5 Tips to Get the Most from Your Local Business Blog
Blogging is still one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website and attract new customers. But are you making the most of your local business blog? Maybe not.
If you’re not, the big question is what should you be doing? The answer starts with numbers and ends with specific advice. So, let’s dig into some statistics, and then we’ll look at 5 tips you can use to put your blog to work for you.
Blogging by the Numbers
A massive study of blogging, which reviewed 912 million blog posts, revealed some helpful information that can help you improve the performance of your business blog. Here are some of its key findings.
Backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors for Google. The blogging study found that long-form content gets 77.2% more links than short-form content. That’s a huge difference, but it also has its limits.
The study also found that there was a sharp drop-off in links once a post crept over 2,000 words. But, that said, 94% of all the posts analyzed had no backlinks at all.
It’s also worth noting that some post formats and titles get more backlinks than others. The three most popular post types for backlinks were:
Those three formats got 25.8% more backlinks than “how-to” and video posts.
You might think that blogging can help you out on social media, but the numbers don’t bear that out. For example, there’s no correlation between social sharing and backlinks.
It’s also interesting to note that very few blog posts perform well on social media. The study found that 1.3% of “power” posts generate 75% of all social shares.
There were some specific findings about the length of headlines (longer headlines get more shares) and questions (local business blog posts with questions in the headline get more shares than those without questions.)
List posts are more likely to be shared than other posts, too – and by a significant amount. They get 218% more shares than “how-to” posts and 203% more shares than infographics.
The so-called ‘sweet spot” for getting your blog content shared on social media is between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
One final statistic to inspire you: one study found that blogging can improve your chances of getting a high rank on Google by as much as 434%. How’s that for an impressive number?
Tips to Improve Your Local Business Blog
The data from that study is useful because it can provide you with a framework to improve your business blog. Of course, there’s more to worry about than backlinks and social media, but other bits of data from the study point in a direction that may be useful.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to improve your blog.
#1: Create (and Stick to) a Blogging Schedule
The first tip is to blog regularly and stick to a schedule. There’s some evidence to suggest that blogging four times a week is optimal. In fact, companies that blog at least 16 times per month get 3.5 times as much traffic as companies that blog between 0 and 4 times per month.
16 blog posts might seem like a lot. But what you may find is that creating a blogging schedule will help you be more disciplined about coming up with blog ideas and getting those posts written. And remember, you can always hire a writer to create blog posts for you if you don’t have the time or inclination to do that much writing.
#2: Give Your Posts Compelling Titles
It turns out that titles make a big difference when it comes to generating traffic, social shares, and backlinks. Here are some pointers:
List posts tend to perform better than other types of content on social media. That’s part of the reason that sites like Buzzfeed have so many lists. People like them and you can use that knowledge to grab more traffic for your site.
Give your posts long-ish titles. One study found that blog posts with titles that had between 6 and 13 words performed the best.
Ask a question. That big blogging study found that blog titles that asked questions got 23.3% more social shares than posts without a question.
Be provocative. Saying something that’s surprising or controversial can get people to click even if they’re not inclined to read blog posts. There’s a reason they say that curiosity killed the cat!
Earlier, we mentioned that the “sweet spot” for blog length is between 1,000 and 2,000 words, with longer posts getting more engagement, backlinks, and sharing than shorter posts.
Does that mean every post you write must be long? Of course not! But, if you’re in the habit of cranking out 300-500 word blog posts, it can help you to write a long post occasionally. It might turn into one of those so-called power posts that generates traffic on social media and Google.
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#5: Add Social Sharing Buttons and Widgets
People are far more likely to share your blog posts if you make it easy for them to do it. That’s why it’s a good idea to add social sharing buttons to your posts.
Be smart about it, though. If you offer a full menu of social sharing buttons, you may find that it has the opposite effect to the one you want. Where’s your social media audience? If they’re mostly on Twitter, put a Twitter button and use the “Tweet this” widget to allow people to share key quotes from your blog. If you’re marketing business-to-business, put a LinkedIn button on your blog.
The good news here is that it’s not hard to improve your business blog. It’s mostly about being aware of what the numbers say and figuring out a blogging schedule and strategy that’ll work for you. If you do that, the clicks, shares, and links will follow.
Need a review of your local business blog? JVI Mobile Marketing can take a look and give you suggestions for what you can do to get more eyeballs to your posts!
Building authority is the secret to online success.
Who are you and why should anybody care what you think?
If you can’t answer that question in a compelling manner, then you’re probably not an authority figure in your niche.
Maybe you’re just starting out. Or, maybe you’ve been in the game a while, but you’re having a hard time getting people to pay attention to you.
Either way, the solution is to make yourself into an authority.
Here’s the secret that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t know:
Authority is not something other people bestow on you. It’s something you can build. That might surprise you. It shouldn’t. The people you view as authorities created their power by their actions. And you can too.
Why Authority Matters
Why is authority important? It’s very simple. When you have authority, people listen to what you say.
They value your opinion – and when you tell them to buy something, they’ll do it.
That’s why authority is one of Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence. Psychologically speaking, people are inclined to do what an authority figure tells them to do – even if they wouldn’t do it on their own.
A simple example of this principle in action comes from television advertising. Maybe you remember those commercials featuring well-known actors. They always started with something like this:
I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.
You might think of that as a disclaimer, but it’s a statement of authority. People were accustomed to thinking of those actors as doctors. So, when they recommended a cough syrup or headache medication, people trusted those recommendations.
Another way of looking at it is that authority is based on trust. If you do a good job building your credibility, people will trust you and your products.
Branding and Authority
You’ll build authority more quickly if you define your brand and present it in a consistent way in all your online marketing.
Why? Because authority is easier to build if you have a narrowly defined area of eauthoritaty figure stamp of approval that says brandxpertise. Nobody is equally knowledgeable about everything, right?
Of course, there are exceptions. Someone like Oprah is so well known that people might take her word for just about anything. She can present herself as an authority on self-help, alternative medicine, clothing, and books because she has achieved a level of authority that allows it.
Most of us can’t do that. We need to define our niches and stick to them.
Here are some ways you can create a consistent and authoritative brand:
1. Understand how you want people to think of you and your brand and create your brand personality and voice around those things.
2. Create a customer persona and use it to create your online content that will appeal to your target audience.
3. Use the same colors, language, and voice everywhere your brand is represented online. That includes your website, social media accounts, email marketing, and in your comments on review sites and forums.
4. Don’t let yourself get distracted by things that aren’t related to your brand. You shouldn’t be sharing the latest viral video on your Facebook page unless it’s relevant to your followers. Save those things for your personal page.
Think of your brand as the cornerstone of your authority.
Every piece of content you create for your brand must be authoritative. That means that everything on your website, online profiles, social media accounts, ads, and marketing videos must be conceptualized and executed with authority in mind.
It all starts with your website. You need a professional site that uses clear and authoritative language designed to appeal directly to your target audience. It should be easy to use and provide immediate value to the people who visit it.
The same is true of your social media content. Every status update, Tweet, or photo you post must be relevant to your brand and presented with authority.
You may also want to consider creating long-form authoritative content to build authority. Examples include:
Any of these can help you demonstrate your authority.
If you watch cable news, you know that one of the ways they fill the 24-hour news cycle is by booking authority figures to offer opinions about current events.
Think about it. Every political consultant, pollster, or retired general is there for one reason. They have experience and knowledge that is applicable to a story, and because of that, they are viewed as authorities whose opinion is worth hearing.
You can build the same kind of authority online by being opinionated. That doesn’t mean you should spout about politics (unless that’s related to your brand, of course.) What it does mean is that you shouldn’t be afraid to say what you think.
One very effective way to do that is to curate content for your social media pages. Curated content is content that somebody else created. You can find it by following:
General news outlets and publications
Popular bloggers in your niche
Popular brands in your niche
It’s not enough to share curated content without commenting on it. That won’t help you build authority.
Instead, read or watch everything you share and then offer an opinion about it.
For example, say you find an article that lists ten essential things about your industry. You might feel that the writer left out something important. You should point that out when you post the article.
Taking a controversial stance can be a good thing, too. When you contradict or rebut something that an established authority says, you’re putting yourself on their level.
The key here is to sound confident when you offer an opinion. If you seem uncertain, people will dismiss your opinion.
There’s one more thing…
The final step to building authority is to put these things together and use them to create marketing campaigns that convert. If you do it right, you’ll set yourself apart from other brands in your niche.
In other words, you won’t just be one option for people seeking products or services in your niche. You’ll be the only option – and all because they view you as an authority figure.
To learn more about how we can help you achieve online success, fill out the form below and we will reach back out to you.
Search has changed in the past five years. Anybody who’s paying attention knows that. When people search for local businesses near me, you want to rank towards the top.
Since 2014, mobile searches have overtaken desktop searches. At the same time, Google has prioritized local searches to the point where finding non-local results has become almost impossible. In fact: These two factors, combined with a concurrent rise in voice search, have changed the ballgame when it comes to ranking for local searches on Google.
They explain why searches for “businesses near me” have skyrocketed. After all, if someone’s out looking for a place to eat or a store to visit, they’re probably not looking for something 100 miles away.
They want to know what they can find nearby.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to improve your “near me” search results.
Understand What Factors Influence “Near Me” Searches
It’s important to understand which factors make the biggest difference in “near me” searches. The solution is not stuffing your site with “near me” keywords. Instead, keep these three things in mind.
1. The relevance of your business to the search being conducted. Google wants to return only relevant results. That means if someone searches for a shoe store, your clothing store may not rank even if you sell shoes, too. Likewise, a sushi restaurant won’t rank as highly if someone searches “Asian restaurants near me” as it would if they searched “sushi restaurants near me.”
2. How close your business is to the searcher’s location. People who are conducting “near me” searches want businesses that are close by. Even if your business is relevant, a distance of 100 miles will mean you rank lower than a business that’s just five miles from the searcher’s location.
3. How prominent your business is online. A business with a top-ranking website, multiple listings in directories, and a strong social media presence is likely going to earn a higher rank than one with a weak online presence.
The key here, then, is to make it clear what your business does and where it’s located and to combine those with the strongest possible online presence.
Amplify Your Search Signals
To improve your rank, you need to let Google and other search engines know where you are. One way to do that is to plant virtual flags by getting your business included in online directories and review sites.
You should start by searching the most relevant “near me” terms to see where you rank in the results.
You’ll also want to note the sites that appear near the top. They will likely include:
You may also see local directories that are specific to your area or niche. Make a note of these. Then, go and claim your listings on each site. If you’re not listed, create a profile.
It’s also important to make sure your NAP listings are consistent. It should be clear that the company listed on Yelp is the same as the one on Foursquare and the one linked to your Facebook page.
Differentiate Your Company from Others in the Area
What sets your business apart from the others that rank in “near me” searches? One way to find out is to vary your search terms and focus on the things you offer that others don’t.
For example, let’s say you own a sushi restaurant. You should search “sushi restaurants near me,” but you might also vary it and search these terms, too:
Sushi restaurants near me open 24 hours
Sushi restaurants near me that deliver
Top sushi restaurants near me
Affordable sushi restaurants near me
You get the idea, I hope. If you’re the only sushi restaurant in the area that delivers, highlighting your delivery service can help you attract new customers.
Name Local Landmarks and Other Identifying Features
Your NAP listings tell potential customers where to find you, but they may use other terms to define what’s near them. For example, many large cities have defined neighborhoods. In San Diego, these include:
The Golden Triangle
The same is true in other big cities. Identifying yourself by the neighborhood you’re in can help you rank in “near me” searches.
The same is true of landmarks. Someone in Seattle might search for “Italian restaurants near the Space Needle.” You may also want to name prominent businesses near you (provided they aren’t your competitors). Adding exterior photos can also help identify your location.
Target Mobile Customers
According to Review Tracker, 14% of all searches are carried out by people who want to visit a business immediately. It makes sense to target these people, many of whom will be searching using mobile devices.
One way to do that is to include your telephone number with all listings. Some sites may allow you to enable a “Call Now” feature so that mobile users can dial you with one touch. One example of this is Facebook, where mobile advertisers can choose “Call Now” as their CTA button.
Encourage Your Customers to Review Your Business
The final step you need to take is encouraging your customers to review your business on Google. Any review signal can help, but for obvious reasons, Google reviews carry more weight than those on other sites.
Keep in mind that businesses that actively solicit reviews tend to get more reviews and have higher average ratings than businesses that don’t. One reason is that people who are satisfied often won’t bother to leave a review – whereas people who are unhappy are motivated to leave one.
You can start by generating a link that your customers can use to leave reviews. You can find detailed instructions on how to do it here.
If you don’t really have much tech experience, the simplest thing to do is join the JVI Mobile Marketing Reputation Management System. Our clients are having tremendous success with the program and they don’t really have to do much of anything to grow their list and get great public reviews from their customers!
Of course, you’ll also need to monitor your reviews and respond as needed. That way, people who read reviews will see that you care about your customers’ experience.
Remember that rankings change…
Even if you’ve done all the things suggested here, it’s still important to monitor your search rankings. If you’re still not getting the rank you deserve, you’ll need to double down on your efforts to make sure that people near you can find you.
We have 6 tips for you to generate more positive reviews in a smart way. Who doesn’t love receiving positive reviews from a satisfied customer? Every business owner knows the value of positive reviews – and they’ve never been more important than they are right now.
Did you know that more than 80% of all consumers say that they trust a product review from a stranger as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend. Not only that, people trust user reviews more than the official descriptions of products.
If you’re thinking of customer reviews as something that you can’t control, think again. Business owners can do a lot to encourage reviews – and of course, you can increase the chance that you'll have mostly positive reviews by providing excellent quality and service.
Still, those things aren’t enough. You can’t afford to sit back and hope that customers leave reviews of your business.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take a backseat to your customer’s whims. Here are six smart ways you can get more positive reviews online.
#1: Email Customers After a Purchase
Do you send customers an email after they make a purchase?
I’m not talking about the confirmation email where you send them an order number if they order online. I mean an email where you specifically ask them how they like your product and request that they write a review.
This is a practice that’s become increasingly common – and for a good reason. Some people automatically leave reviews for everything. They’re the well-known Yelpers who have thousands of reviews.
Many people need a reminder. They’re not going to leave a review of their own accord – but they just might if you ask them nicely. This is the review version of the call to action on your website. It’s a specific request to take a specific action.
Try sending your review request email a week to ten days after the purchase. That way, the customer will have had a chance to use your product and may be ready to offer an opinion.
#2: Empower Your Employees to Ask for Reviews
Sometimes, making the right request at the right time is all it takes to get the reviews you want. That’s why it makes sense to have your employees ask for reviews.
Some Uber drivers do this. Just before they arrive at their passenger’s destination, they ask about the review. The simple request puts the idea of leaving a review in the customer’s mind and greatly increases the chances that they’ll comply and leave a review.
Why ask at the point of service? When a customer has just made a purchase or used your service, the experience is fresh. A cashier who provides a friendly checkout and some banter is ideally placed to ask for a review because they have an opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
If you decide to use this method of getting reviews, consider printing cards asking for reviews and putting links to your review pages on your website. You don’t want customers to be confused about what to do – so eliminate the guesswork and you’ll reap the rewards.
#3: Use a Reviews Provider
Are you selling products from well-known brand names? If you are, you might benefit from using a reviews provider like Bazaarvoice or JVI Mobile to build up reviews on your product page.
The benefit of using these providers is that they can get you a bunch of reviews at once. They’re real reviews from real people and they can give your page instant credibility.
The downside is that the reviews aren’t from your customers. They’re from people who have bought the product – and they’re all verified. That’s the good part. The less-great part is that they can’t and won’t be providing reviews of YOUR business, including your ambience, customer service, and other key drivers of business.
These providers are a good option for start-up businesses because they can make your website appear to be well-established and popular. As you go, you can supplement the reviews you get through a service with new reviews from your customers.
#4: Try to Get a Google Local Guide to Review Your Company
Google Local Guide is a program owned by Google that designates certain reviewers as local experts. The process of getting a local guide can be a complex one, but here are some tips to help you do it:
Make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and active
Join Google Local Guides on your own – you can write reviews of local businesses and raise your visibility provided you don’t use the platform to promote or favor your business
Attend local events with other guides
Invite other guides to come to your business
This isn’t a quick fix, but the nice thing about Google Local Guides is that when a local guide reviews your business, their designation shows up in the review and that gives it more weight than it would have otherwise. Another benefit is that Google requires guides to use their real names, so there’s less of the anonymous ranting that shows up on Yelp.
#5: Automate the Asking Process
If there’s a way for you to automate the process of asking for reviews, why wouldn’t you do it?
Automation means that there’s no worry that a stressed-out employee will forget to ask. It turns the process into part of your customer service – a hands-off way of encouraging customer feedback and garnering the kinds of reviews you want.
Here are a few suggestions to help you automate your system:
Set up an autoresponder to send an email requesting a review. Instead of manually sending those emails, link the date of a customer’s purchase to their email and have it go out on schedule. If you link customer purchases to your email marketing provider, you can rest easy knowing that every customer will get a request for a review.
Print up review request cards and put them in the customer’s bag at checkout. This method eliminates the need for your cashier to ask for a review, and makes it simple to do even at times when you’re busy and have a line at the register.
Put review links on your product pages. That way, when a customer makes a purchase they can easily read reviews of it – and it may help to remind them to leave a review after their purchase.
Automating your review request system makes good business sense because it eliminates the guesswork.
#6: Set Up a Review System in Your Company
Even if your business is small, you shouldn’t fly by the seat of your pants when you’re requesting reviews. The method you use to ask for reviews should be part of your company’s standard operating procedures.
Your review system should:
Specify whose job it is to ask for reviews
Specify the language to be used when requesting a review
Specify methods to be used (email, conversation, links and printed cards, to name a few)
Specify the timeframe for requesting reviews
Lay out procedures for responding to both positive and negative reviews
If you codify your system for requesting and managing reviews, you can be sure that there isn’t any confusion and that customers always get the request you want them to get.
Don’t Sweat the Negative Reviews…
We’ve focused here on garnering positive reviews for your business, but don’t get too stressed about negative reviews. If you handle them properly, they can help your business too!
Respond quickly and graciously and offer solutions. Don’t get defensive. Many businesses use negative feedback to demonstrate that they care about their customers.
If you’re getting so many reviews that you’re having trouble keeping up, you may want to consider using an online review management system to help you – and having too many reviews is the problem you want to have! That’s how businesses grow.
Can Reviews Affect Your SEO Rankings? You already know that local SEO is the name of the game. It’s essential to send Google signals – through keyword use and other SEO techniques – that your business is local. You also want them to know who it serves and where it is.
What you might not know is this:
Your online reviews play a direct role in your business making the cut to appear in the Google local three-pack.
In case you don’t know, that’s the collection of businesses that appear at the top of Google’s SERP when someone searches a keyword. It turns out that one of the keys to landing a coveted spot in the three-pack is getting good reviews. Here’s what you need to know.
The Proof That Reviews Matter
How can we tell that reviews make a difference in SEO rankings? Google’s algorithm is proprietary and the known ranking factors (keywords, links, and Google Rankbrain, to name a few) don’t include reviews.
Local SEO experts have been saying this for a years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that reviews are important. Google any local business category and you will get a list of results with a three-pack at the top. When you look at the businesses that made it into the three-pack, you’ll most likely see the following:
Star ratings pulled directly from online reviews of the business
Keywords in those reviews
For example, if you searched for the keyword “Spokane hair salon,” you would see reviews that related to that keyword. That’s all the proof we need to know that reviews make a difference in determining which businesses appear at the top of the SERP.
It’s also worth noting that the Local SEO Guide found that local reviews were the second most influential factor in determining search rank in their 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study. The influence in this study appeared to be limited to reviews that specifically included the keyword searched. Customers, however, are likely to use the most commonly searched terms naturally.
In addition, LSI keywords that are related to the search term may also play a role. Try Googling your top keyword and looking at what’s highlighted in the reviews in the three-pack. You may notice that reviews that use semantically-related words show up even if they don’t use the precise term you searched.
The Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO Rankings
There are some concrete reasons that Google thinks reviews matter. They’re directly related to the ways that Google’s algorithm has evolved. In the early days of the internet, it was possible to get a page to rank highly on any search engine by stuffing it with keywords.
That changed because it omitted any concern for the experience of a user who clicked through to a site. After all, if you could click on a site because it ranked for a keyword only to find that it was useless to your needs, you wouldn’t revisit it. You might even resent the search engine that directed you to it in the first place.
With that in mind, here are:
The Top Three Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO Rankings
It trusts outside sources more than it trusts you (at least when it comes to the relevance of your site.) This first reason is related to the ongoing importance that Google places on authority backlinks. It stands to reason that it would accept mentions and references from other sources as proof that your site is relevant to certain keywords and topics.
Google uses written content as a way of determining authenticity. When customers write reviews, they describe your business. They may even include information that’s not on your website. Even if you don’t list reviews on your site, these things can help flesh out the information on your site and give Google more context for its interpretation of your site.
Click-through rates also influence Google’s ranking algorithm. That might seem obvious, but what you need to know is that a business with lots of good reviews is, inevitably, going to get more clicks and traffic than a business with a few mediocre reviews. It’s in your best interest to encourage reviews if you want to boost your Google rank.
These three things explain why reviews matter to Google. The key takeaways here is that Google takes outside resources into account to help it determine the authenticity and usefulness of your website. Users “vote” for your site by writing reviews and describing your site. Just as web users trust peer reviews to help them make buying decisions, Google trusts them to help it make recommendations of which sites are most likely to be useful for the keyword searched.
How to Make the Most of Your Reviews
Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your reviews:
Claim your listings on all relevant review sites. This includes Yelp and Google My Business, as well as local review sites. You want to make sure that you use keywords in your listing, link to your site, and include relevant information that will help people find you.
Link to your review pages directly from your website so customers can leave reviews if they want to.
Put a reminder about reviews on your receipts or comment cards. Remember that dissatisfied customers are often motivated to leave reviews, but happy customers will do so if you make it easy for them.
Send a note to your email list with a link to your review sites and ask them to leave a review.
Reply promptly to negative reviews to try to resolve them and get the reviewer to update their review.
These things will help you dial up the impact of your reviews and help you get into the coveted local three-pack for your most important keywords.
You know that, and now you can do something about it. Organic traffic is increasingly difficult to come by but encouraging and highlighting your reviews can help you get the biggest possible bang for your marketing bucks.
To learn more about how we can help generate more reviews that will positively impact your SEO rankings, fill out the form below and we will reach back out to you.