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The Importance of Online Reviews: The Secret to Google SEO Success

The Importance of Online Reviews The Secret to Google SEO Success
16Mar

It should come as no surprise that client reviews are crucial to building your credibility with prospective clients and consumers. Let’s not forget that they also are a major help in converting those prospects into paying customers. These first-person accounts speak volumes as to the quality and value of your products and/or services.

For over 10 years, clients have been asking me about what the best ways are to maximize the exposure of their reviews and how to apply them in their marketing campaigns – both offline and online. During this time we have helped our clients feature these in television advertisements, radio advertisements, billboards, vehicle wraps, signs, printed materials (brochures, flyers, booklets, folders, business cards), online advertisements, email marketing, social media marketing, press releases, and blogs.

But one thing many of these clients were not focused on was something that could take their entire online marketing campaign to the next level: online reviews!

Online reviews, that have been earned and posted on Google, Facebook, Yelp and countless other review sites, have secret search engine optimization (SEO) power that many companies overlook.

Whether you are a local roofing business or an international financial conglomerate – SEO is something that is crucial to your success in this search-driven world. Coming up on the first page of Google is something nearly all marketers are striving for (or should be striving for) on an ongoing basis.

What many marketers have to do to gain that top spot on Google is to pay for a sponsored listing via Google Ads (previously Google AdWords). While it may seem like an easy option, it can prove to be costly. We have worked with clients before that were spending in excess of $10K to $45K+ per month to land that top spot. If you have the right budget, this is a definite win, but if not, enhanced SEO through online reviews is a route that you should be exploring.

Proper SEO campaign implementation focuses on organic SEO – which are the results that turn up that are NOT clickable ads when you search on Google. There are many ways to build your organic search engine ranking (link building, on-website optimization, keyword embedding). One of the forgotten pieces is an online review campaign built on requesting and earning positive online third-party reviews.

Why? The short answer is that there are many reasons why online reviews are good for your Google search engine ranking. Google is the largest and most-used search engine out there, so having your listing be result number 1 will increase your website traffic drastically, thus increasing conversions.

Think about a typical search that you would perform on Google for a business. Depending on the category of the business, you may notice that the top Google search results would be from Facebook reviews, Google reviews, TripAdvisor reviews, Yelp reviews, and more. The more sites you cover and the more quality reviews that you get – you could cover that first full page of Google with just glowing customer or client reviews. This would result in not only SEO success, but also increases in onsite conversions.

Now let’s go into some more specific benefits of executing an Online Review campaign:

1. Proves Your Worth
Having online reviews for your business tells Google that they can trust you. Meaning these positive reviews will contribute to your domain authority. Third-party endorsements help Google realize that your website claims are valuable, real, credible and, as a result, your content deserves higher rankings within the Google search algorithm.

2. Enhances Google My Business Listing Conversions
If you have four- or five-star reviews on your Google My Business account, studies prove that you will get more clickthroughs from your GMB listing to your website. This will increases the opportunity for you to convert that website traffic into sales.

3. Hack Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Ranking Listing:
If you are able to consistently gain quality online reviews (more than four stars and above with comments) Google will use this to determine where your business shows up on SERP. Lots of positive reviews could lead to higher ranking above and beyond your direct competitors, who may be missing this approach altogether.

4. Want More Conversions? You Need More Traffic!
By showing up higher in the organic results, you will gain more clicks to your website. This additional traffic will enable you to increase the amount of opportunities you have to convert this traffic to sales. Also, this traffic can easily be tied to your top or mid-funnel activities (email drips, IP retargeting, online advertising).

5. Consistent Quality Reviews = More Website Updates = More Trust From Google
Having your reviews posted to your website (either automatically or manually) will place new content on your website. The more you add new content, the more that Google will come back to check on your content. It will also let Google know they need to come back often to reindex your page. This will help Google better understand your credibility and award you with higher search engine rankings.

6. Respond and Reap SEO Rewards
Receiving online reviews is definitely a positive result (as you can see from above), but if you want to build even more SEO power simply respond to them! Whether they are good or bad, every review (no matter if it has a comment or not) should get a thoughtful response from your organization or company. You have the ability to amp up your SEO rankings by keeping the communication stream going as it builds trust with not only your customers, but also trust with Google itself.

7. The Long-Tail Effect
Imagine that you begin to have multiple clients writing reviews about your amazing “social media marketing services.” By a few clients writing “social media marketing services” in their review, it draws the attention of Google. Google sees this as an important and weighted long-tail keyword. So when a new prospect searches for the phrase “social media marketing services” on Google, your listing is more likely to be be shown towards the top of the organic search results.

These types of results are ones that those companies pay a lot of money for. Remember that $45K per month budget to be number 1 in the Google search results that I mentioned before?

8. Local Business? Can’t Miss Opportunity
According to research, review ratings are the biggest driver of clicks in local Google search engine ranking pages. This means that those professionals with local brick and mortar locations, by gaining reviews online you can expect higher rankings and more clicks through to your website.

9. Grab Over 91% of Online Traffic
Having a higher organic listing based on the boost from online reviews will increase the odds that your website will be on the first page of the Google search results. Anyone that lives on that first page of Google search results will be gaining over 91% of the web traffic for the search query that generated the page.

10. Genuine Reviews Reduce Website Bounce Rate
One thing not favored by Google: a website that has a high bounce rate. A bounce rate is calculated as the time when someone goes to visit your website and “bounces” away from it after a mere few seconds. Google understands this “bounce” as the user indicating that where they originally clicked through from may have had a message that was not continued when they visited your site.

This is akin to “bait and switch” techniques that have been around for many years.

By having online reviews that are prominently featured online in Google searches you will benefit from the potential customer or client reviewing these before visiting your site. This will lead to the user gaining a better understanding of your company and services/products. So if they choose to click through to your website – they know what to expect and will not immediately “bounce” off your site. This will help you keep and enhance your search engine rankings on a regular basis.

Still on the fence about the power of online reviews to enhance SEO? There are hundreds of articles out there with more information that you can peruse that not only mirror my story, but shout the benefits even more aggressively.

From my perspective, this tends to be the one secret SEO trick that many people overlook. Because of this, it can provide lots of competitive advantage to your company. Online reviews are a crucial piece of your overall online marketing campaign that could be the tipping point of your appearing on page 1 of Google searches or page 10.

Want to get started without having to do any of the setup, execution, and management? We have developed a Reputation Management and Online Review Service that will have you harnessing the SEO power of everything listed above without you having to do any of the setup, execution, or management. Our service starts from as low as $199 per month (not including setup). If you would like to get started today or see a demo of our service, please call or email our team.

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How to Maximize ROI With Online Reviews: A Quick Start Guide

How To Maximize ROI With Online Reviews A Quick Start Guide
16Mar

Working with tight marketing budgets is not a new trend: it is something that business professionals have been dealing with forever. No matter if you have an endless marketing budget or a tight marketing budget, ROI is something that must be consistently monitored based on key performance indicators (KPIs).

One of the tricks of the trade in marketing is trying to grease the ROI wheel with low-cost items that will garner a high, meaningful benefit. Whether it be clout, credibility, exposure, sales, leads, or engagement: the more of these that we can get for less the better.

Enter Online Reviews.

For example, have you ever had a prospect request a reference who they could reach out to and discuss their experience working with your company? I would venture a guess that whatever your past client/customer will say to this prospect will do more for moving the sale closer to conversion than anything else. This third-party endorsement will position you as an authority more so than 20 presentation decks, videos, or hour-long sales calls combined.

This is where the importance of online reviews become relevant. In my previous blog (Online Reviews: Your Secret to SEO Success – click here to read), I went through all of the SEO power that you will gain from online reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and others. To save you time, here are the top benefits that you will reap:

  • More traffic to your website,
  • Rank higher in Google searches,
  • Increase onsite (your website) conversions,
  • Be more trusted by Google above your competition.

Now that we are clear on the benefits, I would like to show you the exact steps that you can take to get started on the journey to creating your own Online Review campaign.

To get started, you will need to compile your customer and evangelist data. This data will be in spreadsheet format (CSV file) and will contain a full list of all of the clients or customers that you have worked with. When choosing your contacts you want to use, ensure that your focus is on individuals who would be more apt to provide favorable reviews of your company.

While all reviews deliver great ROI, ensure that a majority of them are positive. This is the best-case scenario. If not, please note that both positive and negative reviews present salient opportunities.

A negative review presents to your team the opportunity to win a soured customer back. To go one step further, perhaps you didn’t even realize that this client was upset in the first place.

Now let’s move onto evangelists who are your business associates, networking community, and referral sources. Any professionals who can vouch for your company or organization’s value and credibility should be added to your formal list of evangelists.

Now what you will need is a CSV (comma-separated value) file with the following information in each column:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email Address

Having the data formatted in this manner will allow you to easily manipulate it later in your email marketing system.

Below are the steps that you need to take to extract the customer data to execute your Online Review campaign:

How to Export Contacts from Hubspot: Once you are logged into your Hubspot account, navigate to Contacts on the top tab, and then click on the subpage Contacts. Once there, on the left-hand side of the page you will see All Contacts with an Options button.

Click the arrow next to options and choose Export. On the next screen click Export and you will be emailed a link once the export is complete. You will need to clean up the CSV when you get it so that it only includes the above data. If you need to separate name files – use the equation below.

How to Export Contacts from Salesforce: Once logged in, click on the “Reports” tab and select “New Report”. On the “Accounts & Contacts” submenu select “Contacts & Accounts”. Click “Create” and then choose the correct fields for export.

In the preview selection remove the following Fields: Salutations, Title, Mailing Street, Mailing City, Mailing State/Province, Mailing Zip/Postal Code, Mailing Country, Phone, Mobile, Fax, Accounting Owner, and Account Name. Click “Run Report” after deselecting the fields. Click “Export Details”.Click on the “Export” button and save CSV file on your computer.

How to Export Contact from Constant Contact: Once logged in click Contacts and then click Email Lists. You will then need to choose the name of the list that you want to export to CSV.

Now click Export and click on the information you want to include in the CSV which would be First name, Last name, and Email address. Next, click Export and then click Activity. There you will see where you can download your contact file once it is completed.

How to Export Contacts from MailChimp: Once you are in your account go to the Audience tab. Choose the Audience you would like to export.

Then, click View Contacts and then Export Audience. Once your download is complete you will receive an email or you can view it right on your account. If you need some assistance to separate the name fields, see the expert tip below.

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Expert Tip: How to Separate a Full Name in One Cell to First and Last Name in Excel Documents and Numbers Documents

A frustrating aspect of dealing with customer data is when the full name is contained in one cell. Since you want to make the outreach emails personal, ensure that you separate the first and last names into individual cells on your CSV document.

Here is a quick tip to separate a full name field in Excel and Numbers so that you can easily fix this tricky issue:

How to Separate Name Field in Excel Documents: If the full name is in Column A, add an empty column by right-clicking on the top of the column next to the existing column of names, then select Insert. Then click the Data tab and navigate to the top of the column with your contacts’ names to highlight the entire column.

Now click Text to Columns and when the next window pops up choose “Delimited” and click Next. Then on the next pop-up deselect Tab and select Space. Next up, you will need to click Next and then Finish. Now you just have to rename the column headers to reflect your changes and you are done!

How to Separate Name Field in Numbers Documents: First make sure that the first name is in Column A (starting from cell A2). Create two new blank columns next to it (B and C). Next you will need to copy this code into B2 cell.

=LEFT(A2,(SEARCH(” “,A2)-1))

Then click on the cell (which you will see has the first name) and drag the equation down to the entire sheet and presto – first name populated!

Next paste this code into the cell C2:

=MID(A2,(SEARCH(” “,A2)+1),20)

Then click on the cell (which you will see has the last name) and drag the equation down to the entire sheet until all last names are populated!

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If you are not using any of the above and are using Gmail, Mac Mail, or Outlook – simply do a Google search for “how to export contacts in NAME” and review the results.

Now that you have your fully formatted CSV file – you are ready for the next step: deciding what websites you would like to generate reviews on. Google will be the first link you will want to choose, as this is a powerhouse when realizing a solid ROI for your efforts. You want to go through the many review sites that are relevant to your industry which could include the following:

Once you choose the sites, you need to find the URL of your review page on the corresponding site. So if you go to TripAdvisor, go to the link where people can place reviews for your business and save that URL. You will use that in your email blast to your audience so that they can simply click the URL and go to the page where the review will be placed.

Now you are ready to craft the email messages. I would suggest that you do a drip campaign consisting of at least 3 messages requesting a review, making it as personal as possible. Please note: if doing a drip, make sure that you ensure that if someone does leave a review, that they do not get the remaining email messages (if any are left to send).

Now you are ready to launch your email campaign. Do a mail merge (or if using your email program, personalizing it using the tools available on that platform) and include the links directly to your online review sites.

This is an extremely cost-effective way to gain more online reviews, bolster your SEO power on Google, increase traffic and, in effect, conversions on your website. Although if you are a busy professional this may look like a daunting time commitment.

With this in mind, The Go! Agency has developed a leading Reputation Management and Online Review service which handles the entire process for your business.

Our team handles the setup, execution, and management of all online reviews. In addition to this, we also offer a kiosk service, text back review service, and more. Call or email our team today to learn how you can get started.

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