Local listing sites like Google Places, Yelp, and Yahoo Local have become the new way people find what they’re looking for in their area. The power of reviews on these sites has become increasingly important for driving new customers and smart business owners are figuring out numerous ways to encourage more positive reviews on these very influential sites. To learn more about the importance of local listings, check out my post Why Local Listings are Crucial for Your Small Business.
If you want to start getting more positive reviews for your small business online, start with this list of easy-to-do tasks:
1. Provide Stellar Service – Yes, it’s a no-brainer of sorts, but the first and best way to get positive reviews on any of these sites is to make sure you are providing the best and most memorable customer experience possible to each and every one of your customers. You can do all the other things on this list and it won’t get you any reviews if you don’t give your customers something good to talk about.
2. Ask for Reviews – Ok, so some of these sites actually discourage you from asking your customers for reviews outright. That being said, since all of them don’t have this policy, I feel the best practice is to simply ask for a “review online.” Always ask at the end of your business transaction and don’t ask for a positive review, just a review online. This way you’re encouraging folks to leave you a review on any of these sites they happen to use without influencing them to review your business one way or another.
3. Post Signage in Your Business – Imagine a tech-savvy customer of a small business who just finished having a wonderful buyer experience at your business (hopefully due to that stellar service we talked about earlier.) While they’re paying at the register, the customer sees a snazzy and colorful sign on the counter that says “Please review us on Yelp!” Do you think they would be more likely to give you a review? I think so too, so get some signage posted ASAP.
4. Put Links on Your Website – Another obvious but often-missed tactic that can drive online reviews is to post links or banners on your company website saying “Please Review Us Here”. It also serves as a good point of direction for your customers If somebody wants to leave a review but doesn’t know where to go you can simply direct them to the banner on your website which clicks through to the site of your choosing.
Do you know any other ways to get positive online reviews? Leave us a comment with your ideas and we probably will use them in a post (giving you full credit of course.)
Please read my other articles related to Local Listing Management:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making your website more easily found on search engines like Google, Bing and Yelp when people type in keywords related to your business. Small businesses with professionally designed, search-engine-friendly websites can compete in a real way with larger competitors because their site appears as or more favorably in search engine results pages (or SERP).
SEO encompasses many very technical elements, but just understanding some basic concepts will help you considerably when it comes time to develop your website.
Your domain name is the internet address that is attached to your site (http://www.yourbusiness.com) and it’s a very large part of deciding how high up on the Google results your business appears. For instance, if a person is searching for “Wichita Dry Cleaner” and somebody has a website with the domain “wichitadrycleaner.com” then they will likely appear at the top of the search engine results. So , if possible, be sure to register the most relevant keyword-rich domain name possible along with your company name.
The title tag is the group of words that appears at the top of the title bar of your website and in the blue link that appears on Google results. They are one of the most important factors in getting a high Google ranking for your business’ website. You should include your company name as well as relevant keywords and phrases to ensure higher results. In fact, if you fix your title tags you will likely see some instant improvements in your company search results ranking.
Meta tags are elements of your website’s design code that specifies certain information like your website description, keywords, author of the document and other info. These tags will not appear on the website itself but are identified by Google and other search engines looking for specific keywords. The meta tags are always placed in the <head> section of the website’s code and they play a very large part in your search engine results.
Keywords are words and phrases that search engines crawl the internet looking for when people type them in to the search box. While the art of implementing the right keyword strategy for your website can be a little complicated. The basic idea is that the more a word or phrase shows up on your website (in fair and relevant ways) the higher the website’s Google ranking when those keywords are searched for. You should do some research on what keywords and phrases your customers use when looking for your type of business and make sure your website is s filled with them.
The links on your website also play a big part in determining your Google ranking. The words of the link itself along with the alt text contribute to the relevancy of your website on Google results pages. As much as you can, create links with keywords and phrases related to your business and its functions.
Social networks have become a large part of a company’s SEO. By having profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, a company is able to appear more frequently on search engine results pages through these profiles. Also, linking your profiles to each other as much as possible along with linking to your website on these pages helps increase the relevancy of your business site in Google.
For storefront businesses, the local listing (your company listing on sites like Google Places, Yelp, and Yahoo Local) has become one of the most important parts of their online existence. Not only do customer reviews on these sites greatly affect people’s decisions in choosing your business, the description and link to your website on these pages play a large part in your websites SEO. Be sure to claim or create your listings on these various services. For more information read my article on Why Local Listings Are Crucial For Your Small Business.
Understanding your company’s SEO is the first step for you in the development of your company’s online strategy. Armed with this information, you should be able to take more effective steps in building your online presence so that you appear higher on Google results, get more traffic to your site and, ultimately, get more more customers.
Please leave us comments if you have any other ideas about SEO basics for small businesses.