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Do Reviews Have an Impact on Website Ranking?

Managing Your Business's Online Reputation

March 24, 2017

As a business owner, manager or marketer, you may have heard that paying attention to online reviews can help you improve customer service, strengthen your brand and encourage new business. But did you know that online reviews and replies can also be a significant factor in boosting your organic SEO rankings? Well, they are! 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation – so all businesses should include review acquisition and online reputation management as part of a comprehensive internet marketing strategy.

Online Reviews = Higher Ranking?

It’s no secret that customers love reading online reviews to help them decide whether to buy a product, use a service or visit a local business. In fact, a recent survey featured on Marketingland.com showed that 90% of customers use online reviews to help them make a purchase decision. That’s where search engines like Google or Bing come in and help shape your Denver SEO strategy. These savvy search engines understand what customers are looking for and where they are looking geographically. Searchers and potential customers want to quickly get an answer about whether or not your business is worth their time or money. To quickly assist them with their decision, search engines are now beginning to rank results partly based on their online reviews. 

What is a Review Signal & Why Does it Matter?

According to Moz, “review signals” make up just about 10% of how search engines decide to rank search results. While 10% may not seem like a huge number at first, consider if you were to improve your revenue or sales 10% each month – those numbers add up quickly! Review signals can include a number of different thigs such as:
  • Number of reviews posted
  • Frequency of reviews posted
  • Number of sites on which your business reviews are featured
  • Keywords & phrases contained in the reviews
  • Credibility of reviewer
  • And more
Interestingly, review signals were ranked above social signals such as Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers - indicating reviews may play a larger role than social media in determining your organic ranking! This statistic alone gives validity to the idea that businesses should take a close look at their digital marketing priorities and put more of an emphasis on online reviews.

Which Review Sites Are Important?

Some business owners assume that Google will only pull back Google reviews when the search engine determines rankings, however that is not the case. Search engines take into account your reviews wherever they live on the web and Google and other search engines “know” which sites are credible and which are not. So, to craft a strong SEO strategy, you need to be present on as many review websites as possible. The more relevant places where you can get reviews, the better it will be for your SEO efforts.

Don’t get overwhelmed! If you’re starting from scratch, it may be difficult for you to build up your presence on multiple review websites at once. Instead, choose just a few to start – and focus on the sites that are relevant to your industry. For example, if you are a restaurant you may prefer to pay attention to review sites like Yelp, Zagat and Trip Advisor but if you are a roofing company, getting reviews on Home Advisor and Angie’s List will likely be more beneficial. Another way to determine which review sites are most important to your business is to do a little research on your competitors. Check out where your competitors are gaining their reviews and establish your own account or profiles with those companies as well.

How to Increase Online Reviews

Now that it’s clear that online reviews are important, and you’ve established accounts or profiles with a handful of relevant review sites, you need to create a strategy to gain reviews from your customers.
It would be wonderful if customers took it upon themselves to leave positive reviews after a good experience with your company, and some certainly do, but life gets busy and despite best intentions even the happiest of customers can forget to leave you a few lines of praise. It is totally okay to ask your customer’s for a review, and even to provide them with the link to do so, as long as you are not soliciting a specific type of review from the customer. It never hurts to ask people about their experience with your company, because feedback is the only way you can continue to grow and improve as a business.
Train everyone on your staff to ask for online reviews as they finish a transaction or a project with a customer. If you are a restaurant or retail store you can add it to the bottom of your receipts to make sure every customer is aware of where to find you online. If your business provides a service you can send out an email once a job or appointment is completed thanking them for their business and asking for a review. In this instance you should absolutely include a link directly to where a customer can leave their review (Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.) – because if a customer has to click on too many links, or navigate through a cumbersome process to leave you a review, they’ll probably give up. Make it as easy as possible for someone to leave you a good review!

DWD’s comprehensive suite software suite of marketing tools allows you to send review requests directly from within the system using the Email Newsletter tool. You can target specific clients or customers and send them a personalized email, with direct links to your social review pages, all with a single click.

On a different note, it is also worth mentioning that while positive reviews are extremely helpful, it’s never a smart idea to rely on fake reviews as part of your SEO strategy. Some business wonders are persuaded by agencies who post fake reviews posing as real customers, but it’s always best to avoid this deceptive strategy. Customers, and Google’s bots, are smart and if something doesn’t feel right, those glowing reviews might just end up hurting your business rather than helping. Our advice: play it straight – it takes time but it is worth it.

Reputation Management: Responding to Reviews

Most business owners, marketers and customers can agree: good reviews are helpful, and bad reviews can hurt. But regardless of the content of a review it is important to respond to it. Responding to a positive review is generally easy – thanking someone for their kind words and saying you are glad they had such a great experience with your business. Responding to negative reviews can be trickier but is just as important. In addition to speaking directly to the individual who left the review you are also showing other customers and those reading the your business reviews how you as a company handle a challenging situation. Responding to a negative review is an opportunity to own any mistakes and to try and offer the reviewer a solution to relieve the problem. You can even encourage the review to contact you personally to discuss the matter, and move the conversation offline to a more personal (and less public) setting. If you are able to resolve the problem directly with the customer they may even amend or update their bad review. One rule of thumb - never respond to negative reviews with criticism or in a defensive manner!

Regardless of the content of the original review – positive or negative – potential customers are watching and they like to see that a business cares. Additionally, by responding to online reviews in an appropriate way you can help good reviews show up in search results for your business – improving the SEO ranking for the review.
Looking for a team of web design and marketing experts to help you craft the perfect Denver SEO strategy? The team at Denver Website Designs can assist you with creating SEO strategies and crafting effective content for websites and blogs as well as provide you with the tools you need to acquire and manage your business reviews and online reputation/ We assist businesses of all kinds and will approach the website holistically to maximize traffic and boost your business. Learn more about our SEO process and give us a call today!

The Importance of Email Newsletters

February 17, 2017

Web design and online marketing can seem like a complicated world that is difficult to navigate on your own, and if you are a small business owner it is likely you already have a ton of different tasks already on your plate. Should you blog? How important is social media engagement and how often should you post? Is it worth it to engage in pay-per-click advertising? While most digital marketing companies can help you to navigate all of the options available to you in terms of professional online marketing services, one fairly easy and beneficial avenue to explore is to send out an email newsletter for your business.
Digital newsletters can be sent out weekly, monthly, every quarter or on whatever schedule you prefer and makes sense for your business. Regardless of how often you send your newsletter, consistently generating email newsletters allows you to stay in front of your subscribers and build your brand. Here are reasons you should be sending email newsletters:
  1. Stay in Front of Your Audience
    Attention spans run short these days, and if you don’t stay in front of your target audience regularly you will get lost in the shuffle. Often people will visit a website and make a note to purchase something or review a product or service later when they have more time - then life gets in the way and they never make their way back to your website. Sending out an email newsletter reminds people that have shown interest in your business that you’re still out there.
  2. Promote Sales & Specials
    Many companies feature deals or sales at least a few times a year. Perhaps your company is offering a temporary deal on one particular product or service for a limited time. The newsletter is the perfect way to make people aware of this so they can take advantage of the great deal you are offering.
  3. Build Brand Trust & Differentiate Yourself
    What does your business care about and what makes you different from all of the other companies in your industry? Millennials in particular consider a company’s values when making a purchase and as such your email newsletter content should reflect your values. Some companies communicate their long-term goals through a mission statement. Your mission statement can be a slogan or a tag-line, it can be a call to action or a full paragraph, but no matter how you word it, your mission statement can hook people who otherwise may be shopping around. Make sure to include your mission statement in your email newsletters to communicate your company’s values and objectives – it just might inspire a customer to choose your company over another. Not sure how to put together a mission statement? Check out these Fortune 500 companies’ mission statements for inspiration.
  4. Establish Yourself as an Industry Expert
    Not everything you put in your newsletter needs to be a sales or marketing pitch. Whether it’s in your blog or in your newsletter, it’s always a good idea to share industry news, and tie it into your own brand. By doing this you communicate with your audience that you are on top of the latest trends in your industry and establish confidence in your brand – and a good news story can hook people quickly! You can also offer advice or helpful information in your email newsletters. Offering people a solution to their problems or answering a question they may have fosters good-will and lends a nice break from the constant self-promotion that many businesses focus on.
  5. Drive Traffic to Your Website. Always, always, always include a link (or more!) from your email newsletter back to your website. If people are interested in the content of the newsletter and they click through to your website, you automatically boost site traffic and hopefully sales as well! You should also include links to your business social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and others that might be relevant to the newsletter topic.
Now that you have some tips and tricks up your sleeve, just go with it! Use your email newsletter as an opportunity to show some personality and get people talking about your business. Make 2017 your best year yet!

Thinking of Outsourcing your Digital Marketing? Here’s how to Avoid Scams & Pick the Right Company

February 1, 2017

We hear it from new clients all the time: horror stories about past experiences with web and digital marketing companies that over-promised, under-delivered and sometimes just downright disappeared on them. Just as with anything in life and business, if a website or marketing company’s promise sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It takes concerted effort and a multi-pronged approach to set up a website and digital marketing strategy that follows both design and SEO best practices AND achieves results. Some companies have the resources and need to hire an in-house marketing person, but many decide to outsource their digital marketing needs. Take it from Forbes when it comes to avoiding SEO and digital marketing scams: “Be wary. (It’s like) an SEO company guaranteeing the number one position on Google – this is an impossible guarantee”.
For example Dex Media, a company whose website states that they “provide local businesses with digital marketing services including websites, social media, SEM and more” is in some hot water with their customers. In March of 2015 Dex Media had their Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation stripped due to “a pattern of complaint allegations, over the past 36 months, of deficiencies in service provided and sales misrepresentations (htt)”. While Dex promised to make the grievances right, a follow up investigation in October 2016 revealed that no procedures or processes had been put in place to properly address customer concerns or fix the underlying problems. Dex Media is certainly not the only company with these kind of complaints, but is a company that many US businesses are familiar with and may have even been approached by in recent years.  
If you’ve had a bad experience with a web or digital marketing agency in the past, we’ve put together a list of a few things to keep in mind when deciding on a digital marketing company to work with to avoid SEO scams:
  1. Do your research. Before you sign on the dotted line, take the time to research the company’s team, experience, history and reviews.
    1. Company History: Age is not always an indication of quality, but most reputable companies in the industry should have been providing their services for at least a few years. Those that don’t make the cut usually fizzle out pretty quickly because they cannot meet the demands of the industry. Also, take a look at the company’s executive and combined industry experience. 
    2. Current Clients: You can usually check out a company’s website for a list of current clients and testimonials. Many companies will also provide references upon request. Call a current client or two to get their take on their experience with the agency firsthand. Also, check out their BBB listing to make sure there are no continuous or egregious complaints.
    3. Outsourcing: Another good rule of thumb is to ask where your support person is located – will you be working with a local person or does the agency outsource their services? Outsourcing isn’t inherently a bad thing, but many companies that outsource lack true expertise and may not be able to assist you with anything other than basic, surface-level requests. If establishing a personal relationship or being able to have in-person meetings with an account manager is important to you, your agency should host their services in-house and provide you with a person to speak with directly about your account issues.
  2. Set expectations. Determine exactly what the agency is supposed to do for you and make sure everyone is on the same page before you get started. Nothing is worse than reaching a cross-road where client and agency have vastly different ideas and are not working towards the same goal. On the client side, it is important to understand that SEO growth takes time and that nothing happens over night, but on the agency side there should be agreement that promised deliverables must reasonably be met.
  3. Ask for on-going reporting of your web traffic, social media & ad campaigns. Digital marketing and social media campaigns are not an exact science or a one-size-fits-all strategy, but your digital marketing agency should be able to provide you with reasonable expectations and projected results for the services for which you engage them. One way to keep a company accountable is to request regular reporting services. Reports will help you to track if they are following through with their promises and actually creating ROI for your business. Even if you are hitting your outlines goals, regular SEO reporting also allows you and the agency to identify areas where you can improve and do even better in the future!
  4. Have a contingency plan. Long-term contracts can be scary to enter into, but so too are digital marketing propositions that require zero contract terms – these companies are expecting the churn and burn that is so common in the industry and are not genuinely interested in creating a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with you. That being said, sometimes things just don’t work out. Cover your bases by making sure you have an “out” if the agency does not deliver in a specific time frame or goes over-budget. Providing yourself with peace of mind can be as simple as having the agency include some type of language in the contract to address this topic. As long as everyone is on the same page from the get-go, any company worth their salt will be comfortable working with you on this.
  5. Listen to your gut. Remember that your business website assets, social media profiles, ad accounts, analytics tracking data and other things should be made available to you. If something doesn’t seem right or if an agency is unwilling to answer your questions on their services and accountability, take a step back.
While there are a lot of self-proclaimed “digital marketing gurus” out there Denver Website Designs is here to be a real partner to you and your business. Our success comes from the success of our clients, and we pride ourselves that much of our business is repeat or referral business. If you are looking for web design and digital marketing services in Denver, we’d be happy to meet with you in person to discuss your needs. 

DWD Recently Joined Web Designers Directory

January 18, 2017

Denver Website Designs recently join the Web Designers Directory, a directory that helps link potential clients to it's members!

Denver Website Designs is featured on WDD
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