For those of you who steer away from Google Reviews, please read and stay tuned for an update that may help or hurt your small business.
The obvious first: When comparing similar items to purchase, we'll select the item that's most desirable. It may be the visual appealing nature, a recommendation, or even the perceived value over the others that give you the desire to select that item.
So what is the major metric used to differentiate from one product versus another?
The answer is both obvious, with the title of this post, and quite interesting.
The answer is Trust. When shopping online for products and services, factors like return policies, warranties, and testimonials/reviews often outweigh price.
This leads us to the purpose of our discussion today... Reviews.
Think about how many times have you searched for a product and sorted for 4-5 star reviews. Then consider how many times you've inspected reviews that may be negative to see what the issue was for the consumer.
Personally, I do this all the time. I also think my buying habits have changed because of the time I spend looking at reviews.
Case in point... I recently purchased a new laptop for my Son. While purchasing, I shopped around through Tiger Direct, New Egg, Amazon, and Google. Price and quality were my main two factors. Taking the ability to filter my results based off of desired specifications, I then had to compare the results:
For those who valued reviews in their decision making process, they were drawn to it over the other two businesses that ranked better.
As Google is putting more and more stock in social signals, your business reviews are imperative if you want to maintain your rankings and ultimately get online business.
Work to gather reviews! Solicit your past customers and incentivize a review! As you close current contracts, offer your customers a $10 Starbucks gift card if they write up a review for you while you're waiting.
What about negative reviews?
Lets be honest, many business owners are extremely cautious with this due to the possibility of receiving a negative review. Don't be!
Lets face it, 100% approval of a product is a pipe dream and we know we can't make everyone happy all of the time. It's forced, un-natural, and can lead to speculation.
This being said, when there's a negative review followed by a timely response from the business working to resolve the issue, it's typically a win for the business! It leads people to believe, even if the product isn't perfect, the business will work with the consumer to get there.
In other words: Negative reviews can equal wins for the business! Do a search for "turning negative reviews into a positive" and you'll be shocked how many businesses actually prosper from negative reviews! Like this one.
The moral of the story -
I hope you found a lot of value here. If you have any questions about review management, leave a comment here or email me.
IF you'd like a copy of our Free Review Management Handout and Quick Review Link for your website, email me.
Thanks for reading,
Yes, you've heard it here first. We've been featured on a local podcast here in Frederick!
CHECK IT OUT HERE!
I loved doing the podcast and I think it turned out pretty well. There are ups and downs, twist and turns, and you may cry a little but hopefully its not my voice causing it!
In all seriousness, on the podcast you'll hear a bit about my background, family, coaching, and all the awesome work we do here at Apollo LLC!
One of the things we love most about Eric is his belief system:
Thank you Eric for having us on your Podcast and sharing our story. We're humbled to be part of your amazing group of entrepreneurs! Keep the stories and interviews coming!
As we all know, Google keeps informing us about the benefits of HTTPS and how it'll both help keep your browsing safe and increase the rankings for your website.
A year ago today, Ahrefs wrote a fantastic article with an analysis of 10,000 domains and how well they use HTTPS to improve their SERP rankings.
Their results are both informative and a bit shocking. Will 2017 be the year we start adding SSL to all of our Rank-n-Rent and SEO clients?
The Drum has a Top 4 tips to do in 2017 to improve your SEO. First on the list, HTTPS migration. That's about it. There are a ton of other articles discussing 2017 SEO trends, and most talk about mobility optimization, the new Google AI, UX, and even non-PBN backlinking. Ultimately, SEO isn't going away any time soon and HTTPS could be another way to slightly improve your rankings.
Let us know your stance on SSL and HTTPS. Worth the money and slower loading times?
Don't know what SSL or HTTPS is? Click this to learn more from Search Engine Land.
Howdy everyone. It's been a little over a month and I wanted to quickly dive into where our recent efforts have been focusing.
Yup, we've been camping over on Facebook... and finding tremendous success!
How, you say?
It's all about Facebook advertising and their ninja advertising tricks. I have to say, it's scary how laser focused you can place ads and the results we're seeing are fantastic!
Say for instance, you're a savvy real estate agent looking for more people wanting to buy or sell. We can focus on the exact clientele you're looking for based off of income, interest, search history, sex, family size, job title and more. We can then exclude the stuff we don't want.
What's left is a focused group of prospects that will see our ad while they check in on their family and friends.
Our latest 7 day ad generated 27 leads for an REA in Colorado. Zillow, do you like apples?
Are you one of those nay-sayers that think Facebook is going away?
Taking a look at monthly active users in the United States and Canada
Facebook isn't going anywhere and you owe it to yourself to get online, increase your media presence, and advertise your business.
Many of us who have been doing the SEO gig for a week or two, know there's such a thing as a good backlink and a bad backlink. We do our research on the site, on the url, and on the amount of outbound links (OBL) they currently have. Seasoned veterans love their sites like Majestic to provide the Trust Flow for their backlinks. SMART veterans, like us, know to look at the Trust Ratio instead and really dive into the numbers before we seek the dofollow juice
Sadly... No matter how much research you do, we all end up with a few bad backlinks pointing back to our website. Thus stealing your precious juice you've already built up! Once the horror hits you square in the head, you realize the error of your way, spend hours in the shower crying for the loss of your precious rank, and you often quickly go out and find five new links to try to cushion the blow.
Stop the madness! Don't fret about it. Dry those tears and lets put your big boy shorts on and clean up your mess. Matt Cutts is Google's head of search spam. Read more about Matt here. Waaay back in 2013, Matt was in Spain and having a discussion about this very subject. Matt's response, “just go ahead and disavow those links,” even if they don't remove them when you ask. “At that point, you should be in good shape and I wouldn’t worry about it after that.”
Yup, it's that simple. Log on to your Google Webmaster page and click on Disavow Links. Setup your links that you realize are killing your juice, and exterminate them! Finally, wait 30 days for it to take effect and reclaim you juice glory as your website ranks back on top of Google!
For those of you who are finally becoming SEO believers, but still rely heavily on your Ad Word campaigns to bring in traffic... This post is helpful.
Here's an interesting article to help your website convert leads to paying customers. While attempting optimization methods to improve your conversion ratio, the A/B significance tests is very important.
Pro tip: The 100 click method they outline to measure and accept results is subject to too many variables. Instead, try running two adds concurrently with two different "call to action" telephone numbers.
Here's how: Sign up for a FREE Google Voice Telephone number here. Next, forward the Google telephone number to your normal phone number. Finally. run your test campaign along and your normal "control" campaign concurrently.
This is more money up front but you'll receive quantitive results you can easily measure!
After running the campaigns for a few days, analyze your campaign results and adjust the verbiage as necessary. This is relatively easy as Google Voice logs each call so you simply measure you Google calls against the total.
Be diligent with your edits and re-runs, and in a few weeks to a month you should start to see a significant gain in your ROI.
Remember that there is no fast and right way to get this right. It's all about trial and error to find what's right for your niche.
Several small business clients that come to use find themselves in one of two situations.
These owners have gone one of two routes:
In both scenarios, the end result is the same... A published website with no substantial content and no visitors. Also, in both cases, these local businesses never built a strong internet presence to rank in searches.
Building and maintaining a strong internet presence across a variety of sources is curcial if you want to rank in Google, Yahoo, or Bing. If a website's presence is low, you'll never make it past page 3. Unfortunately, building a strong internet presence is extremely time consuming, and can take business owners away from their core competency each month.
Even with this said, there are options to assist with driving business to your website. This article will outline some of these options.
One option to generate leads, is to advertise online through a directory or media site like Yellow Pages, Yelp, Google, Bing, Whitepages, and more and more.
Some of these sites are legit and won't try to sell you anything... Others, not so much.
Upon signing up to one of these "other" sites, within a few days you'll receive a up-sale call and scripted spiel from one of their sales reps. They'll first verify your business information, and many of them will attempt to "pre-qualify your business" to see if it's worthy to be placed in one of their limited premium listings. They'll ask questions like, "how many people you have, what specific services you offer, how big of an area you cover", etc...
Once you're approved, they'll establish credibility by flaunting how they're the best nationwide, and most will have some type of exclusive agreements with Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Then they'll say something like this, "we're currently receiving a lot of searches in your area for <your niche>". "We have a spot available and we'd like provide you with an exclusive offer to upgrade to a premium service" [for a small monthly fee].
Please perform due diligence here and ask the following:
Benefit: If you find a good directory that actually has users searching for your services in your area, your chance of receiving leads and hopefully converting them to paying customers is good.
Risk: This doesn't build an actual foundation for your business. You've created a dependency through a lead funnel that you pay regardless of conversion rates or income. Also, sites like Home Advisor can charge over $100 for expensive keywords, and just because a customer clicks on the call to action doesn't mean you converted it to a sale. Each $100 click adds up quick! Many businesses pay for these services and receive very little return on investment (ROI). Be careful!
Our Recommendation: Sign up for directories! Not what you though, ehh?
Here’s why. Even though the sales people will aggressively attempt to sign you up for their "premiere listing", ignore the up-sell and simply use their basic service. The reason is simple and not something I've hit on yet.
The more places on the internet that list your small business's Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP), the higher you'll rank in the map section of Google keyword searches. You must pay attention here and make sure to provide the EXACT SAME NAP every time.
You'd be surprised how few companies do this.
Lead Generation Companies
There are hundreds of methods that Lead Generation companies utilize to generate leads for customers. I'm going to list a few options below BUT please remember that for lead generation, our company only utilizes the traffic generating website or "money site" method and white hat SEO. Let's start with these first.
Money Site: The money site is a website that ranks above competition in the local area. The Lead Generation Company will invest time and money to build this website and then utilize SEO tools to get it ranked properly. Any leads that come through the site are typically transferred through a call tracking number to the client/service provider. Unlike competing for leads on Houzz or Home Advisor, these leads are exclusive leads so the client doesn't have to cut their margins. The service provider will then pay the Lead Generation company either a monthly fee, commission percentage, or a cost per call.
Benefit: I'm partial to this method obviously so take this with a grain of salt. The benefit here is that investment is low and the risk is on the Lead Gen company. Meaning this, building a website isn't enough. There is a substantial and continuous investment required to keep a website ranking on top of searches. This creates a symbiosis between the Lead Gen Company and the Client, as the Lead Gen is incentivized to provide leads to their client.
Risk: There's typically a "lock-in" fee based on the saturation of the local market, but this is to recoup some of the initial costs and acts as a good faith payment. You've also created another dependency through a lead funnel, as previously discussed in Directories, BUT conversion rates are more transparent utilizing this method. Lastly, you don’t own the Intellectual Property (IP) that feeds you.
Our Recommendation: This route is beneficial for those who are time and cash strapped as you can lock-in fairly cheap to receive exclusive leads.
SEO: I typically lose my audience here as Search Engine Optimization is incredibly boring and overly complicated. Here’s as short a summary as I can make it. Everything is focus on ranking the website on top in its niche and location. This typically starts with building a new website with keyword optimization and content optimization. This simply means that while building your mobile friendly website with ample and authoritative content, you cater to search engines by utilizing best practices for keywords and content. Once the website is completed, the hard work of due diligence start. SEO due diligence includes things such as back links, alt text, verifications, directories, social content, and media. Once this work is completed, it’s just a matter of waiting for search engine crawl rates and indexing to catch up.
Benefit: This is your number one method to generate a long term strategy to stay on top and dominate your local competition. You own the IP this time!
Risk: Your initial investment is higher for website and SEO services.
Our Recommendation: Go this route if you have the up-front cash. Utilize the Lead Gen Company SEO services for at least a year. After that, sit down with the Lead Gen Company to evaluate how much value the on-going SEO services are providing. At some point, you’ll grow enough that you can onboard the services yourself.
Co-Registration, Affiliate Marketing Companies, and Telemarketing
Co-Registration, Affiliate Marketers, and Telemarketers companies primarily data mine customer information and either sell or pass-on customer data to another company.
Co-Registration: Co-registration is a method for lead generation companies to prospect leads. While perusing the mall, how many times have we seen that beautiful new car giveaway or a "take a short survey for a free gift card"? In these cases, the company actually hosting the car giveaway will re-sell the drawing entries to hundreds of companies willing to pay for leads. If you perform a quick search for "Free Leads", you can quickly get a feel for how many companies are primed and ready to pass on customer's personal information.
Affiliate Marketing: Ever wonder why spammy calls and emails start rolling after you sign up for many generic services or create accounts on websites? If you look closely at a lot of these privacy notices, you'll find a blurb about affiliates, "<X Company>, or our affiliates will not sell your information to any third party and will only use it internally for our business purposes". That spammy call you just received? Yup, it was probably the affiliate just tried to sell you something. If you happen like what they're selling and sign up, the marketing company gets a commission. Technically, they didn't sell your information to any outside companies. All you would have to do is sign your small business up to become one of their local affiliates and they'll run with it.
Telemarketing: Yes, Lead Gen companies still utilize telemarketing to source leads. This method is the telephone version of “take a short survey” and it can actually be effective if you find that customer that doesn’t hang up immediately.
Benefit: There wouldn’t be thousands of companies out there doing these practices if they weren’t somewhat effective.
Risk: You’ve worked real hard to build your name and reputation. Do you want to risk soiling your hard work with something that makes people’s skin crawl?
Recommendation: Run away! Danger, Will Robinson!
Are you still reading?
If so, you're awesome! Let’s be real about your situation. The reality is, unless you rank on page one of Google, you're probably not going to get much traffic. To be even more specific, unless you rank ON TOP of page one, you're probably not getting much of anything.
There are a ton of companies offering to “help”, but like any non-approved new drug on the market, the results aren’t guaranteed and results may vary. It’s your money to do with as you please. I just hope that I’ve given you something to think about and you’ll continue your research.
Thanks for reading,
Owner of Apollo LLC