In the old days, the recipe was simple: research a few keywords, find out which ones were high volume/low competition, stuff your site with them (maybe add in an adult keyword term or two for wider reach if you were a rogue marketer) and…bingo: traffic to your site, high results on the search engines.
Today…. not so much.
Today there is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SMO (Social Media Optimization), as well as credibility through star ratings and reviews. It’s the latter that we want to focus on because it really has an effect on how your business is noticed and perceived.
Whether you are a restaurant, a car dealership, a photographer, a coffee shop, or anything in between, today star ratings and reviews are your SEO currency, but before we mention strategies for being successful with them, let’s first make sure you know what we’re talking about.
What are they?
Star ratings and reviews are a situation where your business has been put on some other kind of site, and whereby your potential customers are rating it. You may have voluntarily put your business on one of these sites, or users may be free to add a business–your business–themselves.
Why are they important
In the age of the internet, people are starting to see beyond two dimensional poster-style, plastic marketing. A good star rating for your business, coupled with authentic sounding, positive reviews is the pre-internet equivalent to good old fashioned word-of-mouth. By now, most of us have been influenced by these ratings if we have tried to book a hotel, go to a restaurant, or buy a product online. Whether consciously or not, you’ve most likely already made a choice on some kind of purchase based on these reviews.
An algorithm is essentially a series of questions that a search engine asks on any piece of content on the internet to determine how high up it should display that content when returning search results.
The types of questions can include:
- Did other users come to this page from genuine, creditable sources?
- Do users stay long on this content or do they bounce right off?
- Do users click and interact with this content or do they just read it?
- Is there a lot of traffic on this content or is it rarely visited?
On a ratings page, when your business has lots of positive reviews and votes, and if it links from a trusted website, that fact reinforces credibility in a search engine’s eyes. The increased credibility has a placebo effect of shooting your business to the top of the search results, which then causes more people to find it, and possibly rate it positively. That whole situation increases its search result ranking yet again, and so the cycle continues…
3. Potential Social Media Virality
Both points #1 and #2 build on each other.
By the time you’ve got a creditable business that comes up high on business or product review search results on, say, amazon.ca, and sports positive overall reviews with a high number of positive votes, people are more likely to share the URL of your business or product with their friends on social media. In turn, your product is more likely to show up on targeted social media advertisements by our example company, amazon.ca. What’s more, on social media, people might have the opportunity to “like” your business or product, meaning that it’s endorsed by friends. Being endorsed by friends is the ultimate “virtual word-of-mouth”. Before you know it, your product is going viral!
What action you can take
You can approach this online reputation in 3 simple ways.
1. Add your business to the relevant directories
Be aware of your industry and what local and global sites people search when searching for that product or service. If you’re a bike shop, make a store on amazon. ca. If you rent rooms, create an account on airbnb.ca. If you’re an accountant, consider signing up for upwork.com. Take the time to build up your profile and credibility on the directories you choose to list yourself.
2. Be on top of other directories where your business may be listed
You want to be familiar with any other service or directory that displays your business or service. Some of these may be specific to your niche or area of business, while others may be more general business listings or directories. For example, check yelp.ca or Google business reviews to see if anyone has added your business, and/or what they have been saying about it. This may give you some insight on the buzz surrounding your business, product, or service.
Some of these listings give the business owner a chance to respond, and you can seize that opportunity. If the comment is negative, it might be worth responding, but remember to be professional and tactful in your response, calmly stating where you’re coming from and/or your side of the story. You want to avoid coming off as simply defensive.
3. Provide good service or a good product
Lastly, these listings exist for a reason. You shouldn’t be overly investing effort in simply trying to maintain a facade. It all comes back to providing quality service, and/or a quality product. Your time is better spent on just conducting business the proper way with integrity. From there, the stars and positive reviews will naturally follow!
Business among the stars
Your business’ internet presence doesn’t stop at your website, nor does its promotion come down to perfecting just the right keywords. Today we live in a multi-platform web. You can find your business’ web presence in many areas of the net. One key component to online success in business is providing a genuinely great product or service and having that fact organically reflected in the star and rating system of various business directory listing sites. When you can achieve a strong presence there (in addition to having a solid, professional looking website) the traffic–and business–will follow.
Need to make more sense of all this stuff?Connect with us about this or any other info you require at firstname.lastname@example.org or just reply to this email.