The Power of Online Reviews

The Power of Online Reviews

Reviews have always been a part of businesses – whether online, word of mouth, in a magazine, whatever it may be, they affect the way in which consumers make decisions.  Sites like Google, Yelp and other directories pride themselves on their reliable reviews that help users make the best purchasing assessment! Gaining reviews has now become a way of life.  And above all else, it’s a good business management practice to stress. Just recently, however, reviews really seem to be in the forefront of conversation- specifically online reviews. Small business owners need to make sure they’re taking advantage of all the different review options, making efforts to earn quality reviews, and communicating with the team about updating and managing comments.

We’ve written a blog on how to get reviews for your business and we’ve also written a blog on how to face the negative ones…. But do you know how important these reviews really are to your business success?

According to a new, 2014 study by BrightLocal, online reviews are more important than we could have ever imagined:

  • 88% of people have read reviews to the determine the quality of a local business
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business even more
  • A whopping 88% say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 72% of users will take an action after reading a positive review
  • Reliability, expertise and professionalism are the most important reputation traits for a local business

In addition, BrightLocal also focused on how the actual star rating on a review can play a very large part in what consumers think of your business:

Here are some key takeaways:

  • 20% more consumers are willing to look at a 4-star business over a 3-star one
  • More women will use a business with a 3-star rating or less than men will
  • 35-54 year olds are more likely to use a local business with a 2-star rating over any other age group

Stars

Helping Clients Conquer the World!

conquer the worldIt’s not often that we like to brag on ourselves, or even share customer success stories, but this one is really pretty cool!

Upright met Southern Tank in August of 2007.  Southern Tank is a custom steel tank manufacturing company based in Owensboro, Kentucky.  They had always considered themselves a “regional” company  because, as Vice President and General Manager Phil Higdon once said “who is going to want to ship these big, heavy things around the country?”  As evidence of this limitation, it was noted at that time that Southern Tank had only sold and shipped into 9 states in the Midwest and the South.

Southern Tank did have a web presence but were only getting around 250 visits a month and very little in the way of solid leads from those visits.  They asked Upright to build them a new website that would better represent them as a company and drive more qualified traffic to their quote department.  Little did we know we would unleash the “Power of the Internet” upon the world!  Mhmwahhh…haaa…haaa!

It started out simply enough.  We designed a new website that highlighted their key products and offered opportunities for visitors to easily make contact with them to inquire about pricing, specifications and capabilities.  We optimized the site by removing the structural barriers that kept the top search engines from properly indexing the site, and we altered the site’s architecture, code and content to include all elements necessary to convince the search engines that the site was worthy of high rankings.

Fast forward to June of 2014; Southern Tank has now sold and shipped products into all 50 states (South Dakota was the last to come on board) and is averaging almost 3,500 visits per month to their website.  Said Phil Higdon (who actually looks nothing like Mike Myers alter ego by the way) “…for our fiscal year beginning November 1, 2013, internet sales from new and repeat customers has accounted for more than 28% of our incoming sales through today’s date.  Good job, guys…seriously, really good job!!”

It would be pretty hard to actually ship new tanks from Owensboro KY to every country on the planet, but give us a little time and we might just conquer the world together!

Tracking URL or Not?

Tracking URLs allow you to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns by enabling you to track click activity. Services like Google Shortener, let you paste in the long URL string and provide you with a short, ‘trackable’ URL. You now have a shortened link that’s more appealing to the eye and also helps you in situations when character counts are limited – like Twitter.

Is there a time to NOT use a tracking URL? That question is up to the marketing manager creating the content. There are a couple of ways we can look at this question. If you want to showcase the URL, then avoid using the tracking URL. For example, www.walkupright.com/blog may generate more clicks than the tracking URL, http://goo.gl/Ujodo0. With all of the spam and phishing issues we are having on the internet, the tracking URL may be intimidating for someone to click. Those in the online marketing industry may recognize goo.gl as a Google URL, bt.ly asBitly or owl.y as a Hootsuite URL that is shortened and know it is not as a threat. Someone who isn’t acclimated, however, might not have the same recognition and may not want to click on the shortened URL out of fear of the link being a virus.

At the end of the day, it is 100% up to the marketing manager or the person writing the content to decide which they think is best. When analyzing your data, don’t forget that if a user clicks on the URL multiple times from the same IP, this can dramatically skew your results!

Whatever it is that you are shortening, simply ask yourself if you want to expose the full URL or not. The decision should be based upon on the objectives the online marketing individual is trying to achieve. It is a good idea to refer to the drawing board and the basic goals of your online campaign to make the decision.

If you need assistance with using tracking URLs or using shortened URLs, give us a call!

How Does Google’s Pigeon Update Affect Your Site?

A couple weeks ago (on July 24th), Google pushed out a new, major update to their search algorithm titled the ‘Pigeon Update’.  This is part of a series of updates (most seem to start with a ‘p’) that are changing the way the search engine produces results.  The whole goal is to provide more useful and relevant results – and in this case, the core change is occurring in the local search rank algorithm!

Below is the major list of changes involved in this update.  But don’t panic, there are basic best practices you can follow so your business isn’t as affected!

  • Local listing packs will disappear for a large number of keywords
  • Local rankings are expected to depend more on website authority – i.e. domain age, backlinks, and all sorts of other ranking factors
  • Ranking boost is seen for Yelp and other prominent local directories – even business websites are being seen less and less, so make sure you’re listed in these directories

local

  • Local carousel remains – this is often shown for searches related to hotels and restaurants

Carousel

Though the changes seem to be quite considerable, the basic principles of SEO remain the same!  Here are some general recommendations for your business so that you’re able to keep up with these major updates:

  1. Have an individual Google+ Local page for your business
  2. Use proper categories for your Google+ local page
  3. Include city and state in your website’s title tags
  4. Add product/service keywords to your business title
  5. Have patience and test, test, test

For questions regarding the Pigeon update, please contact us!

Responsive Design – Looking Great Wherever You Go

My dad has a Hawaiian shirt that looks really nice on him. He loves to wear this shirt for every outing, whether it’s a cook-out, a ball game or a trip to the zoo, because he knows he looks great in it. As long as the occasion is casual, it’s not a problem. But when Dad wants to sport his Polynesian print at a formal gathering, Mom has to intervene. She explains to him that no matter how great he looked at the neighbors’ BBQ, his favorite shirt simply will not be appropriate for their daughter’s wedding reception.

Unfortunately, with the diverse range of internet devices being used today, your website could have the same problem as my dad. Your current site design may look fantastic on a desktop, but when viewed on a smart phone, it may just look awkward and out of place.

responsive designResponsive design solves this dilemma. It’s like the ultimate, well-fitting shirt that looks appropriate for every occasion. Responsive design makes it possible for webmasters to develop one website that looks great across a wide range of devices. It responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. Responsive design consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. When the website viewer moves from a desktop or laptop to tablet or cell phone, the responsive design website automatically adjusts to accommodate resolution, image size and scripting abilities. The technology automatically responds to user preference, eliminating the need for a different design for each new device on the market.

Images that respond to context are an integral element in responsive web design. This means that images serve at different resolutions, as dictated by screen size. The scaled images appear to change seamlessly through the use of developer tools and coding languages, which allow designs to look optimal in every context.

Upright has invested in understanding and utilizing the most current developments in responsive website design.  We are ready to assist you in developing a website design that will provide the best online representation of your business, wherever you go and whatever the occasion. Contact us to learn more.

Content Strategy: The Customer and You

handshakeIn developing a website for effective marketing, we all understand the need for creating content that focuses on the audience. In order to convert visitors into customers, you must reach their needs and interests, which means providing content that is focused on what they are seeking. The problem with focusing too hard on this goal is that something may get lost in the process — your voice.

As a specialist in your industry, there is no better expert than you when it comes to your business, products, and services. You have the first hand experience, working knowledge, and perhaps most importantly, a passion for what you do. No matter what the subject or venue, articles and stories written by an author who is passionate about the subject matter are almost always more enjoyable to read.

When coming up with content ideas for expanding your website, posting to your blog, or sending an email blast, consider not only what will interest your readers, but what will interest you. Below is a two-part exercise for brainstorming content ideas. Try completing these two sets of questions:

 Set One:

  • What are the problems my clients are trying to solve?
  • What are the current trends in my industry?
  • Why do my customers choose my business over competitors?
  • What are the questions my customers ask the most?
  • When my customers call or fill out a contact form, what information are they most often seeking? 

Set Two:

  • What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
  • With what specific solutions have you recently assisted customers?
  • What are the products or areas of service within your business that interest you most?
  • What are the industry-related business topics that interest you the most?
  • What are the projects you have enjoyed working on the most? 

After you have completed both sets, compare the answers. Look for areas that intersect. For example, you know that your clients are looking for ways to save money, and that you are extremely interested in lean manufacturing principles. Write an article about how your products and/or services can help your customers save money by promoting lean principles in their businesses. The primary goal with this exercise is to develop a list of effective topic ideas that you will enjoy writing about.

If you need assistance with writing, keyword optimization, or the idea brainstorming process, just give us a call!

How is Your Dwell Time?

Many, many factors contribute to a website’s success.  Search marketers agree that user interaction is one of those important factors, with dwell time being one of the key metrics Google utilizes to measure that interaction.

So, what is dwell time?  Most people assume it’s the amount of time a visitor spends on your website but actually Google uses a combination of session duration and bounce rate to formulate a dwell time value. While a dwell time metric is not readily accessible, we can view both session duration and bounce rate through Google Analytics with the intent to improve one or both for a better dwell time metric.

Why is it important to improve dwell time?  Studies show that sites with higher dwell times can expect to see more conversions.  Simply put, the longer a visitor stays on a site, the more likely they are to take action.  That action could be calling your company, completing a contact form, requesting a quote, or even a sale!

What should my goal or target be for dwell time?  There isn’t one right answer because all websites are different, but here’s a test you can do.  Figure the average time it takes a visitor to read a few pages of your site.  Are people sticking around that long?  If not, take some steps to improve that dwell time.

How do I keep visitors on my site longer?  When a visitor reaches your site, you want them to stay!  The most recommended method is to provide exciting, fresh, engaging content.  See our article:  Five Ways You Can Add Quality Content to Your Website.  Also be sure your website provides an exceptional user experience with an easy to follow navigational structure and highly visible calls to action.

Need more ideas?  Contact our team!

3 Ways to Beat Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

Have you noticed on a Facebook business page you manage that engagement has declined or the “people saw” numbers are lower? That is because of Facebook’s new algorithm. Facebook is on a mission to give their users what they want. In other words, they will only push out content with which they think their users will engage. The next question to pop into your brain is likely to be, “how will they determine what is engaging material?” Well, there are over 200 factors that determine which posts will be pushed out and in effect dictate how to create an engaging post. Below are three primary ways you can beat Facebook’s new algorithm.

1. Don’t “like bait”! Facebook will be able to index words such as, “like”, “comment” or “share” in the text of post. For example, text such as “hit share if you think this is funny” is considered like baiting. Facebook will recognize this and not push out the post. They are trying to give users what they want to see, rather than force content on them. Facebook looks at this component the way Google looks at spam – they sniff it out and bury it, or remove it all together.

2. Understand your audience! It has always been important to know your active public, but with the algorithm update, you are going to want to know them much better. Understanding your audience will help you better select content for your postings. Do they prefer funny posts, serious posts or politics? Understanding what works for them will help you create engaging copy without resorting to like baiting. It’s a double whammy win for the marketers!

3. Engage with your fans! This may seem like a “well, duh” to you, but engaging with your fans will help the overall posting engagement. For example, if someone commented on a recent post, be sure to stay on top of your game and like the comment right away or comment back right away. Stimulating more of a “real time” engagement with the fan will make them feel special. It will encourage them to continue to connect with your page. It is also a good idea to connect with our local businesses in your area by liking their page and material. They will normally like your page and material in return.

There you have it, social media marketing friends. While Facebook may be selecting the content it pushes out, you do not necessarily have to pay to boost a post or advertise. We are here to tell you that a little savvy goes a long way, and being savvy is what social media marketing success is all about!

If you’d like some assistance with your Facebook marketing, or any other social media marketing campaigns, give us a call!

‘Google My Business’ Wish List

As many of you already know, Google has rolled out their latest My Business update.  Google has finally merged Google Plus and Google Places into one! You can now update all of your businesses in one location, plus much more.  It has seemingly done a nice job of solving issues that have been lingering since 2011 in the local realm.  However, as Mike Blumenthal, our friend and colleague, points out in his recent blog, we still would like to see even more upgrades to the platform.

Google

Here are a few wish list items that stood out to us:

Better Multiple Business Locations Management

If you have multiple pages (business locations) under management in your account, it seems a little complicated to navigate.  In fact, it takes forever to load the pages and then when it does, you can never seem to find the location you were looking for in the first place.  There is a dropdown on the top right of the page that gives you a full, ‘easy-to-access’ list, but even then, the addresses aren’t associated with the location, so you really aren’t quite sure if you’re clicking on the right place.

Better Local Analytics

Though we’ve seen an improvement in the amount of data that Google is providing to its local Dashboard users, we would still like to see better tracking of goals and conversions to a sale.  We know that Google is tracking all sorts of goodies in the update platform, so why not show us more information!

Great idea alert: Further Integration with Google Products

Mike pointed out that it would be great if there were a free or low cost way to schedule appointments directly from their My Business listing or even incorporate a tool like Google Survey for consumer analysis.

Do you have your own ideas as to what should be added to the updated Dashboard?  We’d love to hear from you!

Five Ways You Can Add Quality Content to Your Website

FIVELooking for things you can do to improve your website? Think content! Here are five easy content ideas you can use to add new quality content to your website:

1. PROBLEM/SOLUTION PAGES  Real stories of the successes you have had in meeting the needs of your customers are very compelling, and give prospective clients confidence in doing business with you. While case studies are ideal, it may be difficult to develop a case study if the client is reluctant to publish application details. It may be hard to even make the time to talk to the client, who is just as busy as you. Consider a problem/solution page instead of a case study. Omit the client details and focus on your product in the client’s process:

“Our EfficNC Max eliminated the bottleneck and production on that line increased by 78%! We have applied this solution in many industries with similar results.”

2. SPOTLIGHT A PRODUCT OR SERVICE  If you offer a line of products or services, a “Product of the Month” page can be an easy, continuous source of quality content. If the spotlight product already has a page on your website, it may be somewhat dry and informational. Try taking that information and rewriting it with a different perspective:

“Users love the multiple speed settings on our EfficNC Max, because of the flexibility it provides.”

If you do not have multiple products, try a featured benefit of the month:

“Cost-efficiency is an important advantage users gain when they switch to our EfficNC Max.”

3. INDUSTRY NEW & TRENDS  To be successful in your business, you need to stay abreast of the latest developments in your industry. You can share your knowledge with your clients by adding a page to your website devoted to reporting on the latest industry news and trends. While not all of the articles you read may be of interest to your prospects,  the ones that educate readers about your industry may be valuable to your site visitors. Add these to your page by providing a brief summary of the article and a link to it. Be sure to include a closing “call to action” line that ties the information to your product:

“This most recent study from the Widget Institute shows the latest process improvements that are driving success in the widget industry. Contact us to discuss how we can help you improve your processes.”

4. PROVIDE RESOURCES  There is no better way to build trust with a prospective client than to prove to them that you are truly interested in their success. A great way to do this is to provide information and resources that will help them be successful. These can be how-to-videos, links to industry resources, easy fixes, or any other information that you can picture a client using:

DYI Maintenance Tips for Your EfficNC Max

Video Tutorial – Programming Speed on your EfficNC Max

5. ANSWER CUSTOMER QUESTIONS  Adding or expanding on the Frequently Asked Questions page of your website is one of the best ways to generate content for your website. Today’s internet-savvy buyers are looking for as much information as they can get about your product. By adding pages of content that focus on that information, you are educating your prospects, which will ultimately make them more comfortable with buying your product:

Are all of the required installation accessories included with the EfficNC Max?

What shipping and delivery options do you offer?

An important thing to remember in developing all of this content is to keep it keyword rich, without sounding unnatural or stuffed. Also, be sure that every page has a call to action, so your reader knows what to do with the information you just provided.

Are you ready to develop new content? Contact us or give us a call if you would like to brainstorm ideas or need advice on effective keyword use. The Upright Team is always here to help you make the most of your internet marketing!