Written by Karina Tama-Rutigliano
Many facets go into a marketing strategy, and that’s what makes it so interesting. Marketers need to think about who their clients are and what their online search and shopping habits are. They also have to keep a keen eye on the competition, create similar angles that are better than the competition or break out of the box and do something completely different.
Factoring all of those issues and more, marketers have to accomplish their marketing strategies using the funds and resources that are available to them.
For smaller companies, the term “marketer” is often loosely applied to a company owner, employee or intern because of budgetary constraints. Some companies don’t even have the funds or technical wherewithal to put up a company website. Others create a simple, no-frills website and spend little or no time updating it.
A basic website is better than no website at all. Small companies with small budgets don’t need to break the bank to advertise online. A few great reviews, written and posted by local customers, go a long way towards helping new customers find your business among the local pack.
Get acquainted with Google My Business.
Your business can get some attention online, even if you don’t have a website, as long as you’re willing to take a few minutes to complete a Google My Business page. Google has done you the favor of setting up a blank template of a page that you can easily customize for your business — for free.
Google My Business is a user-friendly template that lets you add your company’s name, address, phone number, fax number, email address or other contact information. Your Google My Business page will enable your customers to call you right from the site and give them directions to find you in person.
When you’ve got new and exciting information or events to share with your customers, you can easily edit the page and let your customers know about it with a few short paragraphs and some images.
Business owners that have any amount of marketing know-how can also take advantage of linking, keywords, alt tags, meta descriptions and other search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most importantly, your customers can leave a review on your Google My Business page. Whether the review is positive or negative, it gives you the chance to connect with them to thank them or offer to turn a negative experience around.
Google My Business has an easy-to-understand section called “Insights,” which tells you how your customers found you.
The platform can increase your business’s ranking, even if you don’t have a website or have one without many bells and whistles.
Reviews mean a lot to business owners — and Google loves them, too.
Local SEO Guide conducted its annual study of local SEO ranking factors and found that customer reviews were big players in search engine ranking for local search. The study analyzed more than 200 factors as they related to 100,000 businesses.
The study also looked at other factors that help local businesses rank well. It found that local ranking factors are highly connected with organic ranking factors. Businesses that ranked well in organic searches also showed high in Google’s local pack. This leads me to believe that businesses can rank well in local packs even when website owners or marketers aren’t taking advantage of SEO strategies, like keywords and linking.
Exactly how do reviews correlate to local search?
What we can learn from this is that smaller companies may think that they can’t have a huge presence online, but a Google My Business page with lots of positive reviews on it can change all that quite nicely. Google will see lots of reviews on a Google My Business page, indicating that it is a local business that does well and has a great reputation with local customers.
Essentially, Google uses crowdsourcing to tell it whether a site is a company with a strong reputation. Google has a specified format for reviews, so that customers know how their review will appear. The tools for Google My Business make it hard for spammers to get in on the action and damage the customer’s reputation. If they get through, Google will crack down on unscrupulous spammers and hackers.
Quality and quantity matter equally in reviews.
The Google search engine takes a look at what reviewers are saying before making a judgment on rank. Google gives special attention in the local pack to reviewers who mention any of the keywords or the name of the city where the business is located.
I’ve noticed that websites that have high-quality link profiles nearly always rank well in local search. I’ve also noticed that sites with few or no links, and those that have poor-quality links, also rank well in the local search pack if the business has good reviews on Google My Business.
Here are a few final clues about local reviews.
Creating a website should be the highest priority for companies that don’t already have one. Website platforms are relatively easy to set up. Many templates have automatic updates, so some of them require little or no maintenance if that’s what you’re looking for.
With or without a website, ask your best customers to rate and review you on your Google My Business page. Encourage them to mention your services and your city.
With Google picking up the cost for the site and you putting forth some effort of your own, new clientele may be clicking and calling because they loved what other locals said about you.