In this article by Jeff Gross on B2C, it explains why Google + Local is important and how a local small business can make the best use of Google + Local which is replacing Google Places as a local review webpage. As always, read, comment, share and enjoy!
The first step in optimizing your website for local search is to list it in Google Places, or Google+ Local now. It’s a pretty straightforward process – you fill in the boxes with your address, description of your business, insert important keywords… Yet, people tend to make beginner’s mistakes right there: if you’ve decided to help local customers to find you more easily, do it right and fill out your profile 100%. Then you can ask: what am I supposed to do next? In less competitive markets, just properly claiming your physical location can be enough to outrank your competitors for a locally specified search; but if your competition is doing any kind of serious SEO, you will have to beat them in every little detail – on-site optimization, local backlinks and all other fun stuff including, yes, getting the most out of your Google+ Local listing. And the most obvious place to start is to make the blue button with “Write a review” on it work in your favor.
Why are customer reviews on Google+ important?
First, when someone leaves a review of your company, it gets shown automatically to their friends. Maybe they have a neighbor in their circles that is also interested in your product or service, and his review can make him choose you over a competitor; or a friend of your customer is considering to stay in your hotel for a business trip – a positive review from someone he knows will probably influence his final decision.
Second, the number of reviews can have a huge impact on your local ranking, which has direct impact to your website’s visits. Before switching to the Zagat 30 points scale (the end of May 2012) there was a stars bar that showed the average ratings. The thing is, the stars only appeared after the fifth customer reviewed a business, and it appeared in the organic SERP taking the page closer to the top, as some tests have shown. It also resulted in higher click through rate, because the page was more visible, since it occupied more space (3 rows) and had distinct features that other pages didn’t have. It’s still too early to tell, but it’s safe to assume that the new 30 points system has similar effects. On the last point, it’s useful to mention that, after receiving 5 reviews, the next significant gain is at the number of 100 reviews… so don’t sweat if you have only 6, and your competitor has 36.
How to get customers to review your business on Google
Before you do anything, keep in mind that Google has very strict rules against paying someone to review your page. You can encourage them to review, but you can’t offer any money, product or service in exchange. So, the question is how to politely encourage your customers to leave their opinion on your Google+ Local page.You have several options. For the first ones (which are usually the hardest to get) you can ask your loyal customers, by email or by phone, to review your business on Google+. Then you can place simple call-to-actions on your website, just to let the visitors know that you would appreciate their reviews; consider using QR code for mobile users (it can link customers directly to your G+ page), or asking your fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook to help build reviews. It’s probably a good idea to make instructions on how to review your page for those who aren’t yet using Google+ (because they have to sign up for a Google account if they don’t have one), and printing them out can work if you have physical products, or if you interact with your customers in person. Right now, it looks like Google is only counting the number of reviews, and not what they’re saying about your business, but this will probably change in the future, so do your best to satisfy your customers in order to get good reviews from them. And under no circumstances should you consider faking your reviews – it’s just not worth getting your listing suspended.
Have you set up your Google+ page for your small business? What are you doing to encourage customers to leave reviews? Share your small biz diamonds in the comments section below.
Jeff Gross is an Internet Marketing expert with an interest in the latest changes to Google local search. Switching the local focus from the established “Google Places” to the still unstable Google+ would mean that Google is set on further developing both local search as well as Google+. These changes will surely be beneficial to local websites such as http://www.serijskiubojica.hr, allowing them to overshadow global websites in local search.
Have a successful day!