Tag Archives: local businesses

How Local Businesses Get Good Online Reviews to Gain New Customers

leave-an-online-reviewOnline reviews are an important factor in bringing in new customers, but many local business owners struggle with getting customers to leave reviews. When a business is competing against other local interests, the number, quality and type of reviews can make the difference between a packed house and empty tables. From local business directory listings to major review sites, these tips can help locally owned shops, restaurants and professionals get more and better reviews.

 

Why Good Business Reviews Are Important for Local Businesses

Reviews influence customer decisions, but it’s not the only reason that a business wants great reviews. Here’s what research shows about the influence of reviews on several major factors in gaining new customers.

  • Reviews Show Up in Search Results. Good reviews often pop up when people do searches on Google and other search engines. Often, the top results for a local search include links to the best reviews on sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor and other platforms that are relevant to the business.
  • Reviews Are Not Just for Restaurants and Hotels. While most people think of restaurants, hotels and other hospitality industries when they think of reviews, people look for recommendations on nearly any type of business. The trick is to get reviewed on the platforms that matter in a particular profession. Whether they’re looking for music teachers or a good real estate agent, people want recommendations from their friends and neighbors.
  •  Good Reviews Improve Conversions. Customers feel more comfortable working with a business that has good reviews. In survey after survey, up to 90 percent of respondents say that their buying decisions are influenced by positive online reviews. Those same surveys show that nearly as many people are influenced by negative reviews – and a healthy percentage say that they were influenced to patronize a business after seeing how well the owner or staff handled those negative reviews. (More on that later).
  •  A Business Without Good Reviews Might Be Invisible to Some Potential Customers. Many major review sites allow customers to set preferences that make businesses with few reviews or poor reviews invisible. If customers sort results on those review platforms by star rating, or choose to only view businesses with a minimum star rating, businesses with lower ratings simply don’t appear in their searches. This makes good reviews especially important for businesses that have a lot of local competition.
  •  Reviews Affect Rankings for Local Business Search Results. While it’s never been officially confirmed, most local search marketing experts are sure that good reviews result in higher ranking by search engines like Google and Bing. A number of marketing research companies have noted that there’s a strong correlation between good business reviews and a business’ position in the search result listings. Companies that focus on local searches and local US business directory listings all feel that signals from reviews – the number, diversity and quality of the reviews – have a pretty significant effect on whether and where a business appears when potential customers do a search.

 Can a Business Ask for Online Reviews?

Some business owners are uncomfortable directly asking customers to review their business – and some review sites actually discourage the practice, feeling that it skews the ratings because businesses would naturally ask for reviews from satisfied customers. Others, such as Google My Business, tell owners to encourage their customers to leave reviews for their local business. The best advice is to know the terms and conditions of any review site that a business plans to direct customers to so they know what they can and can’t do to encourage customers to leave reviews for them.

How to Get Those Good Reviews

Now that it’s clear why business reviews are important in bringing in new customers, here are some tips on getting more – and better – online reviews, and making sure that they are actually helping local businesses get more customers.

Focus on Making Customers Happy

One of the unfortunate facts of human nature is that most people would rather complain than compliment. Unhappy customers are more likely to post online reviews than happy customers. On the other hand, happy customers are often excited to recommend a business that gave them a great experience. Before a business starts encouraging customers to post reviews, they should make sure that the majority of their customers are happy with them. Depending on the business, one of the easiest ways to find out how much your customers like you is to follow up with them after they visit your business. It could be as simple as providing a “How Did We Do?” postcard at the checkout register or on the table at a restaurant. Service and/or professional businesses can send out similar postcards, send an email or phone customers.

Focus on the Right Review Sites

As noted earlier, there are many different kinds of review sites, so it’s important to focus on those that are important to the industry sector or type of local business. Some are obvious – everyone knows where to post restaurant, hotel, and resort reviews. Others are not so easy to figure out, but there are online review sites for just about any profession under the sun. These steps can help a local business identify the places where they should focus on getting more good reviews.

  • Search for the Business Name. A quick Google or Bing search of the company’s brand name, both with and without the word “reviews” added, will likely turn up any existing public reviews. Make a list of places that customers are already posting reviews and ratings – and note whether the reviews are mostly positive or negative.
  •  Search for Important Keywords Without the Business Name. Next, do a search for the services or products offered by the business without using the business name. If, for example, the business is a nail salon, search for “nail salon <your city>” to turn up review sites where customers of similar businesses post rankings and reviews. Add any of those that aren’t already on the list.
  •  Search for Key Competitors and Industry Leaders. Finally, do a specific search for local competitors and major names in the industry. Again, list the review sites that are in the top results, or at least on the first couple of pages.

The list of review sites that results from those searches is a pretty good indicator of the review sites that are most important to a particular business. Whittle it down to just a few of the top sites, and don’t forget to include a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com, which encourages visitors to leave reviews for their favorite local businesses.

Update Local Directory Listings FIRST

The last thing a business owner wants is to send customers to sites that show the wrong information for their business, or worse, for that wrong information to come up when potential new customers find those reviews online. Take the time to brush up local business directory listings before starting a campaign to increase customer reviews.

Five Ways to Encourage Customers to Submit an Online Review

One of the simplest ways to get online reviews from satisfied customers is to just ask for them – but there are more subtle ways to direct customers to review sites, and many of them have the added advantage of improving your local business profile.

  • Put Links to Reviews On the Business Website. Linking to the business’ profile on review sites from the company’s website is one sure way to raise the visibility of good reviews. It implies that the business is proud of its reviews, and adds to the website’s authority with search engines. Include a link to the business page in other local business directories that allow customers to leave reviews.

 Put Links to Reviews in Sidebars and Email Signatures. In addition to or instead of creating a separate page for reviews, a company can add links to those profiles in the sidebar of every page on the site, as well as including them in the email signature line.

Add the URL of Specific Review Sites to Business Cards. Treat the company’s local business directory page or review site profile like the company’s own website. If there’s room on the company’s standard business card, add the URL to sites that feature especially good reviews to the other information on the card.

  • Tell Customers How to Post Reviews. Simple instructions on how to get started leaving reviews at various review sites can make it much easier for customers to write positive things about a business.

Add a Request for Reviews to Follow-Up Emails.

Sending out an email specifically to ask for reviews may feel too much like naked pandering – and some customers may be put off by it. Adding the request to a more valuable email, however, encourages people to leave a review and improves the chances that they’ll see the request. A real estate agent, for example, could add a quick request for reviews to their standard email welcome package sent to clients after they close on a new home.

 

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

The most important thing to remember is that getting good online reviews is an ongoing process, rather than a set-it-and-forget-it one-time event. Most of these tips will work over the long term, garnering new customers and new reviews in a stream. It’s important, however, to periodically monitor the reviews, respond to bad reviews, and thank customers for good ones. A simple weekly check will keep those good reviews coming in.

Announcing Our New Educational Innitiative About the Benefits of Local Business Directories

announcementThe internet has been a great sales boost for business owners all over the world. In fact, a small ecommerce business located in an obscure part of the country—or the world for that matter—now has the tools and abilities to reach the same amount of customers as any large business.

But what about local business owners who only want to reach the local customers in their area? In the past, it was easy. All business owners had to do was list their business in the yellow pages, and when customers wanted a service or product like theirs, they could easily find what they were looking for by picking up the yellow pages and looking through the ads.

But those days are gone. These days, the yellow pages more often serve as door stops, compost matter, or are simply thrown into the trash as soon as it shows up at someone’s door.

What are local business owners to do? How can they be found by the very customers who need their products and services?

Our New Educational Campaign

Here at FindUsLocal, we are on a mission to educate local business owners about their options. Because the truth is, if you do nothing and hope that somehow local customers will find their way to your business, you’ll probably find yourself in serious trouble. In fact, many local businesses have closed down for that very reason. Times have changed, and the things that used to work for local business owners simply don’t work anymore.

That’s why we’ve begun a new campaign. We want to put the right tools into the hands of local business owners across the nation so they’ll have what they need to attract local customers. This is the first in a series of articles that will describe today’s premier marketing methods that will get potential customers in the doors to local businesses.

The New Yellow Pages

Since you can’t count on the Yellow Pages any more to bring in customers, where you do turn? After all, the internet is for those businesses that sell across state lines or to the world, right?

Not necessarily.

You see, more and more people are turning online to look for businesses these days, even if they want to find a business in their local area. But the traditional digital tactics that nationwide stores use to attract those customers won’t work for local businesses. That’s because those larger companies have a lot more advertising dollars to spend and can purchase the keywords they need to get attention. So for some time, the traditional wisdom was that local business owners simply need to add their city name to the keyword, and that would allow customers to find them. But a recent study shows that simply using your city plus a keyword isn’t effective like it used to be—in fact, it can do harm than good in your search engine rankings.

So what can you do?

List your business in a local business directory, that’s what.

What is a Local Business Directory?

Local business directories are to local businesses what Google is to nationwide businesses. It’s a one-stop place where people can go to view the news, upcoming events, weather, and even tweets and Facebook postings in their local area. And in addition to getting the latest on all things local, visitors will be able to see the local businesses that advertise their products or services to local customers.

But what happens if you don’t want to advertise on a local business directory? That’s no problem because our local business directory also allows visitors to search the directory. For example, if they are looking for a local Italian restaurant, they would simply type the search terms into the search bar, and all the restaurants who have listed their business on our site will appear.

Obviously, this can play a huge role in a local businesses success or failure. If people can find your business, they’ll be more likely to shop there.

Is it Really That Easy?

Yes, and that’s exactly what the purpose of our new initiative is. We want local business owners to understand that they do have options. And listing your business in our local directory doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, we have an option that allows you to list your business for free.

Stay tuned, because in the next few weeks, we’ll continue this series and talk about all the reasons why it’s so important that you list your local business on a directory as soon as you can.

10 Things Your Customers Are Looking For (and How They Can Help Your Customers Find You)

As a business owner, you know the number one rule of a successful business – give the customer what he wants. Keep that in mind when you’re looking for places to advertise your business online. Unless the websites where you place your business listings are giving your customers what they want, your ads are just a waste of time. That’s one reason that an ad in a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com is a worthwhile investment. They put everything your customers are looking for in one easy-to-find place to keep them coming back time after time.

What Your Customers Are Looking For – And Why It Helps Them Find You

It doesn’t matter what your business is, there are some things that every single one of your customers is going to be looking for at one point or another. Here are just 10 things your customers may be looking for at different times.

  • The current weather
  • The forecast for the weekend
  • A church for their brother to attend when he comes to visit
  • A sub shop that delivers at 11:30 p.m.
  • Something to do with the kids this Saturday
  • Tickets to the football game this weekend
  • A grocery store that sells local produce
  • The latest local headline stories
  • A dentist who can see them after work
  • Your services

Why should you care whether your customers can find numbers 1 through 9 if you don’t provide them? It’s all about location and relevance. When people get used to finding what they’re looking for in one particular place, they keep coming back to that same place. That’s the principal behind local business directories like FindUsLocal.com.

FindUsLocal is more than just a business directory – it’s a geo targeted local resource that provides the kind of local, relevant information that your friends and neighbors want to know. From constantly updated local event listings to special coupons and deals offered by local providers, your customers have learned to avoid Google when they want to find local results. Instead, they’re turning to local directories, where they know they’ll find businesses run by their friends and neighbors.

If your business depends on local customers who call or come in to your store, you can’t afford not to advertise on a local business directory where your customers know they can find anything they need.