How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, as hard as we all work to please our clients, things happen. Mistakes get made, clients may have unreasonable expectations, or bad communication just happens. When responding to negative comments or reviews, it’s essential to keep in mind that it’s not just the initial reviewer that will see the response; it’s the whole internet, and that speed is of the essence. 

First things first

The first thing to do is to acknowledge that the customer had a bad experience and promise to immediately look into it. Even if the company wasn’t in the wrong, being sympathetic may help defuse the tension raised by the poor review. 

Move it offline 

Try to move the conversation offline as quickly as possible. This can be done by offering contact information to the reviewer so that they can talk on the phone or in-person to a customer service rep or the head of the department. This shows both the offended party and anyone else reading the review that you were responsive and attentive to their needs as well as their privacy. 

Confirm their identity and problem 

Be specific and know the customer. Rephrase what the client complained about when you’re responding. Try paying attention to who they are. Do they have a name on their account? Can you look at their account? It’s important to confirm this person was actually a client. The sad reality of our world is that there are trolls out there whose daily job/hobby in life is to spread hate and discontent. If this is one of those times for you, acknowledge they are upset, confirm that you can’t find them listed as a customer and would like to take the conversation offline to better serve their concerns. It’s important to say this so that others reading reviews can identify that this is likely a troll. 

Be brief

Keep the responses as short and well mannered as possible. A long-winded reply may come off as the company trying to defend themselves and the situation. This would beg the questions, why and what do they need to defend? Three to four sentences should provide enough information for everyone to understand that the company cares about the customer and their experiences and that they want to work on improving the situation. 

Don’t use business names 

When responding, try to avoid using the business’s name or any relevant words relating to the company. Words corresponding with the company may show up in online searches, dragging up past problems after they were resolved. It’s counterproductive and would demand more work. 

Last but not least, always respond

Be smart and act quickly when responding to negative comments, keeping the reputation of the company in mind. The very worst thing that can happen is to not respond to negative reviews as it shows other potential customers two things: 1) you aren’t attentive and 2) the offended customer was likely right. 

For more information or help in communicating to your clients or dealing with reviews, please contact Erica Pefferman at Erica@columbiamarketinggroup.com

7 SEO Tips For Your Business to Appear on the First Page of Google

When you are searching the internet, how often do you go to page 2 or 3 on the results list? I almost never go past page one, and I don’t think I’m alone. So how do you get your business’s website on the first page or even at the very top of search results? The answer is the art and science of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Here’s a few tips to improve your shot at being #1, give them a try and see a difference in your monthly organic (SEO) traffic!

  1. Keywords

If you ask any SEO expert or web designer they will tell you that keywords on your site are one of the best ways to improve your spot on any search engine result list. Keywords include any text that is able to be read by the mysterious “google bots”. These bots crawl on web pages and pick out content so you get the most relevant results when you search. Having accurate information on your web pages is critical to being found by the average Bing or Google user.

Pro Tip: Avoid keyword stuffing. These bots are no dummies, if you are advertising a car wash business and every other word on your site is either car, wash, or car wash, they know what you’re up to. Keep it conversational while still getting relevant keywords into your featured text.

 

2. Headings

Headings are the titles on your site, like keywords these hold a lot of power when it comes to optimizing your search engine position. Make sure you are making the most of your headings – this is what website visitors are going to see first, after all. Include your company name and major page descriptors in your page or section headers. Good headings increase your chances of being seen on search engines and help your site visitors find the information they need quickly to avoid frustration.

 

3. Responsive design

We’ve all been there, trying to visit a website on your mobile device and having to scroll back and forth in order to find the information you need. It’s 2017 people! The average person is going to be on their phone anyway, make sure that your site is mobile friendly. The site crawlers can tell if your site only has a desktop version, when they see this they automatically take you out of the top search results because they know it is annoying for consumers.

Via GIPHY

4. Links

Linking in and out of your site is a great way to improve your SEO. What does that mean? You can link from one page on your site to another, this is building connections within your site, something Google likes to see. You can also link to other sites, maybe link to your client’s pages, and encourage them to link to yours, this mutual linking is beneficial for everyone. Another way to incorporate links on your site is to link out to your social media pages, that’s what they are there for, right? This can draw your website viewers to your facebook page and vice versa, that way you can get more likes and a better position on the results page.

Pro Tip: In general, when it comes to backlinks, Google rewards quality over quantity. It’s better to have 5 quality backlinks from websites with high domain authority than to have 50 low quality backlinks from websites with low domain authorities. Websites like Facebook have a high domain authority whereas a website that was built last week is likely to have a lower domain authority.

 

5. Correct info across search engines

Have you heard of NAP? No, not the thing we are all begging for come 3:00pm – it stands for Name, Address, Phone number. This is the information listed on search engines when someone types in your business name. If the information is not correct or the same across all search engines it can hurt your chances of being seen by Googlers. Make sure that when you search your business the right info comes up, if not, fix it fast! These bots can see when the information is not correct and only the businesses with accurate NAP profiles will end up on Page 1.

CMG has a service called business power listings, we clear up any issues with your NAP listing across all search engines, this is a simple way to improve your search engine position and generate new customers monthly!

6. Site speed

Is there anything worse than a slow loading webpage? Well, yes, but it is really frustrating especially if you are trying to get information quickly. The site crawlers know what people like and dislike, and that includes slow site speed. One way to improve your site speed would be to compress any large images on your site. By compressing your pictures down to a more manageable size, you can still have that amazing image quality you want while increasing your download speed dramatically.

7. Changing content

2010 seems like yesterday, but in reality that was 7 years ago! So having content from then or from even before on your site is not a great way to get the attention of these bots. Google loves new content, so change up your site yearly at the least, update your information, switch out old pictures for new ones, anything to keep your site fresh. An updated site will not only appeal to customers, but it will likely get you closer to that #1 spot on the search results list.

Search engine optimization is a tricky game and there are countless ways to optimize your site to be more visible and show up in search results. These are just a few strategies to get on Google’s good side and increase your organic traffic.

Want to know how your website is performing? Need help doing some hardcore SEO? Let us audit your website and discover opportunities for you to capture your fair share of Google’s search space. Contact us today.

Why you can’t ignore Google Plus anymore

Google Plus is often times considered the red-headed step child of social media platforms. With only around 300 million of its 2.5 billion accounts still alive and kicking, it is a shock that the social media network made it to its fifth birthday.

The +1 on Google Plus is similar to Facebook and Twitter likes.
The +1 on Google Plus is similar to Facebook and Twitter likes.

But despite its lack of hype, the platform holds the key to one sector that all other networks lack: search engine optimization (SEO). With a parent like Google, the king of all search engines, local businesses ought to adopt Google Plus account if it means increasing organic ranking on search engine results. By increasing this ranking, your business will stand out among your competitors.

Here, we highlight five ways that Google Plus can help strengthen a local business’ online presence.

1. Google Plus has a strong influence on SEO.

Building a strong network, or “circle,” on Google Plus has a stronger impact on search engine results than your Facebook or Twitter presence. According to one metric, Google +1s (comparable to Facebook and Twitter likes) had the single highest correlation with Google search rankings compared to other social signals. In other words, it takes more Twitter and Facebook likes to have the same impact on SEO as Google Plus interactions.

Building support on Google Plus may be easier than it sounds. Although there is a limited amount of activity on the platform, there’s a pretty good chance that your loyal customers and employees already have a Google Plus account. Gmail, the most popular free email service in the world, can be easily linked to a Google Plus account without the need to fill out a separate account set-up form.

If you, a family member, friend or loyal customer already have a personal Gmail account, you can easily build a circle and start generating +1’s on your company’s content.

2. Google Plus can amplify your Google My Business account.

Want to increase the visibility of your Google My Business account? Utilize Google Plus, an already built-in tool that allows you to post updates in the same way as a Facebook status or tweet.

If you create an individual account for your business, Google will automatically create a default account. You want to make sure to post to the "brand" account, linked to Google My Business.
The “Brand Account” is linked to Google My Business.

As a local business trying to attract people searching for services in your area, it is important to stand out among your local competitors. One way you can amplify your Google presence is to begin building an active Google Plus presence. And there’s a good chance your competitors are not already tapping into this useful tool.

The tricky part with this is you want to make sure that you’re posting to your “brand” account rather than the default account provided by Google. The “brand” account is linked to your Google My Business account, rather than the default account provided when signing up for any Google services account.

3. Google Plus pairs well with other Google services.

Along with platforms such as Gmail and Google My Business, the Google family also includes YouTube which reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the United States.

Your Google Plus account will strengthen your presence across all Google platforms. Already have an active Youtube presence? Strengthen your web presence by creating a Google Plus page for your channel or videos.

Another way you can utilize your Google Plus account is to provide a strong social presence. Want to respond to a positive or negative review about your business? Create accountability by interacting through your Google Plus account.

4. You can recycle content from Facebook for more visibility.

Google Plus operates a lot like a Facebook page. There are no limits on the number of characters to use and your website links will create a visual preview. To amplify your reach, posting to more than one social network will attract different users. Not to mention, Google Plus posts are more likely to show up in search engine results than Facebook posts.

If you want to maximize the number of keyword searches that drive traffic to your website, cross-posting content to Google Plus is a great way to increase the visibility of your content.

5. The more routes you create to your website, the better it is for your web performance and Google ranking.

Like mentioned before, social signals are likely to increase your Google ranking, along with organic website visits. Google Plus may not be the most popular social network out there, but it does serve as a useful tool for increasing your web presence. The service is also free if you already have a Google My Business account.

Interested in using this tool to increase your web traffic and improve your online image? Follow this quick guide for getting started. 

NAP errors: a common problem for Mid-Missouri businesses

NAP – what the heck does that stand for?

In the world of web, NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. Over 50 online directories list business names, addresses, and phone numbers and affect what comes up when individuals search for businesses. Two of the most popular and important directories are Google My Business and Yelp.

NAP errors happen when inconsistent or incorrect name, address, or phone number information appears in these directory listings.

A Common Problem in Columbia and Jefferson City

We’ve found that NAP errors are extremely common in Mid-Missouri. Many Columbia and Jefferson City businesses experience 30%, 60%, or even 100% error rates.

Why worry about NAP errors?

Here are 4 reasons:

  • Today, 4 in 5 consumers search for local businesses online. Being found in local searches is critical to your success.
  • When consumers find incorrect information online, 73% lose trust in that business.
  • Incorrect information online causes small businesses to lose potential customers.

Fixing NAP Errors

How easy is it to fix NAP errors on your own? Not as easy as you’d think. It can be tricky to prove ownership and claim listings. The process is normally slow, laborious, and sometimes ineffective.

But, it can be done – just check with each directory to confirm the process for claiming and updating listings.

Here’s a list of the top 50 local directories.

Remember to keep an eye out – if listings aren’t claimed, they can be changed by competitors, and sometimes the directories change without permission if they detect new NAP information from another source.

A More Efficient and Effective Option

If you don’t have time to monitor 50 local directories on a monthly basis – then consider a power listing option. CMG offers a power listing service that due to unique integrations, can correct your NAP errors in one click.

In addition, you can add featured content (like special offers, photos, or menus) at any time. Small changes to directories each months helps boost your local search visibility.

And, as part of an overall reputation management offering, this system monitors online reviews and allows you to respond or share them with one click as well.

Interested in CMG’s power listing service? Contact us today or call Jamie: 573-480-1319.