Online Reviews

With 91% of consumers reading online reviews while searching for local businesses, it is more important than ever to monitor online reviews.  Whether it is on Yelp, Google, Facebook, or other review sites they share a common attribute, which are reviews about a local business.

When it comes to Local SEO, if a business fails to see what people are saying about their business, they’re bound to continuously fail to meet their customers’ expectations and as a result, may end up failing to identify ways on how they can improve.

Online Reviews can typically be broken down into three categories:

  • Positive
  • General
  • Negative

When individuals search through reviews they take a little of the good and the bad and weigh it against their own needs.  Obviously, the end goal is to have the majority of the reviews being positive. A positive review gives potential customers confidence in a business, and as they see more and more positive reviews it gives them the motivation to invest additional interest in a business.

Negative reviews, unfortunately, can turn people away from your business and can be a kryptonite for customers.  There are various strategies on how to fix a negative review.

One of the simplest remedies is simply to ask current customers to leave a review.  There are obviously technicalities with something as simple as asking for a review. Google requires that businesses do not solicit a positive review in exchange for product or services nor discounts, whereas Yelp takes an extreme request is not even to talk about a review, that a review is supposed to be natural with influence.

Another remedy for a negative review is to address the reviewer’s complaint head-on.  Some online review sites allow the business to respond to reviews.

There are other techniques to approach negative reviews

Google My Business

It never ceases to amaze me how often businesses don’t have control over their own intellectual properties, more particularly Google My Business.  Google My Business is a very powerful tool that allows businesses and organizations to manage their information in Google for both Search and Maps.  The unfortunate truth is not many businesses utilize it, however, often times, this is where their customers are obtaining their information, when they’re searching for a business that suits their needs.

A good starting point (after access to Google My Business has been obtained), is to start filling out as much information as possible in the Info section.  This includes the Business Name, Category, Physical Address, Business Hours (Including Special Hours), Phone Number, Website, and Attributes.

Google My Business also has a Photos section which is a remarkable opportunity to give potential customers a familiarity of your business through photos.  There are several different types of photos a business can contribute to their business listing in Google. These would include 360, Interior, Exterior, At Work, and Team photos.  Businesses can even upload a 30 second video about their business as well! There are several great opportunities for a business to give a customer a taste of what they could experience.

Much of the information that is entered into Google My Business is pushed into the Local Knowledge Panel which can be accessed in the Google Search Results Page and is also populated in the Google Maps.

Local Knowledge Panel

When it comes to local seo, the Local Knowledge Panel is essential for small businesses to succeed.  This is where potential customers come to find information about local businesses. It is displayed in the right side of the search results as seen below:

As previously mentioned above, the information displayed in the Local Knowledge Panel originate from contributions from the respective business through Google My Business.  Even though most of the information can be generated through Google My Business, other can contribute information about a business as a Google Local Guide. While the concept of a Google Local Guide is helpful, they can damage the information that is displayed as they “suggest an edit” whether it be intentional or unintentional.

This is why it important for a business to be vigilant while doing their local seo, Google Search Results may change up crucial information, and with access to Google My Business, businesses can ensure that their local business information is accurate.

Structured Data Markup

When it comes to implementing Local SEO practices into a website several of them fail to implement structured data markup.  Honestly, it is no surprise, because it can tend to be complicated as well as finding the right fit. To simply define schema take the following numbers below:

3077548039

To you, me and everyone else, they look like an assortment of numbers with no apparent significant meaning.  But when we add punctuation marks it changes:

(307) 754-8039

It magically becomes a phone number with the punctuation.  This is what structured data markup does: clarifies to Google crawlers what it is actually looking at.  This is primarily used in local seo services as a LocalBusiness in the coding. As a LocalBusiness markup in schema, it clarifies for the Google crawlers that the information that it is reviewing is a local business.  schema.org/LocalBusiness shows all the properties that can be added to a Local Business as well as examples at the bottom on how the coding can be properly implemented.  It also lists specific types of industries from Child Care to Travel Agencies.

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Nate Somsen
Local Digital Marketing Specialist at Big Leap
Being a member of Google's Elusive Local Guides Program and recently obtaining the Honorary Status of Level 8, Nate Somsen is a Google My Business Expert because when everyone can't stand it, he can.