours or upcoming special events.

It Provides You with Valuable Customer Insights

The Insights tab allows you to access a great deal of information that is broken down by audience, engagement, and visibility. You will be able to see how many people visit your profile, look at your photos and videos, and read your posts, and you can see a breakdown of the ages, genders, and locations of people who visit your profile.

All of this information can then be used to:

  • Determine the type of content that is resonating with your audience
  • Boost engagement and conversations
  • Convert more of your fans to paying customers

Your Google My Business also gives you direct access to customer testimonials and reviews, so you are able to interact with those leaving you feedback and identify any areas where your business might need improvement.

For more tips on how Google My Business can help you, give us a call!

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