Pandas, penguins, hummingbird's oh my! Google is at it again..another animal update. This time it's Pigeon.
Google is constantly refining their search algorithm to provide the most helpful and useful search results. As a small business, these refinements can literally make or break you if you rely on internet traffic for the success of your business, right? After reviewing the Pigeon update, there are 2 important takeaways. Rankings are being affected now by your review ratings and the consistency of your NAP (Name, Address, Phone).
Are Reviews Important to Customers?
Studies show that consumers want to see 6-10 reviews about a business before deciding to do business with them. The mere absence of reviews can be looked at as a negative. Business owners might think they can't control online reviews...after all, anyone can logon and blast or praise a business. But a business owner can make a difference.
For example, I recently worked with a business that has been around for over 20 years...but when you put their business name in followed by the word 'reviews', what you see is not impressive. It seems that in 20 years, no one has had anything to say about their service. Looks suspicious doesn't it? After employing a simple reputation marketing program, they're now looked at as the go to company in their market.
Google+, Urbanspoon, Yelp and other review sites are steadily becoming the deciding factor when it comes to buyers making a decision on who to use.
A few months back my wife and I wanted to try out a new sushi restaurant....the kids were at Nana's house so we had the night off. We went online and Google'd 'sushi restaurant Scottsdale'. I found a restaurant that we hadn't tried before ranking in the Google maps section of the results page and mentioned that we hadn't been there before. My wife leaned over to look at the screen and said, "Oh, we aren't going there...3 stars, forget it." The buying decision was made without reading even one of the reviews...heck, it could have been that the heaters on the outdoor patio weren't working and had nothing to do with the service or the food quality but it didn't matter. If 3 stars was all the restaurant could muster, we were out. This isn't out of the norm for most people. What people say about you and your business online absolutely matters.
Google basically thinks that all the well-reviewed sites should have higher search rankings; what better way to provide useful results? Understanding this means you need to build your online reputation to stay competitive today...but it's easier said than done.
Associating your business with review sites is a great way to get the ball rolling but it takes time for people to link the two together in their minds. Making it easy for customers to leave you reviews is also a great way to start to build up your reputation. Even better is having a way to not only thank customers, but to request their feedback in a way that takes none of a business owners time, which means owners can focus on their business. A system that promotes leaving positive feedback and minimizes the chances of negative reviews showing up online is the ultimate system. We have a complete online reputation marketing platform that does just that! Shoot me an email or fill in the form to the right for more information about this exciting new review system..there is nothing like it out there.
Having great reviews can instantly minimize the sting of negative comments about you or your company left by a disgruntled customer. It's going to happen; you can't please everyone all the time. But you can respond publicly to a negative review and actually turn it into a positive. Many business owners don't know what people are saying about them online, much less that they could respond.
NAP Consistency Now Critical
Besides great reviews, having a consistent name, address and phone number across all online listings in search engines and business directories is critically important. Don't discount this important ranking element. Google's algorithms are very critical about consistency. When a part of your contact info is abbreviated, incorrect or misspelled, rankings can drop significantly.
What if you owned "Joe's Handyman Service, Inc."? This business name is likely to have issues. "Joe's" is changed to "Joe" The 'Inc." is listed as Incorporated in some listings and 'Inc' in others. All these inconsistencies affect your ranking.
Search online for your business name and claim your listing where they are lacking and correct the ones that are wrong. Keep the name, address and phone consistent and get happy clients to leave you reviews and you'll be glad you did. If you need help fixing your most important online search engine and directory listings, or just to see where your business stands, fill in the form to the right or just give us a call. We're happy to help.