Statistics show that 97% of consumers use the internet to research local products and services. Bricks-and-mortar business have a powerful opportunity to be found by these consumers by using local search marketing and online reviews (sorry, negative reviews don’t count). Google technology is so smart it knows where you are searching from (based on your IP address) and can decipher if your search is asking for research or for local business information. In other words, if you search for “great sushi restaurant”, your first page results will include local businesses that relate to your search. So, how do you optimize this Google listing to pull up first page results?
Google has what’s called a “Place Page”. If you’re listed on other sites across the web, most likely you already have a Google Place Page, so the first step is to search for your Google Place Page. If you do have one, you’ll need to claim it and make sure all the information is up to date and correct. If you do not have a Google Place Page, you’ll need to create one. Within your place page, you have the option to enter all sorts of business information on top of the basic address, phone, website, email. The more information you can give, the better.
Another great and powerful beauty of your Google Place page is it’s capability for your customers to write reviews on your business. Reviews go a long way with your search competition. If you have a better star rating, chances are you will be called or visited over your online competitor with a lesser star rating. Word of mouth and referrals are a must have marketing practice. Online reviews are a form of word of mouth marketing- people listen to what others say, even if they have no idea who they are. Statistics show 70% of people trust what a complete stranger has to say about a company. What does this tell you- get on the ball with generating great reviews and get your business’s word of mouth in motion!
Now, some of you may have started this process already and seen how quickly bad reviews can climb to the top or good reviews can suddenly disappear. Companies like Yelp and soon to be Google + (or Google Places) have smart technology that deciphers an accumulation of information when a review is written and may decide to hide a review, with the thought that is was not genuine.
As a business owner, unfortunately there’s nothing you can do and no amount of money you can pay to delete or un-hide reviews. But what you can do, is stay on top of your online presence and find out what reviews are being posted online about you and keep the good ones coming. Let your guests know you’d love to hear their genuine feedback. Ask them to find you on Google to post a review when they have time. Above all, be honest and let your good works speak for themselves. If you try to outsmart the Google-plex or smart technology of Yelp, you’ll most likely get stung in the end. So, focus your energies on giving great customer service and being the best business you can be, and plant the seed of posting a review in your customers. Next step- be patient and continue on asking for reviews!
At the end of the day, if you have a properly optimized Google Place Page & positive customer reviews, you’re taking some large strides in optimizing for your local market. Cheers to the power of technology and online marketing!
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