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Local Reviews are Beneficial to Small Businesses

Use Local Reviews to Your Advantage

Local Reviews are Beneficial to Small BusinessesAs an avid online and mobile user, I always check out a restaurant’s website and reviews before visiting. It’s rare that I don’t check out the menu and the rating on Yelp, or visit the website. I never used to care about what others said and was a big believer in “experiencing it for myself,” but now that I have a child it has become more important for me to know what to expect in terms of service, accommodations and quality of food – even if it is from strangers. Apparently I’m not alone. According to a recent report, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This is up from 79% in 2013. So now you’re probably wondering, as a local business owner, why should I care about reviews? Here are some important reasons why you should.

Reviews can help people find your business online

Reviews are an integral part of Local SEO, but they are also vital for local clickthroughs. So if you have a website, make sure to create a reviews page (e.g. domain.com/reviews) and from that page link people to the sites you’d like them to post a review on. This is one of the pages that will show up organically in local searches by potential customers. In addition, you can place that URL on a postcard or handout and give it to the customer at the end of their service or meal to serve as a reminder for when they get home. It is a good practice to train your staff to ask for reviews after servicing customers. The key to generating reviews is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave one.

Influence Customer Perception

84 percent of Americans say consumer reviews influence their purchase decisions. Reviews can be a powerful tool if monitored and used correctly. By allowing your customers to leave a review you do open your business up to scrutiny but also very positive feedback that can be used to gain credibility. Reviews also allow your customers to gain insight into who you are and the type of business you’re running (i.e. customer centric, professionalism). But if you do get a bad review, make sure to respond to it and show that you are willing to resolve any issues, whether by offering a customer a coupon for a discount on a future purchase or apologizing for any inconvenience. Bottom line, you want to show that you care about your customers and the reputation of your business.

Generate Content to Promote Your Business

Share positive reviews on social media or other promotional channels. This will showcase your work/service and help you to generate potential leads. Let the reviewer create your promotional content. This is one less piece advertising copy that you have to create! Positive reviews can also help you solidify your position as an industry leader. Also share internally to increase employee morale or to call attention to a particularly good employee. Just make sure that review you’re using is legitimate.


Iliana Angel, Marketing ManagerIliana Angel is the Marketing Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.

Local SEO Factors

Local SEO Factors

Local SEO FactorsAs explained in my last post which covered the definition of SEO, we learned that authority plus relevance equals rank. Search engines typically measure authority by looking at how many actual pages exist on your website, and by analyzing how many other websites link to yours. The more relevant pages you have, and the more relevant and credible links you have linking back to your website, the better your SEO mojo. However, when it comes to local businesses, it would be nearly impossible for your business to rank against big directories, like Yelp and YP, if the same approach were taken.

That’s why for local businesses, the search engines use a different approach. Local SEO is the term used to describe the specific tactics involved in helping local businesses get found and ranked on the search engines. There are 3 factors to consider when thinking about Local SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO refers to the content and structure of your businesses website. It’s important that your website prominently displays your NAP (name, address, and phone number) correctly across all pages. The products and services that you offer should be listed. If you offer a wide array of services, create a services page that lists and explains all of the services you offer. If you serve a large community that extends far beyond your physical address, create a page that speaks to the products and services you offer in the various communities you serve. Also, don’t forget a good call to action, coupon, or other offer. In short, make it easy for your website visitors to understand who you are, what you do, why they should use you, and make it super easy for them to know where to call or visit you.

When it comes to website structure, there are so many website building tools and services that ensure your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for the search engines to find and index the information on your site. Website services like those offered through our very own PowerSites® will allow you to have a perfectly structured website with little effort and at an affordable price.

Citations

Citations are your businesses NAP (name, address, and phone) listed across the web. If your NAP is listed on ten different web pages, then you have ten different citations. Since most local business websites don’t have tons of pages nor do they have tons of back links from other websites, the search engines look to citations as a way to measure authority and relevance instead. When it comes to citations, it’s important that your NAP is consistent across all websites and pages. If you have a phone number listed on your Yelp business listing page that differs from your listing on Yahoo! Local, that is not good.

The more consistent and error free your NAP, the more professional and authoritative you look in the eyes of the search engines. Additionally, the way your citations appear across the internet should match the NAP used on your local business’s website. And, if you are trying to get in Google’s good graces, you should make sure you have a Google+ page for your business, again with the same info.

 

 

Reviews

There is a reason why reviews are all the craze. Not only is it proven that consumers are more likely to patronize a business or use their products or services if they have reviews, but the search engines actually favor businesses that have reviews posted on sites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook. Asking your customers to give you reviews on these sites will not only help your local SEO, but it shows your customers that you care about their feedback. Don’t be afraid to incentivize your customers either. Offer them a discount on their next purchase or service if they write a review for you!

Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down thinking about how you are going to take on these three factors. Local SEO may seem daunting, but any time you think about ranking on the search engines it is important to remember one thing – the search engines are trying to think like humans. When put that way, local SEO is really just a good result of professionally representing your brand online, explaining why people love you, and making sure everyone knows how to get a hold of you.


Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.

Don't let a bad review hurt your business

The “Don’ts” of Dealing with a Bad Review

Don't let a bad review hurt your businessThere’s nothing worse than putting all your effort into something and then getting heavily criticized for it. In these situations I would put “my temper” in the top 5 easiest things to lose, right next to “my keys”, and “my left sock”. However, when it comes to your business, and your brand, that’s the last thing you want to lose. So here’s some tips for things you want to avoid doing when you receive a negative review of your business.

  • Don’t email the reviewer

    At least not immediately. Give yourself time to soak in what the reviewer is saying about your business and take it as constructive criticism. Time and time again you read stories of reviewers receiving caustic emails from angry merchants, and this never ends well for the merchant. The best response is to reply to the review directly in the public forum, let everyone that reads the review see that you’re willing to work with customers that may have had a bad experience. Spin the negative review into a positive outcome.

  • Don’t blame the reviewer

    Sure it may seem odd for the customer to order a cheese pizza without cheese. However, blaming the customer will just give you a bad reputation. Instead focus on the main issue that the reviewer is complaining about, and see what you can do to fix it. Unfortunately though, sometimes there is nothing to fix, you just made a mistake. Which leads to my next point.

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong

    Probably one of the hardest things to do. We’re all human and no one expects you to be perfect, mistakes happen. Admitting when you’ve been wrong or made a mistake is an admirable trait. Be willing to admit when you, or your business has made a mistake, and be sincere about it. Offer them a free cheese-less pizza as an apology, bring the customer back into your business and do your best to make sure they’ve had a positive experience.

  • Don’t do anything

    Now this last point doesn’t apply to every review, in fact probably doesn’t apply to most reviews, but I want to mention it anyway. It’s like what your mother said to you about the bully at school “just ignore him and he’ll leave you alone”. Sometimes the reviewer could just be a troll, if your site is doing well on review sites like Yelp, then a review out of left field is posted ripe with personal attacks, it’s likely this person is a troll. The best solution is to ignore them. Most people can tell when a reviewer is being a troll and will likely do the same.

I’ve listed out four “don’ts” but hopefully the message is clear. Losing your temper, especially in a public forum, could wreak havoc on your brand. So before you start putting words to paper, make sure you’re calm, read it twice before sending, and ask yourself “Is this the kind of message I would want to receive?”


IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Digital Product Coordinator at PowerSites® who has received a bad review or two. PowerSites® is an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

The Secret to Yelp: Engagement, not Review Solicitation

There’s not much that a small business can do to annoy you like begging you for a review. This is why Yelp actually discourages review solicitation: it bugs people and may even lead to negative reviews.

You don’t want to put that pressure on your customers, not only because Yelp discourages it, but because it doesn’t really work. Rather than begging for reviews, what you want to do is create engagement, you want to let your customers know about your Yelp presence so that they have an opportunity to engage with you, to be heard and to participate.

Don't solicit yelp reviews, encourage engagement instead.When you solicit a review as if your customers owe it to you, you turn an opportunity to engage into an unwanted obligation. Here are a few marketing tips for getting Yelp reviews through engagement rather than solicitation:

Put the Aim on Engagement Itself

The reviews are a bonus. The engagement itself is what you’re really after. A customer who is engaged is more likely to recommend you to a friend, more likely to come again, and yes, more likely to give you a positive review on Yelp and similar sites and resources.

Follow Up

Depending on the size of your small business, you might not be able to do this with every single customer, but taking the initiative to make a follow up contact yourself can make a tremendous difference in engagement. Assuming that you bought a power drill from one store and a band saw from another to work on your garage, and you find yourself needing a new hammer a week later, would you be more likely to buy from the people who sent an email along to ask how your new powertool was working, or the people that didn’t? Waiting for the customer to take the first step to engagement doesn’t always work. Don’t pester your customers, but let them know that they’re appreciated and they may take the next step in engagement.

Link to Yelp, but Unobtrusively

The Best Yelp Reviews are not SolicitedA hundred requests for a Yelp review in your newsletter isn’t an unobtrusive link. Unobtrusive means “check us out on Yelp!” in your signature on message boards and in emails. It means a link on your homepage to your Yelp profile. There are plenty of ways to let people know about your presence on Yelp without shouting it in people’s faces. A good strategy is to link to your positive reviews through your Facebook and Twitter feeds so that your followers can check it out and see if they have anything to add.

Address the Negative Reviews

Arguing with negative reviews is bad publicity. Making up for whatever led to that bad review isn’t. Make use of negative reviews as an opportunity to get some good publicity by replacing a faulty product or adjusting your service based on the feedback you’re getting. A negative review can be a bigger boon than a positive review as it can help you to improve, and to publicly announce that you’re making things better. If you’re still fearful you won’t know how to address a negative review, check out our post on How to Deal With Bad Yelp Reviews to help you through the process.

In short: Let people know that you’re on Yelp, just don’t beat them over the head with it.

How To Deal With Bad Yelp Reviews

try-the-worst-meatball-sandwich-that-one-guy-on-yelp-ever-had

"Come in and try the worst meatball sandwich that one guy on Yelp ever had in his life" Photo by Christine Kirk

So you got a 1-star review on Yelp. Your first instinct might be to get this thing removed ASAP! Having negative reviews on Yelp can feel like someone protesting right outside your place of business. It’s hurtful because you know that the business you manage is better than that… It’s very important to take a step back and read the review. Actually read it, and try to understand the situation from the customer’s perspective.

Ask yourself, does the reviewer have a legitimate complaint? A review for “the worst meatball sandwich” reads very differently from a review for “the meatball sandwich was served cold and the bread was stale.” Figure out what was inadequate about the product or service you provided. Once you have figured out the root of the problem, then you can prepare to respond publicly.

Start off by thanking the customer for their business and feedback. Then go into specifics and mention the root of the problem and what changes you are going to make in order to prevent that from happening to another customer. Perhaps, you can make them an offer to try out your product again. Once you establish a relationship, you could regain the trust. Plus, this helps new customers see what you are willing to do to keep a customer, and for a small business, this could mean a potential new lifetime customer.

E.g. “Mr. Customer, thank you for taking the time to visit our restaurant and trying out our meatball sandwich. We are so sorry that the sandwich we served was not up to your standards. It’s very important to us that this never happens to another customer again. We have a manager on-site that is overseeing the sandwich making process and keeping track of all the important factors that make a good meatball sandwich. Please give us another chance, come by anytime for a free meatball sandwich on the house! Bring some friends… we promise not to disappoint you again.”

Responding publicly is the best way to show that you value customer feedback and that you recognize the need for improvement. You can also start with privately contacting the user to apologize and offer your side of the story. Especially if the review contains false information, explain the misunderstanding privately so the user doesn’t feel like you are calling them a liar. Attempt to resolve the misunderstanding and get a sense of whether or not the user is empathetic of the situation.

E.g. “Dear Mr. Customer. I’m the manager of Joe’s Deli. I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize for the misunderstanding that led to your 1-star review on our Yelp page. I was the on-site manager that day, and we were completely out of meatball sandwiches. Our deli is famous for its meatball sandwiches, but because of the football game, we sold out during lunch! We put up signs apologizing for the meatball shortage and offered a 50% off discount on all of our hot sandwiches. When we spoke, you were upset and I wanted to offer you a free meatball sandwich on your next visit. It was our fault for underestimating the large demand of the meatball sandwiches and we would definitely like to make sure that all our customers get to experience our famous meatball sandwiches. My offer still stands. Please give us another chance, come by anytime for a free meatball sandwich on the house! Bring some friends… we promise not to disappoint you again.”

If they are still upset, you may choose to publicly acknowledge their comment, apologize for the misunderstanding, and refer to your private message for a conflict resolution.

E.g. “Mr. Customer, we sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding. We simply ran out of meatball sandwiches that day. Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve this issue with you when we sent you a Private Message last week. We value your business and feedback, please let us know if we can further assist you.”

Whether it’s a meatball sandwich, a tax preparation service, or a bathroom remodel… your best way to deal with bad reviews on Yelp is to reach out and make a personal connection. By understanding your harshest critics, you can make improvements to provide better customer service and turn one-time customers into lifetime customers.