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Tag: Citation Management

Is There a Connection Between Reviews and Ranking?

As we wrote about last week, trust has become a leading ranking factor on Google’s SERP. By following the idea that trust is becoming a leading factor in rankings generally, we couldn’t help but wonder:

How much weight does Google give to reviews and ratings in local search rankings?

Since reviews are one of the first things you see when you search for businesses on Google Maps, you’d expect to find a correlation. But with so much other mobile data going into local rankings, we’ve only been able to speculate. Till now.

A recent study from BrightLocal suggests that there might be a correlation.

Join us as we delve into the connection between ratings and rankings in local search.

Reviewing the Stats

The study found that businesses in the top 10 position on Google Maps searches, had similarly high ratings across the board:

  • Businesses in positions 1-3 had an average of 4.47 stars
  • Businesses in positions 4-6 had an average of 4.6 stars
  • Businesses in positions 7-10 had an average of 4.45 stars

Overall, businesses in the top 10 positions had an average of 4.42 stars. All of this bodes well for businesses looking to drum up some extra leads with great reviews.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that 61% of local businesses have an average rating of between 4 and 5. This means that the competition is strong on Google—fall below 4 stars and you could be in trouble.

(We can’t help bragging a little bit here: the LinkNow Media reviews on Google give us a 4.5-star rating!)

One of the surprising things the study found was that about 20% of businesses in the top 1-3 positions don’t have any reviews at all. That means that while there does appear to be a correlation between ratings and rankings, it’s unlikely to be a cause-effect relationship.

Reviews Are One Ranking Factor Among Many

The findings tell us that while reviews are an important part of ranking, there are many other factors that go into it too. We can say that you’re more likely to rank well on Local and Maps searches if you have lots of good reviews. But we can’t say that your ranking is caused by those reviews.

We’re always hesitant to find a causal connection between rankings and reviews. We know, after all, that Google processes an enormous amount of data to establish local rankings. Aside from reviews, some of those local ranking factors include:

  • The physical proximity of a mobile user to the business
  • Categories and keywords used in the business title
  • Citations on listing websites like Yellow Pages and Yelp
  • Mentions and links from social media
  • Consumer behaviours on mobile like click-through rates and frequency of phone number clicks
  • Quality images of your business, products, and services

Because Google’s search engine can process so much information, we believe that it’s time to forget about finding a cause-effect relation that will unlock your way to the top position. While reviews (and reputation management) are definitely important ranking factors, establishing a trustworthy online presence requires a multi-pronged approach.

Conclusion: It’s All About Trust

We believe that the reason positive reviews are correlated to high rankings is that they indicate to both Google and Google’s users that a business can be trusted. Notice however that many of the other ranking factors listed above also point to trust as an important factor in local ranking.

For example, alongside good reviews, you should have quality images that show Google and your potential clients that your products and services are as good as you advertise. You should have business listings with accurate information about your business. You should have people talking about you and you should be talking about yourself. You should use accurate keywords and categories to describe your business so that it’s clear what you’re selling.

The main takeaway from all this is that it’s important to think of your ranking on the SERP, Google Local, and Google Maps, as the result of your overall presence in the online ecosystem. Quit looking for the ‘thing you’re doing wrong’. Work on establishing a trustworthy online presence with every tool available at your disposal!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Just get the professionals at LinkNow Media on your side. Our SEO experts can help you build an SEO strategy that’s perfect for your business.

Instagram for the Small Business Owner

Instagram is a platform with over 600 million monthly active users. It’s the fourth most downloaded app, and 60% of people on Instagram discover new products through it. If you’re not already using it, you should be.

Some find the visual presentation of Instagram to be daunting. But all you need to interact with millions of potential customers is a cell phone and a little creativity.

Taking a Great Photo

These are a few tips that can help you out with your Instagram photography every time.

Composition

When making an impression, composition is one of the most important things to consider. A photo that a customer’s eyes can follow easily is always going to be more popular. Use the rule of thirds in this process by taking photos with the grid on your phone. The grid will help you to perfectly center your shot or align a subject on the grid to produce an off-centered shot that still works visually.

Lighting

Overly bright and overly dark photos just tend to be less inviting. If you don’t have a good system for lighting your shots, take advantage of natural light.

Palette

When a customer looks at your Instagram, they don’t just look at one photo, they view it as a whole. If your account has a unified look to it, users will be more likely to follow.

Filters

Filters are not cruise control for cool, but they can help. There are many to choose from and you can add a little, or a lot. Don’t filter excessively, or you will appear unprofessional and your products wont’ be represented accurately!

Videos

A newer feature to Instagram, videos and stories (videos and still images that are sent out to your followers and disappear after 24 hours) are excellent tools, though some still choose not to use them. However, with an app like Instagram it’s important to remain at the forefront of anything new they’ve implemented. If it’s available – use it!

Play around with videos. You’ll have fun and your followers will love it. Stories are especially great for announcements that don’t need to permanently remain on your account.

Hashtags

Hashtags are the lifeblood of Instagram. If you want someone to find your post, you need to tag it. That wall of text under a photo may look like overkill, but it’s been proven that those who use the maximum amount of hashtags (30) get triple the likes.

It’s important to note that you should not make up your own hashtags.  Pick ones that are used a lot so that your photo can show up as “trending” in the category. If you’re using long made-up hashtags, no one is searching for them and no one will find you.

Regramming

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and on Instagram you can do that by regramming. By downloading the app “Repost”, when you find a photo you love, you can post it to your account. The original poster will be credited and they’ll probably throw a like and follow your way.

Influencers and Ads

Up until this point, everything we’ve mentioned is free. But if you want to take your Instagram to the next level, you can do so by contacting influencers and purchasing ads.

An influencer is a user who has thousands or millions of followers. Depending on your budget, you can find someone to work with who is mildly popular, or extremely popular. When they share your products, their followers will check out your business!

You can create ads on Instagram by turning your page into a business page, and promoting posts. Or, you can use your Facebook account to launch custom ads that will show up to your chosen demographic.

In Closing

Instagram is a great platform to show off your products and give customers a closer look into how your business functions. For as small or as large a budget as you would like to put into it, it’s guaranteed to give back. So get ‘gramming today—we promise you’ll love it!

How to Push Down a Negative Review

pushIn previous posts, we’ve talked about ways you can turn a negative review into an opportunity to show your clients how far you will go to meet their satisfaction. This week we’re offering advice about what to do when individuals share unfavorable opinions about your business on their personal blog or website.

Dealing with A Negative Blogger?

Everyone has something on the internet they wish would disappear. You can get on your knees and plead to Google all you want to remove the article from search results, but unless legal action is warranted, it is very unlikely that Google will remove the post. Of course, you always have the option of calling whoever wrote the review and explain your side of the story, but the chances of them taking it down are slim to nothing. You also run the risk of opening an old wound and making matters worse. That’s the last thing you want to happen.

If you can’t remove it, MOVE IT!

Most people do not go past the first page of Google’s search results when searching for a product or service, so getting the negative mention to appear on the second or third page is the goal here. This process is called Online Reputation Management (ORM), and it can be done by blogging, link building, citations management, or building a profile on any social media page, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Tumblr. Here are some ORM tips:

Blog Away!

A blog is an effective way to push a negative review to the second page of Google, and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Most industries lend themselves to a few different categories. If you’re an interior designer, for example, you can dedicate one blog to home decorating and another to office furniture trends. You’re only limited by your imagination. Consider using visuals, such as videos, GIFs, and Memes. With content becoming more interactive, your blog needs to engage and entertain your audience. Visuals can make your blog more attractive by breaking up chunks of text and provide visitors with a great experience.

Build Links!

Negative reviews hurt any way you slice it. Unlike review sites, where it’s in your best interest to respond, you’ll need to use a different tactic when it comes to websites and blog posts that are devoted entirely to hurting your business’s reputation. Building links to positive reviews is an effective way to move down an outlandish claim, while at the time shedding light on the good stuff. The last thing you want to do is make any references to the site or blog that contains the negative review, so avoid pointing any links in their direction.

Clean Up Citations!

Citations are mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the internet. It is important that this information is accurate and consistent across the board. Any discrepancy, such as your address appearing differently on Yelp than on Facebook, will cause Google to doubt the validity of your business, thus hurting your ranking. Cleaning up your citations is the process of making sure your NAP is the same across the board. This can be a tedious job, especially if your business is on the older side. If you don’t have time to hunt down this information, team up with a digital marketing company that offers citation management services.

Use Social Media!

Pushing a negative mention from the first page of Google to the second page isn’t going to happen overnight. Outperforming a scathing review takes time and effort. Creating a new social media account can help – but that’s only half of it – you’ll need to post regularly. If you don’t have time to manage your social media pages, you should consider enlisting the help of a social media specialist.

Closing

Harsh criticism is never fun, especially when the attacks are unwarranted. We recommend doing some serious ORM if you want to save face. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be.

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