Great online reviews will boost your image and your reputation too. This will potentially lead to more business and more money. However, negative reviews could really put a dent in your plans.
Negative reviews are usually left by unhappy customers, disgruntle employees, or sabotaging competitors. Yes, that’s right… some competitors stoop really low when it comes to knocking you out of their way.
People definitely rely on online reviews when searching for a local product, service, or business. So any negative reviews out there about your business can definitely put a damper on things.
Although you can’t control the reviews your business receives, you can improve the way you handle the negative ones.
In fact, you can even turn them into “positive” reviews.
So how do you do that? It’s simple…
Reply! Reply! Reply!
It’s a good idea to reply back to any and all of your customers reviews. Being more personable will show other prospects and customers that you at least care and value the opinions of your customers.
Local business listing sites such as Google Places and Yelp are wonderful sites that allow business owners to easily see and respond to their online reviews.
Promptness Pays Off!
The sooner you reply back to your customers reviews the better. This will show that you care about the quality of your business and will definitely earn you some “brownie points” from your valued prospects and customers.
Replying back promptly will give you a better reputation and will even encourage more customers to write more reviews (hopefully, good ones).
All you need to do is stay online, see what they’re saying, and get engaged! You’ll be happy you did when you see how powerful a nice, strong, solid online reputation can be for your business.
Taking advantage of the massive amount of local searches is not only smart, but it’s a necessity if you want to stand against your local competitors.
However, some businesses are still left scratching their heads trying to figure out HOW they can take advantage of the internet to produce more leads, customers, and sales.
One effortless way that businesses can do this is by signing up with Online Review Sites such as Yahoo Local Listings and Yelp!
When local consumers search for a local business online, sites such as these usually come up as well as independent business websites.
However, these review sites pack more power because they contain reviews from the company’s customers right there for everyone to see.
Now, imagine your business listing (with no reviews) sitting right above one of your competitor’s listings which happens to have 38 glowing customer reviews. Who do you think consumers will go with?
As you can see, building online customer reviews is no longer an option – it’s a necessity.
Reel Them In With Yahoo Local Listings…
This is an awesome site that can help boost your business. At Yahoo Local Listings business owners can advertise their business information for free.
As a complimentary service to this free Online Review Site, you may list your business in up to five different categories, making your business viewable to a larger amount of searchers. This is a very high trafficked site and is sure to bring more money and customers to your door!
Yelp! And They Will Come…
Here, you can view feedback about your business as well as post a response. Yelp.com is growing at a ridiculous rate so now is a perfect time to act. At the rate this Review Site is going, you’ll be sure to bring in more business if you use the site to your advantage.
In fact, your profile may even be listed there already. If so, all you need to do is make a quick phone call to claim what is rightfully yours. Now you can take control of your own profile and bring in more dough.
If you have a brick and mortar store, and rely on walk-in traffic for your survival, you may be wondering what the Internet can do for your business. Believe it or not, a lot – and you don’t even need a website.
In the “old days”, the bulk of businesses relied on the Yellow Pages to get the phone ringing. The majority of marketing dollars were spent getting listed in this ten pound paperweight. With the popularity of the Net, less people let “their fingers do the walking” when they need something, and more are letting their mouse do the talking.
Online search has gone mainstream when it comes to searching for local businesses. Google states that 73% of searches are done for local content. Another study by BIA/Kelsey and Constat report that 97% of consumers use online resources when doing research for products/services in their local area. See www.kelseygroup.com/press/pr100310.asp.
Google has always understood the power of local search, and years ago launched its Local Business Center where any business can get a listing for free. Recently, they’ve done a major overhaul and have re-launched with a new name of “Google Places”, showcasing a host of new features. The name change was done to tie in with Google’s Place Pages which were launched over a year ago and include over 50 million places worldwide. Official Google Blog
If you want customers to be able to find you, and haven’t listed your offline store here yet, you need to get with the program. You are missing out on the chance to reach millions of Google users, including Google Map users, Google’s 800 Voice Directory Search and even Google Earth. And all of this exposure won’t cost you a dime. It’s totally free.
Now that I have your attention, let’s go over the steps for inclusion. As with all things Google, you’ll need to sign into Google Places with your Google Account. Up to 100 single locations can be added but, if you have more than ten to list you’ll need to use their “Bulk Upload Tool”.
There is a verification process that must be done to prove you’re the owner of the business being listed. The choice is yours, it’s by phone or mail. Once this is done, your listing goes live.
Now in case you’re thinking all that’s included in a listing is an address and phone number, hold onto your hat. Here are some of the listing options.
1) Show the geographic area you service.
2) Photos: Upload yours, up to ten images per listing, in JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, BMP. A professional photo shoot can also be requested for your business.
3) Place Page Posts: You can post real time updates here, up to 160 characters, announcing special sales, events, and new products. One post appears at a time.
4) Custom QR Codes: For use with smart phones to take users to your mobile website.
5) Advertise: They do have a “Tags Program” in select cities for $25.00 a month where your business will be highlighted on Google.com and Google Maps.
6) List your operating hours. Biz description and even reviews.
7) Post Videos: Up to five videos can be posted, but you’ll need to publish them to YouTube first, then include the URL’s on your Place Page.
8) Payment Types Taken
9) Coupons: Create online coupons to give people incentive to visit your site. There’s a separate “coupon tab” that appears on your listing page.
10) Privacy: If you work at home and have no storefront you can choose to make your address private in your listing.
At this point you should be realizing how important being listed in Google Places is to your business. If you’d like to see what your listing looks like to a searcher, log into Google Places and click on “see your listing on Google Maps”.
Now remember, search results are based on relevance and “geographic distance”, so you can’t buy your way to the top of the list as with pay-per-click advertising. As previously mentioned, the “tags program”, if available in your area, can be utilized for having your business show up highlighted for $25.00 a month.
If you’re interested in paying for your links to show up on the Google Maps search results page, if related to the search terms and location searched, that can be done using Google’s Adwords program with what’s called “Local Targeted Ads”.
By the way, Google also includes a “Reporting Dashboard” that will tell you how people find you, and what keywords they used to search. It’s powerful stuff that can also be used in your local search engine optimization work.
Do yourself a favor – if you’re not listed with “Google Places”, now is a good time. It’s targeted, free traffic. Now where else can you say that when it comes to marketing on the Internet. People are looking for your business online and with Google Places you can make it easier for them to find you. Website or not – it simply doesn’t matter – but getting people in the door does, and Google is there to help.
About The Author
Merle’s Mission Blog – “Rants, Raves and Random Acts of Kindness”. A self-proclaimed “Internet Junkie” with a passion for net marketing, affiliate marketing, and social networking. An avid Blogger and writer with several niche sites. Find out more at merlesworld.blogspot.com . Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/msmerle