Customer Reviews Matter, But Faking Reviews Can Get You In Trouble With The Law

Reviews On Google Plus LocalWhat Kind Of Digital Advertising Do You Pursue? 

Are you a business owner that doesn’t do too much, if any, organic advertising for your business? Are you relying on the ‘word of mouth’ method? Print Ads? Even PPC Ads? A growing number of businesses are turning to the raw power of customer reviews. It’s not only to demonstrate their local presence in a way that mimics good old ‘word of mouth’, but search engines like Google reward it! For example, what could be better for business than a prospective customer seeing other happy customers singing your praise right out in the open? Right!? If you agree with us on that note – do us a favor.  Go to Google.com and type in the name of your business plus town & state. It’s likely you will be able to pull up your Google local listing to the right sidebar, even if you haven’t done a thing to locally verify and competitively optimize it. Now look at how many reviews there are for your business?

80% of consumers say they research a business, product or brand online FIRST, before purchasing; however,  90% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. So 80% of consumers are looking for businesses just like yours online AND 90% of them are including your online reviews in their decision about buying from you. In a 2014 study by SearchEngineLand.com, 9 in 10 consumers say they have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business and 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. In addition to capturing potential customers, Google reviews also play a significant role in your local search engine rankings (website content ranks better when reviews reinforce the brand). In our own local SEO studies, we see a direct correlation to better search engine visibility, traffic & lead flow when there are positive Google reviews present. There are certainly other signals to cover, many mentioned above, but if you’re not set up to ask for and gather good client reviews you are missing a huge opportunity.

Faking Reviews Qualifies By Law As ‘ False Advertising ‘ 

There’s one small catch: your Google reviews have to be real and genuine. They must come from real customers who have frequented your business or experienced your product or service. You cannot pay people to write fake reviews for your business online, although you will find companies out there offering to do just that. Companies have done this before, and are now paying the price. NY Attorney General Schneiderman just announced that 19 companies, some local businesses and some SEO and/or marketing firms, that will pay fines of up to $350,000 for their role in soliciting and writing fake online reviews. It’s also known as ‘Astroturfing’, and it qualifies under the law as false advertising! Here’s part of what Schneiderman had to say in a recent press release:

“Consumers rely on reviews from their peers to make daily purchasing decisions on anything from food and clothing to recreation and sightseeing. This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution. And companies that continue to engage in these practices should take note: “Astroturfing” is the 21st century’s version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it.”

Online reviews are deemed so powerful, so necessary for any business small or large, that the act of writing or having fake reviews written for a company resulted in legal action and culminated in multiple companies paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

How Do You Manage Getting Good Reviews?

If you’re going to stick with your trusted word of mouth advertising strategy- you must get into the digital age.  Develop and execute a plan that targets your satisfied customers and asks them to write reviews for your business online. Here are some tips to do that:

1)     Create an email template to send to a satisfied client after they leave your business.  The template should thank them for their patronage and ask them to leave an online review.

2)     Make it easy for them. Set up a reviews page, from it provide a direct link to your Google+ local account where they can easily leave the review. Don’t expect people to fish around online trying to find it. If you don’t know how to find it, ask us.

3)     Develop a way to follow up with customers to see if they leave a review or send a gentle reminder to do so. Consider creating a spreadsheet to help you track this. Again, if you need help with that, ask us.

4)     Set a goal for yourself to obtain a certain amount of reviews each month. You can track this in the spreadsheet.

5)     And don’t forget, there are a series of other Local SEO factors that (combined with good Reviews) can really make things explode for your business!

Online reviews musts become a component of your local SEO strategy along with locally targeted content development, social media management, consistent listing citations and more. If you would like help putting together ideas for setup and a monthly plan for your locally targeted online success, give us a call at 732-722-5915 for an overview of your website’s content, a plan for gathering great reviews, a look at how citations are seen by the search engines and all the local SEO elements that matter.

About Kinetic Knowledge

Based in Monmouth County, NJ, Kinetic Knowledge is a full service digital marketing agency offering custom website design, SEO / Local SEO, social media management, ghost writing, graphic design, print advertising design, e-commerce and custom app solutions. Visit us online at www.kineticknowledge.com

Evergreen Content Supports SEO!

It’s no surprise to read that without good content there is no competitive search engine optimization(= no SEO). Any chance of competing for visibility in search results begins with content, so let’s define a type you may not have heard about called evergreen content‘. Really just a buzzword in content strategy, the practice has proven to be a key factor in the battle for search visibility. ‘Evergreen content’ is a page (or post) that is NOT timely; it should remain relevant to a degree that it stands the test of time!


What Does Evergreen Content Offer ?

Because it will always be considered up-to-date, in theory, ‘evergreen content’ will always be of primary interest to visiting readers. With detail, it should define authority for subjects your company is the leader for. In cases where being relevant in a particular area, county or city is important, it can define authority geographically as well.

In contrast a page on the topic, “Current Pay Per Click Advertising Best Practices” is not a good example because it’s meant to be relevant right now. Current, by definition, is about now and so, for instance, “Current Pay Per Click Ad Best Practices” would become less relevant as platforms & strategies advance or change.

Evergreen Content Examples Include

  • Frequent Question & Answers
  • Tutorials Or “How To” guides
  • Useful Resource Lists
  • Support With Related Laws
  • Industry Terminology Definitions
  • Geographic Authority For A Product or Service In A Particular Area

Be careful! Even an evergreen topic can change ever so slightly, so periodic reviews in order to be sure they remain 100 percent correct is recommended. Ideally, the topics should minimize any follow-up needed.

Evergreen Content Does Not Include

  • Evergreen content is not news
  • Evergreen content is not statistics
  • Evergreen content is neither seasonal
  • Evergreen content is no trend
  • Evergreen content is NEVER a bunch of random subjects sprayed all over one page
  • Evergreen content should always be comprehensive coverage & subject specific, so it can stand the test of time!

The chance of competing for visibility in search engine results pages begins with content. When it’s capable of remaining useful to many, if not most, visiting readers for a great deal of time then the likelihood it will motivate signals (i.e. time spent on page, links to the page, bookmarks, likes, shares, pins) search engines use to rank content is much greater.

Needless to say, evergreen content has become an important competitive content strategy that will improve your SEO!

“The Long Tail” As It Relates To Search Engine Visibility

Web Design And Development | Kinetic KnowledgeThe Long Tail theory was developed by Chris Anderson in his Oct 2004 Wired Magazine article describing how the web might influence certain business & economic models. Anderson, Editor of Wired Magazine at the time, later authored his best selling book ‘The Long Tail’ to better detail the theory.

As it applies to content, blogging & search engine optimization marketing, the idea with ‘the Long Tail’ is to be visible for as many variations of one’s core subject focus as is possible. The proven theory being that, while a business may generate less search discovery per keyword variation [i.e. Condos in New York City] than it will for the most obvious & highly targeted keyword search phrases [i.e. New York City Real Estate] due to competitive forces, the collective impact of a broad set of keyword variations might easily exceed that of the most targeted. Better yet, the more varied or ‘long tail’ a targeted search term is, the less competitive it is to rank for. And so an SEO strategy focused on long tail keywords can be a good idea; however, one must be sure to do their traffic research in order to be sure there’s traffic. To target keywords that nobody is searching is mostly useless.

This is not meant to say a business should NOT target the obvious searches [i.e. Connecticut Architect]. On the contrary, the point is based more on a cost- effective approach to being visible in the search engines. From an economic standpoint, pursuing rank for the most competitive search topics may simply be cost- prohibitive versus what is likely to be competition with the deepest pockets. What’s more, research shows that people do search more specifically these days and so a cost- effective means to capture them is broader ‘long tail’ keyword targeting.

To demonstrate, here is data information drawn from a committed Real Estate client that has great keyword indexing for both sought after and then also not so sought after targets. The firm focuses on being indexed for everything going on in its’ community as it relates to Real Estate. To support the theory, we examined one month of data and it certainly demonstrates the kind of ‘long tail search’ discovery success they are seeking.

A. Total ‘Short Tail’ search discovery equaled 190/ 1,015 searches bringing new visitors to their website = 19%

      • Short Tail being the town’s name and state plus the words property, real estate, home or homes


B. Total Long Tail search discovery equaled 825/1,015= 81%

      • Long Tail being as many variations relating to obvious town searches as is possible

a.) different areas of the town were equal to 130 total search discovery variations
b.) condominium complexes equal to 299 total search discovery variations
c.) developments equal to 89 total search discovery variations
d.) clubs equal to 101 total search discovery variations
e.) restaurants and local business equal to 27 total search discovery variations
f.) listings or specific Street equal to 32 total search discovery variations
g.) developer equal to 56 total search discovery variations
h.) random/ miscellaneous equal to 91 total search discovery variations

This anonymous data focuses on actual search discovery, but it doesn’t represent all site traffic including repeat visitors, direct subscribers or anyone else who comes to the site directly. In this case, Long Tail success is proven based upon variations amounting to 81% of the overall search traffic. We’d argue, they are not only cost- effective marketers, but they are also capturing the most qualified eyeballs!

The Simple Laypersons Guide To Local SEO

Google Is Locally Motivated!

local search targeting monmouth county nj

Seems like everyone is selling SEO these days. Careful, the search engines never ever stop comparing and re- ranking billions of competitive website pages worldwide. It’s so enormous that it is easy for some random person to spin your SEO failure story. That one scary signal some random SEO guy emailed out of the blue about?! But is that guy actually familiar with you, the local competition, what signals matter most and what you actually compete for? And folks remember, Google calls nobody so beware of that desperate trick as well.

Being there are literally billions of pages live on the World Wide Web, its good logic to be concerned about what it really takes to compete. Better, at least, to be informed before listening to some random scare tactic; however, there is an opportunity in that Google has become locally sensitive in its results. Because over 50% of all searches have local intent, they have adjusted for what are truly ‘local to the search’ results. It makes local SEO attainable for the small to medium sized business. And folks, for a business prepared to do the hard work themselves OR that can identify folks capable of doing it for them, know that the lion’s share of your competition is NOT doing anything about it. Not yet!

Here’s what a business needs to focus on month over month in order to attract qualified (by their search) new leads … and if you’re so inclined, ask us about affordable local SEO programs that work:

On- Website SEO Signals

  1. Target Keyword Research:
  • Sure you are a home builder or a lawyer, but what have you done to research & identify the keywords that your target consumers search?
  • Are you prepared to monitor how you rank for these keywords, so that you’re aware of where you sit day to day in the pecking order?
  • And folks, get familiar with the long tail of search!
  1. Geography:
  • You want to conquer everywhere for new leads, but Google doesn’t care. They want to identify where you are a relevant source of information, products and services.
  • Unless you are a national brand with LARGE budgets, you need to help Google identify and then compare you for where you do business.
  • For the local business start with your town, other towns near bye, county and then build outward from there. The algorithm is matching results to a physical location, so support it & your business with geographic emphasis in your content!
  1. Content:
  • What have you done to create the right kind of emphasis in your content for your target keywords that make a search engine notice?
  • An about page that mentions all the things you do is horribly diluted. There needs to be dedicated individual product or service pages with authoritative depth for each target topic.
  • Posts are best for timely, specific subjects … and they can always be updated including for the post date.
  • Evergreen pages are broader subject- authoritative content, meant to stand the test of time.
  • Produce both types of content actively as an active and current source of useful information.
  • Reinforce keywords in- page signals like page title, page header, meta- title & description, image alt tags & filenames; use keyword slugs in URLs; add in (and off) website links to useful supporting information and create the quality information capable of demonstrating your authority for each topic.

Off- Website SEO Signals

  1. Google Business Tools Setup & Management
  • For starters it includes Plus, Maps, ME, YouTube, Search Console and Analytics.
  • These tools need to be in sync, where possible, and optimized for categorization, location, contact, hours of operation, descriptions, keywords and back- links information.
  • Get verified so that Google is assured they are, in fact, gathering information from you (the source) and not some imposter!
  • Set a plan for getting good client reviews into Google Maps, so there are unadulterated positive votes for you arriving regularly. They are signals Google will use when comparing your presence.
  • Submit new pages & posts, or updated pages, into Console for re-indexing whenever possible. It’s welcomed!
  • Submit new post summaries to a Google Plus wall, with links back to the source, affording Google activity oriented signals it can use to compare. Research and join target groups, expanding reach and possibly ‘voice’.
  • What more trusted signal could there be than any stemming from the very tools Google makes available??
  1. Back- link Signals – From Trusted Sites
  • Do not seek links anywhere and everywhere: use logic, pursue sites most likely to be trusted by search engines and also relevant to your business. It’s not a numbers game, only relevance.
  • A safe place to start is the leading search and directory listings, Google Maps/Plus above included.
  • Google crawls search and directory listings as references for (name, address, phone, hours) consistency and also for other information (links, keywords, specials) about the business.
  • Town & municipality sites, Associations, Wikipedia (when appropriate), local newspapers that might cover good news, etc. can all have powerful competitive effects.
  1. Leverage Social Voice
  • Search engines will monitor a social voice in various ways.
  • Use social media accounts to post good website content, including blog posts, cool pictures & videos, sales or specials and be sure to back- link to that content!
  • Pursue folks who follow to like, share and also link to your posts and content … enlarging that competitive voice.

Ranking High In Local Search Results|Kinetic Knowledge Monmouth County NJFinal Points

Manage your own expectations: when your competitors are giant companies with huge marketing budgets you are probably not going to rank high for the most obvious target keywords (i.e. auto insurance). But if you follow the above for specific keywords, including with geographic emphasis (i.e. Ridgewood or Bergen County NJ Insurance Agent), you’ve got a much better shot at appealing to a search engine. The search engines are genuinely trying to get a local searcher to the right answers. Do not ever rule out broader target keywords in your content, for instance if you are an insurance agency that can also handle commercial coverages, aim for ‘commercial property insurance Kalamazoo MI’.  Allow a blog to fuel social media, so it’s a much more extensive tool than ‘just an addition’ to your website. Search engines will notice the activity and you will broaden keyword indexing too! And know that for someone who searches and finds you online, it matters how you look and what you say = your website is ground zero for your brand online!

Past Post:
Confused By Search Engine Optimization? Try This ‘Laypersons Guide To Understanding SEO’