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!
Seriously, when was the last time you looked up a printed phone book to find information about a local business? Let’s not ignore these statistics (from www.searchengineland.com and business2community.com):
- 96 % of PC users conduct local searches
- 64 % of local customers use directories and search engines as their main way to find a local business
- 46 % of all Google searches are local
- 50 % of people look for business information (e.g. address, phone number) via mobile search
- 78 % of local mobile searches lead to an offline purchase
So, why does it make sense to focus on local SEO when running a local business?
It will improve your visibility
When you visit a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), those local results get prioritized, which means they can be found at the top of a results page. Let’s not forget, that the majority of people don’t look beyond a Google search page 2 when doing their search.
It’s highly targeted and timely
When people do a search, they are looking for a specific business or already have a business name that they want to check out. By using a local search strategy, you can position your business better and promote it more effectively. The timing is perfect, because users are looking for something when they need it.
Higher conversion rates
Since the first page of many local search results is dominated by local directories, it’s no surprise that many companies are keen to get listed. It is proven that local directory marketing shows a higher conversion rate than other traditional marketing options. What this means is if you get your business listed with relevant details on as many high-quality online directory sites as possible, you might be able to convert 1 in 2 leads into a real customer.
Mobile internet is increasing
Since more and more users are accessing the internet via tablets and mobile phones when looking for the best local companies, applying local SEO means you never miss out an a potential client.
Great return on investment
There is very little exposure that would be wasted with local SEO. You will reach potential clients exactly when they need you. The benefit? It makes your local SEO efforts more cost-effective and efficient.
‘Google My Business’ local listing has not been claimed by every business yet
Did you know that ‘Google My Business’ is a listing that Google offers businesses for FREE and increases your chances of being listed high in local search results on Google? And not just that! Only 44 % of companies have claimed their local listing so far. That means not every business has yet realised how important digital marketing is, and this gives you the edge compared to your competitors.
Many great opportunities for FREE promotion
Your business can claim free listings using many options, such as Bing Places for Business, Google My Business, etc.
Readership of print newspapers is declining
Since more and more people are reading newspapers online, traditional advertising media is in decline. If it comes to finding out news and information about a business, consumers nowadays turn to the internet. You better be visible online!
People read and trust online reviews
For many local businesses, word of mouth is a crucial factor that can have a big impact on their company’s success and increase their credibility considerably. A company’s online reputation is now more important than ever. Several studies have shown that high percentage of people read and trust online reviews. A study by BrighLocal provides some highly useful insights into the importance of online reviews. It shows that:
- 91 % of consumers read online reviews regularly or occasionally.
- 84 % of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 39 % of people state that reading positive reviews make them more likely to use a local business
- 73 % of consumers believe that reviews older than 3 months are not relevant
- 87 % of people expect a business to have a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them
It is therefore wise for a business to make real efforts to get customers to review their business online. This makes it easier to attract new clients and will also have an impact on their website traffic (see graph below), as well as their bottom line.
People do search online
It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a service or a product, people nowadays are very IT savvy and do thorough research before making any buying decisions. They depend on the internet for gathering the relevant information. So, being found online is of paramount importance, otherwise you will miss out on lots of opportunities. Do you really want to do this to yourself and your business and leave it up to your competitors to lead the market? Of course not. Thus, it’s important to use various local SEO strategies to show up on the internet map for new customers.
Regardless of the type of business you are running, the time to take advantage of local SEO strategies is NOW. Knowing about local SEO is not enough, and there’s no better opportunity than now to take action. So, boost your business, stay ahead of your competition and monetize more by using smart local SEO tactics. Bear in mind that local search trends are getting stronger and more important in the future. So, don’t be asleep at the wheel– local SEO is not an option anymore, it’s a must!
Are you looking for superior results? Call Nimbus marketing today for a free consultation! Tel. (310) 486-1154. Your problem is our challenge, and we love to be challenged!
Online citations are a business’s ticket to better rankings and local search marketing 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 local search marketing.
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 Local Search Marketing 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. Here is a handy little tool and template to test to see how much traffic a website gets.
Another important factor to consider for local search marketing purposes is local directory citation sources. Many searches in Google, Yahoo, and 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 local search marketing 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.
It’s no secret that effective small business SEO is important. However, it can be a difficult thing to understand. There are a lot of different factors that go into your SEO strategy, and there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what is important and what isn’t. The rules for local SEO aren’t the same as for organic SEO. Your local SEO is one of your most important marketing strategies, but where do you start? You should start with your NAP!
What is a NAP?
NAP is an acronym that stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Additionally, your website URL is part of your NAP too. Your NAP is one of the most critical parts of your local SEO campaign. When Google’s algorithm determines your rankings, they look at your NAP’s consistency.
Your NAP appears on your business citations across the web. Your business citations are listings on websites like Yelp, Facebook, Yellowpages, and many other business directories. Google wants to make sure the business information their searchers see is accurate and reliable. For this reason, Google’s algorithm looks at your NAP citations to make sure the information is consistent. If your listings don’t agree with each other about your business, Google won’t want to recommend your business to searchers. Without a consistent NAP, effective small business SEO because impossible.
How Can You Make Sure Your NAP is Consistent?
The best way to make sure your NAP is consistent is to start from the beginning. When you’re putting your information on the internet there are certain websites that give other websites their information. These are called data aggregators and include sites like Infogroup and Neustar. These companies usually have strict requirements to make sure you’re providing accurate data for your business. As a consequence, Google trusts these websites and websites that get their information from these aggregators more than others.
Making sure you’re putting the right information out in the first place will prevent a lot of headaches in the future. If your NAP information has errors and becomes inconsistent it is a lot of work to fix. Additionally, because so many websites borrow information from each other, bad data about your website spreads fast.
Fixing Your NAP is hard, but not impossible.
If you or your SEO company made a mistake when creating your NAP citations, the road ahead of you is difficult. Even so, don’t fret, you can fix this and get back on the track to effective small business SEO. In order to fix your NAP, you’re going to have to fix it on each individual site where an error appears, as well as all the big data providers. This is a lot more time consuming than if there was never a problem in the first place, but it’s not to be overlooked.
Common NAP Pitfalls
If you’ve hired an SEO company, and you’re not sure they’re a right fit, you may want to make sure they’re not making these common mistakes that will tank your NAP. Look out for “landing pages”, which are microsites designed as an advertisement. Inexperienced SEO firms will create these landing pages, and add them to your google+ listing, as well as creating citations using that website. Google does not like sending users to separate single page websites and this will hurt your rankings.
In addition to landing pages, many SEO firms will use tracking phone numbers on their landing pages and citations. Tracking numbers are virtual phone numbers that redirect to your main phone number. This allows the SEO firms to provide detailed analytics on the phone calls you receive. While this sounds like a positive, tracking phone numbers will wreak havoc on your NAP. All things considered, your additional analytics are not worth messing up your NAP.
Nimbus Marketing is always available to answer your SEO questions and help you implement effective small business SEO. You can call us at (310) 486-1154, or email at [email protected].