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Mar
10
5 Ways to Handle Online Reviews to Win Customers
Posted by Didier Bizimungu on 10 March 2017 12:04 pm

Why do online reviews matter?

online reviews importance to SEOYou already know that online reviews are feedback left by past customers on websites, but why should you even pay attention to them? There are hundreds of reasons why online reviews make a powerful online marketing tool. Most important of all is customer relationship management. Client satisfaction is the cornerstone of the success of any business venture regardless of its size.

Before online reviews there were testimonials, an affidavit of a business’s quality of service.  In today’s fast paced internet world most people (91%) regularly or occasionally read online reviews. Online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth communication tool for customers among each other.

Search engines that cater to these very same customers have noticed how much emphasis users place on reviews. Therefore, they have enacted algorithm changes to the way they present search results to favor better reviewed websites. Online reviews are invaluable to Search Engine Optimization, especially to small businesses.

Top 5 best online review websites

If you are a small local business, like Webtivity!, you don’t have a huge amount of resources to begin with. Let your friendly local web design marketing company make mastering your online reviews game a whole lot easier. Here is a list of the top five online review websites you should be focusing most of your efforts on:

  • Google – Head on over to Google My Business and claim your profile if you haven’t already done so. Google the biggest search engine on earth now includes your business’s ranking within search engine result pages.
  • Facebook – Facebook has its own review section for your business’s Facebook page. This ranking is now included in the Google Business Pack as well.
  • Yelp – Yelp is the next contender. It receives over 145 million unique visitors on a monthly basis!
  • Yellow Pages – This old classic is still favored by millions as their go-to business research landing page. This fact does not look to be changing, as they are position themselves as an online marketing service provider.
  • Bing Places – Microsoft’s answer to Google My Business this powerful review engine is not to be ignored. This is the second most popular search engine after Google, and yes, it does indeed include ratings as part of its rankings calculation.

How can I ask customers to leave online reviews?

asking for online reviewsYou understand how important online reviews are to your local business’s success, but how do you get or encourage clients to leave those reviews? There are several ways to encourage clients to leave reviews.

The easiest approach is after a sale is made or a service is provided. This is when the customer has your business fresh in their minds; they understand the benefit your business has provided so they are more likely to make the effort to leave a review. Strike while the iron is hot so to speak.

To acquire reviews indirectly, businesses have employed feedback cards, QR codes, emails, and even phone calls to encourage clients to leave reviews. When suggesting to a client to leave a review, remember to focus on one or two of the major sites we previously mentioned where you need reviews the most.

How do I track online reviews?

Now that your business has started receiving reviews how do you keep track of all the various review sites? There are various solutions out there but they cost money. If you currently have a search engine optimization partner managing your digital marketing efforts, give Webtivity a look (hint shameless plug).

If you are more of the do-it-yourself kind of person, look into setting up a Google Alert on your branded name. For example for us that would be “Webtivity Marketing and Designs”.  You’ll be notified any time your business is mentioned online.

Another nifty online tool for review management is Social Mention. They will track a variety of social media platforms for mentions of your branded name as mentioned above. It is free and it allows you to set up email alerts for specific keywords.

It bears mentioning that none of these tools beat regular manual checking of your listings on the review sites we mentioned earlier.

How do I handle negative reviews?

how do I handle negative online reviewsJust like positive reviews, you should strive to respond to each and every negative review. There are several guidelines you should follow however to ensure you do not make an already bad situation worse. You will only serve to alienate the customer and anyone else who reads that review.

Do not write anything argumentative or even defensive. Instead seek to resolve the customer’s issue as fast and as directly as possible. Reach out with a message offering to help solve the difficulty this client had with your product or service.

If the issue is resolved, ask the client to update their review, most happy clients will. If they do not respond your response should act as a great signal to potential customers that you care about client satisfaction.

Finally, bury negative reviews with positive ones. Redouble your efforts to acquire more reviews to balance out the negative reviews. Most clients looking for reviews will only pay attention to the final business review standing.

3 biggest mistakes small businesses make with online reviews

  • Not being responsive – The easiest way to lose potential clients, and subsequently search engine rankings, is by not being responsive to your online review platforms. Strive to have a 100% score on thanking all reviewers, as well as asking them for more feedback. In other words, reviews represent a unique opportunity to directly engage your clientele.
  • Combative responses – Even worse than being non-responsive, is responding in a negative and combative manner. This signals to users that whoever is managing this business is not a mature individual. A lack of tact can ruin any business.
  • Self or fraudulent reviews – This is the biggest no-no since no-nos were invented. You should never engage in this unethical practice. Review platforms have gotten sophisticated enough to be able to track false reviews. This earns a negative mark for your business and sinks your already floundering reputation even lower.

If I leave you with one thing…

Engage, engage, and engage. Please do not disregard the online review marketplace as a non-issue in your marketing efforts. Make sure your business is taking advantage of this free source of direct client to business engagement opportunity.

If you are ready to make the first step give us a call at (941) 753-7574 or schedule a quick conversation with Tim!

For more facts about online reviews check out this awesome infrographic from our friends over at invespcro:

The importance of online customer reviews

 

Infographic by- Invesp

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Mar
26
Wrong Information Is Bad For Your Business!
Posted by Troy Newport on 26 March 2014 08:25 am

That is the title of an email I received the other day, and boy did it burn me up!  Not because it’s untrue.  Just the opposite:  inconsistent information on the web about your business can seriously hurt your SEO.  What burned me up is the email came from a service that claims to help you keep your business information consistent online.  On the surface it sounds great — pay an annual subscription fee and an automated service helps you keep your business listings up to date.  The problem is these automated services only work with a handful of directories and don’t work with some of the major ones where your business should be listed.  Even more problematic is these services are not perfect; and some are far from it.

This particular service’s name is met with much contempt in our office.  We’ve had clients who previously tried the service and then had to hire us to clean up the mess it made.  It’s automatonan uphill battle dealing with the fallout and in some cases it took many months to clean up.  Sometimes the service erroneously created duplicate listings on directories because the existing listing did not have the exact business name, or perhaps had a different phone #.  A human could have found the old listing using a little elbow grease and deductive reasoning; something a mathematical algorithm is still not smart enough to do.  There are also times when wrong information was entered by the service and that information started getting ‘scraped’ by other websites and directories.

There are hundreds and thousands of places on the internet where you can post information about your business.  Most of those websites crawl the internet looking for information about companies and auto-populate themselves so the website seems full of information when people get there.  The problem is those websites don’t verify information they find, they just find stuff and post it there whether it’s accurate or not.  Then that information is found by another automated bot and gets populated somewhere else, and so on and so forth.  So if you aren’t constantly monitoring your online identity it’s easy to see how out of control your online identity can become. 

Automation technology has been amazing for manufacturing and other processes in our brief history on this planet.  So I suppose it’s become second nature for some to assume Automation = Good (unless your job was eliminated by it.)  The problem is that automation in our industry sometimes isn’t so good, and some things should still be done manually for accuracy.  Or you at least need to have humans in place to verify what the algorithms and robots are telling you.  These automated directory-building services don’t have humans double-checking the work.  And what’s worse, from our experience and from the multitude of complaints you can find online, they don’t seem to have the resources in place to correct errors that occur.  Unfortunately Google places a lot of weight on having consistent business listings across the internet (the same addresses, phone #’s, etc.) so when your identity starts to get screwed up it quickly pervades across the internet, Google takes notice, and your website gets dinged for it.  When a service can muck up something as simple as having multiple satellite offices in the same town you have to ask yourself how valuable the service really is.

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Oct
17
How to Opt Out of Google Displaying Your Information in Ads
Posted by Patricia Sennhauser on 17 October 2013 08:03 am

Privacy. It’s a topic that Google seems to be deeply concerned with recently.  As of September, 2013, Google announced it would be encrypting all keyword searches – in the name of protecting your privacy.  But at about this time, Google also announced that it would also be using your name, face, reviews, and social networking activity in ads to your friends or anyone else Google thinks might be influenced by your opinion. 

Hmm, touché Google.
Regardless of if you see the hypocrisy of these two changes, you may not be thrilled to have your face showing up in ads. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to opt out. And here’s how:

  1. While you’re signed in to your Google account, click on this link. Or if you prefer, copy and paste this into your address bar: https://plus.google.com/settings/endorsements.
  2. At the bottom of the page, uncheck the “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads” box.
  3. Click Save.
  4. A pop-up box will open, asking if you’re sure because your friends won’t benefit from this setting. Click “Continue”.
  5. You should get a notification that says, “settings saved” and you’re good to go!

Google-Profile-Opt-Out-of-Ads-Showing-Your-Info

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Feb
13
The Truth in Online Reviews
Posted by Troy Newport on 13 February 2013 08:12 am

Many of us look at online reviews when trying to decide whether or not to buy a product.  eBay may have brought the online customer review into the mainstream consciousness.  At least for me, it was a critical part of deciding whether or not I trusted a seller.  These days there are customer reviews attached to everything:  Google Places for Business (aka Google +), Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Amazon.   If we lived in an honest world these reviews would be extremely helpful.  Unfortunately there are some out there who forge reviews in their favor, or leave unfavorable reviews on their competitors.  As a consumer this can be misleading and confusing.  Here are a few tips to help determine if a review is fake or not.

Anonymous Reviews
Anonymous reviews should almost immediately spark some skepticism.  If someone isn’t willing to put their name on their review, how valid is that review?  With the merging  of Google reviews into Google +, now when you leave a Google review it puts your profile picture on the review.  This tremendously adds to the credibility of the reviews.

Polar Reviews
Extremely positive or negative reviews should be met with skepticism.  Any product has positive and negative qualities.  A review that does not acknowledge any positive or negative qualities may not be unbiased.

Single Reviews
When you read a review, click on the reviewer’s profile and see if they’ve contributed reviews for other businesses or products.  If you see the profile only left one review (especially if it’s an anonymous reviewer) you can guess it isn’t legit.

Lumped Reviews
If you see a bunch of reviews lumped around a particular date, especially if they are all positive or negative, may be faked.  However, if you see sporadic reviews over a long period of time you can likely put more credence into them.

Technical Reviews
Reviews that sound like they came directly out of a sales brochure from the company, or contain industry technical jargon should raise a red flag.  Real customers will talk about emotions and how a product solved a problem.

Companies have been paying for good reviews for a number of years.  The FTC ruled in 2009 that companies paying for reviews without disclosing the reviewer was compensated constitutes deceptive advertising, and the companies can be prosecuted for such practices.  Yelp publicly outed companies for paying for reviews last year.   You can guess companies are already trying to find ways to game Facebook’s Social Graph and get sponsored reviews out into social media land.  So keep your critical thinking caps on, dear internet user.  Trust but verify!

 

 

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