Category Archives: Local SEO

google rating

How Google Rating Stars Can Help Boost Your Site Traffic

Earlier today, user reviews on Amazon saved me from losing $100+ on a low-quality product with misleading photos.

Moments from clicking “add to cart,” I scrolled down to the customer reviews just out of curiosity.

Several one-star reviews immediately caught my attention.

The photos those customers included confirmed my worst fears. I shook my head and moved on to purchase a customer approved product from a competing brand. (It’s an adorable mini-fridge you can write on with Expo markers, for those wondering!)

Organic customer feedback can help you dodge bullets like I did this morning. But more importantly, a good Google rating based on real customer reviews can drastically improve a company’s online presence and click through rate.

A Local Consumer Review Survey from 2014 showed 88% of consumers trust consumer reviews as much as a personal recommendation!

But don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see how much those little yellow stars can boost your business:

How Google Rating Stars Work

Back in 2010, Google introduced “seller ratings” (star ratings) for companies that paid Google Shopping for ad space at the top of search results pages.

Soon star ratings were expanded to organic search results as well, though certain requirements have to be met to show them. Today, Google uses something called Rich Snippets to assign these star ratings to organic results.

Put simply, Rich Snippets are a form of structured data that Google uses to extract relevant information and display it as a sort of sneak preview right under search results.

To come up with appropriate star ratings, Google takes Rich Snippets from several different “trusted” third-party review sites (that they refuse to name). The star review for any given search result is the average of all of these trusted reviews.

Why Google Rating Stars Help So Much

According to a newly updated post from Google Adwords, showing seller ratings under your text ads can boost your ad click through rate up to 10%. And that’s just data collected by companies paying for ad space from Google, not organic search data.

Amidst all the blue links and faded gray text on every Google Search Results Page, a row of bright stars jumps out at the reader.

Within seconds, your Google rating lets strangers know your site is legitimate enough to have collected honest feedback from previous customers.

If that rating is positive, you’ve just nailed your first impression before they even see your website.

All of these obvious benefits aside, increased engagement will help move your site up higher on Google Results pages. Just being higher on a Google Results page increases your traffic, as shown in this study by Chitika.

A good Google rating has the potential to snowball into significantly more exposure and engagement with new users searching for your services.

How To Get Your Stars

Google doesn’t just let any organic search results show Rich Snippets and star ratings. There are a few things you need to do earn your rating:

Display Real Customer Reviews

As of this year, Google now requires your reviews from customers to be visible on your page–not just on third-party websites–in order to show your star rating. (This is only required for stars under organic search results, not Seller Ratings given to companies paying Google Adwords and Google Shopping for ad space.)

You can accomplish this by:

  • Taking screenshots of external review sites and posting them on your site (cheap, fast, and effective, though probably not the most professional looking)
  • Paying for a plugin or script that makes it easy for customers to write and publish new reviews right to your site
  • Setting up automated emails to ask recent customers for reviews of a product they just purchased

Label The Data You Want Google To Find

Remember our conversation about Rich Snippets earlier?

It will be a lot easier for Google to understand that the customer reviews on your site are relevant if you turn plain text on your site into structured data.

The easiest way to do this will depend on how you’ve built your website.

In WordPress, you can do this with a free Structured Data Schema plugin that lets you edit site-wide data.

Squarespace, however, already has forms you can use to enter all the info you want to show up as structured data. (You can also do this manually with some coding, but not all of us are over-achievers okay?)

If you haven’t already, set up sitewide data to let Google know your business name, logo, hours, etc.

Next, on pages containing reviews let Google know what is being reviewed, number of reviews, average rating, so on and so forth.

Once you’ve left this breadcrumb trail of structured data for Google to find, all of this business info along with your precious stars and reviews should typically start showing up under your Google Search Results within a week.*

*(Assuming, of course, you don’t go overboard with trying to work Google’s algorithms to your advantage. If Google senses you’re trying to artificially skew review results or the visibility of your reviews, the penalties are harsh!)

Get Started Now

Content marketing, building quality backlinks, and establishing site authority takes time and industry know-how.

Your company’s Google rating is just one small part of a good SEO campaign.

Good reviews build trust with the public, but trust is just one-third of the holy trinity of SEO. To really drive up site traffic, you’re also going to need authority and popularity.

Do you have enough backlinks to other quality sites? Do quality sites link back to you? You can’t collect customer reviews if customers don’t know how to find your webpage!

Get a free link building consultation today to make sure you’re getting the most out of your company site’s SEO.

You don’t have to do all of the backlink sleuthing by yourself. Talk to one of our seasoned professionals to see which of our SEO services is right for you and your unique needs.

Let’s see if your SEO and backlink strategy earns 5/5 stars!

Local Businesses Building

5 Local Citation Building Myths You Need to Drop, Now

To rank well on Google, you will need to build out citation listings. While this is obvious, there’s still mixed debate (and confusion) over local citation building. What works, what doesn’t work.

Some strategists believe building out citations is all that a business needs to rank well. Others swear by a less enforced approach.

One thing is for sure: ignoring local citation building, as well as not optimizing your pages and Google My Business, will get you nowhere.

This post will clear the air on 5 common myths about local citation building circulating the SEO world.

Let’s begin.

Myth # 1 – Variances in your business name will negatively affect your ranking

Business owners commonly panic over minor differences in their citations, and they wonder if making minor changes to their business name will improve their ranking.

The truth is, that it won’t.

That’s because other factors play a role in the Google algorithms, factors of which have a much stronger means of getting your business to rank high.

Here’s the thing.

Google only takes changes under consideration IF your address or your phone number change. That’s about it.

To give you an example, if your citation is listed as “SEO Blog,” while somewhere else your citation is listed as “SEO Content,” Google won’t distinguish this because your address and phone number in each listing are the same.

So don’t panic. Minor differences in your NAP won’t negatively affect your score.

Myth #2 – NAP cleanup means you’ll have to edit every mismatch you see

Are you finding different versions of your business name on different directories? Is it driving you a little crazy? Don’t fret. This is a case that can be easily resolved (as well as ignored).

The thing is that many users don’t even know that having to clean up hundreds of variables of your listing name is completely unneeded, and some SEO companies know this.

As a result, they charge an arm and a leg for doing a needless service.

Searching for your business data and will naturally generate many faults, but in reality, Google doesn’t pay mind to these hundreds of small variations of your name listing.

Instead, Google identifies your business listings as being similar because the content of your NAP is the same.

So don’t panic!

Just make sure your NAP is the same, which is should be. If not, then that’s a problem!

If you’re still feeling a little worried about this, here’s what you can do.

Fix the listing on the aggregate site. That’ll take care of the many variations to your listing.

What’s important to know is your top sites (30-50) are the ones that really count, as well as your specific targeted sites.

These hundreds of variable sites with minor differences in the listings are a speck in the sand and won’t be worth the time you spend on them.

That said, you’ll save time and money if, instead, you choose to optimize other parts of your SEO strategies.

Optimizing your pages, analyzing your competitors and optimizing Google My Business should be your concern as well, not just local citation building.

Which brings me to the next myth.

Myth # 3 – Citation building is the only SEO strategy

Most small businesses and even some SEO pros have a tendency to put too much emphasis on location citation building.

The truth is that, if you’re only using citation building as your main SEO strategy, you won’t rank well, period.

Citation building is very important. We would ignore it if it didn’t play such an important role.

However, making sure every aspect of your local SEO strategy is locked in will get you higher ranks.

Being in the know of Google’s new “near me” search will certainly help as well.

That said, citations are important, but it’s only a starting point.

After you have a solid base of citations (30-50 should do it) that’s where it should end, and you will need to do a lot more than just focus on building out citations.

Myth # 4 – You should ignore citations for listings that have your number

Let’s say you share the number of a previous business. Will Google spot this and lower your score?

Yes.

If Google collects enough information on many customers who are calling you, but who are actually trying to call the number of the old business, Google will mark this as a negative user experience.

The result will be a low score on Google Maps, which Google will automatically assign.

Remember: Your telephone number is the unique identifier of your business, one which Google uses to determine where you stand on Google.

Make sure you claim your number!

Myth # 5 – Local citation building is a must every time you’re asked to fill one out

So you’re a new business owner. Your website is up and running. Great! And now every directory you come across is asking for the deets of your business.

Are you suppose to share the information every single time?

I mean, it won’t kill you. But at some point, you’ll get tired of doing it.

There’s a better way.

Step 1: Analyze your competitors

Step 2: Optimize your pages

Step 3: Optimize My Business listing optimization

Step 4: THEN go about focusing on location citation building.

If you follow this order, rest assured that you’ll rank well in numerous sites.

In Conclusion

I frequently overhear and read things about local SEO strategies that just aren’t true.

My hope with this post is to debunk some of these myths that are floating around.

I believe every marketer should certainly spend some time building out citations, as it will certainly play a factor to ranking well on Google.

But just remember that you won’t move the needle further if your only concern is location citation building.

Instead, you should be targeting the other areas of your local SEO strategy.

Also, remember to pay no mind to mismatches of the business names you see on the directories.

I see many business owners and webmasters panic over this.

Just make sure that your address and telephone number are correct. Spending countless hours editing all of that information will drive you crazy. What’s important is that you make it to the top 50 sites.

We hope this myth-busting post works out for you.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

Backlink Builder for Local SEO: Link Building for a “Near Me” Search

backlink builderNeed some backlink builder tips for local SEO? We got you. Here’s what you need to build links that will help nearby customers find you when they need you.

These tips are tailored specifically for local businesses who are navigating their SEO strategy in a “post-Possum” Google age.

In case you missed the news, Google has changed their algorithm (again, yes) to better serve the “near me” search.

Not to worry–we’ve got all the backlink builder tips you need to get ranked in “near me” searches.

Let’s get into it!

Get in the news.

As the old saying goes, any press is good press when it comes to local link building.

You can easily reach out to local reporters and editors to offer expert perspective on current news items or to inform them of newsworthy developments at your company.

Most articles posted online are linked to the author’s contact information, or you can just call up the local newsroom.

Pitching yourself as a local expert can develop into an ongoing relationship with the local news teams!

Enter local contests.

Most cities nowadays have some version of an annual “Best of” contest.

Be sure you’re throwing your name in the hat for any categories your business is a fit for.

Not only does this build awareness among your local customers, you can turn a contest nomination into social media or blog content for the entire voting period. Bonus points if you’re able to snag a trophy!

No category for your business? Contact the contest organizers and pitch them on why your niche deserves recognition.

Organize a meet-up.

Thanks to social media and email lists, it’s easier than ever to organize regular meetups and get-togethers with like-minded locals.

This can be based on your business’s services or just a “pro-bono” hosting of a social group.

Here are a few ideas of free groups to host or organize:

  • Book club
  • Run/walk club
  • Bridge or bingo night
  • Networking group

Join community events.

Local governments, schools, and civic groups hold events throughout the year.

Contact your local institutions and learn how you can get involved with the next festival, fair or summit.

Be sure to ask about website listings and confirm your business’s links are listed on the event page.

Sponsor local groups or events.

Many local events or groups are in need of additional funding through sponsorships.

While this requires some of your marketing dollars,  sponsoring a local kids’ sports team or a beloved community event is not only great for your reputation among your community, it’s also a great way to get more links on local sites.

When negotiating your sponsorship package, make sure your request your links to be included in as much online collateral as possible.

Offer discounts.

Depending on your target demographics, can you offer a discount?

Student, teacher, first responders, military and senior discounts are not only very appreciated by those who can take advantage of the deals, but also give you the chance to be listed on local sites and deal round-ups.

This tip is especially effective if you have a college or university nearby.

Create a local resource.

Does your business have coveted tips and advice that your community needs? Why not condense it into a one-page resource or guide?

You’ll be positioning your business as the local expert on all things local and have the chance to pitch the resource to local sites and influencers as a valuable asset.

Get links from manufacturers or wholesalers.

If you sell any type of product that comes from a manufacturer or wholesale, check out your supplier’s website to see if you can be listed as a distributor.

Build relationships with local influencers.

This is going beyond your daily newspaper.

Again, depending on your target demographic, an influencer for your ideal customer might vary. Local influencers tend to be bloggers or even local social media stars. There might even be some hybrid blog/news/event sites that are frequented by your ideal customer.

Establish relationships with these key players to ensure you’re included in roundups or that your news/events are listed on their sites.

Make sure you’re listed in local directories.

This one tends to be so easy it’s overlooked.

Do you have a local business directory, online “phone book” or Yelp/TripAdvisor page that you should be included on? Make sure all of your information is up to date on these sites, as well as including up to date and working links.

Post open positions on job boards.

When you have a position open, be sure to include your relevant contact info and your website in your postings on job boards.

This can include places like Monster, Indeed, Craigslist, etc. If you don’t want your main contact info flooded with applicants, set up a specific email address and phone number for hiring purposes only.

Hire an intern.

Not ready to take on another paid employee? Internships are a great way to serve your community and get additional local links. The same tips apply as the previous tip for job boards, feel free to set up separate email and phone accounts for internship applicants.

With both of these tips, it’s important to remember that you can leave your openings up until you find the perfect person!

Exchange testimonials with other local businesses.

Do you regularly do business with another local business? We’re almost positive you do!

Reach out to your best local partners with a testimonial and see if they don’t mind linking your website along with your blurb.

You can easily add a “local favorites” tab to your own website to repay the favor and build community among other local business owners.

Testimonials are a great and FREE backlink builder for local businesses.

Offer free wifi and get listed.

You’re already paying the internet bill, why not get a return on your monthly investment? Offer free wifi to customers and get listed on free wifi directory sites.

Pitch guest posts to local blogs and publications.

Brainstorm some relevant topics for your local audience and pitch your ideas to local blogs or newspapers. These publications are often looking for fresh perspectives from local leaders, so why should you get your thoughts (and links!) out there?

Purchase affiliate link building packages to truly buff up your backlink builder strategy.

If you’re a small team strapped for time, one of the best and easiest ways to get your links topped up and rock the local SEO game is to invest in a link building package. With high-quality links and tens of thousands of websites to choose from, our services will help propel your local SEO strategy to the next level, without a single headache or worry for you.

Have questions about these backlink builder tips? Contact us today–we’re happy to answer any questions you might have.