In 2012, a study conducted by Fleishman-Hillard in conjunction with Harris Communications indicated that as many as 89 percent of shoppers turned to search engines to identify businesses, products, and services. Since then, the percentage has remained in an upward trend, with reports that as high as 95 percent of shopping research is taking place digitally.
As of 2013, ComScore identified Google as the most popular search engine, with 67 percent of market share. This number also remains in an upward trend. For brick and mortar businesses, achieving local visibility in Google Search takes priority over all other means of client acquisition. In addition to being highly effective, the costs tend to be lower than other common marketing strategies.
Given the current state of affairs, managing your Google My Business profile may prove to be the most expedient way to help potential customers find you online. Let’s explore quick and practical ways to boost your visibility, by managing your Google reviews as part of your overall marketing and reputation management strategy.
1. Take Ownership of Your Profile
A good percentage of business fully neglects taking ownership of their Google My Business profile. With a few simple steps, a business owner can make sure their shop is featured and properly displayed on generic searches, or on searches routed via Google Maps or Google+ Local.
In addition to ensuring your profile displays complete and accurate information, you are also setting the stage for reviews with star ratings that enhance your credibility when displayed in search results. Once you have taken ownership of your Google My Business profile, you will be able to do enhanced online engagement actions, such as posting updates and responding to reviews and questions from current and potential customers.
2. Solicit Engagement from Your Customers
When it comes to online search, Google weights actions within their own toolset as more important than other factors impacting your SERP. By encouraging Google reviews from your customers, you are directly and positively affecting the way your business appears when potential customers conduct keyword-driven searches in your category.
Having a good number of reviews can give your shop a competitive edge, particularly as it relates to geographically sensitive searches. In most searches, if two businesses are equidistant from the center of town and all Google My Business parameters are equal, the business with the most reviews and ratings will be prioritized in search.
3. Respond to Reviewers
Intelligent, SEO-sensitive, and keyword-driven responses to reviews posted through Google My Business can bolster the responsiveness of your website to specific long-tail searches. Given Google’s tendency to prioritize their own content against other content, your review management efforts and responses are likely to trigger improvements on when and how your local business shows up in Google search.
Google’s scraping of their own content via crawlers is anecdotally quicker than the crawling patterns for competitors such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Engaging with your customers and their reviews is not only good for short-term seasonal searches; it also helps long-term by creating keyword density in direct association with your website.
The benefits in engaging in review responses and online dialogue with your customer go beyond search. If managed strategically and intentionally, your review responses will solidify your online reputation and further strengthen your brand.