Category

Google Local

Prompt to add Photos to Google Maps

By | Google Local, Google Maps | No Comments

This is such a small post, but long overdue.
About 2 months ago I spotted that having taken a photo on my Android device (Samsung S6) I was being prompted to add the images to Google Maps.
This is perfect for Local businesses, and having done it many times since, the view count on some has been in the 1000s.

15 - 1

Google’s Local eco-system is going to continue to grow next year, and ‘Maps’ is effectively a Social app – with Photos and Reviews being the main actions people take, but also being able to send locations via Hangouts too.
It is all about the cross app connections.

Which review sites should your business be on?

By | Google Local, Reviews | No Comments

If you are keen on managing your online reputation you will want to make sure you are a) on the right sites for you, and b) managing the reviews – e.g. responding to people, when you get some.

In this super interview with Phil Rosek we run through his graphic available here.

We cover a load of site and the factors: visibility, leverage and difficulty.
It is an interview that will be well worth you time!

Want our free guide to getting more AWESOME reviews? (click!)

Improve Customer Service for Better Online Reviews

By | Content Marketing, Google Local, Google Plus, Reviews, Social Media Marketing | No Comments

Intro from Martin:

Over the past few weeks I’ve been receiving demos for a load of awesome reviews type software, as I am learning the ins and outs of this space.

I asked Reputation loop whether they would like to guest blog for the community, and here it is!

Great customer service:

Great customer service is often a must-have for consumers and businesses alike.  Customers demand top-quality customer service and businesses want to attract and retain those customers.

Beyond retention, improving customer service and making a true commitment to enhancing the customer experience you has added bonuses.  I’m in the business of five-star reviews and creating positive online reputations so let’s talk about how happy customers ARE going to leave reviews and spread the word, and prospective customers ARE going to listen.

Why Customer Service and Online Reviews Matter

When consumers are searching for the best place to spend their money, their buying decisions are heavily influenced by the experiences of previous customers.  With online reviews having such a big impact, it is important that a business who wants to have a competitive edge do their best to please the customer, every time.  That commitment is how you create a company culture where high quality customer is the norm.

Every Ford dealership in your town can sell you a brand new F150, and there isn’t going to be a huge difference in pricing.  But which one makes it a no hassle, enjoyable experience?  You and everyone else can find the answers to everything they want to know about a company or product in seconds online.  In many buying decisions customer service is the differentiator, and the speed and ease of access to other customer’s experiences is why buyer research is so detailed and influential today.

Looking at the emotional side of buying, customers want to feel good about the money they spend. Are your online reviews and reputation giving the warm and fuzzies to prospective customers?

Zendesk survey found that 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service.  So a better question is:  Is your customer service scaring away customers? They need to.

That same Zendesk survey showed 40% of customers began purchasing from a competitor because of the competitor’s reputation for great customer service.   If there are other options in your market, with better reviews and less complaints, you are at risk of losing customers daily.  That is why improving customer service needs to be an area of concentration when building and nurturing your online reputation.

Improve Customer Service for 5-Star Online Reviews

What is your company’s commitments in the area of customer service?  In today’s highly competitive market you need to exceed your industry’s standards of quality of service.  Customers have high expectations when spending their money, and it goes far beyond a simple service or product in exchange for payment. They want fast delivery, competitive pricing and exceptional customer service.

Of the three, the most remarked upon in reviews is customer service because a review is just a recount of their experience with your business. How they “felt” about your business will be less about the product bought and more closely tied to the interaction with your company, the buying process and how the product or service improved their life.

Think about horrible reviews you have read.  There had to be a truly negative emotional reaction tied to that experience to make a person go through the trouble of writing and posting such a passionate warning to others to avoid a business.  Rarely is a negative review a simple “Product didn’t work” statement.  More than likely you will find a lengthy explanation on how the business failed to fix a problem or make things right.  Low one- and two-star reviews are usually a direct reflection of poor customer service.

The brighter side of customer service is that great customer service can trigger an equally as passionate positive emotional response in customers that inspires them to share their exceptional experience with others online.  When you have high standards of customer service, customers are happier and getting those crucial five-star reviews are easier and more rewarding.

Consistently high ratings not only sets you at the top of review site listings, the highest rated businesses are now a major feature of first-page search engine results for local searches which translates into increases in online exposure, as well as customer trust.

4 Areas of Improvement for Better Customer Service and Better Reviews

  1. Control Customer Touch Points. A touch point is every opportunity a customer has to see or hear about your business. These include things like reviews, marketing, ads, logos, and branding, as well as every person online or in-person a customer interacts with throughout their buyer journey.  Insist on clear and consistent messaging, be passionate and concise on where you add value for the customer, and ensure that promises are being kept.  Fewer and fewer human interaction are happening, so customer service needs to be the shining star of your customer touch points.
  2. Website User Experience. People visit your website for very specific reasons. Dig into your website analytics and get a good idea of your buyer’s journey on your website. Whether it is for buying or directions, photos or instructions – pick out the top reasons for your website traffic and make it easy for your visitors to be able to find that information or perform that task.

It’s also now crucial that your website be optimized for mobile! According to a Federal Reserve survey 69% of shoppers who used their phone to comparison shop in a retail store changed where they purchased a product as a result.  Your customers are using their smartphones to research decisions, don’t make them go look somewhere else.

  1. Prioritize Customer Service for You and Employees. Have a clear company-wide standard for customer service and ensure that your employees are aware of the high priority company leaders place on providing the highest levels of customer service. Employees will perform better when expectations are clear and stellar customer service is noticeably a part of the company culture and your commitment to your customers.
  2. By the Book – A saying you will recognize is, “Do it by the book.” Having written standards and expectations eliminates the grey area that separates a customer service issue from a customer service problem. You don’t need a full-length book (or even a whole handbook) to convey the standards and expectations of your company’s customer service. But written somewhere, and supplied to or readily available to your employees should be a document that touches on expectations in regards to face-to-face interactions, phone and email etiquette, and include company customer service commitments and timelines (such as email response within 1 hour).  It should also provide branding and marketing resources such as logos, taglines, and messaging your employees should be using to create a consistent experience for customers.

How to Get Better Reviews that Drive Customers to You

When you start from a foundation of a good product and great customer service, getting positive reviews is not hard.  But it’s also not automatic.  There are a few things you can do to make sure that great reviews keep coming in and posting online where prospective customers are looking for them.

  1. Make Review Management Part of Your Marketing Plan. Make it a priority, budget for it, and you will be rewarded with an improved reputation, more customers and increased revenue. If you don’t have the budget to purchase systematic or automated review management service then set aside some time each week to monitor reviews being left on high traffic sites. Make immediate improvements in areas of your customer service that are reflecting negatively online to increase your chances of getting positive reviews in the future.
  2. AUTOMATE the Whole Process. Imagine how many reviews you would receive if you asked every single customer for feedback on their experience. There are services like Reputation Loop (affiliate link) that automate the review management process of gathering feedback and getting reviews posted online. With Reputation Loop’s intelligent routing, customer feedback that is less than stellar is sent back to the business for special handling, and positive reviews are forwarded to review sites for direct posting. Those five-star and four-star reviews are posted to your social media profiles, and the webpages that impact your business most.
  3. Ask for The Review. When you provide great customer service, there is no reason to shy away from asking customers for a review. When you let them know that you value their opinion and what they have to say will directly influence how you conduct business, they are happy to repay you for your great customer service by sharing their experience with others.
  4. Make it Super Easy to Post a Review. After the customer has paid you for a service or product, make leaving a review a fast and easy process. Smooth the way by being listed in major directories and on high traffic review sites that matter in your industry, and providing customers with direct links to your business profiles on those sites so they are never more than a couple of clicks from submitting a complete review.

Customer service has a huge impact on your company’s reviews, revenue and customer lifetime value.  Studies have shown that nearly 90% of consumers have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.  If something is important to 9 out of 10 buyers in your consumer population, it needs to be very important to you too.  You can’t force someone to buy from your company, but with a reputation for great customer service and positive reviews on customer experience you have a powerful influence over who they trust with their purchase.

Find out more from here! (affiliate link)

Google Search Tips for Restaurants (Tip One)

By | Google Local, Google Plus | No Comments

If you are a restaurant in the US (and maybe beyond), then by adding a menu to your website you may well benefit from people seeing that information brought over into their Search Results.

This is certainly the case for some restaurants I’ve searched for in the San Francisco area.

As you can see below:
(this was done through a Chrome Search, not Maps, and on an Android device).

Image 1

Then, I clicked on ‘Menu’:

Image 2

As you can see, slide from page to page, but still within ‘Search results’ not taken to the website.

Image 3

This change rolled out in Spring of 2014, but I wonder how many restaurants know that they are able to serve people in this way before they get to the website?

The tip is simple: have your latest menu, with prices on your site and you may well be adding value to people searching, making it easier for then to choose you.
And, of course, have your Google+ Page set up for your business, and linked to your website.

How to have a ‘Local Reviews Box’ as a landing page

By | Google Local, Google My Business | No Comments

If you would like people to ‘land’ directly on your Google+ reviews, then simply add this code to the end of your Local page: ?review=1

This has changed! You can now generate you link via this free tool – click!

(thanks for Luis Galarza for this tip below!)

When people click the link, they will get the review box pop up on their desktop. Super simple and very handy!

How to have a Local reviews box as a landing page

The Google Review Revolution

By | Google Local | No Comments

Many people have asked for predictions of what I think could happen with Google+ this next year, and the only thing I tend to offer is this…

There will be a real push on Google Local now that Google My Business is rolling along well.
People will a) want to be on the map, b) start to get reviews, and for the keenest people c) they will start to build their networks.

This focus on Local means starts to put the value of quality customer service right to the top of list for businesses (if it is not already).

Why does this matter so much?

When someone reviews using Google, once there are five reviews for a business, the stars show in Search.
And when you compare a listing with stars with a listing that has no stars, it is obvious to see the psychological pull of which one you would choose.

Also, when you see the one that has no stars (e.g. Browns in the list below), it doesn’t really encourage a click:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.48.52 PM

You think it isn’t going to happen?

I say it has already started:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.46.28 PM

This is a screenshot for ‘Sushi San Francisco’ – look at the number of reviews they have already, with the bottom one having 132 reviews.
This is a battle, and it is not on Yelp. These are all Google reviews.

As this wave builds, we should add this is not all about ‘getting reviews’, this is about doing the right thing by the customer so they want to give you an awesome review; it also includes what to do when you get a less than favorable one, of course.

What next?

Myself and the PYB team are working on BIG plans to help small businesses in 2015, including how to get more reviews too.
If you are a consultant and are interested in knowing more, contact us here!

If you are a business wanting support, click the big button below!

How many businesses in your area are on Google Maps?

By | Google Local, Google My Business, Google Plus | No Comments

Here is a lovely tip to quickly find the businesses with pages set up already on Google Maps.

This then allows you to click into a listing and then see if a page has been claimed, or not.

Note: If it has not been claimed you will see a +1 button and not a follow button, and the option to claim it.

Start with looking at ‘Local’ and then search for the place in your Local area.

How to find who is on Google maps from your area

With credit to:

Sanjiv Manifest

and

Cherie Manifest

And all the other Power Plussers, with Debi Davis at the helm!

Why is Google+ causing a stir in Europe?

By | Google Local, Google Plus | No Comments

We’ve been saying for a while now that everyone business needs to get on ‘the map’ and we are running worldwide projects to help people do just that.

But some people have said that Google+ is a waste of time and people shouldn’t bother.

Well, the tide is turning and their is even a smart-marketing lobbying group trying to get Google+ results out of Google Search. Yes, you read that right. People are saying that Google+ results are being shown in preference to their own listings.

Why?

Well, when someone searches for a plumber in their area, or they are looking to book a hotel, or visit the dentist, then they should see the most relevant results for them. And relevant needs to be reliable.

Google do their checks!

This is why Google send people a postcard, and ask them to verify their Local listing. Yes, an old fashioned postcard!
(unless they are trusted enough already to do it by phone, or through webmaster tools).
But most of the time, in my experience Google send it from California.

The verification process, and the reviews that often show, really helps you to feel you can trust the information you are finding.

So, you may like to wait for the result of this situation in Europe, or you could get yourself started as this Google+ thing is really starting to fly.

Check out the video and you’ll see how much of a stir it is causing!

Here is the website causing the stir. (funded by companies such as Tripadvisor)

Not on Google+ yet? It is free to get your listing up and verified.
You’ve got nothing to lose, and right now the results show in the best place in Search.

Thanks due to Berndt Rubel for surfacing this one.

Localize – how to get yourself on the Map with Google

By | Google Local, Google My Business, Google Plus | No Comments

neighborhoods1US

Resources:

To set up a new Google+ Page – www.google.com/business

If you have a duplicate page – www.plusyourbusiness.com/troubleshooter

Tips from PYBer Nick Rink when working with clients on this:

“The method I use is to always claim the local Page on behalf of my clients and then get the verification process started. If my client is local to me then I usually do it while I’m with them so that if phone verification is an option we can get that done straight away. If the client is a little further away then we opt for the verify by postcard option – I always take a screenshot of the postcard image to send to the client asking them to keep an eye out for it. When it arrives they call / email me with the PIN and I then complete the Page verification.

At that point we can then go ahead and make any changes needed to the business details, along with fully optimising the Page with photos, a good description and the right categories, etc. It’s at that point that I also invite the client to be a Page manager and then two weeks later change the Page ownership.

One reason I do this through my own profile is that while you’re waiting for the postcard PIN to arrive you shouldn’t be making any edits to the Page or you could invalidate the PIN. Not giving the client access to the Page until after verification helps to avoid this.”

Click here for Stage 2!

How to Get the Reviews that will Improve Your Local Search Rankings

By | Google Local, Google My Business, Google Plus | No Comments

How to Get the Reviews that will Improve Your Local Search Rankings

Five Steps that will Help You Zero-In on Great Customer Reviews!

Customer reviews are important for any quintessential business. That being said, the whole point of getting a customer review has little to do with your ranking on the SERPs and more to do with just giving people a reason to click on your listing, visit your website, or pick up the phone and make an order.

If you have a business but haven’t been able to bag those hard-to-pin-down customer reviews, fear not, for the future fame and fortune of your business is now in the bag. The following are some of the most effective grand-master tips on getting customer reviews from which all future businesses shall benefit.

1.     Provide the Best Customer Service

Since getting positive customer feedback is the cornerstone of any business philosophy, it has become the single most important point which cannot be stressed enough. Every business needs to have happy customers, and happy customers are needed to write those awesome reviews. Providing the best customer service also means that you will need to make the process of leaving a review easy. You can do that by adding a Google+ review logo on your business website, which will take the clicker straight to your Google+ Page where they can then leave their review.

2.     Never Pay for Your Customer Reviews

Okay, before you throw me to the wolves, sure showing customers your appreciation for sharing their thoughts about your business is a nice gesture. There is a reason why people should stay clear from doing so. First of all, Google and FTC forbid businesses from offering incentives to their customers in exchanges for good reviews. You should never use Social media campaigns that require a customer review in return for an incentive, discount, or even a free slice of pizza.

3.     Encourage Customers to Write Reviews on Their Own

This brings us to our next question: how to get customers to write reviews without expecting anything in return. This is easy; all you have to do is use a soft-sell approach, as in, ask customers how they feel about your product or service right after they have bought it. You can also make a suggestion in your newsletter or if you’re running a brick-and-mortar store, string up review site logos around your place of business.

The best way to encourage your customers to write you good reviews is to engage them from and start by being responsive to their feedback via regular email (you do collect your customers email address right?) and various social media outlets. This will provide the social proof that your business is worthy of praise, that is, if you’re standing behind a solid product or service. The trick is to be visible online at all times.

4.     The Schema Markup

It is without a doubt that using a schema markup is important especially for local businesses. Once you have collected a good amount of customer reviews on your business website, help the search engines find it by using the schema markup. The schema markup is basically an HTML code which identifies the content of your webpage, and while it doesn’t impact the rankings per say, it does improve your website’s indexing.

5.     Never Use Just One Review Site

The one thing that businesses get wrong is that they only use one review site, where they should be using multiple. If all of your reviews are placed on one site, Google is programmed to assume that they are fabricated. This is the main reason why your customer should have the ability to choose which review site they wish to write their review in. You can also use a review handout generator like the Whitespark Review Generator to create handouts that will help your clients write reviews of your business on Google.

Here is an Infographic about why Yelp reviews are great for your business:

review-of-reviews-peopleclaim

How to Deal with Negative Reviews or Astroturfing

Dealing with libelous remarks online isn’t easy, but one has to, especially when it comes to saving the repute of your brand name. The fact of the matter is that no matter how hard you try, it is impossible for you to make sure that all the reviews you receive will be positive, that will be asking for too much. Like in business, there will be good days and there will be bad days, and reviews are no exception. Businesses should never avoid or ignore the bad reviews they get because, contrary to popular belief, having poor reviews are actually beneficial. Besides, reaching out to your customers by answering their questions publicly will not only be the professional thing to do, but might also help you improve your business by directing your attention to an area that could very well need some improvements.

The latest research backs the fact that companies which have four star ratings actually get more business than companies which have five star ratings. Part of that is due to the fact that people who surf the web in search for a product or service want honest reviews that would give them a client’s point of view, but more importantly, they want the reviews which they read to be real. And honestly, no matter how good your product or service is, having a truck load of five star reviews just seems a bit too spurious.

And then there’s the slimy Astroturfing gimmick. Getting slapped with fake reviews will without a doubt let your business go down in flames, which is why you will need a primer to deal with the situation, like a cease-and-desist letter. But not after you have proof. Some of the ways to spot the not are;

  •         Meaningless reviewer names.
  •         Bad reviews all sent around the same date and time.

That being said, as a rule of thumb, try to engage with the negative reviewer first, litigation should always be the last resort. In the end, whether it’s an illegal campaign of the competition to defame your brand name, or just another customer who wants to vent their frustration because they didn’t get what they expected, the witchery of the craft is to deal with negative reviews with honesty, and stay professional.

Ending Note

While there is no shame in guiding one’s customers on how they can leave a review on your business website or social media marketing page. That being said, reviews whether they are on the business website, Google+ or within the company’s social sphere should always be earned and most of all voluntary. This is where brand engagement comes in, effective brand engagement is the essential ingredient to getting back positive feedback, (or any feedback for that matter) of whatever it is you offer. In other words, a review is only an intangible asset for your business, and the key to getting a good review lies in your inbound marketing and service approach.

More Tips, Resources, And Stats

Tips

  1. Put a sign up on a visible area in your business that tells your customers where they can find you and provide their feedback.

Here is a Flickr page with some Yelp Signs you can use right away.

  1. Give them an example of reviews left by other customers that will make it easy for them to replicate in their own words.
  2. Provide a “Handout” that explains step-by-step how to leave their feedback on Google+ Local. Here is a great free and very easy tool by Whitespark that you can use to generate a custom Handout for your company.
  3. Showcase your customers reviews from different directories on your website. This is an example of social proof about your business that can help you increase sales, generate better leads and get more reviews.
  4. Use the power of mobile to your advantage, by having a landing page setup to help you generate reviews every time you get a happy customer. The process is simple, have a card with a QR code that points to the landing page, when the customer agrees to leave a feedback ask them to scan the QR code and then follow the instructions on the page. A simple landing page should have a link to different reviews sites, this way the consumer can choose their favorite platform.
  5. Make “asking for reviews” part of your daily interaction with your customers. This way it will turn into a positive company behavior.
  6. Research your competition and pay close attention on what platform they get the most customer feedbacks. And then make sure to claim and set up a good company profile on that directory or website.
  7. Ask your customers for suggestions on how to make your service, product or company better, and to write it together with their reviews. This way will give their feedback more content  power and you also get to learn what they want you to improve or fix to provide a better customer experience.

Resources

Positive Customer Reviews Lead to Increase in Revenue.

Study: 72% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations.

Online Resource Key To Travel Decision-Making [INFOGRAPHIC].

90% of Yelp Users Say Positive Reviews Affect Their Purchases.

Getting Reviews the Right Way for Local Businesses.

Discover and choose great local places. [Official Google Site]

Writing and sharing reviews. [Official Google Site]

Stats

Local Consumer Review Survey 2014.

The Reviews Of Ratings [Infographic]