Why is it important
Optimization & Users
Listing & Social Media
Citations & Linking
Analytics & Tracking
This is an area that is often overlooked by small business
owners, but its importance can't be understated. One of the main ranking
factors for local listings is reviews, and in order to achieve high rankings
you not only have to be on these sites, you have to monitor your reputation
Bad reviews sink sites. The difference between a "3" star
review on Yelp and a "3.5" star review is a 63-percent increase in business.
That's just half of a point! Want to increase your business by 60-percent or
more with no additional work? Get and maintain high rankings on review sites.
The most popular of the review sites are Yelp, Google Places,
Angie's List and Urban Spoon, although there are many others.
Negative reviews are a part of business. The sad truth is
that most of your customers won't take the time to leave a review if they had a
positive experience, but they'll go out of their way to do it if they had a
negative one. The key here is reminding people to leave positive reviews. Offer
a coupon, add a table topper reminding people to leave a review, put it on the
receipt, or mention it at the point of sale. There is plenty of room for
Citations are essentially mentions by other businesses,
people or websites. These are links, without actually linking to the site you
are mentioning. This is a popular PR term that has found its way on to the web
in recent years. Citations are another key ranking factor in local search and
properly optimized campaigns get their business name mentioned as often as
possible, from as many different sources as they can find.
Remember, a citation is just a mention of your business.
Anywhere you can leave your business information (directories, forums, blog
posts, etc.) would contribute to the number of citations for your business.
Review & Discovery Sites
Did you know "checking in" when you're at a place of
business does more than just tell your friends what you're doing? This simple
act allows Google the opportunity to verify listing information by seeing that
people have actually been to the business, thus proving its authenticity.
This isn't a ranking factor by itself, but it helps to build
trust that this business is genuine and not a spam listing, which goes a long
way toward earning top rankings. It's all about trust with Google, and the more
you can do to prove that you're an actual business, the better your search
The most popular of the review and discovery sites are:
- Google Places
- Urban Spoon
Facebook should be included in this list as well. With graph
search, they've essentially become a recommendation engine, and they've allowed
users the option to "check in" for quite some time. You've already built a
business page (or claimed one) on Facebook, so you're already set up to allow
people the option to check in when they do business with you.
There are hundreds of these types of sites online, but these
are the most popular, so these are the ones that should get the lion's share of
Review and discovery sites present two opportunities, or
challenges for local businesses. In essence, you want people to:
- Check in
- Leave positive reviews
But how do you get
them to do that?
Foursquare offers you the option to give a user a coupon for
checking in at your place of business. If they have their phones out, this
might be an opportunity to leave a review. Once you put the thought in a customer's
head to grab their phone and complete an activity (checking in, in this case)
you'd be well served to ask them to leave a review. If you've provided a great
product, service or experience, people will often be more than happy to help
you out with a review if you ask.
There are companies out there, like Sqwid, that
offer you the opportunity to reward positive reviews, offer "second chance"
opportunities to bad ones, and reward customer loyalty all from a single
dashboard. This certainly isn't a bad option to improve your reviews,
incentivize new reviews and monitor your online reputation from one place.
Additional steps (part
two): Google Places and Yelp offer events for certain types of businesses.
You pay a fee, and they organize events for prolific reviewers to try your
service or offering. This obviously doesn't work for every business, but if you
are in the bar/restaurant/entertainment industry, this could be a huge