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.
Why FacebookMessenger Ads are AWESOME for Small Business
Advertising on Facebook has been around for a while. It’s practically a granddaddy in the world of online marketing.
And, like a lot of small business owners, you know that it’s getting harder to get the ROI you want on Facebook ads. It’s a numbers game, after all, and as of the third quarter of 2018, they had approximately 2.27 billion active monthly users.
It’s no wonder you’re having a difficult time connecting with your audience. You’re competing with millions of other advertisers! It’s a crowded space.
That said, Facebook ads can still be useful – with a twist. Instead of sticking to the same traditional ads you’ve been using, it might be time to check out Facebook’s newest ad option – Facebook Messenger Ads.
What Are Facebook Messenger Ads?
Facebook Messenger ads are ads that appear either on the newsfeed or directly in people’s Messenger inboxes.
The newsfeed ads have a call to action that directs people who click it to Messenger, where they can send you a message and get more information about your business.
53% of people say they’re willing to buy from a company they can message directly on Facebook Messenger. And, customer service is increasingly moving toward instant and direct messaging. Customers expect instantaneous responses and favor brands that provide it.
Facebook Messenger Ads allow small businesses to connect directly with potential leads. They eliminate the need for a hard selling ad and instead, open a dialogue. They provide an opportunity for you to personalize your marketing in a way that encourages people instead of putting them off.
Three Types of Facebook Messenger Ads
There are three types of Facebook Messenger Ads available for small businesses to use. They are:
Home screen ads
Let’s break it down, starting with destination ads. These are ads that appear in your target audience’s newsfeed, very much like traditional Facebook ads. The main difference? The call to action is always going to be “Send a Message.” When a user clicks it, a Messenger window opens, and your automated message will appear. (We’ll talk more about how to use that feature later.)
Sponsored messages allow you to deliver special offers and communications directly to the user’s Messenger inbox. A key feature of sponsored messages is that you may send them only to people who have messaged you previously. They’re a form of remarketing with a personal touch.
Finally, home screen ads are ads that appear in Messenger. The difference between these ads and sponsored messages is that their intent is not to start a conversation. It’s to drive sales by encouraging users to click on the ad.
How Can Facebook Messenger Ads Benefit Your Business?
Facebook Messenger ads are a great option for small, local businesses. They allow you to personalize ads and connect directly with the people who are most likely to buy from you.
Want some examples? Here are a few ways that you can use Messenger ads to boost your profits:
1. Personalize your messages. Too much personalization can seem downright creepy, but Facebook Messenger ads allow companies to straddle the line without crossing it. Because you can only send direct messages to people who’ve already connected with you on Messenger, it doesn’t feel as intrusive as LinkedIn direct ads. And, it lets you tailor your offers in a way that’s highly likely to result in a sale.
2. Give customers the response time they want. With Messenger ads, you can automate your replies to ensure that potential customers aren’t stuck waiting for a response from you. And, in case you don’t know, people prefer messaging to any other form of customer service. Research shows that 73% of consumers prefer live chat to email, and 56% prefer it to a phone call.
3. Start a conversation. Lead nurturing is something that you can do one on one with Facebook Messenger ads. You can even customize your newsfeed ads to encourage people to chat with you about your product or service. This option allows for one-on-one contact – even if it’s largely automated – that makes potential customers feel valued.
4. Increase local awareness of your business. One of the best things about Facebook Messenger ads is that you can select “increase local awareness” as your ad objective. This is a particularly effective option for businesses that want to reconnect with existing customers. You can use Messenger to send them an offer that’s tailored to them.
Another way of looking at Facebook Messenger ads is that they’re the modern-day equivalent of going door to door. They don’t require any more effort that traditional Facebook ads, but they offer a degree of personalization and one-on-one contact that will allow your business to connect with potential leads in a meaningful way.
How to Get Started with Facebook Messenger Ads
If you’re itching to get started with Facebook Messenger ads, here are 7 easy steps to help you get going.
1. Open Facebook Business Manager.
2. Choose conversion as your marketing objective.
3. Scroll down and select Messenger. (This ensures that a click will start a conversation instead of redirecting the person to your landing page.)
4. Scroll to Edit Placements and select Messenger again. You’ll notice that with your first ad, Sponsored Messages aren’t an option – that’s because they’re only for remarketing.)
5. Fill in the content you want to appear in your ad.
6. Choose Send Message as your call to action. (This one’s a must because it lets the people who see your ad know that they’re starting a conversation with you.)
7. Finally, fill in the message (or the first few messages) you want people to see when they click your call to action. For example, you could send them a coupon or ask them a question to start the conversation.
That’s it. Once you’ve completed these steps, your very first Facebook Messenger ad will be up and running – and you’ll be able to see for yourself what a powerful marketing tool Facebook Messenger can be.
Getting a great ROI on Facebook advertising can be tough. There’s a ton of competition and as a small business owner, your marketing budget is limited. Facebook Messenger ads can help you leapfrog over the competition and connect directly with the most valuable people on social media– your customers.
Messenger bots have been taking the online marketing world by storm for years now. But what are they? And does your local business really need them?
Messenger bots are robots that can carry on a conversation with a customer. They interact with them just as an actual human being would. They can handle small customer service tasks, process payments, book reservations, and more. Online users are already becoming familiar with these types of bots every day. They appear on so many websites in the form of chatbots that pop up when a user lands on the site.
Messenger bots are different than these chatbots though. This is because they don’t appear on websites but instead, inside messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. Facebook is the largest of the messenger bot market. They are also in Twitter, WhatsApp, and more.
Whenever a customer wants to message your business through these apps, the messenger bot will appear. The customer will then subscribe to speak to the bot. If your local business doesn’t currently have one, you could be missing out.
The biggest reason for this is just that – so many local businesses are using them! And that includes your competitors that may be just down the street, or just around the corner. If you’re not, and the competition is, customers may decide to leave your company when they can’t get a hold of you right away, but there is always someone (or something) to talk to them at the competitor.
Local businesses that don’t begin using messenger bots now are simply going to be left behind. It’s said that by the year 2020, and that’s not too far off, 85 percent of business to customer interactions will be done with no human interaction at all. At that time, there’s no telling just what messenger bots will look like, interact like, and what other advancements will be made.
Local business will do much better getting in on this trend now instead of finding out too far down the road that they waited too long.
Social media marketing sounds easy to plenty of new entrepreneurs, yet they must perceive the contrast between individual online networking use and expert utilization.
Consider it like this: on the off chance that you bake a batch of cookies to serve your family, at that point that is something you can oversee without anyone else. Yet, in the event that you anticipate serving 1,000 cookies to peers over the course of a three-day business conference, at that point that is an altogether more complex issue!
Everything gets more complicated when you move from personal to professional, and the outcomes matter more, as well.
All of a sudden, you aren’t simply posting on your Facebook when you feel like it. Nor would you be able to enjoy occasional the reply and like. Instead, you’re actively trying to drive business goals and represent your brand in a likable way.
The emotional contrast between the two approaches finds numerous entrepreneurs off-guard. To help them out, here are eight secrets the masters utilize with regards to online networking marketing — and that numerous small businesses miss.
Write Down a Policy and Style Guide
Ask them to tell you what the business’s social media policy is, and you’re just as likely to get dozens of different answers. In fact, most employees may look you back blankly in the face.
A social media policy guides the brand voice as well as the decisions a business makes when posting. So, if you were trying to pick between two image types, the social media marketing policy could help you decide on the one that aligns better with your social goals.
Creating a social media style guide can similarly help make posting easier, especially if more than one employee handles the duties. Align everything in your policy and style guide so that your social media accounts can support both your brand and your marketing goals.
Target Your Content and Conversations Towards Personas
Some small businesses get HUGE social media followings …of people who would rarely buy anything from them.
There is a big gap between mass engagement and targeted engagement.
You want your posts to speak to a highly targeted audience based on the traits of your best customers. For instance, if you pitch your services to existing IT departments, don’t be shy about using jargon. Stay current on any discussion, too, so that your ideas don’t seem dated.
But if you want to offer managed IT services to regular businesses, they may not know a CAT cable from a cat collar. Feel free to post basic how-tos, and try to keep terminology approachable.
Decide upon the segments you want to speak to in order to raise your chances of success. Imagine traits of a single person in this segment, including their typical job role, the things they value most, and broad aspects of their personality. This is your “persona” for an idealized version of a target audience group.
You can even name them! That way, before you decide on a post to share or an image to use, you can ask something like: “Would Sarah the retired optometrist care about this post?”
Strategize, Set Goals, And Ditch Vanity Metrics
Always set goals for your social media usage. It should serve a concrete purpose that ultimately benefits your business.
Common social media marketing goals include:
Raising website visits
Generating leads through job quotes
Helping introduce new products to people
Getting more participants for events, contests, and things like webinars
Upselling existing customers
Reminding prior customers to return again
Promoting a specific brand value, especially through philanthropy
No matter what your goals are, ensure they actually help your business get more money or improve its brand.
For instance, having a certain number of “likes” or shares from a post promoting your content should not be a goal. These are vanity metrics. Instead, you should monitor the number of actual visits to the content on your website. Ideally, you will also have targets for the percentage of people converted from social to content to signup for your related offer.
Carry on Actual Conversations and Engage
Don’t just post into the void or post things you, personally, want to read.
Everything you post should be targeted towards the personas you have created and tied towards business goals.
You want your audiences to feel like your brand is carrying on a conversation rather than just talking at them.
Respond to certain positive comments or interesting ideas. Try to see if you can get the full perspective from people who have something negative to say. Make each response feel personal, not canned.
Give your audience opportunities to take center stage. Post a question for them, like “what are your favorite ways to save money?” Ask them if they would like to see more of certain content types, or less of certain post types.
Also, make your social media use broader than just posting on your own page. Use social listening tools to monitor brand mentions and jump in on messages when you think it’s worthy of a conversation. Find other business pages, and engage with them like you would want others to engage with you.
As Andrew Kucheriavy of web development company Intechnic writes, “make [sure] your interactions are meaningful! Networking is about adding value to a relationship.”
This is great! Having a schedule makes the social experience more consistent and professional for your audience.
But you shouldn’t be shackled to this schedule.
New articles and ideas will pop up on your radar all the time. Maybe something interesting happened in your industry this week. Maybe you just snapped a great photo of your team at the office.
Give yourself the chance to actually share content during opportunities like these rather than hoarding it all until next month. If you set aside, say, an hour each week to make time for unscheduled postings, then you can flesh out your existing content and make your page feel more organic.
Just remember to stick to your policy, goals, and buyer persona (avatar) guides. Also, proofread twice! Want a really awesome way to create, schedule and automate your social media marketing? Try our free tool, MySoPro today!
Promote Content Posts to Put Them in Front of Targeted Audiences
Start experimenting with promoting certain posts and using custom audience building features. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook even offer the ability to target specific companies or hyper-local areas.
If you put just a small budget behind a few key posts a month, then you can quickly multiply the number of people who see your messages. You also generate valuable data based on who does and doesn’t interact when they see certain posts.
Don’t Assume Social Media Marketing Is Easy to Do Yourself
There’s a reason “social media manager” is a full-time job at most big companies. Even for small businesses, managing it all and doing it right can be tough.
On top of that, you may not have the time to dig into your data or revisit your strategies and guiding documents.
So seek out help. Share the burden with others who are qualified and whose judgement you trust.
As Social Media Week observes: “Long gone are the days when you could rely on an intern to manage your business’s social media accounts. Either hire an in-house expert or outsource to a social media management firm.”
Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run
Similarly, as with anything in business, don’t take on more than you could possibly deal with. Stick to one or two social networks at first. Otherwise, your pages could feel like soulless cookie-cutter copies or, worse, ghost towns with nary an update in months.
Be that as it may, if you stay focused on your goals and your principles, at that point you can begin little to discover progressive achievement. Just once you get the hang of it should you begin to scale out and accomplish more.
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Instagram is often overlooked as a social media platform due to its nature being entirely ‘images’ based. However, this fact alone is what makes Instagram very powerful – it allows you to convey much more emotion and to really make a product or a lifestyle look desirable.
Not only that, but Instagram is the second largest social network behind Facebook. That’s a pretty impressive stat, so you really shouldn’t leave it out of your plans!
In 2018, expect more small businesses than ever to jump aboard the Instagram marketing train. The eye-catching format is easy to use, and provides businesses with tools to keep their audiences engaged and informed.
New features and toolsets, like Instagram Stories, have also expanded what the platform can do for small business owners. Thanks to Instagram’s powerful advertising tools, evolving features, and highly active audiences, small businesses can use the platform to make big gains.
To help your business prepare its digital marketing strategy for the year ahead, take note of the following Instagram and influencer marketing trends that have nearly every small business owner saying, “Oh, that’s Insta-worthy!”
More Small Businesses Using Instagram Marketing
Small businesses have driven huge growth on Instagram. This includes growth of both unpaid organic account posts and paid advertising use.
According to Forbes, Instagram now has over 8 million business profiles. The platform saw 500% growth in the number of business accounts in just a few months last year.
Instagram execs credit the majority of this growth to small business users. Setting up an account is easy, and it’s also just as simple to begin using paid advertising tools to promote posts.
Now, with the advent of features like Instagram Stories, that number has likely soared even higher.
Businesses can therefore use Instagram to get huge reach for their campaigns or fulfill brand awareness goals with just a little bit of effort.
Influencer Marketing Benefits for Small Businesses Stack Up
Big brands aren’t the only ones who use influencers to achieve marketing goals anymore. The ability for social media personalities to drive engagement and direct attention can benefit small businesses, too.
Micro-Influencers Take on Huge Importance with Small Audiences
Some influencers with a million plus followers like Michelle Phan have taken on celebrity status. They get invited to red carpet events and appear on mass broadcast TV ads.
As these average people become megastars, a clear distinction emerges between them and other influencers. Marketing experts have begun to split influencer types into multiple categories as a result.
“Macro-influencers” like Phan, Kim Kardashian and King Bach have millions of followers and a huge range of topics they cover. “Micro-influencers” have a small following of a few hundred to a few thousand people but often follow a much more niche focus.
Small businesses have realized that micro-influencers are not only cheaper to work with, but they also drive campaign goals more effectively. Micro-influencers have this power because their audience feels stronger connections and finds the content posted more directly relevant to their interests.
You can see this connection in micro-influencer engagement rates. Influencers with less than 1,000 followers can engage 8% of their audience on average, while influencers 10 million+ followers only get “likes” from 1.6% of their audience, and an even lower frequency of comments and shares.
Put simply: small business owners can work with micro-influencers to connect more authentically to audiences and drive more consistent action.
Instagram Stories and Live Video Make Engagement a Daily Affair
Instagram stories provide a fun and unique way to engage followers and drive traffic to your web- site. Many businesses have yet to adopt Instagram Story as part of their marketing strategy. However, you can be an early adopter and reap the benefits right now.
Instagram might have started as a fun mobile app, but it has turned into an extremely valuable and powerful marketing tool for companies that know how to use it.
If you create a compelling profile, use hashtags appropriately. Take advantage of new options like Instagram Stories. You can use Instagram to build brand awareness and attract new customers.
“Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month,” says Entrepreneur, “which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.”
Businesses interested in driving attention towards certain campaigns or maintaining more active engagement with audiences can turn to Stories and Live video to accomplish these goals.
Increasing Demand for Brand Safety and Proof of ROI
The double-edged sword to influencer marketing is that some brands worry about influencers staining their reputation.
Video game streamer PewDiePie, who has the largest YouTube subscriber base of any channel, caused waves after repeatedly using extremely offensive language in his content. Brands that collaborated with PewDiePie had to cut their ties and make statements condemning his actions.
Since influencers are not brand employees, business owners invite a bit of risk when they collaborate with them.
The best way to avoid controversy is to look to influencers’ past behaviors. Ask questions before collaborating in any capacity. Make it clear that your relationship is dependent on a positive image for your business.
Similarly, tie any relationships you have with influencers to concrete KPIs, including ROI. It’s always better to start small with a relationship. After that, establish proof of ROI before committing marketing dollars to a true collaboration.
For instance, try sending an influencer a free gift or just a kind request to highlight your latest campaign. If you like what they do with the information, you can work toward more collaborative content or even an endorsement-type relationship.
Trends in Instagram and Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses Can Help Your Brand Take Off Next Year!
Remember, Instagram is not about instant conversions or links. This is about the long-term benefit, so rate your success in terms of likes, follows and comments – not profit.
Likewise, remember that this is a ‘young’ and ‘hip’ crowd. You need to get to know your actual audience, but you should also get to know the Instagram audience more generally. What you’ll find is that Instagram is a place where ‘in your face marketing messages’ don’t go down well. So, don’t do that!
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Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.