Both common sense and basic marketing knowledge reinforce the importance of showing up on search engines, specifically in association with local searches for the services or goods a business provides.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to any business of any size, but those with local businesses must adjust their search engine optimization strategy slightly, due to budget limitations as well as the need to dominate mainly in association with searches for and from their market.
For those seeking a cost-effective and expeditious solution to how and when they show up in response to online searches, taking a deeper look at what brand reputation management can do in terms of reach and message amplification simply makes sense.
Small to medium businesses need to become more comfortable with the idea that traffic originating from third-party review sites may convert as much or higher than traffic that comes directly into the business site. Similarly, enterprises whose business model depends on localized branches such as restaurants and hotels need to embrace the need for an effective and sustainable SEO strategy for each of their branches.
Strengthen Your Category Relevance
Making sure your business has a listing on industry-specific third-party review sites, as well as general review sites with sub-categories, will immediately have an impact on how and when local searchers come across a listing and have access to your offering.
For optimal engagement, the best approach is to conduct a category search in a market, and identify the dominant third-party review sites for your category.
Once the dominant-category sites have been identified, those tasked with reputation management should invest time in taking over or activating the business profiles for each third-party review site, and make certain the descriptions are keyword-rich to further the SEO value of each profile. If your business is new and it has a new site, chances are your review profiles will rise to the top of search way before the main business site will.
Diversify the Point of Entry for Engagement
One of the most exciting things about using third-party review sites to boost local search performance is the possibility of having more than one listing show up on the first page for your business category.
A local hotel could potentially have full-page domination for searches such as “best hotel + city.” If managed correctly, a local hotel would show up first with links to their profile on Google+, Facebook (which also has a review feature), Yahoo Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Insider Pages, and hopefully the business site.
In this example, six points of entry are created on the first page, all pointing to the same business. Assuming the top three listings capture over 80 percent of the clicks, a situation like this can potentially set the stage for your business to take a lion’s share of the market.
Access a Different Sub-Set of Customers
While the majority of searchers looking for a business or service happen in the context of common search engines such as Yahoo and Google, there are always customers that prefer more specific search tools.
For example, when on the road, many people prefer using the Yelp app to locate a restaurant nearby, instead of simply running a Google search. Another scenario takes place when a review site like OpenTable or Eat24 rewards customers with loyalty points. A loyalty-driven customer who is familiar with the site or app may only see your business if you are listed and active on the site.
Accessing an additional sub-set of potential customers provides your business with the opportunity to leverage that traffic and have incremental growth in your client base.
Enhance Your Credibility
With every day that passes, review sites become more popular as tools of research that provide shoppers with reassurance about the quality of a product or service by providing peer testimonies.
Even if a potential customer found you through your site, there is the distinct possibility that he or she will seek out reviews about your business before moving forward. Having a strong online brand reputation enhances your credibility, and provides those searching for information about your business with insights that would not be available otherwise.
Connect with Your Local Community and Learn Their Language
When you engage with your customers and potential customers by using third-party sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, you have the unique opportunity to have a two-way conversation that integrates both of you into a virtual community of potential brand promoters.
Connecting with customers through review responses allows your businesses to learn what drives consumption in your market, and equips you to provide responses that are query-sensitive by utilizing vocabulary similar to the one used by your reviewers. Using the language used by the locals will further enhance your SEO responsiveness.
Leverage the SEO Strength of Popular Review Sites
Many small, local businesses have sites that are basic in nature and design, and operate mostly like a business card. Limited resources hinder the functionality and design as well as content density that you can push via your own site as a small business owner.
Because of this, oftentimes your business site provides very limited signals to search robots, making it virtually impossible, without a significant investment in time and money, to ever show up on the first page of search for anything other than your brand or business name.
Third-party review sites help your small business overcome this hurdle by giving each profile the SEO strength from the review site. Riding on the strength of a review site is helpful short- and long-term, and should always be included as part of a sound online brand reputation and SEO strategy.
User-Generated Content is Keyword-Rich, Responsive
Every single time people review your business, they are adding keyword strings that are specific to your business and directly associated with your profiles. (RELATED: Research Shows that You Can Boost Sales by Adding Online Reviews to Your Product Page)
Having text-rich profiles that become richer by the day as customers add more and more reviews is perhaps one of the most exciting ways to energize the keyword relevance of your business. The more reviews you have, the better chances your business will have of people finding your online review site profiles for long-tail searches.
Finding ways of getting more and better reviews is not just about having a five-star cumulative score. The text is invaluable when it comes to customers finding a business that matches their specific needs or wants.
Reputation management is an integral part of a sound online marketing strategy. A sound implementation of a variety of review management (including responding to and generating new reviews) is guaranteed to provide businesses added online relevance that often results in incremental business opportunities.
For more information, check out the Reviews, Revenue, & SEO Webinar by ReviewTrackers.