You’ve created your free Google business listing, now the next question pops up: how do you get people to review your business? The quick answer, you can send people a direct link to review it. But let’s investigate the step by step process and learn all the little secret tricks.
How to Get Reviews on Your Listing
We all know the power of the internet, over 90% of consumers do an internet search before deciding which company they will become loyal to. Creating a Google listing should be a part of your reputation management strategy.
The easiest way to get people to review your business, is to make it as straightforward as possible. After you’ve completed a project or delivered your goods, contact the customer directly, thanking them for the business and request a review.
By including a direct link to the review, you ensure that the customer doesn’t lose interest or become frustrated because it is too complicated to figure out the reviewing process. Although there are various search engines out there, Google is by far the most popular and powerful.
Did you know? More than 80% of online queries are performed on Google
Reviews on your Google My Business listing is completely transparent to the public. Potential customers can form an independent opinion of your business, not through what you want to tell them about your product or service on your website, but through real customer reviews.
How Important Are the Reviews?
These reviews should not be taken lightly, studies show that 84% of people give the Google reviews as much authority as a personal referral from a friend or family member. The reviews also serve the purpose of adding oomph to your Google ranking on search page results.
After your first five reviews, you will start seeing organic search engine traffic results for your business. This means your listing will appear more frequently on the first page of search results. It might be tempting to try and create your own reviews, but this tactic will backfire in the long run. Google’s main aim is to provide relevant and useful information for its users.
Create A Prefilled 5-Star Review for Your Customers
Although you don’t want to tamper with the review results, you can use a technique of creating a link with the 5-stars automatically filled in for customers to use. The aim of a review is to get both a star ranking as well as personal feedback from your satisfied customers.
To create this link, you will need a mobile phone. Once created, it will be functional for reviewing from any device. It will take a bit of effort to set this up, but it’s highly recommended to invest the time to prepare it.
To start the process, verify your address once you’ve created a Google My Business page. Next, open an incognito page on Google Chrome from your phone. Go to your company’s listing on Google My Business. You will see a Knowledge Graph with your company’s details.
Find the section called “Review and Rate”. On the right you can tap the 5 stars. Click on the “Leave a Review” page. You can now copy the address from the URL bar with the automated 5-star review into an email. Use a URL shortener to create a sleeker URL to send to your customers. Before sending it to a customer, first test it out on your own phone and computer.
You can also consider adding the review option onto your website, with a specific page dedicated to reviews. Use the automated review link and change it in your website backend to something more relevant, such as https://www.companyname.com/review. This can be done through a 301 redirect link.
Next, you can create a message to request a review from a customer. Remember, the point of the reviews is to receive honest feedback. Once you’ve sent the link to the review, the response is out of your hands. If you believe the review violates the Google listing policies, you can flag it for removal.
Create a message thanking the customer/client for their business. Request a short, honest review for your Google My Business listing, including the link you’ve created. Remember that the customer is under no obligation to leave you a review, so you need to choose your words carefully to not make the request seem forced.
If you were using other communication methods such as SMS or WhatsApp, you can consider using this. But it will depend on your level of relationship with the customer. Emails are generally seen as a less intrusive method.
Your customer needs to have a Google account to create a review. Add a note in the review request email to explain this to the customer, to avoid frustration when the link doesn’t work. Many people have Gmail accounts, but you most likely were communicating with a client via their official work email.
Google Accounts are also linked to YouTube, Android phones, Blogger and more. It is also linked to other Google services such as Google+, Drive, Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, Calendar and more.
The reason Google decided to add this security method, is to prevent anonymous reviews, that can promote dishonesty and malicious attacks. If your customer doesn’t have a Google account, you can alternatively request a review on your Facebook page.
Alternative Method to Create A Review Link
If you feel uncomfortable with the above suggestion of preselecting 5-stars for the review, you can create a link from a Google Search. Use your computer to create a more accurate link. Firstly, search for your business on Google. Locate the listing on the right, scroll down and click “write a review”. Next, copy the URL in the address bar. Use the URL shortener to create a more professional link. You can use a link building service such as bitly.com to track and optimise your links.
Three Key Changes to Google Review Guidelines
These changes affect the Google algorithm’s filtering process. The guidelines aim to specifically deal with review spamming. Another big change is that the criteria is now part of the Google Maps content policy.
Mostly the guidelines are straightforward no-go’s that make logical sense. It deals with major issues such as no adult content, no hate speech, no confidential info, no copyrighted or illegal content, and more.
#1 Former/Current Employees Cannot Leave Reviews
Previously this was a grey area and sometimes Google did not want to comply with deleting a horrible review. Now the system is on your side and you can rest assured that a disgruntled employee can’t publicly badmouth you on your business listing.
#2 Do Not Request Reviews in Bulk
This change is a bit tricky, as the criteria for “bulk” is very ambiguous. An easy rule of thumb to use, is to not get trigger happy with sending out hundreds of emails to customers every day and getting more than 10 reviews in a day.
As always, the Google algorithm is a mystery. Does a link used too frequently trigger the system? If this is the case, is it the click on the link or the actual review that sets off the bulk sensor? Google tracks links in emails, so the system alert could possibly pop up after the same link has been sent out multiple times in a day.
The volume of reviews linked to the historical trends could also potentially be a trigger. This sometimes happens after a listing had been dormant for a while and suddenly the owner decides to start requesting reviews from customers.
Rather start slowly and build up your reviews in a more organic way. As you finish a project, send out the review request, as mentioned above. And spread out the review invitations to older customers across a few weeks.
#3 Missing: Mention of Kiosks
In the previous set of guidelines, it was clearly stated that you should not set up a review kiosk or station at your business. Although the new guidelines do not explicitly mention the use of review stations, you should read between the lines with this one.
It’s mentioned on Google’s Get Reviews page that you should inform your customers that it’s very easy to leave a review from a phone or computer. It’s been proven that Google tracks the devices from where the reviews are generated. So, if numerous reviews appear from the same device, Google will most likely filter them out.
Please Note: it’s against the Google Review Guidelines to incentivise people to leave a review.
Local guides are encouraged and incentivised to create longer reviews with photos. Keep an eye on the frequency of reviews on your listing. If you notice a suspicious increase in reviews, check the source of the review. There is a photo spam on the rise from fake LG profiles.
Let Storyteller Design Assist You with Your Google Business Listing
Creating a professional business listing can boost your online presence in many ways. Potential customers can get a better idea of your business identity. Also, with a well-written “about us” section and good choice of photos, your business listing can be effectively turned into a virtual brand ambassador. The choice of words in the description can also be used to boost your SEO ranking on the search result pages.
Contact us now for a free evaluation. Let us help you harness the power of the Google Business listing!
Why should you bother with using the best SEO tactics for your website? Consider the following SEO travel company example: You’ve finally saved up enough money for that dream holiday in Europe. The dreaming phase now moves into planning. But how do you plan a trip to the other side of the globe, to a place you’ve never visited before? You use Google.
Same scenario if you want to find the closest Indian restaurant to your house after relocating to a new city. Or if you want to research the best new running shoes on the market. When you don’t know something, you Google it.
Top 5 Benefits of the Best SEO Tactics
There are a variety of search engines out there, but Google has managed to become the top household name. People use it like a verb to describe a hunt for information. As a company, you cannot afford to not have an online presence. While there are other search engines as well, we advise that you allocate the biggest portion of your advertising budget to ensure a high ranking on Google.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a way that you can leverage the behind the scenes system of search engines to climb the ranks of the search results. Google Analytics is a highly sophisticated system that offers statistics about how users interact with your website.
You can also opt to activate Google AdWords to make sure that your website is featured at the top of search result pages. But an effective organic SEO strategy can help you achieve more sustained success. What can SEO do for your website?
Increase Traffic to Your Website
This is one of the biggest reasons why you should invest in a SEO strategy. Ask yourself how many times you’ve clicked through to the second page of the search results. Chances are, you usually click on one of the first five pages that appear.
Potential customers will be able to interact with your company much quicker after your SEO strategy kicks in and your website consistently ranks high on search results. If your website appears at the top of the search results page, people will assume you’re the best at what you do. Whether it’s true or not, being at the top of Google search results create industry authority.
Return on Investment (ROI)
With the help of software like Google Analytics, you can monitor every little step of your SEO strategy, ensuring that you are heading in the right direction. If you notice your website is not gaining any traction online, you simply adjust the strategy. Aspects that can be monitored include increase in traffic and search results ranking, as well as sales conversions. A SEO streamlined website will also attract more high quality clients looking for your specific product/service.
Setting up a good marketing campaign oftentimes feels like a hit and miss undertaking. For example traditional methods such as cold-calling or flyer distribution can be very pricey, with a very low impact. Investing time in creating a dynamic website with a solid SEO foundation can yield much better returns. It’s also a more targeted marketing approach.
The digital marketing trend is on the rise in South Africa. You want to remain at the forefront. By optimising your website with the best SEO tactics, you can quickly move up in the rankings and not get left behind. There are still many industries that don’t have competitive online campaigns. You can be the first company to move to the top in your specific industry. Once you’re at the top, it will be much harder for your competitors to catch up.
Increase Your Website’s Usability
There’s nothing more annoying, than landing on a website that has nothing to do with the search criteria you put in! You want to attract users that are interested in your unique product/service. And by adding the correct SEO keywords, you can access potential customers that are keen to do business with you.
Increase Brand Awareness
This lines up with the idea that you automatically gain credibility with potential customers when they see that you are at the top of the search results page. People trust the information provided by Google. By adding small little tweaks, such as an accurate meta description (the short piece of information below the website link) you can access the customers that will become passionate brand followers.
Why SEO Optimisation Is Important
SEO optimisation is all about showcasing your company effectively on search engines, with Google being the most popular one. You want people to click on your website link because they find your product/service most useful. This way you will attract potential customers that can benefit from interacting with your company, instead of having to sift through endless amounts of useless leads.
Search Engines Are Acquiring More Market Share
Stats show that between 80 to 90% of people first research a product/service online before deciding which company they prefer using. If you don’t optimize your website with the best SEO tactics, your competitors will snatch up the market share.
Local Search Optimization Is On the Rise
You need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly, displaying correctly on Smartphones. Mobile web users have steadily increased the last few years. It opens up a whole new aspect of SEO tactics, you can effectively target potential customers in your specific area.
A Bad Content Profile Can Damage Your Brand
Creating a website once-off and leaving it static for years, will get you penalized on Google. The search algorithm also takes other online platforms into consideration when ranking you, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You need to be consistently active online, on various platforms. Sporadic social media posts, or blog posts once in a blue moon, is not enough. Google wants to know that you are actively engaged with your brand followers. Creating an SEO strategy that reaches across online platforms will be the best way of staying at the top of search result pages.
Your Competitors Are Definitely Using It
Search engine optimisation remains a never-ending process. You need to tweak your SEO strategy on an ongoing basis. Depending on your industry, keyword competition can be fierce. By thinking a little bit outside the box and using unique long tailed keywords, you can steadily inch ahead of your competitors.
Internet Usage in Africa vs The World
The Miniwatts Marketing Group estimated in June 2017 that Africa makes up 10% of the world’s internet users. In 2000 the South African population was roughly 44,900,000. On 31 December 2000, there were an estimated 2,400,000 internet users in the country. In 2017 the South African population was roughly 55,400,000. The latest estimate on 30 June 2017 of internet users was 29,935,634. This is a 1,147.3% increase in internet growth between 2000 and 2017.
Currently the internet researches about 54.0% of the South African population. And on 30 June 2017 it was estimated that 16,000,000 South Africans were using Facebook. For more African internet statistics, visit internetworldstats.com.
Storyteller Design Loves a Good SEO Challenge
If you created your website before SEO tactics became a crucial element of digital marketing, you don’t have to recreate your site to jump on the bandwagon. All you need to do, is assess your content and optimize it to include relevant SEO keywords to almost instantly push up your Google ranking..
At Storyteller Design we stay on top of all the new SEO trends, ensuring that our client websites consistently hit the first page of search results. We can assess your website and inform you of changes needed.
To continue with the SEO travel company example, people research and plan their trips online. They might use websites such as TripAdvisor or Airbnb, but they are most likely to enter very specific keyword phrases. By using a combination of an organic SEO strategy and an AdWords campaign, you can effectively target a niche market of potential customers.
Click here for a free SEO audit of your website.
How is local SEO different to traditional SEO?
Traditional SEO focuses on ranking websites whenever a certain keyword is used to direct the search. However local SEO try to rank a website whenever a keyword is used within a certain geographical area.
yourbusiness + city/area
yourservice + city/area
The geographical area can either be based on what was directly entered into the search bar or it can use the geographical location of the searcher themselves.
Any business with a physical location or that services customers within a specific geographical location absolutely needs to be using Local SEO.
It connects your business to people searching for your products and services in your area. Local searches are less competitive than international or national searches as there are less companies vying for the same space.
But how can I rank my website well for local SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is difficult because Google keeps changing the rules it uses to decide where to rank websites. Below you will find a quick summary of Google’s last few changes and how they changed the rules.
- Panda Update: Penalized Bad Content
- Penguin Update: Penalized Bad Links
- Hummingbird Update: Semantic Search – which means Google were trying to understand what the users are looking for rather than just the words in the search bar.
- Pigeon Update: Local Search ( July )
Googles’s Pigeon update is the update that most affected the local search results, which we are discussing. The update brought local search results more in line with traditional website ranking factors.
What changes came with the Pigeon update?
- The geographical search radius shown was reduced.
- Different search radius’s are also applied for different types of searches.
- Favors directory websites. Look for our upcoming post on Barnacle SEO.
- New local map pack – called “snack pack” with only 3 results instead of 7.
So what influences local search rankings and how have they changed?
The local search ranking factors have changed substantially in 2015.
On-Page Signals: ( down to 20.3% ):
1. Quality content is now more important than ever, it is more valuable to have fewer high quality posts rather than lots of average content going up on your website. Once you have quality content then optimise it for your local targets.
Area to optimise:
- City in the title tag
- City in the H1 heading tag
- City in content
- City in image alt text
- City in URL
- City in metadescription
2. Embed Google Map from Google My Business not Google Maps.
3. NAP – Name, Address, Phone Number
4. Use a local phone number
5. Blog regularly
Link Signals ( Up to 20.03% ):
- Quality links are important, not just quantity.
- Local sites with high authority carry a lot of weight.
Citation Signals ( Down to 13.55% ):
Citations are mentions of your website and NAP on other websites and directories around the internet. The listings will usually include you name, address and phone number along with a link to your website.
- Make sure your citations are consistent.
- Get citations your competitors are not paying attention to.
- If you have ever moved or changed phone numbers? Then citation clean up is your number 1 priority.
Google My Business ( Up to 14.72% ):
- Claim your Google My Business (GMB) location.
- If you are having problems use phone support.
- Customers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from a business that has a complete GMB profile and page.
- Optimise your GMB page:
- Use a long description with formatting and links
- Choose the correct categories
- Upload lots of photos
- Use a local phone number
- Use your own profile and cover images.
Review Signals ( Down to 8.39% ):
88% of customers trust online reviews as much as reviews from friends and family. People will decide not to buy from you if you have bad reviews. Definitely do not fake reviews, rather care about your customer and let their reviews shine through.
- Make it easy to leave reviews
- Don’t forget to ask for reviews.
- Set up a review page on your website domain.com/reviews ( Link this to your GMB page )
- Hand out post cards with a link to your reviews page.
- Follow up with emails asking for reviews.
- Google reviews are the most powerful.
- Have at least 10 reviews on Google before targeting 3rd party review sites.
- Most importantly have more reviews than your competitors.
- Reply to all your negative reviews.
Seem like a lot to take in and not sure where to start. The best place to start is with a local SEO audit of your site. Get one for free below.
Scan your website’s local SEO for FREE.
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If you have any questions please email us at [email protected]. Information sources for this post include Moz.com and Greg Gillford’s Local SEO – A Seriously Awesome Blueprint.
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