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    Monitoring Your Business Reputation: Where Should You Look?

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Today, a company’s online reputation plays a significant role in whether or not a consumer will purchase from them. In fact, one survey shows that 52% of consumers are more likely to use a local business with positive reviews online. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your business reputation – so you can be aware of what consumers are saying about you online and how to react and respond to reviews and comments about your business.

    Now that more consumers are going online to find information about you and your business, it’s critical to develop a positive online reputation, and an important part of this includes monitoring various sites for mentions, reviews, and comments. To get started, here are some of the places you should consider when monitoring your business reputation online.

    Review SitesThere are a variety of review sites that consumers turn to for information about local businesses, including general review sites and those more specific to your industry. Here are a few examples of some of the top places for local business reviews:

    Google+ Local: You may have heard that Google+ Local has officially replaced Google Places for Business. For now, this initial change has updated all Google Places pages with a new look and feel and migrated existing reviews to the Zagat 30-point scoring system. If you haven’t already claimed your business on Google Places, you can still set up a Google+ Local account. It is important to monitor these reviews, as your Google+ Local page can appear in Google’s search results page, making your reviews prominent when a user searches on Google. Also, Google now requires consumers to have a Google account to create reviews, in an attempt to generate more authentic reviews and build credibility with consumers.

    Yelp: With over 71 million monthly users and over 27 million reviews, Yelp remains a popular review site that consumers visit to read and create business reviews online. So, monitoring your business reputation here can significantly help you manage your online reputation. To get started, you should claim your business on Yelp; doing so is free and allows you to connect and respond directly to consumers who leave reviews on your business page. 

    Tip: Learn what not to do on review sites.

    Social SitesJust like there are a variety of review sites, there are also many social media sites where consumers may be talking about your business. Be aware that mentions on some social media sites may not show up in publicly available tools like Google alerts, so make sure you’re actively managing and monitoring your business reputation on top social sites like the following:

    Facebook: In a recent study, approximately 51% of consumers reported that they were likely to buy from a business after liking their Facebook page. As a business, you should use this opportunity to share fresh content to inform, engage, and recognize Facebook fans. Not only will it demonstrate your active presence, it will also allow you to define and guide the conversation about your business. Also, by using tactics like asking questions about products and services, you can gain insightful information from your fans. However, it’s important to remember that if you ask for feedback, you should respond to or at least acknowledge the comments – approximately 70% of Facebook fans are ignored by businesses and brands they follow on Facebook. So, both engaging consumers and managing your reputation on Facebook is critical to your business.

    Twitter: With its short messages and easy sharing features, a bad mention of your business on Twitter can spread quickly. It’s important to monitor your business’ @username as well as run a search for your business name regularly to see what consumers are saying about you and to you. Once you know what’s being said, you also need to develop a strategy to respond to negative replies and complaints on Twitter.

    Google+: If you have a Google+ business page, it will soon merge with your new Google+ Local profile. This will make Google+ an even more important social network to monitor, because Google will index your Google+ Local profile within its search results. In other words, when consumers search for your business and click on your Google reviews, they will see reviews from consumers as well as social posts from you, along with comments from consumers within your Google+ circles. This potential visibility demonstrates why you should create a plan to monitor your Google+ profile and promote engaging content on Google+

    Business Mentions

    In addition to review and social sites, there are many additional channels where consumers can talk about your business online, such as blogs and local listing sites. In order to stay on top of these extra mentions, you should set up alerts that will notify you when someone mentions your business name in any public forum on the Web. One helpful tool is the “Me on the Web” feature located within the Google Dashboard. Once set up, this easy-to-use version of Google Alerts will notify you via email any time your business name, email address, or other keywords about your business are published on the Web. This tool is a great resource for managing your business reputation in places you might not be looking.

    Monitoring your online reputation can be a time-intensive activity, but it is worth your time to develop a strategy and monitor the right places, especially now that consumers rely on the Web to research companies’ reputations before making a purchase.

    Where are you monitoring your business reputation? Are there other websites you find valuable? Let us know in a comment!

    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through social media and online marketing for the ReachCast blog.

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    Yelp: Expert Tips & Insights for Your Business Listing

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Yelp is one of many destinations online that local businesses can use to optimize their business Web presence. . Many local businesses are aware of the reviews portion of Yelp as an important place to monitor their online reputation, but did you know you can optimize your business listing on Yelp to drive engagement and build your visibility in local search engine results as well? Recently, we heard from a local Yelp community manager, Kevin Newsum, who shared insights about Yelp and local businesses with a local Social Media Club chapter. So, we’ve put together some of the insights he shared to help you better understand Yelp and how to get more out of it for your business.

    Understanding Yelp: User Base, Reviews & Demographics

    According to Newsum, Yelp currently has 71 million monthly users and boasts approximately 27 million total reviews. Forty two percent of users are between the ages of 18 and 34. The two largest categories for business reviews on Yelp are shopping (23%) and restaurants (22%). Yelp’s mobile stats are equally impressive; approximately 40% of all searches on Yelp came from their mobile app. Plus, during the first quarter of 2012, Yelp’s mobile app was used, on average, by approximately 6.3 million unique mobile devices.

    With this in mind, it’s important to understand that Yelp is a destination where people are talking about your business even if you’re not a part of the conversation. And with that many people using Yelp to talk about local businesses, it’s better to be a part of the conversation there than to ignore it.

    The Anatomy of a Yelp Listing

    According to Newsum, a local business has access to claim or create a listing on Yelp. Each listing has four main elements: Yelp deals, hours and website, business description, and photos.

    Deals
    He stressed the importance of Yelp deals as a tactic to attract Yelpers to your business. He recommended getting creative with Yelp deals, and to keep in mind that they don’t necessarily have to be of monetary value. He shared an example of a pub in Dallas that offers a Yelp check-in deal for a “Firm handshake from the barkeep.” Even something this simple and creative can give Yelpers a good feel for your business and help you establish a relationship with your customers.

    Hours & Website
    Adding your business hours and website are also important; remember that 40% of all Yelp searches came from a mobile device, so it’s critical to provide accurate, up-to-date information for users searching on the go. The link to your website provides further information and also adds SEO value as a backlink.   

    Business Description
    Your business description on Yelp is important because Yelp is a community, and a business description helps tell the story of your business. Newsum recommending using this space to tell Yelpers something about your business they can’t find on your website. You can also use this space for updates and current information about the business.

    Photos
    Photos are a critical part of an optimized listing, because a blank listing with no photos can give users the impression that the business doesn’t care. Newsum recommended using this space as a way to entice customers to visit your business and try your products and services. For example, if you’re a restaurant, post photos of your delicious food. If you’re a boutique, post photos of the latest fashions your offering. Don’t just let this opportunity go to waste; give users an “inside look” at what they can expect from your business.

    Understanding Yelp Metrics

    Yelp metrics come free with a local business listing. In March 2012, Yelp made some improvements to their metrics, which now allow business owners to learn more about their visibility on Yelp and track how users are engaging with their business. The new “user views” graph tracks traffic to Yelp page as well as views from mobile devices. The new “user actions” section of the business dashboard tracks a variety of interactions from your Yelpers, including the number of mobile check-ins, calls to your business, requests for directions to your business, photos uploaded, clicks to your website, Yelp bookmarks, and Yelp Deals sold.

    Newsum shared that Yelp is continuing to make local search and reviews simpler not only for consumers, but for local business owners as well. So, get started becoming a part of the online conversation about your business starts by claiming and optimizing your listing so you can engage with Yelp users and help build your reputation online.

    Have you claimed and optimized your listing? What do you think about Yelp’s latest updates? Share your thoughts in a comment.

    About the Author
    Emily Bright is a Web Presence Professional for ReachLocal, working with ReachCast clients to build their local Web presence and market their businesses online.

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    Monitoring Your Business Name: Keywords to Keep a Pulse On

    Last updated 1 year ago

    You may already have a reputation management strategy for your local business. But if you don’t, there’s one simple reputation management step you can take right now– start monitoring mentions of your business name online.

    Monitoring your business name is a great way to identify when consumers are talking about you online. Tracking your business name online empowers you to see how your customers feel about your business on a variety of places, from business review sites to social media sites to forums and more. If what people are saying about your business is positive, then you can use this insight to help you keep up the great work. Plus, it can help you establish a great baseline to help build a glowing positive reputation.

    And, you never know when one negative review will hurt you – research shows that reading negative information online may deter someone from purchasing a product or service recommended to them, so it’s important to stay in the know when it comes to your reputation. And, monitoring your online reputation becomes most critical when consumers are affiliating your business name with negative comments or reviews. That’s because those negative reviews may show up to other consumers who are researching your business online.

    Whatever service or tool you use to monitor your business name online, from Google alerts to an advanced monitoring system, a crucial part of monitoring your business name is to select the right terms and keywords to keep tabs on. So, here are a few ideas of the types of terms you should include in your monitoring program.

    “My Business Name”

    Monitoring your actual business name is one of the most basic reputation management tips. Not only is this term an important part of your online marketing strategy that local consumers may search for when researching your business, it also is likely the name that consumers will use when talking about your business online. And don’t worry if your business name isn’t completely unique. If you are one of many businesses with a similar name, you can set your monitoring program to look for mentions of your business name and terms in your local area, such as your neighborhood, city, or even ZIP code.

    An advanced tip is to use Boolean logic in your search to identify additional terms connected with your business name and to help provide matches that are more precise. For example, to narrow your search by your location, you could set up searches for: “Bob’s Automotive” AND Dallas. This search term would look for results with the exact match of what is inside the quotes that also mention the term Dallas elsewhere on the page.

    “My Bisuness Name”

    Your consumers are human, and sometimes they make errors, especially if your business name has a unique spelling. Monitoring any common misspellings of your business name can help ensure that you are seeing all reviews that may be about your business so that you can address consumers who may have mistakenly spelled your name in a comment online. 

    “My Business Name” AND Reviews

    Being aware what your consumers are saying about you in reviews is important because this can potentially help you identify and address both positive and negative comments about your business online. Mentions of your name with the keyword “review” are likely to come from a review site, so the comment may be seen as more credible by potential searchers looking into your business. In addition to monitoring this keyword through your system, you may also want to make sure to regularly check sites like Yelp or Citysearch  that are already ranking well in search results for your business when you do a search of the term “My Business Name” Reviews. That way, you will be able to see all of the reviews on that site in the same context that a consumer would view them – all together in one place with a star rating.

    “My Business Name” AND [Sucks]

    Monitoring your business name along with negative keywords is an easy way to identify comments that you should respond to quickly, before they get out of hand. Some other common words you should look for include “scam,” “complaint,” “lie,” “terrible,” and  “bad” to list a few. Keep in mind that posts with these phrases may be emotionally driven, so it’s best to formulate a strategy to respond to negative posts and then do your best to address the issue.  

    “My Business-Name, Inc.”

    You should make sure your business name is formatted the same across all of your online and offline presence. However, if you know there are a few instances where your name might be formatted differently, you should still monitor for all variations of your business name. This can help you catch any online comments that may slip through otherwise.

    Paying attention to what your consumers are saying about you online is key to developing a reputation management strategy, but it’s just the beginning. Stay tuned to the ReachCast blog for more on reputation management. Next time, we’ll discuss some of the most common sites online that you should pay attention to when monitoring your business reputation online. 

    Do you have any questions about how you can better monitor your reputation online? Let us know in the comments!

    About the Author

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through social media and online marketing for the ReachCast blog.

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    Facebook SEO Tips for Your Local Business

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Facebook is not only a great site for building your brand and engaging with customers and followers, but it can also help your business get found in search engines. If it’s optimized for search, your Facebook page can show up in the organic listings for people searching for your types of products and services, as well as –for your business name, helping you own more “shelf space” on the search engine results page.

    So, how can you optimize your business Facebook page for SEO? Basic SEO principles, like keyword optimization and inbound linking, apply to the ranking of your Facebook page. Facebook recently launched a new video detailing some important SEO tips for all Facebook pages. Here are a few takeaways the video highlights – as well as a few of our own tips on how to apply these ideas for local SEO:

    Create a Good Page Name
    When a Facebook Page is created, start from the ground up to establish it for search. Don’t select an odd or uncommon name for your Facebook page, and keep the title short and sweet rather than long and complex.

    Local SEO Tip: Don’t reinvent the wheel on your page name; stick to the name of your business. If that’s not available, or if you’re creating a page for a business with multiple locations, use your business name plus the business location, such as Bob’s Automotive of San Francisco.

    Include Details and Keywords in the About Section
    Since your Facebook page will be public, the information in the “About” section of your page will be visible to search engines. So, you can use important keywords in your content  to help your page show up in search when someone searches for those terms.

    Local SEO Tip: Include important business details, keywords, and the location of your business in this section, but don’t keyword stuff. Stick to what’s most important and relevant for your business, and make sure it’s easily understandable and written in plain English.

    Claim a Facebook Username
    Not only does this make it easier for people to identify your page, but your page username also serves as the Web address for your page. For example, once you claim a user name for your page, it will have a clean, easy to read name in the format of http://facebook.com/username.

    Local SEO Tip: Like with your page name, your desired user name may or may not be available, or you may have multiple business pages for multiple locations. So, start with your business name, and then include a simple location keyword like the name of your city, suburb, or street to keep your user name as short and memorable as possible. For example: http://facebook.com/bobsautomotivesf. 

    Generate Links and Likes for the Page
    Whenever a Facebook user “likes” a Facebook page, the user profile will create a link to that business page under the list of the user’s likes. For all profiles or pages that are set as public, search engines can see these links and factor them in to the page’s ranking. In other words, the more likes your page gets, the more authority your page can have in search.

    Local SEO Tip: As a local business, there are many opportunities to encourage people-- including employees and current customers-- to like your page. . Generating likes from these people has added value, since it will not only improve your Facebook SEO and boost your chances of being found by new prospects, but it will also give you the opportunity to engage with and build community with people who already love your business.

    Set Up Your Page as a Facebook Place
    Whenever someone checks in at your business, they are shown the “like” button, which can help boost the number of likes to your page, again boosting the number of links to your page. The video notes the importance of having an address configured on your local Facebook page so that you can also configure it as a place that users can “check in” to.

    Local SEO Tip: Local businesses have the opportunity to make their Facebook page a Place where users can check in, so make sure you’ve taken this step, and consider putting up signage in your business to let customers know they can check in at your location. You may even want to run a Facebook Check-In Deal to help generate more likes for your page.

    Generate High Quality Links
    First, make sure to link to your Facebook page from your own website and other pages and profiles your business has across the Web, such as your blog or other social pages This can help create high quality links to your Facebook page and help your page with SEO. The video points out that even if you’ve embedded a Facebook plugin to allow people to interact with your Facebook page from your website, these plugins do not have links to your Facebook page that search engines can see. So, you should link directly to your page from your website and blog as well.

    Local SEO Tip: It’s also important to generate links to your Facebook page from other websites. As a local business owner, you might consider including a link to your Facebook page in your bio when it’s used in online publications or profiles, or seeing if local organizations like the chamber of commerce will allow you to link to your page from your business description on their website.

    Click to View Video on Facebook

    Have you optimized your Facebook page for SEO? Are you using any of these tactics in your Web marketing? Let us know your thoughts in a comment!

    About the Author

    Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as a blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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    Google+ Local and Your Local Business

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Last week Google launched Google+ Local, which has automatically transitioned the information from Google Places pages to a new layout in Google+. This new Google+ Local page is integrated into the Google+ social network, which makes it easily accessible to searchers on that site.  This update takes your existing Google Places page, gives it a makeover, adds some new features such as Zagat reviews, and provides additional visibility through Google+ and Google search.

    So what exactly does Google+ Local mean for your local business? Will this change affect your Google Places page optimization efforts? What about the new reviews; will they help or hurt your local business? Here are a few key answers from the Google+ Team that you should know.

    Your Google Places page will no longer exist – kind of.

    Your Google Places page no longer exists in its old format, but the content you added to it is now displayed in a Google+ Local page. You don’t have to do anything to migrate it; Google has automatically created the Google+ Local page for you. Think of it as a facelift for your Google Places page. 

    Your Google+ Local page is a different page, for now.

    It’s important to understand the difference between a Google+ business page and your Google+ Local page. You may or may not have created a Google+ page for your business to share content and connect with consumers on this social site. Your Google+ Local page is a separate page that is currently not linked to your Google+ page, although Google has said that integration of these pages will be coming at some point. So for now, it’s important to know that even if you do have a Google+ business page, you will still manage your new Google+ Local page from your Places for Business dashboard. However, you’ll continue to manage your Google+ business page from your Google+ account.  

    Google+ Local will add new social capabilities that Google Places didn’t have.

    Your Google+ Local page will eventually have the same social capabilities that your Google+ business page has now such as hangouts, sharing to circles, photos, videos, wall posts, and more. You will not see all of these options right now, as Google will activate the social tools when they fully merge your two accounts.

    To provide an example of what merging these accounts will look like, Google has fully merged some new Google+ Local pages with existing Google+ business pages. Here is an example of one: 

    Here are a few more to give you an idea of what your future Google+ Local page could look like:

    Your reviews are now part of the Zagat 30-point scale.

    Part of the new transition to Google+ Local is the integration the Zagat scoring system into reviews that are shown on your pages. Google has automatically applied all of your existing Google Places local business reviews to your new overall Zagat score, with the reviewer names displayed as “A Google User.”  However, any new reviews added through Google+ Local will require the user to have a Google+ account.  These new reviews will display the reviewer’s identity, making reviews more personal and potentially reducing the number of fake reviews. 

    You can still set up a Google+ business page.

    If you haven’t set up a Google+ business page to use the site as a social outpost to share content and connect with consumers, you still can still do so. If you do create a business page, make sure to select the “Local” category for your business type in the setup process so that Google can effectively merge these page types. 

    Google+ Local Pages will not be static pages and will require fresh content for optimization.

    One big difference in Google+ Local from Google Places is that once your pages are merged, your Google+ Local page will no longer operate like a static business listing. In other words, you’ll no longer be able to rely on a “set it and forget it” mentality, and actively managing and updating your Google+ Local page will become extremely important for your Google+ Local page to rank high in organic search results. That’s why you need a strategy for managing your social media and Web presence, so you’re ready to take advantage of the added capabilities Google+ Local gives you for optimizing your social marketing and search advertising.

    So what now?

    Over the next few months, there will be more information announced as Google begins to integrate the new Google+ Local pages into Google+. If you want to stay up-to-date on the changes to your Google+ Local page, you can sign up to receive an update from Google.  Or, if you have any additional questions, you can post your questions to the Google+ FAQ forum. We’ll also keep you updated on the ReachCast and ReachLocal blogs, so stay tuned. 

    What do you think about the new Google+ Local rollout? Let us know in a comment!

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    About the Author
    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can use social media and online marketing to reach more local customers on the ReachCast blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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