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How high-ranking local businesses get more Google 5-star reviews

How high-ranking local businesses get more Google 5-star reviews

Why do you need more Google 5-star reviews?

Colorado Springs business owners call us every week because they want to get more Google 5-star reviews.

And they are smart to do so.  An impressive list of Google 5-star reviews can be one of the best Colorado Springs SEO tactics for local businesses.

Here are a few reasons positive reviews are so important:

  • A healthy list of Google 5-star reviews instills trust and confidence in your business.  There are many recent surveys that indicate that 80-90% of respondents claim positive – and negative – reviews affect their decision to contact and purchase from a local company.
  • Reviews help local search engine visibility.  Customer reviews are a ranking factor and businesses with more reviews tend to rank higher.
  • Google 5-star reviews stand out in search and everyone see them. Google displays the average star rating of customer reviews prominently in the results display.
  • You get more clicks.  Our user testing of local Colorado Springs searchers clearly indicates that searchers give more consideration to businesses that have positive reviews.  Searchers frequently scroll by businesses with no reviews.

You don’t want your business to stand out because it has no reviews or a lot of negative reviews.  If this is the case keep reading to learn how to get more Google reviews.

Getting Google 5-star reviews does not happen by itself

Getting reviews is hard for many business categories.  Unless you own a restaurant, hotel or tourist destination, people do not leave reviews.

Consumers just do not naturally leave a review on Google for their roofer, attorney, exterminator, plumber, etc. – unless of course, they want to complain.

We work with many local businesses that provide outstanding service and have excellent local reputations, but have no Google 5-star reviews or worse yet more negative reviews than positive.

However, just because people don’t naturally leave reviews does not mean you can’t get reviews.  You can get reviews, it just takes a little effort to create a customer review request system that produces a steady stream of 5-star reviews for your business.

Creating a customer Review Request System

The secret to getting more Google 5-star reviews is to create a review request system, and then actually implement it.

Below are the steps we use to prepare a customer review request system for our clients. This system is proven to get more positive Google reviews for Colorado Springs businesses.

You can use this system for your business or you can contact us to create one for you.

Prepare your GMB page to receive reviews

Google gives all businesses a free profile page called the Google My Business (GMB) page.  This is where your customers go to leave you a review on Google.

Before you start asking customers to go to the GMB for your business you want to make sure your GMB looks great.  Your GMB profile must be claimed and updated with photos and accurate information about your business.

Go to the official Google GMB page to find and claim your GMB and find guidance on optimizing your GMB profile page.

Setup a shortcut to your GMB profile review box.

Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews by creating a shortcut link that brings up the Google review box.

Even Google recommends doing this, click to view their instructions (opens in new window).

Keep this address handy to cut and paste so you can send it to customers via email, texting, social media and even verbally over the phone. This tactic is essential if you want to get more Google reviews.

Emphasize the importance of reviews to your customers.

Remember, people are not naturally inclined to leave reviews for local businesses, so be prepared to do a little selling of the importance of reviews.

Create a sentence or two that motivates the customer to leave a Google 5-star review.  Here are some examples:

  • “Google 5-star reviews help us grow which allows us to provide you better service.”
  • “Competition is very strong in our industry.  For us to survive we need online Google reviews from customers like you.”
  • “Online reviews help support and give visibility to our business which helps us remain competitive.”

Your best customers want you to succeed, you just need to give them some guidance to get more Google reviews.

When to ask for reviews?

The timing of when and how to ask for reviews depends on your business.

For some businesses, it takes some time for the services you provide to set in so the customer can realize the full benefit of the service or product.

For other businesses, you may want to ask for the review immediately before a positive first impression has time to wear off.

In general, sooner is better than later when asking for reviews.

How to ask for reviews?

Here are the most common ways to ask for customer reviews.

  • Face-to-face.  Generally, asking in-person has a higher probability of actually getting the review.  You can text the GMB shortcut while face-to-face with the customer to convey the importance of reviews to your business.
  • Phone. Calling soon after the service is effective for actually getting the review.  You can begin the call as a follow-up call to check customer satisfaction. If the client is happy then give them the review request pitch line and the link to your Google review box.
  • Email. This method is easier than meeting face-to-face or calling but has a lower success rate.  The key to using email to request reviews is to create a catchy subject line. Then keep the email brief with emphasis on the importance of reviews to your business.  We find we need to send a second and even third reminder request when using email.
  • Texting.  Texting has a very high open rate and can be effective for getting reviews with customers that use texting.  However, we recommend using this technique carefully as many people do not want business-related texts.
  • Hand-outs. This method has a lower success rate however, it can work with customers that physically visit an office such as a dentist, property manager or salon.  With this method, you create a handout (a card, a sheet of paper) that asks for a review and provides instructions for leaving the review.

Who to ask for reviews?

Another secret for you to get more Google 5-star reviews is to seek out customers that are good candidates to actually leave a review.

To leave a review on Google you must be signed in to a Google account.

This means customers that use Google for email (i.e. gmail.com) are great candidates for a Google review because they are usually logged into Google.

Customers that don’t have Google accounts must go through the extra steps of creating a Google account.  While this is not technically difficult, it does require several steps which can be a major obstacle to actually getting the Google review.

We always ask our customers with a gmail.com email address to leave a Google review. If a customer doesn’t have a Google account we will often ask them for a Facebook review instead.

One last thing, request reviews from your happiest customers while they are still happy.  Strike while the iron is hot!

Offering an incentive to leave a review.

The common wisdom is to not offer an incentive to leave a review.

This is because it is against the rules of the big review websites like Google and Yelp to trade payment for reviews.

If you hate asking for reviews keep this in mind – engaging with customers directly about their experience with your business is actually good customer service and will often prompt a (hopefully) positive review.

Get more Google 5-star reviews by starting now!

The real bottom line for you to get more Google reviews is to get started asking your customers specifically for a review on Google.

The sooner you implement a customer review request system, the sooner you’ll start getting a steady stream of new reviews.

I know you hate asking for reviews.  Just keep this in mind:  it is good customer service to engage with your customers directly about their experience with your business. Following up after the service will often prompt a Google 5-star review.

Now get review collecting!

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Content is King! And the best SEO strategy.

Content is King! And the best SEO strategy.

In this article, I will make the case for why content marketing should be the foundation of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

I know from experience that Google considers content and backlinks among the two most important ranking signals. Of these two you have the most control over the content.

So if your goal is to improve your SEO results, then you need a strategy for giving Google the content it so desires.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of publishing engaging information – i.e. content –  that proves you are a master of your business and/or industry.

There are many ways to deliver content. The most popular forms are blog articles, web pages,  white papers, videos, social media posts, FAQs, podcasts, and more.

Why does content marketing matter?

Trust is an issue in today’s online world.  Content marketing can help you build trust with your customers and prospects.

Content marketing is not advertising, rather it is relationship building.  Building a relationship is one way to build trust.

Marketing experts predict content marketing will replace traditional advertising.  This is because content marketing both promotes your business and gives you a way to build a relationship that builds trust with your prospects and customers.

From an SEO perspective content marketing matters because the content on your website is how you communicate to Google what you do and why you should rank higher than the other guys.

Google loves fresh content on a website.  Google favors websites that publish new content regularly.

The bottom line is the content must support your business goals.  Most times, the specific goal of content marketing is to enable searchers to both find you and get to know, like and trust you.

How does content marketing work?

Most local businesses carry out content marketing in the form of blogging.  Here are just a few reasons why blogging is so popular for content marketing:

  • Blogs are easy to set up and update
  • The public has become accustomed to reading blogs
  • Many searchers expect a business to blog
  • Blogs allow visitor engagement
  • Blog posts are naturally well-suited for sharing
  • When creating a blog for content marketing the articles must give value to the reader.

People are usually searching for specific information, so keep each blog article focused on a single main idea.

Blog articles between 600 – 1,200 words will produce measurable improvement in search engine ranking.

One common result I seek with blogging is to “impress” the reader.  I do this with content that is educational, how-to, answers a specific question, provides a tip, offers a list of resources, checklists, reviews, interviews, or tells a story that creates a connection with the website owner.

Don’t fall into the trap of crappy blogging.  Don’t bore people with blog updates on “discounts and sale prices” or your “newest home listing” or your “superior products” or any other salesy promotional content. This style of blogging is for amateurs, not for you.

If you’re going to blog you’ve got to take the time to do it right. Please don’t waste your time with low quality, short and/or generic content.  You want to invest the time and resources in quality content.

Six reasons content marketing should be the foundation of your SEO strategy

Now that you know what content marketing is and that blogging is a great way to do it, here are six reasons why you should use content marketing for SEO in the coming year.

1. Content marketing improves your ranking in Google

Posting quality content is great for SEO.  Content is how you give your keywords to Google.  Google loves websites that post informative content on specific topics on a regular basis.

The frequency of blogging will have a big impact on improving ranking. The more the better.

How often you should publish new content depends on the level of competition for ranking for your keywords.

As you probably know, there is fierce competition for many local keywords (i.e. real estate, attorneys, plumbers, etc.) and SEO for these industries may require an aggressive blogging strategy.

For most local businesses I find that posting once or twice a month suffices to improve ranking and get your phone ringing or people walking in your door.

2. Content marketing builds credibility and trust

As I mentioned earlier, filling your website with high-quality content allows you to make a good impression on your visitors.  High-quality content conveys that you are an authority in your industry.

There is an old marketing saying that applies to business owners goes…

“Of all the providers in your market, are you the obvious choice?”

When people go online and search for products and services and find your business, they always ask themselves two important questions:

  1. Is this business an authority on what I need?
  2. Can I trust this business?

Content marketing helps you answer these questions for your website visitors.  Content marketing is how you become “the obvious choice.”

3. Content marketing can give you a competitive edge

Ever notice how the larger companies in Colorado Springs have the top rankings in the search engines results.

Their high visibility in search is because the larger companies have an edge in building backlinks.  Remember,  I mentioned earlier that backlinks are one of the two most important ranking signals.

Larger companies get better backlinks because their partners, suppliers and commercial customers often link to them. Smaller businesses just don’t have a deep list of associates to help them build backlinks.

Content marketing can level the playing field for the smaller Colorado Springs businesses.

You don’t have to be a huge company to use content marketing to stand out in the search results. You just have to publish a better blog than your competitors.

Many larger companies don’t focus on content marketing.  The larger companies depend on old-school direct marketing (mail, TV/Radio, signage, phone, etc.) and ignore more aggressive SEO tactics such as content marketing.

Check for yourself.  Search on the main keywords for your industry and visit your larger competitors.  Go to their blog and see if they are publishing regular quality content.

If your competitors are not consistently blogging or publishing other information, you may be able to out-rank them using blogging.

4. Content marketing improves search user experience

Did you know one of the top 5 ranking factors in Search User Experience?  Two of the top SEO blogs – SearchEngineLand.com and moz.com – proclaim User Experience (UX) as a top SEO priority for 2018.

This is a huge topic but in a nutshell, Search User Experience is the science of providing visitors to your website with a great experience.   The features of a website with a great UX are fast page load speed, easy to find the desired information, and delivering actionable high-quality content related to the search query.

Google tracks what people do after they find you on Google.  If searchers bounce right back to the search page from your website, then Google considers this a poor search user experience.

Cram packing your website with great content is a proven way to increase the visit time of searchers while on your website. When searchers spend a long time on your website, Google considers the visit to be a positive search user experience.

Giving Google searchers a good UX on your website makes Google happy.  You want to make Google happy.  When Google is happy everyone is happy.

5. Content marketing is excellent for natural backlink building

As I mentioned in the first sentence of this article, content and backlinks are two of the most important ranking signals.

Backlink building is time-consuming, expensive and difficult.  You can’t spend your way to good backlinks either, Google frowns upon paid backlink building. Don’t do it.

Luckily, when you implement a quality content marketing strategy, you are simultaneously implementing a powerful backlinks building strategy.

While Google hates paid or other unnatural backlink building, Google loves “natural backlinks” to your content.  Natural backlinks are links to your content earned because of the merits of the content.

But for natural backlinks to happen, you first need content that is worthy of a link.

How then does a natural backlink happen?  They are created when an owner of a website finds and loves your content, and decides to link to it from their websites as part of their content marketing strategy.

Sharing your content on social media is one way to encourage people to both re-share and link to your content.

Bonus tip:  Google likes it when you give valuable backlinks to other websites because it shows you are providing value to your visitors.   For this reason, I always include a link or three to an authoritative website is each piece of content you produce.  Notice the half-dozen backlinks in this article to authoritative content marketing websites.

6. Content marketing is cost-effective

Content marketing is not cheap.  Creating a continuous stream of high-quality, engaging and actionable content requires skills, time and effort.

But, over the long term, content marketing via blogging is one of the most cost-effective SEO tactics available to small business owners.

So, what is the cost of blogging?

The staff at Pagecafe needs between 6-10 hours to publish one piece of content – i.e. one blog article – for a typical local business.

You might be thinking, wow! – That is a lot of time and money for one article.

The fact is good blogging takes time.  We need that much time for topic research, keyword research, reviewing keyword ranking, managing the content calendar, working with the writer to research/create the article, editing and revising, adding on-page SEO, performing internal link building, finding a photo, client review/approval, publishing on the website and announcing to Google and social media.

As I stated above, it is in the long-term that content marketing is cost-effective.  A quality piece of content can improve rank, increase visitors, and nurture leads and new customers for years to come.

Summary – Content Marketing is good SEO

In this article, I shared my opinion that the two most important ranking signals for Google are content and backlinks. Of these two you have the most control over your content.

If SEO is important to your business, then you need to consider content marketing and blogging to improve your ranking and traffic in the coming year.

Improving SEO is not the only virtue of content marketing.  Consistent blogging can allow your prospects that find you in the search engines to get to know, like and trust you.  People do business with people they know, trust and like.  Content marketing helps you make this happen when people find your business via search.

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