A 2017 local consumer online marketing strategy survey has raised an alarming statistic that every business should think about. According to their information, over 70% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It may seem strange to trust a complete stranger, as opposed to a friend. But according to their information, customers are almost always turning to reviews on Google, Yelp, and other online review sites as their ‘go-to’ place for information about businesses.
In fact, consumers are becoming even more review-savvy than they were just a few years ago. Today, customers prefer businesses that receive high volumes of high-scoring reviews on a regular basis. Let’s take an in-depth look at the information behind these numbers and how you can harness the power of reviews as part of an effective online marketing strategy to help build your business:
Consumers Turn to the Internet for Information About Businesses
Almost every consumer today turns to the internet to find a local business. The internet is now an integral part of the decision process that goes into choosing a business. In fact, research shows that only 5% of consumers do not use the internet when looking for a business. Over half of consumers are looking online at least once per month for local business. 10% of them look every single day. This means that more searches for local business are taking place than ever before. Because of this, a positive reputation is an absolute must.
A Positive Reputation Drives Positive Business
As the saying goes, ‘your reputation precedes you’. This is especially true for your online reputation. Reviews from other consumers are a big part of this. When consumers go online to look for a business, one of the major things they read are a business’ reviews. In fact, well over half of consumers will read a business’ reviews as a part of their research. Even more, consumers will read up to 10 reviews on a business when determining whether to work with them or not.
Consumers see reviews as an actual customer experience. If that experience (and subsequent review) is positive, they will trust the business more. Consumers also tend to read more recent reviews first. Therefore, having new, fresh positive reviews goes even further to add trust to your business.
Reviews Come from Real People, not Advertising Campaigns
Going back to the first statistic in this discussion, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Why is this? Most consumers have been advertised to all their life. They have become accustomed to businesses “selling” themselves through advertising. However, reviews do not come from the business, but from other, more impartial consumers. Because of this, people are more likely to trust a review from a complete stranger over an advertisement. This is because they see that reviewer more as a peer, and not just more incessant marketing. They see reviewers as consumers just like themselves, trying to help other consumers with their experiences.
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
Because almost everyone is looking online to find out about businesses, your reputation is more important than ever. Maintaining and managing your online reputation should be a priority for every company. As seen above, your business’ reviews are a huge part of your online reputation. Increasing the number of authentic, positive reviews is an important part of any business’ online marketing strategy.
How Can a Business Increase their Online Reputation?
Developing a good online marketing strategy to increase a business’ online reputation begins and ends with trust. Most importantly, this means that a business must work hard to provide their customers with excellent and friendly services and products. After all, how can people give a positive review if they did not receive an experience that was worthy of such a review?
Another important part of an effective online marketing strategy is to take care to respond to customers’ concerns and issues. This is especially true of consumers that leave negative feedback for your business. Not properly responding to the critical feedback of your business is like not taking care of an open wound. The wound will heal if you do nothing, but it will heal better and faster with your timely intervention.
For Busy Businesses, the Best Online Marketing Strategy is to Get Help
For most people, just running their operation is difficult enough. Managing their online reputation on top of everything else can be an especially challenging task. A good recommendation for businesses is to let a reputable SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company help you handle and manage your online reputation. A SEO company can not only help to boost your online reputation, but protect it as well.
By monitoring and responding to critical reviews of your business, you can stay on top of your online reputation. With an effective online marketing strategy from an experienced SEO company, businesses can easily manage their online reputation. With a highly polished online reputation working for you, your customers will choose your business over your competitor. And that not only makes good business sense, it makes businesses dollars AND cents!
Any Search Engine Optimization expert will tell you that good reviews are great for your business. Good reviews help your business gain trust with your customers. They are also noticed by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.
Interestingly, most businesses fear to ask for reviews. Some dread the ‘negative review’ that might damage their reputation. Other businesses don’t like to ask customers for something in return for their business. However, a business thrives on both positive and negative reviews. A business owner can tend to their own business well enough, but there are several more aspects of any business that even a business owner may overlook or not realize. That’s where reviews, both good and bad, come into play.
Reviews From Social Media Links Drive Customer Decisions
In fact, in today’s digital world, reviews from other people help drive the decisions of today’s savvy customer. Search engine optimization specialists realize that people are currently more accustomed to being bombarded with online advertising. Also, they are much less likely to trust online ads from businesses than they were decades ago. People consider advertising from businesses as ‘fake’, painting a rosy picture that does not truly reflect a business.
So, as a better alternative, customers are turning to themselves as a trustworthy source. Reviews are a customer’s way of letting other people know about their personal experience with a business. In fact, most people trust a review of a business, especially a descriptive one, just as well as if they had been referred by a friend or neighbor. Many people will get a personal recommendation about a business, then check online reviews to ‘validate’ the business.
On the other hand, customers have become savvy about online reviews. They realize that businesses can manipulate reviews as well. People are wary when they see nothing but 100% perfect positive feedback about a business. After all, we do not live in a perfect world. Customers are used to, and actually prefer, a business that is ‘less than perfect’. Businesses that have a rating between 4.2 and 4.8 stars actually fare better than those with perfect 5.0-star reviews.
Negative Reviews From Another Perspective
What most businesses don’t realize is that negative reviews are just as helpful as positive ones. Negative reviews help you get insights about your business from a completely different angle: the customer. Search engine optimization experts agree that a customer can teach an owner much more about their business than they realize. The customer may see a side of your business that you haven’t thought of before. Maybe the customer complains that they were inconveniently hassled or had to wait. Or, maybe one of your employees is continuously showing poor customer service skills. You may not realize there is a deficiency in your business unless your customer highlights it for you.
A New Way to Think About Reviews
Instead of thinking of reviews as ‘positive and negative’, think of all reviews as ‘feedback’ for your business. This feedback tells you how your business is doing from a customer’s perspective. That ‘negative’ feedback that you receive is actually highlighting an area of your business that your customer believes needs improving. If several customers complain about a long wait line, then you know that maybe it’s time to find a way to speed things up. By using this negative feedback, you can make your business better by improving those areas your customers highlight for you.
Your Customer Will Give You Feedback if You Ask
So how do you ask for feedback from customers? Luckily, customers are more willing nowadays to leave some kind of feedback if given a place to do so. In fact, a whopping 94% of customers never tell a business directly how their experience was. Instead, they turn to reviews to point out good and bad parts of their experience, and ‘get it off their chest’. Customers will turn to their favorite outlet to air their grievances about a business. Search Engine Optimization specialists suggest creating and monitoring your business profile on popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This helps you find what your customers are saying about your business, in real time.
Let Customers Give Feedback Right from Your Website
It makes good business sense to reach out to them to find out how their experience was. It shows you care about how they feel, whether it was good or bad. Online marketing experts recommend adding a feedback form to your website. Keep it simple; If customers are quickly able to use this feedback form to help tell a business how they’re doing, whether good or bad, they will.
Having a feedback form on your website shows potential customers right from the start that you want to make your business better. It shows that you care about their opinion, and you’re open to improving your business from their point of view. Plus, having customers give feedback on your website keeps negative feedback from leaving a bad mark on your social media profiles. Keep the form as simple as possible to encourage more people to complete the form. Use just a few multiple choice, yes/no, or 1-10 scale questions. Follow that with an open-ended question to solicit specific feedback.
Encouraging and Thanking Customers For Feedback
Once you receive feedback from a customer, you have to let them now that you have listened. Responding to both positive and negative feedback not only shows customers you are listening, but it shows you want to improve your business and make it better. If the experience was bad, own up to it and let them know you are taking steps to correct the problem. This way, customers who come back the next time have a vastly improved experience. Even those who say ‘I’ll never go there again’ can be swayed if a business thanks them for highlighting the issue, and lets them know they are taking steps to correct it.
Finally, thank the customer for their feedback. Let your customer know that you appreciate them giving their opinion, regardless of what they thought about your business. If they left positive feedback, you can ask them to post that to their favorite social media platform. This increases your positive reviews while keeping negative reviews away from those platforms.
Better Social Media Marketing for Better Search Engine Optimization
Of course, monitoring and responding to feedback can be a large job. A great way to help manage this is to get help from a professional Search Engine Optimization firm. And one of the best online marketing companies in Los Angeles is Nimbus Marketing. Their search engine optimization firm has been highly rated in Los Angeles for search engine optimization consulting services. With Nimbus Marketing as your social media marketing company, your business can only do better!
Online citations are a business’s ticket to better local search engine optimization results. Keeping your data current in online citations helps potential customers find your business more easily. Having many online citations with consistent business information helps Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines trust your business. As a result, they will list your business higher in search engine results. But what are these mysterious online citations, what data do they use, and how can a business make sure the data is correct? Read on, and find out!
Online Directories – the Phone Book of the Internet
In the dim dark past, people searched for businesses using a phone book or looked up a specific person through the white pages. Online directories are very similar to those old phone books. These online directories store information for thousands (sometimes millions) of business. Fortunately, this information is indexed and searchable. Millions of people use online directories to find businesses, products, and services they need. Search engines also use this information to verify information about local businesses, making it very valuable in terms of search engine optimization.
How many of these ‘online phone books’ are out there? There are estimates that there are thousands of online citation directories across the web. Some online directories contain their own niches, such as dance schools, law firms, or art centers. Other directories only list individual people by trade, such as doctors, dentists, or chiropractors. Still, others are more geared towards a certain country or location or limited to larger cities. Each of the hundreds of online directories is different in who they list, and how they list their information.
Getting the Data Right From the NAP Sack
To understand online citations more, one needs to understand the data that they use. Every online citation directory contains NAP information. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Those three pieces of information are most critical for a business. In fact, they are so important, many search engine optimization companies recommend that even online-only business obtain a physical address for use with online citations.
Other than NAP information, the next most critical information is a business’s website and email. Not every online directory includes this information, but it makes a big difference when the directory does. Having the business URL listed in an online directory makes it easier for potential customers to click and visit a business site directly (and it provides a valuable backlink to the website). Beyond this information, other links from Facebook or Twitter and other social sites help businesses connect with potential customers. Each connection made draws them closer to the business, and away from their competitors.
Online Listings for Search Engine Optimization with Authority
Out of the hundreds of online directories out there, how does one know which ones are best to add a particular business to? In the world of search engine optimization, the main factor is a number of people who visit the online directory. This is also known as ‘web traffic‘. The more traffic an online directory has, the more search engines will consider the listings more relevant. Search engines will give more value to businesses who list themselves in that and other directories. That value, in turn, gets a business placed higher in search engine results.
Another important factor to consider for search engine optimization purposes is local directory citation sources. Many searches in Google, Yahoo, or Bing are for businesses nearby to the person searching. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to focus on a business’s local service area and category for citation building. Some citations, such as Yelp or Yahoo! Local are designed more for searching within a local area, such as within a city or town, as opposed to searches from other cities across the globe.
Taking the Time to Make Citations Right
Of course, listing a business in online directories takes a lot of time. A business must contact each individual online directory to add listings. Some directories only offer paid listings or offer more limited features for free. In addition, to maximize the value of each listing, a business can add extras. These include a detailed description and photos of the business. It can also include descriptions of products and services offered, brands carried, and more. This takes extra time to fully fill out each listing, especially if a business wants to make sure the descriptions are keyword optimized in each directory.
In addition, it is not enough to simply add listings but to keep them current as well. As a business changes and grows, it may move to a new location, change its website, or add an 800 phone number. As this information changes, you must update the information in online directories to show those changes as well. This requires contacting each of these directories to change their information to match the current business information.
Getting it Done Right with Help from Search Engine Optimization Experts
It’s a big hassle, and takes a lot of time, to list a business in numerous directories. Someone needs to contact each directory to create a listing in their directory. A business needs to know their targeted keywords, and have strong product information researched and ready to add to a business listing. A business also needs a logo, and images of its business storefront, brands, or products too. All this research, contacting, and adding listings takes a lot of time and effort. It also takes a recurring investment in time to ensure the listings are current and correct. It takes even more time and work to fix the information in any incorrect listings.
This is where great search engine optimization companies can help. Search engine optimization experts make the process of listing your business in online business directories a breeze. We know the highest ranked directory listings for any type of business and can prioritize your new listings based on your specific business type. We can also help formulate a great online marketing strategy to maximize global and local SEO rankings. With the help of a good online marketing company, such as the search engine optimization specialists here at Nimbus Marketing, businesses can use online citations as a great tool to help get to the top of search engine lists online.