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How to Handle Bad Online Reviews

Bad online reviews can really hurt.Ouch!

Bad online reviews online may have the power to cost you new customers. And if you’ve ever received a bad review, you’re painfully aware of how that stings — especially for a small business.

Do you have any bad reviews?

The first step to dealing with the problem is knowing it exists. You can check for yourself at the most common sites that post reviews like Yelp, Google Places, Angie’s List, Judy’s Book, CitySearch, and so forth.

One approach we handle for many of our clients is PowerListings. That’s primarily a service to ensure that your NAP (name, address, phone) information is correct and consistent across more than 50 local search engines, directories, and applications. One of the more valuable features is that it lets you check reviews at any of those sites as well.

Contact us to get started with PowerListings.

Oops! You have a bad online review!Gulp! You found one or more bad reviews.

Your first reaction is likely to be angry denial. Stifle that. In a helpful article in Small Biz Trends, Megan Totka discourages your gut reaction to

  • Argue about it
  • Pay people for good reviews to counter it
  • Ignore it

Instead, she suggests that you be objective. If the review is a flamingly irrational rant, it maybe best to ignore it: the tone will convince people it’s not worth serious consideration.

Otherwise, you should respond tactfully and positively. If it’s a legitimate complaint, apologize and try to make it right. You’ll be seen as sincerely wanting to help. That can actually turn a negative review into a positive experience that more than compensates for the initial review.

Become proactive

There are a number of ways you can become proactive and at the same time encourage happy customers to write positive reviews and discourage disappointed customers from posting negative reviews. Reputation LoopOne service we’re considering offering to our clients is Reputation Loop. It builds into your website a solicitation of private feedback, positive or negative, from your customers, helps convert positive ones into online reviews, and allows you to fix negative situations and prevent them from becoming bad online reviews.

If you’re interested in this service, please call us to explore in more detail how it works, what it requires of you, and how much it costs. Reports to date are very positive for it, and if enough of our clients want to participate it would make sense for us to partner up and support it.

Need some personalized help with online reviews? Rank Magic can help!

How have you dealt with negative reviews, and how well did it work? Tell us in the comments below.

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12 Ways Reviews Affect Your Sales

Customer online reviews can influence sales.Online reviews are increasingly being consulted by consumers before making buying decisions. Here are a dozen reason they can affect your sales.

  1. Local sites featuring reviews are more prominent in search than in the past.
  2. Two thirds of local directory traffic comes from people searching for products & services. (source)
  3. Regardless of your SEO, local sites drive visitors to your site. (source)
  4. Each star in a review translates to 5-9% impact on revenues. (source)
  5. Local independent businesses are the most affected by reviews. (source)
  6. 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision (source) and Forbes says it’s as high as 90%.
  7. People are 63% more likely to buy from a site with user reviews. (source)
  8. Reviews are 12 times more trusted than your web site itself. (source)
  9. More reviews lend credibility to the ratings, driving visitors and sales. (source)
  10. The Harvard Business Review says that good reviews can increase sales 32%-52%.
  11. Negative reviews can cause a drop of 15% in sales (source)
  12. But for an unfamiliar product, even bad reviews can sometimes increase sales. (source)

Do you have a process in place to increase the likelihood of getting good customer reviews? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.

Need better rankings or more visibility in local directories? Rank Magic can help!

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How to Keep Spambots From Ruining Your Traffic Reporting

Google-Analytics-logoA couple of weeks ago, we ran a post alerting you to the fact that spambots may be inflating your traffic reporting in Google Analytics. Now let’s consider a couple of ways to prevent that.

Google’s Bot Filter

About a year ago, Google added a filter for just this sort of thing. It’s quite simple to implement. With Administrative rights, open your Google Analytics and click on the Admin link.

Google Analytics Admin sectionOnce there, Click on View Settings:

Google-Analytics-View-Settingsbot and spider filterDown near the bottom of the screen you’ll find the Bot  Filter checkbox. Just check that and you’re done.

Sort of. Google is only filtering out traffic from known bots and spiders.There may be many spambots that aren’t on the list, so you may still get some of that traffic  reporting. But at least it will filter out friendly spiders like Googlebot.

If That’s Not Enough

If you’re still seeing lots of spambot traffic from some of the sources we illustrated in our previous post then we may need to pull out the big guns. The simplest way to keep these bots from crawling your site is to stop them at the door. Not only will they not pollute your traffic reporting anymore,but they won’t even get onto your site, saving your web server some traffic load.

If your web host is running a Unix or Linux server, you can block these spambots in the .htaccess file. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is; your webmaster will know.) The folks over at ROI Marketing have done some nice work on this, compiling an extensive list of the most common spambots, and they even went so far as to provide the code you can copy & paste into your .htaccess file.

It May Take a Little Ongoing Vigilance

It may be a good idea to check for new spambots every once in awhile; these things tend to pop up without warning. But utilizing these two techniques should take a really big nite out of your referrer spam traffic.

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Please enter a comment below to let us know how this works for you, or if you’ve found a better way to deal with this.
Need help with your organic search traffic? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Are Spambots Ruining Your Traffic Reporting?

Google Analytics

Google-Analytics-logoMany, many website owners rely on Google Analytics to report on the traffic to their sites: where do visitors come from, what pages to they like, how many visitors are coming to their website, etc.

If you’re doing SEO or paying someone like us for it, you need to know how well it’s working.

When looking at SEO, you (and we) like to see how many visitors are coming from organic search, from links on other sites (referrals), from paid search, from social media, and from typing in the URL directly. That’s getting a little more difficult now.

Arrival of the Spambots

In recent months we’ve seen a disturbing trend of spambots showing up in the referral traffic figures. Spambots are not human visitors, so they’re not the kind of traffic we want or need. Some may be scraping email addresses or have other goals, but whatever their motivation, it’s not serving you well.

While a few hundred spambot visits a month are unlikely to skew reporting for a large site like Amazon, for a small local business just getting started on the web they grossly distort traffic reporting.That makes it hard to tell where visitors are coming from and whether or not your SEO efforts are paying off.

Here’s an example of what looks like really nice traffic growth:

total-trafficBut if we look into where that traffic came from, we find it’s almost all referral traffic, and that traffic has just exploded over the past two months, accounting for the vast majority of new visits. Here’s traffic showing only referral visits:

referral-traffic

navigationYou can see where those referral visits came from in Google Analytics, navigating as shown on the right.

Once you do, the websites where those visits originated are listed. In this case, we’re only showing the top ten referral sources, but spambots consume the majority of those sources even when you look deeper into the results.

bot-traffic
1,409 of the top 1,510 visits are from bots — more than 93%. You can see how this makes interpreting your website traffic exceedingly difficult.

Is this happening to you?

The first step you need to take is to determine if this is a problem for you. Access your Google Analytics and navigate to the spot shown just above. If you don’t know if you have Google Analytics installed on your site, just ask your webmaster. If you don’t have it, I encourage you to ask your webmaster to add it, and to give you Admin rights. Having Admin rights will open up one of the tools to help you deal with this.

In the meantime, it helps to know whether you can trust your traffic analytics. In Acquisition | All Traffic | Channels (the location shown above) you can still check all the non-referral traffic sources individually to understand the traffic you’re getting from those.

How do you fix this?

There are ways to filter out much of the spambot traffic from your reporting, and even to deny spambots access to your website. That’s a topic for a future blog post right here.

Stay tuned.

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Tell us about your own experiences with this in the comments below.
Need help with your organic search traffic? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Avoid This Pitfall for Mobile Sites

rank-magic-mobileYou may have received an email like this from Google:

Google systems have detected that your desktop site URLs redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone site rather than the page they found in Search results. This critical issue causes problems for Googlebot for smartphones because it can’t access your smartphone URLs. It also confuses your users.

Some people have taken the shortcut to make their website’s home page responsive and not taking care of the internal pages. When they do that, they create a redirect so that regardless of which page a mobile user finds in search results, clicking on it only brings them to the mobile version of the home page instead of the page they want.

Google is cracking down this practice and has been sending emails like the one above to owners, warning them about that practice. They have devoted a post in the Official Google Blog to this topic. If you’ve received the above warning, I encourage you to read Google’s position in that blog post and fix the problem ASAP.

Humorous look at poor mobile redirection practices.

We borrowed this from the folks at xkcd.com.

Did you find this helpful? If so, please share it with your friends and colleagues with the buttons above and give it a +1 at the top of the page.

Tell us about your own experiences with this in the comments below.

Need help with poor visibility in search engines? At Rank Magic, we can fix that!

Avoid Doorway Pages

Doorway pages will get you in trouble with Google.I thought the practice of creating doorway pages was a thing of the past. We’ve discouraged this practice since 2005 and  reported back in 2006 about doorway pages getting the German language websites for Ricoh and BMW completely banned from Google for six months. After that, I thought the practice had fallen into disuse. Apparently not.

Google just came out with a warning that they’re increasing the ranking penalty applied for this black hat SEO technique. Here’s what they wrote a few weeks go in the Google Webmaster Central Blog (emphasis is mine):

We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.

For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.

Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

Google has a list of things you can check to assess your vulnerability to this new Google slap-down. I encourage you to check them out and make sure you’re safe from this newest Google algorithm change.

Share your experiences with local listings in the comments below.

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PowerListings – Local Visibility on Steroids

Local Listings Drive Business

Some of the top local sitesLocal listings are vital to all businesses that deal with customers on a face-to-face basis – nearly everyone consults them before choosing a local business. But they’re almost impossibly time-consuming to manage across dozens of different sites. And manage them you must. You may be listed at many local sites you’re not even aware of, because they populate their listings from a number of different sources, and whether your listing is correct or not may be a crap-shoot.

Being Listed Is Not Enough

Too often we see local listings that are incorrect: old phone numbers, confusing variations on your business name, inconsistent addresses. It’s been reported that one in every five local searches returns false information, and that hurts your business. Getting them all current and correct is important to do, but time consuming.  And since the information there comes from multiple sources, it can easily change back after you’ve fixed it.

Run a free scan to see how accurate your own listings are.

PowerListings To the Rescue

Important sites for local search.PowerListings automatically syncs your business listings almost instantly across our network of premium sites and mobile apps. You can take control of your listings from a single point to get your basic NAP (Name, Address & Phone) information listed and/or corrected. It happens almost instantly, compared to the common industry turnaround times of days, weeks, or months for changes to appear. And PowerListings will make sure your corrected information doesn’t get changed back to incorrect versions.

It’s More Than Just NAP

We can help you differentiates your business listings with rich content on search engines, mapping services and mobile apps. Many local listings can allow additional information to help your listing stand out from the crowd: photos, logos, staff bios, enumeration of your products and services, promotions and special offers, events and more can be custom tailored and controlled by you. This enhanced content can be updated in real time and tailored to each location, affording you an unprecedented amount of potential customer engagement through your local listings across all platforms.

And PowerListings offer tracking and reporting on searches and profile views across our network as well. You can also keep an eye on any customer reviews on these sites so you can address any less-than-stellar reviews.

If you’re a local business, ask us how PowerListings can help you.

Share your experiences with local listings in the comments below.

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Mopocalypse April 21

ready

Whether you call it Mopocalypse or Mobilegeddon, April 21 is when lots of websites will suffer significantly in Google mobile search rankings. There’s just one week left.

That’s the date Google is rolling out an algorithm change designed to promote mobile-friendly websites in mobile search. Google has taken the unusual step of actually sending emails to many website owners warning them about this, so we’re anticipating major negative impacts on sites that aren’t mobile friendly. We have more details on this in our post about it last month.

If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile friendly just check it out in Google’s new Mobile Friendly Test page. If you fail the test, we encourage you to get your site mobile friendly as soon as possible. Your webmaster can make it “responsive”, meaning the site will adjust its formatting in response to the nature of the device looking at it. Or you can create a mobile version with a product like Dudamobile and redirect to the mobile version if the user is on a phone.

If you’re using a different approach, please let us know in the comments below how you’re doing it and how well it’s working.

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Need better visibility on the web? Rank Magic can help.

Local Listings are Essential for Local Businesses

Google’s Pigeon algorithm

Pigeon

The newest Google algorithm update, Pigeon, has put a larger emphasis on local SEO and search. Well-known local listing sites like Yelp, CitySearch and SuperPages are seeing a boost in rankings, which means having listings on these sites is now more important than ever.

The biggest factors in SEO remain unchanged and you should still focus on site structure, content, link popularity and authority. But now a presence in local listings with links back to your website is an increasingly valuable supplement to organic SEO.

Too Many Local Sites, Too Much Inconsistency

Too often we see local listings that are incorrect: old phone numbers, confusing variations on your business name, inconsistent addresses. It’s been reported that one in every five local searches returns false information, and that hurts your business. Getting them all current, correct and consistent is important but time-consuming. And they’re subject to being changed as the publishers collect information from multiple sources; keeping them correct requires frequent attention.

PowerListings Addresses That

We’re now offering PowerListings — a service to ensure you have an effective and consistent presence on more than 50 local directories, search engines and mobile apps. It: can:

  1. PowerListings local sitesMake sure you’re listed on 50+ local sites
  2. Synchronize them all so they show the same name, address and phone (important for Google rankings)
  3. Allow for detection and removal of duplicates and near-duplicates (also a ranking factor)
  4. Provide you a dashboard where you can see any of the listings anytime and add updates whenever appropriate
  5. Synchronize display of additional information like logos & photos, payment methods, office hours, events, special announcements and more
  6. Monitor your online reviews at about a dozen and a half local sites that publish reviews
  7. Prevent unexpected changes to your listings as the publishers gather information from other sources; always keeping your listings current and accurate

Want to find out how many local listings you have and accurate they are? Run a free scan to see.

Want to explore this in greater depth? Learn more here.

We encourage your feedback in the comments below.

Your Website Needs To Be Mobile-Friendly

Why Should I Care?

US smartphone penetration is up to 75% as of the end of 2014. Late last year, mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the first time. And according to Nielsen, 87% of mobile users used their mobile device for shopping activities like searching for a product or service, pricing comparisons, or brick & mortar address search.

not mobile-friendlyAccording to Google:

Appearing on smartphones is critical for local businesses. 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 84% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

Google has also been focusing more recently on the user experience of websites, preferring those that provide a good user experience because web users like those sites better. And a website that’s not mobile-friendly provides a poor user experience for smartphone users.

Google has previously announced that whether a site is mobile-friendly is a positive ranking factor. As a hint that it might be due for increased weight in Google rankings, early this year Google started issuing warnings to webmasters if their site isn’t mobile-friendly. Then as recently as last week, Google wrote “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” Google has already begun a rollout of alerts for users indicating which sites in it’s search results are mobile-friendly. It’s not universal yet, but seems to be increasing in coverage.

What makes a site mobile-friendly?

mobile-friendly websiteThere are four main things that distinguish a mobile-friendly site:

  • It avoids use of software that doesn’t work on phones (like Flash).
  • It makes links and buttons large enough and far enough apart to be easily clicked with a finger.
  • It uses text that can be easily read without zooming.
  • It sizes content so there’s no horizontal scrolling needed and no zooming required.

Check your site

There are two easy ways to check to see whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.

  1. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Tool to see if Google thinks you’re mobile-friendly.
  2. The acid test: look up your site on a phone yourself and judge.

What if you fail the test?

If you fail the test, you have three options.

  1. You can talk with your web designer about a site redesign to make your site “responsive”. Responsive means your website changes how it looks depending on what kind of device is used to view it.
  2. Without a website redesign, you can use a tool like DudaMobile to create a mobile version of your site. Typically it replaces the “www.” prefix with a “m.” prefix and does a lot of the redesign work for you. You will still need to spend time tweaking it to look the way you want, and there’s an annual fee for the service.
  3. Do nothing and take your chances with your Google rankings.

Not being mobile-friendly is not yet a major ranking signal at Google, but it will be increasing in importance over time as smartphones and tablets continue to displace laptops and desktops as the platform of choice. The next big jump in its importance as a ranking signal is scheduled for April 21 of this year.

If you’re not currently mobile-friendly, now is the time to fix that.

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Tell us about your own mobile-friendly experience in the comments below.

 

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