We all know that small business owners face immense challenges every day. While many are solved with relative ease, solving the issue of generating traffic – both online and in-person is unfortunately looked over time and time again. Optimizing your website for local SEO is the first step towards achieving the traffic that you deserve.
The Benefits of Optimized Local SEO for Small Businesses
Firstly, physical businesses that have actual storefronts yet haven’t optimized their local SEO are perilously close to several threats. But those businesses that have taken ownership of their local SEO and relevant platforms already find themselves on the front foot with these vital benefits:
Improved visibility in online search results
Superior and more relevant traffic
Able to build meaningful relationships with local customers
Foster trust with the community
An overall increase in sales
5 Time-Saving Local SEO Strategies to Enhance Your Business
Website optimization and local SEO can seem daunting and even worse – time-consuming. However, we provide 5 time-saving strategies that will enable you to enhance your online presence while empowering you to continue with the day-to-day tasks as a business owner.
1. Optimize Your Website
Many small businesses handicap themselves right from the start by building a website that is poor quality and not optimized to rank well on the search engines. To avoid missing out on prospective customers you need to pay attention to the overall design and layout of your website. Make sure your website ticks all the boxes below.
Easy to navigate
Consistent theme and message
A detailed About Us page
Use of local keywords
Ensure all relevant business information is available
Use of a specific location
Overall, these are vital components that can immediately improve the online presence of your business and its standing on the search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing.
2. Create a Google Business Profile
During August of 2021, Google was named as the most popular search engine with a total market share of 92.03%. This incredible number indicates just how important it is for your business to rank highly in Google’s local search results. To get one step closer to improving your local SEO, create a Google Business Profile account and claim your business.
Likewise, Google Business Profile is easy to set up and manage all the intricacies of your online presence. Take your time and provide correct details and information. This includes:
Business name, logo, and other identification
Correct business category
Other essential information that will help prospective customers find your business
Furthermore, continue to keep your Google Business Profile page updated by posting regular articles and other content.
3. Sign Up for Online Business Directories
Creating a Google Business Profile account may seem like that’s the last thing you need to do, but signing up to relevant, local business directories will improve your local SEO even further. Business directories are readily available regardless of your operating location.
Leading names in the business directory community have been led by Yellow Pages, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. We certainly recommend signing up to each of these directories to further improve local SEO but there’s another directory to consider.
NextDoor is a prime example of a directory that’s incredibly relevant to your physical location. A key factor that differentiates NextDoor from its competitors is that when you post any form of content such as an article or image, that content automatically appears in the feed of anyone who is within 2 miles of your business. Such a feature will help connect your business with a relevant, local audience and lay the foundation on which to nurture future relationships.
4. Ask for Reviews – and Respond to Them
The pursuit of building trust and authority is something that all businesses attempt to attain. For a small business, however, trust and authority are influential in determining whether that business will achieve long-term success.
Reviews in this instance function as a form of testimonial to your business. So why would you not ask for them? Asking for a review is the first step of engagement post-sale and cements your business in the mind of your customer – making it easier to receive another sale in the future.
Positive or negative, you must always respond to reviews in a professional and friendly manner. Prospective customers can make a buying decision based solely on a positive review. But if you’ve resolved an issue, it indicates to prospective customers that your business is willing to go above and beyond to rectify any potential issues.
5. Connect All Social Media Platforms
The popularity of social media platforms has surged each year with millions of people joining platforms from Facebook to Tiktok. Each of these platforms represents another opportunity to build your presence online and improve your local SEO.
Your business and target audience will typically determine your choice of social media platform/s. Some offer better chances of connecting with prospective customers. With the choice of platform/s made, ensure that all details and vital information is correct (similar to Google Business Profile).
Having inserted your details successfully, you can’t let your social media platforms lie dormant – it’s called social media for a reason! You must post regularly and engage with your audience. Further, create a posting schedule of stipulated content and maintain it. Your audience will begin to become more familiar with how your business operates and in turn, are more likely to engage with you.
So, treat your social media platforms as an extension of your website. Just like your website, they should send a clear message that’s closely aligned with your values and how your business may benefit them.
Final Thoughts on Local SEO
In conclusion, traditional SEO strategies have dominated the online landscape with larger corporations trying to establish themselves as the ‘go-to’ business within their industry. But local SEO has grown in importance and stature to such a point that it can truly elevate the efforts of a small business.
Continue to work on your local SEO and website optimization when you have the time to do so. Regularly update your information and post content that is relevant to your location and community. Local SEO will always remain a marathon. Make sure that your business is in it for the long run.
So, do you need help with your SEO? JVI Mobile Marketing can help! We offer a variety of SEO services to help you reach your perfect customer. Fill out the form below to get started.
Press Releases Can Increase Sales in Your Business
A press release can do a lot of good for a business. But perhaps the benefits business owners may love the most is that they can increase the sales in any business. And that’s the main reason why so many business owners invest in them.
So how can press releases do this?
They do it by allowing businesses to promote their new products and new services offered. By simply getting the word out, (something many businesses struggle with) that alone can increase sales and get more business through the door.
But that’s not all a press release can do, either. Press releases announce successes the business has recently achieved. Maybe a business received an award or a respected industry association noticed them. Maybe they recently embarked on a new technological development or joined with another prominent company to better serve their customers. All of these are great things businesses should want their customers to know about.
A customer automatically elevates a company in their mind when they make progress. If a business gets rewarded, they likely did something really great and know their stuff. If a business is a leader in their field, they must be the experts for their customers.
All of these benefits translate into new customers for the business. After all, the better a business is for the customer, the more customers will want to use that business. And that is always good news for both the business owners and the customers. A winning combination for all parties involved, and all thanks to a simple press release!
A Press Release Can Bring More Traffic to Your Website
One of the little-known benefits of press releases is that they can help businesses get more traffic to their website. While many business owners embark on press release marketing for various reasons, they may be surprised to find that traffic to their website also gets a boost.
This is because, in every press release, one or two links to a company’s blog or website can be included. If the press release is interesting, and the business knows how to establish themselves as an authority and provide useful, helpful content within the press release, customers will want to learn more. Customers will click on the link to learn more about the company or the product that piques their interest.
But it’s important that business owners understand that they must be careful when inserting links to their website or blog into their press releases. This is because Google, the biggest search engine in the world and the to most likely get a press release the most amount of views, will penalize shady tactics in which business owners are simply placing link after link in their press release.
Instead, inserting links within the contact information fields, or ending the press release content with one simple link after including “Learn more here” will be very effective. Google will not penalize such links, and both new and existing customers will flock to those one or two links.
Business owners try many tactics to get more customers to their site. This includes optimizing their website and blog with SEO tactics, including keywords, descriptions, and meta tags. Press releases are not a reason to stop using those strategies, but they definitely give them a very big boost!
Get More Organic Traffic By Optimizing A Press Release
Do a quick Google search on how to increase SEO, search engine optimization, techniques on your website, and you’ll find a whole slew of websites and links that will tell you how to do just that. There are different ways businesses can increase their SEO efforts, but creating press releases is one of the best ways.
This is because press releases can be optimized just like the content on a website or blog is. Search engines pick up press releases that include valuable keywords or keyword phrases any time a user searches for those same words or phrases.
Press releases sometimes include metadata for titles and descriptions, which also helps search engines pick them up. Metadata entices people to click on your link and get more organic traffic to your website. It’s also used by Google and other search engines to understand what your page is about. Since press releases are released online, they can also include these, too.
Press releases optimized for SEO climb higher in the search engines. The company’s blog and website that publish the press release may also climb in those search engine result rankings, too.
Increasing organic traffic to their website or blog is something all business owners want to do. The more traffic that’s coming to a site, the more word is getting out about that business, and the product or service they offer. And perhaps best of all, getting organic traffic is absolutely free. All it takes is some strategizing and determining what SEO tactics to start including, and where to include them. Spreading the word for free? That’s something any business owner can get behind!
Press Releases Make Archiving Easy!
Ask anyone in any business to dig through their archives, and you’ll likely be met with some reluctance. And perhaps your own business has a stack of archives that you dread having to go through at any time. Even when archives are kept digitally, finding that exact thing you need at the exact time you need is difficult. But, press releases can change that. With a press release, you just need to keep one folder on your computer, transfer all press releases to that folder, and find whatever you need in just one click.
By doing so, you’ll quickly be able to see at a glance, all the events and activities your business has embarked on in the past. And that’s important, because sometimes you may want to revisit those events and let customers know about them.
And there are many times when business owners want their customers to know about events that happened in the past! Maybe you want to release a campaign outlining the history of your company. Or maybe you just want your customers to look back on the grand opening as you get ready for your business’ first anniversary. There are many times you may want to take a look back, and press releases can help you do it.
So forget about using that search function on your computer until it’s burnt out. And forget about sorting through all those archives that are down in the basement. Just start releasing press releases and then when you need to reach back into your company’s history, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips.
Press Releases Can Follow Your Customers Wherever They Go
Did you know that 80 percent of all Internet users today own a smartphone? And that Google drives 96 percent of mobile search traffic? Or that over 50 percent of smartphone users grab their smartphone immediately after waking up? Why are these stats important, and what do they have to do with the press releases your company should be releasing?
The stats are important because business owners need to know that their customers are going mobile. And it’s not a trend that’s going to slow down any time soon. Most businesses think that this only concerns them when it comes to their website and blog. And still many business owners don’t bother to make their website or blog mobile-friendly. Not only does that get their page ranking docked with the search engines, but it also means that customers can’t properly view it when they’re on their devices.
But if companies just issue a press release, they’ll reap all the benefits of mobile usage by their customers regardless of the mobile status of their website. Since Google is optimized to perform well on mobile devices — as are the PR distributors that release the press releases — when a press release is created and viewed on these devices, business owners can still reap all the benefits.
That’s not to say that business owners who don’t have a mobile-friendly website and/or blog shouldn’t try to make it mobile-friendly by the time their press release is published. Ideally, links are included in the press release to both of those sites. Customers will likely click on those links when the press release is done well. And sending them to a mobile-friendly site will definitely be helpful for the customer.
But press releases can definitely be an added boost to any business’ mobile efforts, particularly those that haven’t delved into the mobile-friendly world yet.
If you’ve been wondering what the big deal is about online reviews, you’ve come to the right place. Here you'll learn how reviews affect your search rankings, when you should remove your reviews (spoiler alert: not very often) and how to earn more positive reviews to keep your business booming.
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.
The Google 3-pack is a 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 years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that online 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.
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 online 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 online 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 online reviews on your receipts or comment cards. Remember that dissatisfied customers are often motivated to leave online 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.
When Should You Remove Online Reviews?
Not too long ago, business reviews were written by subject-matter experts and printed in well-known publications. In today’s world, that’s simply no longer the case. Nowadays your customers can easily voice their opinion and experience they had with your business online for the world to see.
But that’s actually a good thing – and there are plenty of good reasons why your business should be listed on review sites. The first is that you get to add a link to your website which will boost your traffic – and secondly, people can also get some basic information about your business such as the name of your hours of operation, where it’s located, your phone number and so on.
But most importantly it’s the customer reviews on these review sites (they call them review sites for a reason!), that makes them so important, but it also can be a double-edged sword.
Positive reviews can do wonders for your business, as review websites are considered more credible than any form of advertising. But negative reviews can have disastrous consequences to your bottom line. The complaint can be serious enough to significantly derail your business. Like a report about seeing bed bugs in a hotel room or a cockroach in an entrée at a restaurant. What’s really frustrating is when the report is not true and no merit at all.
But the question is, when should you remove reviews – reviews that make your business look bad?
Advantages of Removing Negative Reviews
Purging negative reviews can be a good thing. First of all, it limits the number of people who’ll ever read them – keeping the damage to a minimum. After all, it’s not unusual for a potential customer to reconsider their choice after reading just one negative review over a dozen positive ones.
Another benefit to removing negative reviews means that your average rating will go up. Studies show that a high customer rating means a potential increase of 55% in sales. According to Yelp, a restaurant with a 4-star rating is 63% more likely to be full at any given time than a restaurant with just a 3-star average rating. And a one-star increase in the average rating can bump up your revenue by 5 to 9 percent.
So it’s blatantly obvious why anyone who runs a business would want to remove negative reviews.
Disadvantages of Removing Negative Reviews
But these reasons alone for removing negative reviews doesn’t mean you should necessarily do so. In fact, websites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google don’t make it easy for you to remove negative reviews for one very simple reason— it damages the credibility of the site and the business
Removing reviews is to remove trust People trust review websites because they believe that by and large the reviews are honest and unbiased. To most people it’s an obvious red flag if they only find positive reviews. There’s got to be some contrast. You can’t please everyone and consumers know that. They will become suspicious if all you have is raving reviews about your business.
In this way, negative reviews are helpful because almost 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to trust the reviews when they see that there is both positive and negative reviews in the mix. In fact, it’s been found that shoppers who read negative reviews are actually 67% more likely to convert than the average consumer.
What to Do When Slapped With Negative Reviews
First of all you need to understand that unless the review is inaccurate, a fake review, or violates the policy of the review website in question – you don’t stand a very good chance of actually getting the review removed.
To start with, you need to keep an eye out for online reviews – whether they are positive or negative. But if you can’t spend the whole day manually monitoring these website, it’s a good idea to consider using an online tool like reviewpush.com to help you monitor the sites automatically.
If you want a free alternative, setting up a Google Alert will pretty much do the same thing.
Once you have been alerted to a new review, it’s best if you can respond to it right away, good or bad. When you respond to positive reviews, it shows that you’re a gracious business owner who acknowledges the importance of your customers.
But when you are responding to negative reviews or complaints, you have several options. For example, if a customer felt your business fell short in some way then you should apologize and promise to do better.
But you can turn a negative into a positive while by taking responsibility but also emphasizing how you’re going to do better next time to balance things out.
Or you can even engage with the customer and ask ideas from them. Apologize for any inconvenience caused and then ask if they have suggestions on how you can do things better.
Whatever you do:
Just be polite.
The good thing about responding to negative online reviews is that 33% of the reviews are amended and become a positive review instead when they get a response from business owners. So it’s a win-win solution.
Negative reviews with inaccuracies or negative comments of your business that are flat out lies posted maliciously–often by competitors, or disgruntled ex-employees are the reviews that you’ll have the best chances of getting removed – but there must be a legitimate reason.
How to Remove Online Reviews
Each review site has its own rules and guidelines, but for most reputable sites you can’t just remove a review simply because it says negative things about your shop. However, you can take a peek at the guidelines governing such reviews, and you can flag a negative review if you think it has violated a rule or guideline.
For Google local reviews, check out the Google local review content policies and see if the review violated any one of its guidelines. If it has, you can flag the review and bring it to Google’s attention. Examples include offensive content, advertising for your competitors, or conflict of interest such as a review which was written by a competitor.
Contact the website’s webmaster, requesting them to remove the content, or at least indicate to Google that it shouldn’t crawl or index the page. They will probably require a compelling reason to remove reviews, so back up your request with as much proof as possible.
Whether you plan to keep or dispute a negative review, your main priority should be to boost the trust of your customers. Remember, positive reviews can make them trust you, but the presence of negative reviews doesn’t always mean that they will trust you less.
It may be better to simply respond to negative reviews in a proactive way than try to remove them. When you show to your customers that you value them by making every effort to give them a positive experience, then even bad reviews can be used to your advantage.
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 online reviews.
#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
The benefit of using a reviews provider like JVI Mobile is that they can get you a bunch of reviews at once. They’re real reviews from your real customers and they can give your page instant credibility.
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 online reviews you get through a service with new online 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 online 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 online 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.
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 online 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.
See how your business stacks up! Get your FREE Review Scan here to generate an instant reputation report and check out how your business appears on local review sites.
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!
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.