Your Domain: Being Held For Ransom

Introduction

Depending on the success of your business this ransom price tag can range from a minimal amount of a few hundred dollars to potentially thousands. I’ve seen ransom asking prices range from $100 to $10,000 in order to have a domain transferred, again depending on the success of the brand that will have influence on what can potentially be asked for. It’s a case of your domain name being held hostage and in order for you to acquire it here is our ransom demand.

As an owner of an agency I know that our reputation at the end of the day is everything. We take the reputation of our clients just as seriously, the foundation of the relationships that we build is based on trust. Trust is a valuable currency, especially when someone literally puts the future of their business into your hands. On the flip side of that coin, we know all too well that trust itself can be misplaced and potentially used to deceive, it may not start out that way but somehow it has become an all too familiar end result.

Trust is a currency that has been in circulation since well before we started printing money, your credibility and established relationships at one point were literally what we now would equate to a credit score. Although it is not traded on any financial market, I would be happy to debate the value of trust versus the value of monetary currency.  Unfortunately we all know you can’t deposit trust into your bank account and I’ve yet to figure out how to spend trust to pay my bills, but it is still arguably one of the most powerful currencies in existence.

I know you are thinking to yourself, why is the tech guy talking about currencies when he said the article was about domains. Legitimate question for sure, but it’s just the setup for the rest of the article which promise I’ll get to in just a minute. Think about this how many friends have you purchased with monetary currency? I know someone somewhere just raised their hand, I was being facetious so please put your hand down. Friends, relationships, people who are in positions of leadership that influence you, did you send them money to cover that transaction? Simple answer, no, the currency that was spent on that was trust.

I say all of that to just say this, trust is a currency that is earned, no different than monetary currency. When you’re out there looking for an agency or a freelancer to hire, do your homework. Don’t just trust that they have your best interests at heart, while this is the exception and not the rule, there are a lot of great agencies and freelancers out there. Unfortunately there are a lot that are exactly the opposite, make sure you know what you’re signing up for.

 

Your Domain?

This situation happens way more often than you think. You need a website for your business, so you look up a few web designers. You do the customary review of their website to see what services they offer and everything looks good, so you contact them. They will typically setup a session with you to talk about what you’re looking for, it’s the discovery call for the designer to determine what they are going to need to do based on your requirements.

Then comes the pitch or quote, after a few back and forth emails, you feel comfortable with securing their services. My hope is that you were given at least a high level plan, delivery expectations, and possibly a way to view the progress as your site is being built. Nobody likes surprises, if the first time you are going to see your site is when it’s finished, request a way to access it via a secure or unpublished link.

When you signed your contract or paid the invoice which typically states that it includes design, hosting, email,  and a domain name. This is where things can go horribly wrong, but you’re so excited about getting your new website and so proud of the domain name you came up with, you never think to question anything. Let’s face it, if you were technically savvy enough to do it yourself, you wouldn’t have outsourced it to someone else. In your mind the quote included the domain name you requested, you approved via email, signed or accepted a quote, or some kind of contract.

After a few weeks your brand new website is ready, you’ve approved the final review, and it’s launch time. You’re getting your social media announcement ready, telling your friends, everyone does it. Launch day comes and goes and everything is running smoothly, then at some point in the future one of a few things happens. The results you expected are not happening, maybe you find a better offer from another agency and can reduce your overhead, or it takes too long to get updates made or there are a lot of “we can’t do that” responses. I’ve heard them all and here’s where things can potentially give you a wake up call that has the potential to place the future of your business, or at a minimum your bank account, in a very tough situation.

When you approach the agency or freelancer that built your website and have the conversation about you’ve decided to go in a different direction, things do not go as expected. The entire time you’ve done business with them they have managed everything, you never needed to do anything, and you’ve paid your invoices on time for their services. Then it hits you, you’re told that in order for them to release your website and domain to the new vendor they are going to need you to pay a potentially devastating amount of ransom money. Confusion sets in immediately, then frustration, and finally you’re thinking to yourself how is this possible and what am I going to do now.

This is not uncommon, so let me explain what has just taken place. When you paid for your website to be built you requested a specific domain name and the invoice included a line item for the domain. Typically this line item is simply labeled as “domain name” or “domain”, some are noted as “first year free” or if you sign up for a specific maintenance package the domain is listed as being covered as long as you pay for that particular service. Here is where what I consider horrible business ethics rears its ugly head. You’re told that you don’t own the domain, we (the agency) registered the domain, so we legally own it. It’s when you hear that or see it communicated back to you in an email exchange that you think to yourself how is that possible, I paid for that. Yes, technically you did, but what you were not told is that the domain name that you requested and paid for was registered either in the agencies name or the freelancer that did the work. Legally, the domain registration doesn’t belong to you. But do we have a deal for you, we are willing to transfer it to you for this price. Now, how is that legal or possible is the first thought you have, then your next thought is how is my business going to potentially afford this.

Depending on the success of your business this ransom price tag can range from a minimal amount of a few hundred dollars to potentially thousands. I’ve seen asking prices range from $100 to $10,000 in order to have a domain transferred, again depending on the success of the brand that will have influence on what ransom can potentially be asked for. It’s a case of your domain name being held hostage and in order for you to acquire it here is our ransom demand. While this is not an uncommon practice, it is one that is frowned upon by the majority of agencies and freelancers. So you’re left to figure out what to do based on the price tag. If you pay the “ransom”, based on the price it could be an easy decision or one that could potentially cripple your business. Regardless of the ransom price, it’s unethical and it’s my personal belief that those who practice this should be banned from or monitored on any future registrations. Send a message to ensure those who hold domains for ransom that if reported there will be fines and penalties leveraged against them.

Buying and selling domains is one thing when done ethically and properly, but when you lead a client to believe the domain is part of what they have paid for, I see this as deceit and horrible business ethics. An act that could potentially cripple or leave long lasting financial impacts to a small business.

Verify your domain information

Looking up domain registration information is very simple, you can check on yours or literally any domain that is registered by searching ICANN. It will show you domain information such as the registrant, technical, administrative, and billing contact information. Depending on the agreement that the domain registrant has these can be different contacts. Take for instance if you have a contract that your website agency is basically managing that digital asset for you, it will just depend on the structure of your contract. The key word here is contract, where your business is listed as the registrant, but the agency is contractually managing everything else. You can also get similar information from a WhoIs Record lookup. My recommendation, make sure that your business is listed as the registrant at a minimum.

Checking your hosting information can is just as easy, WhoIsHostingThis, will provide domain information such as your hosting provider, IP address of your website, and the associated Name servers.

Make sure that this topic is addressed when you are signing up for a new site build that will require a new domain name. Especially if the domain name is listed as “free” or generically listed as part of the package. Signing up for a domain is simple, so the safest bet, even if it says “free” or “included”, bring your own domain to the party. You are going to spend a few dollars to register your own domain and potentially save yourself thousands by avoiding it potentially being held hostage.

Registrars, or entities such as GoDaddy, provide options that allow you to essentially delegate access to your domain(s). Agencies or freelancers can be given delegated access to manage settings such as DNS, email configurations, etc. This is just another way to protect your digital assets from being hijacked.

What Can You Do?

If you find yourself in this situation and you’ve been asked to pay a domain ransom, before things have the potential to get worse, take some precautions.

Get a copy of your site immediately. Unless you are familiar with your configuration and have the right access, I advise you to hire someone to get a copy of your website immediately. This includes images, documents, and any other content that is of value to your business. If the agency or freelancer is willing to ransom your domain, trust is out the window. Protecting your business at this point would be your #1 priority, don’t leave it to chance that your site is shutdown or removed.

If you don’t have the necessary credentials to provide someone access to basically get a backup of your site, drop us a line. If you can show your domain is being held for ransom, we can help you.

Make sure your invoices are current. If the dispute is unpaid invoices or there are legitimate monies owed to the agency or freelancer, we suggest that you take care of that and then try to negotiate the release of your domain without ransom. Either way, if you need help navigating this, you can explain the situation and we will work to help resolve the issue. Again, make sure that you are current on all of your invoices and that is not the reason you are having issues.

 

Do Your Homework

The Short-List

There is nothing more exciting than finally finding the one, the agency or the freelancer that is going to make your website vision a reality. Everything seems fantastic, the quote is within your budget, or it’s close enough that you are willing to spend a little more to get exactly what you were looking for.

I advise always checking as many references for the agency or freelancer as you possibly can, what have the experiences of existing or previous clients been with them. Now we all know that the expectation of making absolutely everyone is a tough job, especially web design, expectations and reality need to be measured very carefully.

 

Online Reviews

Once you have determined your short-list of potential candidates, ask questions and do your homework. Online reviews are a powerful indicator of customer experience, look at the quantity, recency, and obviously the overall rating. Below are some places that you can use for customer reviews, while this is not the master list of places to check, you will typically get a good idea just by checking these out. From a consumer perspective, these will be the sites that they typically frequent to share feedback regarding their experiences.

 

Customer References

You can always request that the agency or freelancer provide you with a customer reference, but I advise caution with this approach, just be sure you are 100% confident of who you are actually talking to. Make sure to check the online business listing contact information and it never hurts to check the Facebook page, and ALWAYS check out the website of the reference they have provided.

This may be a hit and miss approach, but when you’re making this kind of investment into your business, it’s a legitimate request. If they respond positively, there is nothing wrong with requesting a customer of your choice. The worst they can say is no.

 

The Calling Card

When you are checking the website, another trick is to look for the signature of the agency or freelancer. Most of us like to leave our calling card in the footer of the client website if the client doesn’t mind. If they feel you’ve delivered as promised it’s typically not an issue and leaves a very easy way to find other sites that the agency or freelancer has worked on. Simply scroll to the bottom of the home page and look for something like “Powered By”, “Built By”, “Designed By”, typically if the calling card was left behind it will be easy to find. Once you have that, simply do a Google search for that text and see what is returned. This gives you a chance to look at actual sites they have built, even if they display a portfolio on their site, trust but verify.

 

In closing, when you are looking for an agency or a freelancer and decide on one, make sure ownership of the domain, site, and the contents are clear. Don’t take chances, get it in writing, if not, walk away.

 

As always, drop me a line if you have questions and be on the lookout for our next blog.

 

Ken G.

 

Small Business Website Initiative

A Free Website Program For Small Businesses

Ranked Brain is excited to announce our new Small Business Website Initiative, a new program that we are very excited about and kicking off effective immediately! This initiative is designed to help small businesses with free websites by working closely with them to understand their story and from that knowledge tell their story in a way that increases brand recognition and their online presence.

We will be donating multiple websites every month to small business owners, the city or state that your business is located in is not a determining factor for eligibility.

The initial winner will be announced on the 12th of each month or the first business day after if the 12th falls on a weekend, starting in April. Once the announcement has been made we will immediately contact the winner and hold a review session via Zoom. After that we will begin building the new website immediately! After our initial winner is announced, we will randomly draw small businesses throughout the month. Our goal is to get to a point where we are enabling 3-5 small businesses a week, rather than just 1 a month.

If your small business needs a website, or your current website needs to be updated, make sure to enter for a chance to win. If you know a small business owner that needs a website, make sure to get them entered into our program.

All you need to do in order to have your small business entered into the program is fill out the program entry application below, it’s that simple. Again, please note that this offer is only available for small businesses.

Entries are limited to one per small business, however, there is a way to qualify for an additional entry. Increase your chances to win each month by simply filling out the form, like our Facebook page and sharing a post. The sharing of posts will add an additional entry for your small business, increasing your chances of walking away with an awesome brand new free website.

Increase your chances to win each month by filling out the application and sharing our posts. You can enter your small business once per month, however, your previous entries roll over! So we encourage you to enter every month to increase your chances!

Take a look below at what you get with this offer and sign up today!

See additional rules below.

What's Included?

Complete Development and Optimization of the Site: Engaging Design, Logo, User-Friendly, and Branding from “About Us” page to your services and even a blog.  We deliver a website that is enticing, simple and easy for your customers to navigate and create conversions.

A consultation where we will discuss your business needs and understand your objectives.

Built In Blog for Articles – Article Writing Training and SEO Included

FULL SEO Optimization: The website that we deliver will be fully optimized, from content, images, keywords to headers and backend work to help your website rank on sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing!

Built-In Analytics and Tracking Tools

Responsive Website on all device types

A full content management system, so you can edit any content on your website.

A tutorial for your content management system with accompanying notes for editing content

1 Hour of Free Marketing Advice

Free Domain Name Management

Implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Solution

Additional Services

Participants are eligible to take advantage of additional services at a the following percentages

1 – Additional Service/Subscription – Discounted at 25% for 12 months

2 – Additional Services/Subscriptions – Discounted at 35% for 12 months

3 – Google My Business Management & Optimization – Discounted at 35% for 12 months

Hosting and Maintenance Services

Website Maintenance & 24/7 Emergency Support. Our monthly maintenance services include items like the ones listed below. Honestly, there are so many features that it would take another article to list them all, it’s actually quite impressive.

Our monthly hosting & maintenance services includes:

• Reputation Management – Allowing you to solicit automated online reviews from your customers that are posted to the top review sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.
• 1 Click Backup and Restore Solution – Backups taken up to 4 times a day and securely stored on Amazon S3 servers
• Premium Website Security – Brute force protection, firewalls, Malware scans, hacker detection
• Site Performance Optimization – We always aim for load speeds under 2 seconds
• Malware Detection and Removal
• Unlimited Website Edits
• Weekly site updates for core components to ensure site performs at peak
• Access to our Customer Support Portal for submission and management of incident tickets

Multiple ways to enter

You can visit and like our Facebook page then share the post regarding the Small Business Website Initiative for an additional entry in the drawing!

The initial winner will be announced on the 12th of each month or the first business day after if the 12th falls on a weekend, starting in April. Once the announcement has been made we will immediately contact the winner and hold a review session via Zoom. After that we will begin building the new website immediately! After our initial winner is announced, we will randomly draw small businesses throughout the month. Our goal is to get to a point where we are enabling 3-5 small businesses a week, rather than just 1 a month.

Rules & Restrictions

Small businesses that are selected for a website understand that websites are only valid for small mid-size businesses, subject to the opinion of Ranked Brain.

Only 1 business entry per form entry. Only one person per business per entry form allowed.

Second entry available by sharing Ranked Brain Facebook post regarding the Small Business Website Initiative. All entry names are matched to entry name on the application. Not valid if a different name is used on application and Facebook shared post.

 

Terms & Conditions

We will execute the design work for the small business chosen to receive the free website, which may be worth up to $1500.00. The free website will is required to be hosted and maintained by Ranked Brain for a period of no less than 12 months on our hosting platform from the website go live date. After a period of 12 months you can choose to have the website hosted by another provider.

This will be a full web design and build.

The project to design and create the new website for the small business chosen will be treated with the same priority and standards as a funded project.

The only costs not included are any third party costs that the project may need based on the individual business requirements identified design and agreed upon by the small business owner.

We will be selecting a winner on Monday, April 12, 2021 and will post/email entrants who wins and hopefully they will be able to leave us some good feedback about their prize.

Ranked Brain reserves the right to cancel or amend the initiative without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the control of Ranked Brain. Any changes will be posted either within these terms and conditions or the initiative notice.

Managing The Reputation of Your Business

Managing the Reputation of Your Business

The continued growth of social media has subjected businesses to a great deal of publicity, some good, some not so good. If consumers are not happy with any product or service, they can very easily go online and vent their anger on a business Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Twitter, LinkedIn pages, and let’s not forget Google. Even if you’ve done your everything that you can to provide amazing customer service, you won’t be able to please everyone, every time. That’s why as a business owner, it’s critical for you to have a comprehensive business reputation management strategy in place so that when the bad publicity hits, and at some point it will, you already have a plan outlined to minimize the damage.

 

Business Reputation Management

Here are some of the key online reputation management do’s and don’ts you should be aware of:

Business reputation management claim your social media profiles

 

Be sure to claim your business on Google, Yelp, and other important industry-specific platforms that could be relevant to your business like TripAdvisor, Vitals or OpenTable — and if you don’t already have one, create a Facebook page. Even if you haven’t taken the time to setup these social accounts yourself, customers have the ability to do it for you, so the pages may already exist and you don’t even know it. When you claim your business, make sure the pertinent information like your phone number, address and other contact information associated with it is accurate. After you have claimed your business profiles you are going to want to start optimizing them on each of these platforms. Make sure to add your company description, high-quality images, videos, contact information and a link to your website.

Check out our blog on how to create your Google My Business listing.

 

Reputation Management Understand Your Target Audience

 

This might be obvious, but it’s a frequently forgotten step: understand who your target audience is before trying to market to them. This includes everything from location, demographics, purchase behaviors, needs, and any other characteristics that you need in order to construct a specific buyer persona. Knowing your target audience is going to help you set the appropriate tone, subject matter and content that you plan to share with them. This will help you to obtain maximum results from your online channels.

 

Reputation Managment Don't Market to the wrong audience

 

Advice here is the same as with the advice above. Once you understand precisely who your target customers are, be sure not to waste time and resources chasing ones who are unlikely to frequent your business and most importantly convert. Plan out your communication strategy and review so you’re not just throwing marketing fluff into the wind, not to mention your hard earned money. Targeted, data-driven campaigns with clear, tangible goals are the most likely to succeed.

 

Reputation Management Engage with your target audience

 

Customer engagement is crucial. Take full advantage of the online interactions by having conversations with your customers, in real-time, wherever they are. Comment on their social media posts and publish interactive posts of your own that get them talking to you and each other. Regularly ask for their input and feedback, and be sure to respond promptly and productively to their complaints. The more authentic conversations that are out there and available, the better; customers are going to rely more on the opinions of their peers than learning about your brand from advertising.

 

Reputation Management Do Not Ignore Customer Feedback

 

When consumers make noise about a business, it often means they either love it or hate it. Although negative feedback can be frustrating, don’t make the mistake of turning your back on it and hope it goes away. It not going anywhere so take advantage of the potential opportunity to turn it around. Instead, make a point of sympathetically responding to customer complaints regarding negative experiences. This can stop complaints from turning into catastrophes and turn negative reviews into positive interactions that won’t steer prospects away but instead draw them to you. People know every business makes mistakes, it’s how they positively remedy them that counts most.

Check out our blog, Negative Online Reviews – Don’t Ignore Them.

 

Reputation Management Manage Complicated Customer Issues Offline

 

When you engage with an angry customer, let them know publicly that you are fully committed to resolving their issue — this way, other customers who are watching the post or review, and trust me they are watching, know you care about your customers. However, working through the whole issue in one long public thread is hardly ever the best approach. This usually just escalates into a heated argument that solves nothing. Instead, provide the name and contact information of the employee who will work with them to resolve their issue, and make sure that person is available immediately to provide comprehensive support. Handling problems in this manner has even shown that it can lead to the customer deleting or editing their original post or review.

Check out our blog, Turn Your Negative Online Reviews into a Win for more insights on why you need a Reputation Management Strategy.

 

Reputation Management Do not try to sell with every message

 

Don’t add pushy marketing messages when responding to customer reviews. The simple fact that you are responding to customer feedback is the positive message — just let them know that you appreciate the fact that they took the time to share their experience.

 

Reputation Management Always Show Gratitude

 

Most importantly, always be thankful. Your brand’s success and reputation depends upon your customers, so wherever possible, show your appreciation for them. Responding to positive feedback is as important as managing the negative.

 

Reputation Management Do not argue with customers

 

Always be professional, sympathetic, and avoid disagreeing with the customer, even if they are actually in the wrong. The best route is to always try to clear up any misunderstandings with patience rather than getting defensive, remember other customers are watching. This demonstrates confidence and authority, strengthening trust in your brand.

 

Reputation Management Do not take happy customers for granted

 

Happy customers are the ones who enthusiastically promote your brand without expecting anything in return. You are going to want to try and show them some appreciation on a regular basis, whether this is through a customer loyalty program or special promotions based on their past purchases. Little gestures of gratitude like these keep your business at the forefront of their mind and reminds them why they do business with you in the first place.

 

Reputation Management Do not let negative reviews get you down

 

Don’t forget, negative reviews are still honest, genuine feedback on how your business is doing, and that is very useful. Consider them constructive criticism, and work on improving in certain areas based on their comments. Negative reviews also lend credibility to all the good reviews you have, providing transparency that customers value. Nobody expects you to be absolutely perfect, at some point you’re going to make a mistake. It’s all in how you deal with it and learn from it.

Check out our blog on Review Responses and Local SEO for more insight on a Reputation Management Strategy.

 

In closing the reputation of your business is by far one of your greatest business assets if it’s managed effectively. It can be a lot of work, but there are ways to make it manageable. If you are looking for help or guidance with defining your Reputation Management Strategy or are wondering how you manage and improve your business reputation, make your customers happy, and get more customers — the answer is super easy. Just book a call with us for a free discussion, we can talk about your challenges, where you are doing great, and how we can help you streamline everything.

Take charge of your business’ reputation and show people that your business is active, reliable, and trustworthy.

As always, drop me a line if you have questions and be on the lookout for our next blog.

 

Ken G.

 

Negative Online Reviews – Don’t Ignore Them

Positive engagements are going to build loyalty and trust. This also applies to negative online reviews as well. Negative online reviews, while not exactly something you want, they provide an opportunity creating a positive online reputation for your business, so don’t ignore them. Many businesses dread negative reviews without understanding that when managed correctly, they can help to create a positive impression among your customers. In this article, we will help you deal with customers who’ve left a negative review on your Google My Business profile. We’ll give you the tools you need to make sure these reviews don’t hurt customers’ perception of your business.

Negative Online Reviews – Don’t Ignore Them

Why do customers post negative reviews

If you get a negative online review for your business, it does not mean that your product or service is terrible. No matter how good your business is, not all customers that you work with are going to leave your business happy. Though you can’t prevent every bad review, you can make sure that you are prepared for when it does happen, because it’s going to. Having a plan in place for responding to negative reviews will prepare you for the inevitable.

Negative Online Reviews – Don’t Ignore Them

 

I get it, you feel frustrated when you get a negative online review, but use it to your advantage. Believe it or not, having a good mixture of positive and negative reviews can prove that your reviews are genuine. Trust me, I get it, no business owner ever wants that negative review, but look at it as an opportunity to show just how much you care about customer service.

It has been proven that consumers will trust reviews more when they see a mix of positive and negative online reviews left by your customers. I know, seems backwards right? You would think that having nothing but 5 star reviews would make you look like an absolute rock star, but consumers may perceive this as suspicious.

Do you know how many fake online reviews were bought and paid for in 2020? According to the Harvard Business Review, an estimated 4.5 million sellers sourced fake reviews from Facebook groups.

Why You Should Respond to Negative Reviews

 

About 92% of potential customers, and existing ones, are watching to see how you respond and handle the situation, it shows that you care about customer experience and service. Roughly 40% of those potential customers are going to use your online reviews to form an impression of your business’ reputation.

Why You Should Respond to Negative Reviews

 

 

Changing Perception of Prospective Customers and the Reviewer

If something went wrong, or didn’t meet the expectation of a customer, (even if you don’t necessarily agree) by taking the time to address the negative review with the correct response you can turn it into a positive outcome. Your business will earn trust and be viewed more positively just by listening and addressing the issue that was pointed out in the negative review. A recent study has shown that 7 out of 10 customers changed their opinion about a business after the business owner responded to their negative reviews. This does come with expectations though, but again manageable and it can be turned into a positive outcome.

Business integrity, the view that is seen online, can be very easy to lose if you do not address quickly. Also, just be understanding and offer an apology when it appears necessary. My suggestion, have a few responses prepared that would cover negative experiences so that you can immediately respond by just updating a few items rather than having to come up with a new response if it happens again. That will help in most situations, but will not obviously not cover some, it’s a quick response that may potentially be a factor in determining the outcome. Again, this response, lack of response, and time that it took you to respond are all factors that can be seen. Make sure that you are putting as many positive +1’s up for your business as you can, they will add up quickly if you pay attention.

When responding to the negative review, stay calm, cool, and don’t panic. Respond to the reviewer in a tactfully and keep them engaged until the issue has been resolved. Once the issue is resolved and if handled correctly it is absolutely ok to ask the reviewer to edit the review or delete it altogether. Check out our steps to help your turn a negative review into a positive win for your business.

 

Keep the Positive Reviews Coming

Responding to negative reviews is extremely important, as is minimizing the negative publicity it could create for your business. It is equally as important to keep the positive reviews coming in for your business. Make sure that you are staying on top of sending out the requests to your customers. It is not unheard of to get a 70% response rate when satisfied customers are asked for a review, it’s all about the timing. You are going to want to send those while the experience is fresh in their minds, don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

Responding to negative reviews is extremely important

 

 

How Should You Respond to a Negative Review

Again, respond tactfully and try to turn the negative experience into a positive one. Below are some helpful tips on how to handle responding to negative reviews.

  1. Apologize – By apologizing, you are showing your customers that you are hearing them and are trying to acknowledge their concerns and care about their experience. This is where you make it crystal clear that you are willing to provide a fantastic experience for each and every one of your customers.
  2. Offer a solution – A solution to the problem is more than just you apologizing. Your solution has to show that you have put an effort into the response and not just copying and pasting a template that you had just sitting around. Make your response a personalized one to show them you care and are sympathetic to the situation.
  3. Take the conversation offline – In the event that you have a very angry customer, offer to speak to them offline and let them know that this will allow you to resolve the issue much more quickly.
  4. Thank you – Make sure that you let the customer know that you sincerely appreciate their time and feedback. Let them know that this experience will help you build a stronger business and continue to improve your customer experiences.

Offer a solution when you Respond to a Negative Review

Potential Fake Review?

If you feel that one of your negative reviews is fake, make sure you do your homework before you take action. You don’t want to overlook something and accuse an actual customer of leaving a fake review just because it was a negative one. Now, if you have done your due diligence and are absolutely sure the review is not from an actual customer, flag it and request that Google remove it.

After you have done this make sure that you respond to the suspected fake review to ensure that your potential and existing customers understand why you think it is a fraudulent review. Check out the example below.

responding to a suspected fake online review

 

 

responding to a suspected fake online review

 

 

How to Avoid Negative Online Reviews

Negative reviews are inevitable, they are going to happen at some point if they have not already. However, you can work to limit the number and frequency of negative reviews just by focusing on great customer service and letting them know where they can provide feedback. This feedback can be done on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, your website contact form, or any other ways that would make it easy for feedback to be left. Let your customers know that customer service is extremely important to you, and how they can get in touch with you to resolve issues quickly rather than feeling that they have no alternative other than posting a negative review.

Final Thought

I want you to think about a negative online review from the perspective that I am about to explain. Hopefully what I am saying will make sense to you even more and you seriously think about this.

Put yourself in the shoes of a customer, if your perception (pay attention…this it is really all that matters) of the experience that you had with a business was impactful enough for you to take the time out of your day to leave a negative review rather than just blowing it off and never shopping with a business again, obviously you want everyone to be aware.

How many times have you been a customer and had a less than positive experience? Then rather than never spending your money with that business again took the time to actually leave a review, seriously – think about that. When and if you did leave a negative review, how passionate were you about making sure the business owner and other potential customers that saw your review would actually use your experience in deciding whether or not they should choose this business?

Think about how many times that you would have just walked away feeling like you were giving that business more of your time that they didn’t deserve. Now think about the one time that you felt passionate enough to make sure your feedback was absolutely necessary. Hopefully I’ve given you something more to think about regarding negative reviews. If you want more insight on them, how to respond to them, reach out and I’ll share my approach. Yes, I actually gave it a name.

I’m just being realistic here, I believe in online reviews 100% and I rely on them every single day. When I am looking for something I need on Google, I’m not shopping for groceries or toothpaste, I am looking for something very specific. I look at the reviews of every business I choose to view the product I am looking for on. I will even go as far to Google the name of that business and the word reviews, because I know Google is not the only place that reviews can be left. Yes, Google is going to be the decision maker in a Google search, but there are literally over 150 review sites that customers can leave business reviews on.

Seem like a bit much to you, maybe, but if you’re a business owner a light in your head just went off. If it didn’t let me flip the switch for you, how can I get all of my business reviews into one location if they are on multiple review websites? How does that help me on search results? Hope that helps drive my point home, if you want to see it in action I’ll show you what your business looks like and how inexpensive it is compared to the results you get from it.

If you think positive reviews are hard to get then we should talk. Yes, if you are not actively using an online reputation management strategy, you are much less likely to get the reviews you deserve. Don’t let a negative experience have a higher likelihood of your business receiving a review than a positive one.

Take charge of your business’ reputation and show people that your business is active, reliable, and trustworthy.

As always, drop me a line if you have questions and be on the lookout for our next blog.

 

Ken G.

 

Turn Your Negative Online Reviews into a Win

Let’s be honest, even when you’re doing your best to deliver top quality services to your customers, there is still a chance of making a mistake at some point. For example, you’re a business owner that’s working around the clock to be the leader in the local market. Chances are, even with your best efforts to please your customers, there possibility of failure exists. The end result is that you could potentially end up having an unhappy customer. What’s worse is that these unhappy customers can leave you negative reviews on review sites or social media channels despite your best efforts.

Having a proactive approach, you can turn these negative reviews into a positive story for your business. In fact, these are the stories which your customers will always remember.

Here’s Ranked Brain’s step-by-step on how you can minimize the damage that negative reviews could cause to your business.

  1. Acknowledgment and timely reach engagement
  2. Request for a second chance from the reviewer and amaze them
  3. Take feedback and share with the world

 

Step 1: Acknowledgement and timely engagement

The first thing you should need to do after receiving a negative review is acknowledge them through your official business account. Respond to the negative review with a professional and polite message expressing your sincerest apologies regarding the situation. Go ahead and ask the reviewer to share their contact details. After that, you need to personally follow-up in order to understand what went wrong. Once the customer details are shared, make it a priority to call them up as soon as possible.

Step 2: Request a second chance and amaze them

When you are reaching out to your unhappy customers, make it truly meaningful by taking an immediate corrective action. To make this initiative more sincere, extend them an open invitation to come and retry your service free of cost. When your customers accept your request, make sure that you’re ready to exceed their expectations this time around. Have your best staff member or an executive to attend to them to ensure everything is done as expected.

Step 3: Take feedback and share with the world

When you complete the follow up service with the customer, don’t hesitate to ask your customer to share their feedback regarding their follow up experience. Take this as an opportunity to communicate that as a hard-working small business owner, you sincerely value your customers.  Let them know that you’re prepared to make the necessary changes if customers are not satisfied.

Lastly, ask your customers to share a Facebook post or tweet regarding their follow up experience with your business. Once your customer posts about how pleased they were with their recent experience, then share their update with your online audience. For instance, you can create a specific blog post that features your customer.

Make sure that you narrate the story around how you managed to change their experience through your dedicated customer experience efforts. Also, don’t hesitate to share a screenshot of the Facebook post or tweet shared by your customers on your blog post. Then go ahead and share across all social media platforms, where the visibility of your business matters.

With this simple approach, you can very easily turn the bad experience into a positive one. This will help you reassure your customers about your services and your dedication to customer service. It will also make them understand that you don’t mind going the extra mile to make your customers happy. Also, when potential clients read about this story, it will put your business in a good light. Negative reviews no longer have to be a red flag for potential customers. They are real and can be harmful if not addressed properly, but the good news is that if they are handled with the right approach, you can turn it into a win for your business. So don’t let the next negative review leave a blemish on the reputation of your business, turn it into a five star win for customer service.

 

As always, drop me a line if you have questions and be on the lookout for our next blog.

 

Ken G.

Review Responses and Local SEO

I’m sure you’re wondering, as many others have, do review responses really help with getting new customers and Local SEO results? Well, the short answer is yes it does help with both aspects. After reading this article, if you are interested in a free 30 day trial of our automated solution all you have to do is request that we get it setup for you. After that we will take care of everything for you after a few questions.

Review Responses

Customers trust online reviews, 92% of them are going to read reviews before making the final decision to make a purchase.

Show current and potential customers that you engage with and value customer feedback by responding to reviews that have been written for your business. After all, a lot of customers are going to form their initial impressions of your business based on your reviews. If a business takes the time to thank happy customers or offer an apology to unhappy customers and attempt to fix the problems that were experienced, they show just how important customer service is to them.

Statistics show exactly how important review responses are, 53% of customers expect a business to respond to them on a review site. Responding to reviews also increases the number of customers that will recommend your business to people that they know. The research shows businesses experience a 16% boost in customer advocacy after they deal with negative reviews. So, again, responding to reviews is extremely important to getting new customers and not to mention the boost your business gets from responding.

Ranked Brain Review Responses Template

Review Responses and Local SEO

Review Responses Local SEO Importance

 

You are not just helping your business with how customers view you by responding to reviews, it helps with search engines as well. Google is on a mission to ensure that customers are getting the best results for search queries. Delivering reliable search results is often influenced by the exact same factors that a customer would use to determine if a business was trustworthy.

Diversity, recency, and the quantity of reviews are all signals that are considered by Google’s search algorithm. So, if you want to make sure that your business is being discovered, start paying attention to these factors and how well you are performing based on the criteria.

Google does not just take those reviews factors into consideration. Just remember, the reviews are going to help your business appear more trustworthy to customers. That is going to naturally help you with the results from search engines as well.

Taking it straight from the Google My Business support page, Google states that businesses should “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business.”  Responding to reviews that customers leave about your business shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.” This is followed by “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”

When you respond to reviews, the rewards your business will get from customers and Local SEO are going to pay dividends. Your business is going to have a much higher chance of turning up in the local pack results, which are the first 3 businesses that show up in the Google search queries

Let’s be realistic, responding to reviews can sometimes be a difficult task. Giving each review a personalized response can be very time consuming. With all of the work that running a business requires, responding to reviews can be something that easily gets dropped in priority or simply forgotten about.

Not only are the review responses important, but the time-frame that you take to respond to them is also a factor. Research has shown that customers expect businesses to respond to reviews within 24 hours, especially if it is a negative review. If you let that initial 24 hours slip by without responding, chances are it’s too late to change the mind of the reviewer that left it.

So, how can you set your business up for success with all of these expectations around reviews, responses, SEO benefits? There are solutions available that will help automate some if not most of these tasks and they can help improve your brand perception at the same time, which will help attract new customers.

Tools That Can Help Your Business Stay on Top of Review Responses

Responding to your business reviews on large platforms like Google and Facebook can already be difficult enough. But business owners have a lot of other websites to worry about, not just Google and Facebook. There are hundreds of different review sites on the Internet that customers could potentially be leaving reviews on.

Staying on top of your customer reviews is important to manage brand perception and help your business rank higher on Google and other search engines.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas citygoogle my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Automatic Review Notifications

Staying on top of customer reviews is important to brand perception and helps your business rank higher on Google and other search engines. With so many reviews being posted about your business all around the internet, it can be hard to keep track of all of them. Just paying attention to Google and Facebook is hard enough, but you also have to make sure you’re responding to reviews from the hundreds of smaller review sites where customers may be posting about your business.

For negative reviews, it’s crucial to give customers a response as quickly as possible. If you wait too long, it might be too late and the customer might have a bad opinion about your business that cannot be changed. However, if you do get to the customer in time, you can turn their negative experience into a positive one. That means you need to know the second a bad review is posted.

Ranked Brain’s solution gives businesses automatic review notifications when reviews are posted. In your business’s dashboard, you can monitor more than 150 sites. You can choose the sites that are most important to you, then have the ability to respond automatically. You can also choose specific situations to get notifications.

With automatic review notifications, you can make sure that you are responding to reviews within 24 hours. While it’s easy to miss reviews, automatic notifications ensure that every single review you want to see is brought to your attention.

 

Review Templates and Automated Responses

 

Ranked Brain Automated Online Review Response Templates

 

You and your employees are busy with all the work it takes to run a business. You don’t have time to respond to every review. With response templates, you don’t need to.

Our solution has response templates that you can use as soon as you alerted of a review. We build a variety of positive and negative response templates to lessen the work that businesses need to do.

Some people worry that templates might quickly get repetitive. Ranked Brain gets around this problem by offering lots of different templates and the ability to create your own. You can also set rules so that the same template is not used for consecutive reviews.

Ranked Brain Automated Negative Review Response

You also have the option of automating the review response process entirely. You can set auto-response rules so you can stay focused on your business operations while promptly responding to every review. With automated responses, you can automatically respond to certain customer reviews with templates.

Of course, response templates and automated responses don’t work great for every situation, as we’ll discuss in more detail in the next section. We allow business owners to set auto-response criteria so that you can choose which reviews to respond to personally.

Response templates can help your business respond to some feedback. Unfortunately, they don’t work all the time. Typically, we only recommend businesses use review responses when they receive 1-star and 5-star reviews.

Response templates work great when a customer is uncritically praising your business. In situations like these you usually just need to give a polite “Thank You” message. When a customer leaves a 1-star review, you typically need to apologize and direct them to an offline forum to handle the complaint.

Unfortunately, automated responses don’t work in more ambiguous situations. For example, think about 3-star reviews. A lot of the time, the reviews praise some aspects of your business’s service and criticize others. A restaurant might receive a 3-star review that says “Although the food was great, the wait was long and the service was awful.”

Reviews like these typically can’t be solved with templates since they are partially a compliment and partially a complaint. A personalized review response must thank the customer for the compliment while also apologizing and promising to fix the problem the customer was upset about.

Because you’re dealing with ambiguity when you have 2-star, 3-star, or 4-star reviews, automated review responses aren’t going to cut it. Most of the time, personalized review responses are necessary for these situations.

Still, it’s easy to fall behind on these responses when you and your employees are busy with your usual tasks. Even if you assign the responsibilities of responding to reviews to an employee, it’s hard to track how often and how quickly responses are coming.

Ranked Brain Automated Online Review Campaigns

 

Ranked Brain also offers a dashboard to manage your online reviews. You can see progress, set goals, where are your business reviews located, and track your performance.

 

Ranked Brain Automated Online Review Dashboard

There’s no one tool that can magically solve the problem of responding to reviews. But by using several tools together, you can make the process easier for you and your employees. With automatic notifications, automatic responses, and review ticketing, businesses can effectively manage customer perception and increase search ranking.

Get your 30 day free trial today!

As always, drop me a line if you have questions and be on the lookout for our next blog.

 

Ken G.

 

Google My Business Profile – Optimizing

Optimize your Google My Business profile and leverage everything Google My Business has to offer, after all, it is literally the best digital real estate that you can own for free.

Make sure you fill out your entire profile

When you are filling out your profile you want to make sure that you are giving Google as much pertinent information about your business as possible. Here is why this is so important, it makes it easier for Google to correlate your business to searches that customers are doing. It’s the absolute best way to improve your search rankings.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

Google states that “Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.”

So what should you make sure is up to date and correct at all times? Your contact information, relevant information such as phone number, website address, physical address, your business category, attributes that are available and applicable to your business. Let’s not forget the use of the right keywords, this is obviously going to help with search results.

Google is going to determine local ranking based on these three factors:

  • Relevance: This is how well your business profile matches what someone is searching for. You are going to want to ensure that you have complete and detailed information about your business to make sure that Google understands your business so that you can be matched to searches that are relevant.

 

  • Distance: How far a potential search result is from a particular search term that was used. If the user doing the search doesn’t specify a particular location, Google is going to calculate the distance based on what they know about the location of the user.

 

  • Prominence: This refers to how well-known a business is. It also is based on information that Google has regarding a business, information contained on the web such as links, articles, and directories. Google is also considering your review count and review score factors into local search result rankings. Google will also consider how you position in web results, so make sure your SEO optimization is high on your list of priorities.

 

Interested in what is trending on Google Search for 2020?

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

You want people to see what your business is about so, make sure you are posting quality photos

 

When you create your Google My Business profile, you are going to want to add a logo and cover photo, just like you have done with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. If you don’t add these images, it is going to make it very difficult for anyone to for people to recognize your brand online.

Add more photos, not just your logo and cover photo. Make sure that you add photos of your location, products, or anything else you want to make sure is showcased for everyone to see. If you own a remodeling business, post pictures of your latest projects, show them some before and after images. Same approach if you own a restaurant, make sure you post pictures of your food, available menus, and some images of your dining area. No matter what type of business you own, make sure the photos that you are posting are high resolution, not blurry and out of focus. Images should always be crisp and clear.

According to statistics from Google, businesses that have photos will receive around 42% more directions requests and 35% more clicks to take them to their websites.

Not everyone has a huge budget for this, but if you can afford to spend the money, get a professional photographer. Trust me, it will make a difference and in the end it will pay off. If hiring a professional photographer is not something you can budget for then here are some tips on how to take your photos.

Adding photos to your Google My Business profile:

  1. Sign in to your Google My Business profile.
  2. Click the location you want to manage.
  3. Click Photos from the menu.
  4. Choose the photo that you want to add.
  5. Upload your photo from your computer or choose one you’ve already uploaded.

 

Post news, updates, and special offers regularly

 

Information on your Google My Business profile such as your address, hours, and contact info, should always be accurate. Make sure to update this information if it changes.

You can also create posts for your business to keep your customers informed about updates, new products, offers, and events. Depending on your goal, these posts can help keep your profile relevant, drive sales, and encourage visits to your physical or online store.

Create a post on Google:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business and open the location you’d like to manage, for most you will only have one.
  2. From the left hand menu, select Posts.
  3. Choose the type of post that you would like to create from the available options.
  4. Make sure that you enter information accurately in each field. Your content should include necessary details and be concise.
  5. Before you Publish your Posts, always click Preview to double check formatting and spelling. If you need to make an edit, select the back arrow and make your correction.
  6. When you’re ready, select Publish.

 

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

If the post option you’ve chosen includes an opportunity to include rich media, don’t pass up on this opportunity. According to Google, people will engage more with posts that have photos, videos, or GIFs included in them.

 

Add special features and attributes

Special features are available for Google business accounts, depending on the category you’ve chosen.

Here’s a rundown of category-specific features available:

If you think your business is eligible for one of these features, but you don’t see them, you may have chosen the wrong category. You can choose up to 10 categories for your business.

You can also add factual attributes to your profile to share more info your customers may care about. If you run a shop or restaurant, you may want to share that it’s wheelchair accessible, offers free Wi-Fi, or outdoor seating. You can even share if your company is Woman-Led.

How to add or edit attributes:

  1. From your account dashboard, click Info.
  2. Find Add Attributes and select Edit. Search for the attribute you want to add, or scroll through all the available options for your business.
  3. Click Apply.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

 

Customer reviews should always be encouraged

People are always going to put more trust into an actual customer review of your services or products over just taking your word. A great review can absolutely be the deciding factor that wins prospective customers. Let’s not forget that reviews will also improve your Google ranking.

My philosophy on this, the absolute best time to ask for a review is after providing a great experience. Customers are more likely to leave a positive review while the experience is fresh on their minds. So make sure you have a strategy that gets the review request in front of the customer. There are a few ways to accomplish this, some use QR codes, others share links to their Google My Business profiles, they range from absolutely free to automated managed services that will send text messages and emails asking for reviews.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

You can also create a custom short name to make leaving a review easy. It will look like: g.page/[yourcustomname].

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

How to create a custom review URL from your Google My Business profile:

  1. From the GMB dashboard, click Info and then Add short name.
  2. Enter your short name you would like to display. It can be up to 32 characters in length and should be unique. I advise that you be prepared with potential alternatives if the short name you want is already taken.
  3. Click Apply.

When your short name is updated and ready it will be displayed on your business profile.

Responding to reviews

Now to a personal favorite and something that I am very passionate about.

Show current and potential customers that you engage with and value customer feedback by responding to reviews that have been written for your business. Based on a survey that was conducted by Google and Ipsos Connect, businesses that take the time to respond to reviews are considered 1.7 times more trustworthy than those that don’t. This is a very easy way to ensure that you continue to rank and build trust, it literally takes 2-3 minutes to respond to a review.

Positive engagements are going to build loyalty and trust. This also applies to negative reviews as well. Negative reviews, while not exactly something you want, they provide an opportunity so don’t ignore them. Potential customers, and existing ones, are watching to see how you respond and handle the situation, it shows that you care about customer experience and service. If something went wrong, or didn’t meet the expectation of a customer, (even if you don’t necessarily agree) by taking the time to address the negative review with the correct response you can turn it into a positive outcome. Your business will earn trust and be viewed more positively just by listening and addressing the issue that was pointed out in the negative review.

Business integrity, the view that is seen online, can be very easy to lose if you do not address quickly. Also, just be understanding and offer an apology when it appears necessary. My suggestion, have a few responses prepared that would cover negative experiences so that you can immediately respond by just updating a few items rather than having to come up with a new response if it happens again. That will help in most situations, but will not obviously not cover some, it’s a quick response that may potentially be a factor in determining the outcome. Again, this response, lack of response, and time that it took you to respond are all factors that can be seen. Make sure that you are putting as many positive +1’s up for your business as you can, they will add up quickly if you pay attention.

I want you to think about a negative review from the perspective that I am about to explain. Hopefully what I am saying will make sense to you even more and you seriously think about this.

Put yourself in the shoes of a customer, if your perception (pay attention….this is really all that matters) of the experience that you had with a business was impactful enough for you to take the time out of your day to leave a negative review rather than just blowing it off and never shopping with a business again, obviously you want everyone to be aware.

How many times have you been a customer and had a less than positive experience? Then rather than never spending your money with that business again took the time to actually leave a review, seriously – think about that. When and if you did leave a negative review, how passionate were you about making sure the business owner and other potential customers that saw your review would actually use your experience in deciding whether or not they should choose this business?

Think about how many times that you would have just walked away feeling like you were giving that business more of your time that they didn’t deserve. Now think about the one time that you felt passionate enough to make sure your feedback was absolutely necessary. Hopefully I’ve given you something more to think about regarding negative reviews. If you want more insight on them, how to respond to them, reach out and I’ll share my approach. Yes, I actually gave it a name.

I’m just being realistic here, I believe in online reviews 100% and I rely on them every single day. When I am looking for something I need on Google, I’m not shopping for groceries or toothpaste, I am looking for something very specific. I look at the reviews of every business I choose to view the product I am looking for on. I will even go as far to Google the name of that business and the word reviews, because I know Google is not the only place that reviews can be left. Yes, Google is going to be the decision maker in a Google search, but there are literally over 150 review sites that customers can leave business reviews on.

Seem like a bit much to you, maybe, but if you’re a business owner a light in your head just went off. If it didn’t let me flip the switch for you, how can I get all of my business reviews into one location if they are on multiple review websites? How does that help me on search results? Hope that helps drive my point home, if you want to see it in action I’ll show you what your business looks like and how inexpensive it is compared to the results you get from it.

If you think positive reviews are hard to get then we should talk. Yes, if you are not actively using an online reputation management strategy, you are much less likely to get the reviews you deserve. Don’t let a negative experience have a higher likelihood of your business receiving a review than a positive one.

Now that I am done with my reviews rant, make sure to answer questions. Absolutely anyone can respond to a customer question left on your Google My Business profile. If you don’t have the app on your phone, get it and make sure the notifications are on. There are going to be questions that you want customers to respond to and there are going to be ones that you want to respond to personally, don’t let someone else make that decision for you because you aren’t paying attention. Take charge of your business reputation and show people that your business is active, reliable, and trustworthy.

As always, drop me a line if you have questions and be on the lookout for our next blog.

 

Ken G.

 

Google My Business Managed Services

As a business owner, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities. You’re managing employees, taking inventory of supplies, constantly working to improve your products and services, serve your customers to 100% satisfaction, and well, the list goes on. There’s just not enough time in the day to keep up with all of that, plus all of the changes being made in the marketing industry.

Owing your own business is a lot of work and responsibility, but you already know that. From managing inventory, employees, always looking for ways to step up your game to improve your products or services, and always have 100% customer satisfaction, sound familiar yet? You know as well as I do, as a business owner myself, there are just not enough hours in the day. Trying to keep up with shifts in online marketing, let alone keep pace with Google updates that could have impacts to how your business stays relevant.

We are here to make sure that you keep up with the changes, because that’s part of what we do. Interested in a free Google My Business audit yet?

Think of Google My Business is your local online business showcase. When local consumers are searching for products you offer online, your Google My Business profile is literally the first impression you get to make. Are you going to make the cut? Where are you listed? If you are listed is your profile as optimized as it should be to get an instant reaction and that coveted click that takes them to your listing?

Your Google My Business listing should be accurate, giving customers access to your business hours, your contact information, photos to showcase your company, your website URL, where you’re located, areas you serve, and more. If this information is inaccurate or missing key pieces it can turn these customers away and send them to the competition.

Your GMB profile is extremely important. If it’s not properly managed, monitored, and kept updated with accurate information, you are losing what is probably considered the most coveted and let’s not forget, absolutely free, assets in the world of online marketing.

At this point, if you didn’t realize, now you know it’s critical to success. But how do you know what information to post? Are there things that you should keep private? How do you make sure everything stays relevant and updated?

If you’re already a client using our Google My Business Managed Service, you’ve seen the results. We make it a point to stay up to date with the latest trends and changes that Google is making, and we’re making sure your information stays accurate and updated, which allows your business to make a solid first impression with those who find you online.

If you are interested in a free audit of your Google My Business profile, just leave a message in our chat bubble just to the right of this article. I’ll get back with you and set up a time that works with your schedule.

Ken G.

 

Create Your Google My Business Profile

For starters, if you are a local business that has an online presence with a physical location as well, if you don’t already have a Google My Business profile, I am going to show you how easy it is to get. Google My Business is what I would refer to as coveted online digital real estate for showcasing your products, services, and most importantly showing that you exist. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s absolutely free? Other than having to wait for a verification card to come in the mail, it’s a relatively easy and painless process. One more time, it’s free, so other than investing a few minutes of your time to setup there is literally no excuse for not having one.

I’m even going to walk you through how to set up your Google My Business profile to ensure everything is done correctly. The process just takes a few minutes and once your are verified you can immediately start leveraging it.

Setting Up Your Google My Business Profile

 

Step 1.

Follow this link to get to the profile creation page.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 2.

Click the Manage now button.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 3.

Enter your business information, which would be your company name. Make sure when you are doing this that you enter it by the actual name, not a short name, use the actual name of your business.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 4.

If your business listing shows up, select it, if not don’t worry I’m going to cover that part as well.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 5.

Select your business name if it populates in the results, if not again, I’m going to cover that one in just a minute so don’t worry. If your business name does not populate, which would not be unexpected, just enter the name of your business as it is formally called.

Your business name may populate and just need to be completed, or, someone else has already claimed your business listing on Google My Business. I’ll cover that in another article.

If your business is not listed, then proceed by entering the name of your business.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 6.

 

Click next to proceed after entering your business name.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 7.

 

Next you will be asked to choose the best category that best describes what your business does.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

There are multiple categories, so make sure to take your time and look around to find the best primary fit for what you offer and where you want your business to be seen.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Once you have selected the category that best describes your business click next to proceed.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 8.

 

Next you will be asked to provide the location of your business, such as your store or your office address. Here is another situation where if you don’t have a physical location, I’ll cover that part in another step.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 9.

 

For now we are going to go with we have a physical location, again, I’ll cover how to setup without a physical location that customers can visit.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 10.

 

Now you are going to need to input the address of the physical location of your business to move to the next step.

 

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

After you get that information populated we can move to the next step. For the purposes of this setup I have intentionally masked the address due to the fact that it is a real address as Google My Business does not like virtual addresses such as shared office spaces, etc. So make sure when you fill this out you are using a location that can be validated and not seen as a shared office solution where your mail is delivered to. I’ll show you how to deal with not having a physical location in another step.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

Step 11.

 

Once you have confirmed the address of your business, the next question that you will be asked is regarding if you service customers outside of your location. In other words do you visit or deliver to your customers, this is considered as “your service area(s)” that will show on your Google My Business profile.

If you don’t have a physical location you can use this option to populate what service areas your business has a presence in.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Once you have listed all of your business service areas by city, state, etc. Click Next to proceed.

Step 12.

 

Here is where you are going to be asked to populate information such as your contact phone number, your business website URL if you have one. Make sure that this information is accurate as it will be used to let customers know how and where to find you.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 13.

 

Once this has been entered the profile creation process has been completed! See how easy that was?

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Step 14.

 

Now comes the Google My Business verification, a postcard is going to be sent to the address that you provided. That postcard will have a verification code on it that you will need to enter once you receive it to use your profile. This does not mean that you can not proceed with adding information, products, etc. It just means that it will not be visible or listed on searches until this verification process has been completed. Typically it take about 5 days to get the postcard in the mail, so this gives you plenty of time to add content and be ready to go once you enter the verification code on the postcard.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Now, here are the alternative steps if you do not have a physical location that I mentioned above.

 

After choosing the category that best fits your business step shown below, we take a different direction than shown above where your business has a physical location.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

When you are asked if you want to add a location that customers can visit, like an office or a store, select No.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

 

Now we skip to the step from earlier where you were asked to provide your “service areas”, these are the areas that you potentially visit or deliver services to.

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Now the next step is different from what we were asked to complete above,

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Now back to the contact details that you want to show your customers, again make sure that this is accurate because you want customers to be able to find you.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Back to the finish and manage this listing section to finalize profile setup.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas citySame process, need to fill in business address, but this way there is no physical address shown on your Google My Business profile for everyone to see.

 

google my business profile setup;how to create google my business;is google my business free;what is google my business; google my business online reviews;reputation management strategy;local search;near me search;kansas city google my business;google my business kansas city

Don’t forget to look for your postcard in the mail, typically takes about 5 days.

 

If you are interested in a free audit of your Google My Business profile, just leave a message in our chat bubble just to the right of this article. I’ll get back with you and set up a time that works with your schedule.

Ken G.

 

Ranked Brain – 2020 #Toys4KCTots Charity

Ranked Brain is proud to sponsor #Toys4KCTots for a second year. We started by sponsoring the social media platform in 2019 for the Toys For Tots drive. There have been a lot of changes in all of our lives in 2020, but there are still things that we can control and we can continue to spread joy. During this holiday season I know that there are a lot of things that I am personally thankful for, at the very top of that list is my family and friends. Another thing that has always been very important, part of my core beliefs, is giving back to my community. I have been involved in many different things that have allowed me to give back and make an impact where I can, I have been thankful for each and every one of those opportunities.

You don’t have to approach making an impact or a difference by trying to as they say, boil the ocean. I’ve always thought to myself, it only takes one, whether that be one positive interaction, one deed, one hello with a smile, one positive action, each one of those will change the course of a day for someone and it will also change your day. Small things that you do today have the potential to be game changers later, just from that one interaction.

Things have been very different for everyone this year but there is no reason that we have to stop supporting this amazing cause. So, please reach out and donate what you can to support our local Toys4KCTots organization. Time is short, but we can all still make a huge difference in ending the year on a positive note for a lot of local children. Every donation adds up, so no matter how small, from $1.00 to whatever you can afford.

#Toys4KCTots #ItOnlyTakesOne #GiveBack #RankedBrain #PayItForward

Toys 4 KC Tots on Instagram
Toys for Tots KC on Facebook
KC Toys for Tots on the Twitter
Toys for Tots Kansas City

Remember to use the hashtag #Toys4KCTots!

In addition to giving us a follow and sharing your posts with the #Toys4KCTots hashtag, make sure to share photos with us! Send any pictures that you would like us to media@toys4kctots.com.