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How to Grow a Competitive Online Review Profile

Importance of your online review profile

  • Review stars are valuable assests for your reputation.Online reviews, whether positive or negative, affect your reputation.
  • That in turn impacts your revenue. For example, BrightLocal found that 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars.
  • That’s because customers see your online review profile and believe those reviews.  According to Inc. Magazine, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends.
  • Don’t go nuts. Watch your review velocity; review sites and Google certainly do. If you get too many reviews too fast, they may be seen as purchased links or spam and be filtered out.
  • Diversity is important. If a citation site you’re listed on features reviews and you have none there, your citation is incomplete. It reduces your authority and your credibility.

Action Plan: how to manage your online review profile

Look yourself up by name

Your online review star-rating registers as an important factopr in customer buying behavior.

The first thing that jumps out at people is your Google Knowledge Panel at the top right. This is probably the most important place for you to have online review stars. If you don’t have any stars here, this is the first place to get them.

What other citations appear on the page? Your Facebook page may show up, perhaps a MerchantCircle page, maybe a Yelp listing, and maybe others. Do they have review stars? If not, those should be the second priority for you.

Online reviews don’t just happen

Youronline review profile is important to rankings and click-throughs.

A good online review profile doesn’t just happen. If you have an unhappy customer their anger or disappointment provides built-in motivation for them to leave you a bad review. Happy customers are less likely to write a review without a little prompting.

Some businesses post a sign that says something like “We welcome your review on Yelp.” Or some variation on that. That plants the suggestion in the customer’s mind that they can (should) share their opinion of you.

Beyond that, you can also ask your customer for a review. Some businesses do that at checkout. Others that have customer email addresses send them an email request for a review with a link to your listing on the platform of your choice to make it easy for them.

Check out your niche

Do a keyword search like car repair shop in Morristown. Or New Jersey elder law attorney. Which industry sites and local directories show up? You may find something like a Morristown business directory. Or you may find a directory of elder law attorneys. If those directories accept online reviews, you need to have some there. If the site is fee-based, you may need to consider the relative value, but many are free.

Check out your competitors

Which of your competitors show up for your most important keywords? Search those keywords and make a note of which competitors are showing up on the first page or two. And then look up those competitors by name and see where they have citations with review stars. Those are all places you should also have reviews. Go through at least the first three pages of results for each competitor to catch the most important citation/review sites.

Consider broader sites as wellMake it easy for delighted customers to review you.

There are a number of more generic sites that are powerful sources of online reviews. Some of the best ones include:

Monitor your online reviews and respond to them

It’s not enough to just ask customers for reviews. You need to respond to reviews as they appear. It’s normal for reviews to appear that you haven’t requested. And not all of those reviews will be glowing.

Responding to reviews promptly is associated with a 33% increase in conversions. We talk about the importance of monitoring and responding to reviews in our post Respond to Reviews and Get More Business.

As you might imagine, it can be quite time-consuming to monitor all of the places that host reviews for you. Fortunately there is the relatively easy solution. Most of our local SEO clients subscribe to a service that, among other things, sends them an email every time a new review is posted, with a link to that review so they can reply. If that’s of interest to you, reach out to me and I’ll explain how it works.

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404 Errors: What Can Happen if Your Page is Broken

Oops! Don't run afoul of a Google penalty.Your company website is one of the leading sources of traffic for your business, so keeping its structure healthy is a must. You want to be able to meet your visitors’ need to have accurate information about your brand and offerings directly from your website. This way, you can move your target audience further into the succeeding stages of the buyer’s journey.

So, imagine if your prospect is ready to engage with you, but finds a page 404 error message instead of the branded content that they are hoping to see? They’ll probably feel frustrated and disappointed, which isn’t a really good way to welcome people visiting your site. Because of this kind of negative experience, you may lose potential customers.

Google cares about 404s

Plus, broken 404 pages make your website look bad in the eyes of Google and other search engines. As a consequence of serving your online visitors with 404s, your website’s ranking on the search results may drop.

Before 404 errors escalate into a serious issue for your organization, you should mobilize your web developers to look into the problem right away. Have them check if the trouble is on your end or on the server where your website is hosted. As soon as you identify the source of the problem, you need to apply the fix as quickly as possible.

While you’re at it, you should also aim to ease the users’ difficulty in finding what they initially came for. Perhaps you can redirect them to other pages on your site, request them to reach out to you via chat, and so on. Last but not least, make sure to take precautionary measures so that the same scenario of having 404 pages show up on your site doesn’t happen again.

To have a clearer understanding of how to go about fixing problems related to 404 pages, check out this featured infographic.

All about the 404 Page Not Found error

Infographic provided by Spiralytics

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If you’d like to talk with us about your own website, just give us a call.

Top SEO Ranking Factors in 2019

What are the most important search engine ranking factors?

Growth of revenue from better online visibility via SEOGoogle has stated that there are more than 200 SEO ranking factors that control where your website ranks when people search for what you do or sell. They are not all weighted equally: some are exponentially more important than others. And it helps to know which are the most important so that you can spend your time as wisely as possible improving your website for good search rankings.

SparkToro recently reported on a survey of more than 1,500 SEO professionals to arrive at a consensus about the relative importance of 26 different ranking factors. I’d like to focus on the top dozen factors you should pay attention to. But before we begin, here’s the relative ranking chart from SparkToro, rated on a 10-point scale of importance.

Top 26 Google Ranking Factors in 2019

Let’s dive into the top dozen SEO ranking factors from this list.

  1. Write your page content for relevance to your desired visitor.Relevance of your page content. Clearly, this earns the top spot because if your page isn’t highly related to what was searched for, Google will never want to show it. The focus of your page content needs to be highly relevant to the search. The most common violation of that is when a local service-oriented website has a Services page that lists all the services they offer. Unless each bulleted service links to a page that’s all about that specific service, it’s a wasted page. I often have to explain that a page that’s about everything you do is really not about anything you do.
  2. Link building is essential to your authority on the web.Quality of your link profile. Your importance or authority on the web is very heavily dependent on your inbound link profile. That’s the number and quality of other websites that have links pointing to yours. Each one of those inbound links is a vote for you. But web pages that have a high authoritative score help you much more than pages with less authority.
  3. Use of query-relevant words and phrases. Google does an excellent job of understanding the semantic relevance of your content. Inclusion of related words and phrases helps Google understand the focus of your page and compare it to the searcher’s intent. For example, a page about New York pizza could be about a restaurant in New York City, or about a recipe for New York-style homemade pizza. The non-keyword phrases and words on the page help Google to understand its relevance to a given query.
  4. Expertise, Authrority and Trust are imporant ranking factors at Google.Domain E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.  E-A-T is heavily dependent upon both your content (including the author’s expertise) and your link profile. If you’re the author of content on your website and blog, your personal perceived expertise counts in your favor. You can build on that by publishing frequently, thoroughly, and widely about topics related to your business.
  5. Yoiur web site MUST be mobile friendly.Mobile Friendliness. Ever since Mobilegeddon or Mopocalypse in 2015, it’s been essential for your website to be mobile friendly. And it’s important for your website to be responsive rather than having a separate website for mobile. Google’s index which they use for ranking, is now based on the mobile version of your website, not the version people see on a desktop. With more than half of all searches done on phones, not being mobile friendly hurts not only your ranking, but severely affects conversions from anyone who ends up on your website from their phone.
  6. Exact Match Keywords. While Google has gotten much better at understanding related words and keyword phrases that may be in different orders or broken up on your page, having an exact match for the keyword phrase people search for the most is still important.
  7. Pursue a robust and diverse link profile.Quantity and Diversity of Linking Websites. This refers to your inbound link profile. It’s important to have not just a lot of inbound links to your site, but to have them from different domains rather than having many of them come from one website.
  8. Content Accuracy. If the content on your page is at odds with widely accepted facts, it’s unlikely to rank well. While Google is looking for authoritative pages, part of what makes a page authoritative is Google’s assessment of its accuracy.
  9. Link Authority. This is about the Domain Authority of your website. Each page also has an authority value, but this is referring to your overall website’s authority. It’s based on the quality of other websites that link to you.
  10. Page E-A-T. While the domain’s Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness is very important (it’s number four on this list), the E-A-T of the page that’s going to appear in search results is also important.
  11. Page Query-Relevant Content. Is it clear to the searcher why the search engine retrieved your page? If not, it’s time to re-think the content and design of your page.
  12. All else being equal, a fast page will outrank a slow page.Load Speed. How fast a page downloads is important for two reasons. First, it’s a ranking factor at Google, so a slow page is unlikely to rank as highly as a fast page, all other things being equal. Second, the likelihood of someone abandoning your page before reading it — and going back to the Google results increases dramatically with how long your page downloads to a user’s browser or phone. That’s called a “bounce” and too many of those will hurt your rankings in the future. Google considers page speed good if it’s under two seconds. I consider it acceptable if it’s under three seconds. But every second extracts more abandonments of your page.

If you’d like to explore any of these 2019 search ranking factors with respect to your own website, I’m happy to speak with you. Just give me a call.