Archive for May, 2012

Yesterday, Google made a pretty big change to their local business pages. That is to say, they removed them. As of this morning, all of the local pages are in transition to a new page hosted by the Google + platform. Google has several reasons for making the change, which they explain will create a simpler experience for customers. This simpler experience includes a more proficient rating system, using ratings from Zagat when applicable. Google says it will also make it easier for searchers to leave reviews and recommend businesses to the friends in their circles while logged in to their Google Plus account.

The transition seems to be fairly smooth in terms of bringing over content, though for now it is still recommended that business owners manage their listing through the Places for Business. Right now, the changes have created new plus pages for the business that you can navigate to through the maps listing. For businesses that already have created and manage a local Google Plus page, Google’s instructions is to “hold tight

Today on the Evolving Interactive SEO Blog, we feature a guest post about how to optimize your Facebook profile in a few easy steps. Social media management is a key element to optimizing your business for search engines, a point our guest blogger points out.

Whether you’re running a business or you’re trying to promote yourself, you need to use social networks like Facebook to reach new audiences. Here are a few tips for quickly gaining new followers on Facebook.

1. Engage your followers

Don’t be afraid to ask your readers questions or to offer prizes and contests through your Facebook page. When you make an attempt to communicate with your page’s fans, you bring a lot of positive attention to your page and increase your chances of a viral post.

When you engage your followers, make your posts short and sweet. Try to hook your audience’s attention. If you’re having a lot of trouble getting followers, you might even offer a prize to viewers who share your Facebook page with their friends.

2. Don’t self-promote too frequently

Once you have visitors coming in from shared posts, ads and links, you need to make sure that the first thing that visitors see is a page that offers some value to them. If all of your posts promote your business, band or self, you won’t win too many new followers.

Vary your posts and try to give your visitors a reason to come back. Post interesting links and invite discussion in the comments of each post. You’ll stand a much better chance of getting a viral post that can drive more attention to your page. Remember to check your Facebook page’s Insights to see whether visitors are responding well to a specific type of post.

3. Optimize your page

One of the easiest ways to get quick traffic is to make sure that your page looks impressive. Pay a professional graphic design company to make appropriately sized images for your page. Use an optimized URL by visiting the settings of your Facebook page and make sure that the new URL is easy for your visitors to remember. Delete boring or irrelevant posts and make sure that your page looks professional.

When you have a good Facebook page, you can add your URL to your email signature, put it on business cards and promote it directly, but wait to take this step until you’ve optimized every element. Eventually, growing your base of Facebook followers will be as easy as posting regular updates and including your URL wherever you can, but first you need to understand your audience to make the type of page that people follow regularly.

Guest post courtesy of Shai Atanelov, the Client Services Director for New Edge Design, a web design company in New York.

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Recently, one of our customers asked me about Google and Yelp reviews, and how you can get them to show more prominently. This is a great question, as these interactions from customers can factor into and appear alongside your business name on the search results. It’s more than good SEO, it’s good for business to see other customers excited about your company.  Here are some tips for featuring reviews, and how to handle the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Encourage Satisfied Customers to Leave Reviews

It seems like a no brainer, but you can see why this gets overlooked. The job is done, the business is paid, it’s all wrapped up nicely. But what about next time? If your customer is happy with you, approach this with two methods of thinking. Create leave-behinds, a pamphlet-card or handout with your company contact info. On the other side, offer something to the customer in exchange for a review on Google or Yelp. Maybe 10% off the next repair, a free cookie, something that will not only make them a return customer, but encourage them to get on the web and talk about your company.  A positive review goes a long way in terms of boosting your branding to other customers and the search engines.

Respond to The Negative Reviews

Not every review you get will be a good one. In fact, I’ve heard a satisfied customer tells maybe 4 people, and a disgruntled one will tell more than 12. If a customer is upset enough to take to the web, you’re going to want to deal with it head on (line). Yelp graciously allows business owners to respond to the individual reviews, giving you a chance to explain your case. Angry customers tend to exaggerate, and customers will understand that nobody’s perfect. So despite the negative press and insults being hurled your way on your profile, show compassion and respect, and you can turn this into a positive. The best way is to apologize for their negative experience, and explain what went wrong. Offer the customer a direct line to speak to someone that can help them, and maybe even a discount on the next service, or refund for their current issue. Potential customers will like that your company cares enough to interact and offer a solution.

Burying Bad Reviews

I’ve gotten this question a few times. Yelp is sensitive to fake reviews, either to give companies a five-star boost, or to destroy a company’s reputation. It isn’t always accurate though, and we’ve seen perfectly legitimate reviews get filtered down into no-man’s land. There isn’t really an easy way to combat this. If you’re getting too many 5 star reviews, Yelp will take factors into consideration to decide whether or not it’s legitimate. Is the Yelper a new member? Has the Yelper reviewed only select companies, and given them all glowing reviews? This is why we want you to encourage your real customers to leave real reviews, and why we want you to respond to the negative ones. Plus, fake reviews are in the spotlight, and not in a good way. It goes against Google’s  Terms of Service and can lead to penalties.

So whether your customers are interacting with your business through reviews on Google or Yelp, or through social sites like Facebook and Twitter, the important thing is that your customers care enough to talk about it. With a little boost to this idea, you can help your business reach new potential customers.

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