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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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

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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.

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Step 2.

Click the Manage now button.

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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.

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Step 4.

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

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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.

 

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Step 6.

 

Click next to proceed after entering your business name.

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Step 7.

 

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Step 13.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

Google Changes in 2020 That You Should Review

Introduction

Google made over 3000 updates and changes to its search engine last year alone, once again proving that Google search engine is constantly evolving.

As a business owner, you need to update your knowledge of how the search engine works by keeping up with Google changes. SEO in 2020 is going to be all about your site’s E-A-T, which stands for Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness. So for your content to have a high ranking in search you need to be an expert on the topic (think tons of relevant content), you need to be able to speak with authority (think well-researched content that adds value) and you need to be trustworthy (think backlinks and citations). Sounds easy, right? If the content on your site abides by these three rules, you have nothing to worry about.

While that’s easier said than done, the first step in the process is understanding the changes. Before you rush to work on your content, let’s understand Google Changes in 2020 and what you as a business owner need to know.

Changes In The Search Algorithm

Google’s search engine is constantly evolving and getting smarter. In late 2019, Google updated its algorithm based on BERT (or bidirectional encoder representations from transformers, phew now there’s a mouthful). BERT uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a massive data set to help understand what people are searching for. Where a few years ago it only caught keywords in search, today the search engine also understands relevancy. Each update and change makes the algorithm smarter and the search engine better understands the end user’s (your customers) search intent.

Pandu Nayak, Google VP of research, said “This is the single biggest… most positive change we’ve had in the last five years and perhaps one of the biggest since the beginning.”

What does this change mean for your business?

Just stuffing your content with keywords won’t achieve good results. BERT is reading your content closely to understand how well your content matches with search intent. Work on creating top-quality content for your
customers, and not for the search engine. If your content is genuinely providing value, it will rank.

‘Local’ And ‘Near Me’ Searches

Studies show that 92% of customers choose businesses on the first page of search results. Google said that the number of mobile searches checking for local businesses grew by over 250% between 2017 and 2019. According to Google, there are three factors that matter when it comes to ‘near me’ searches: distance, prominence, and relevance.

What does this change mean for your business?

Keep your listings accurate and consistent across the web. Adding information and keywords that help Google understand relevance is important.

No Such Thing As Too Many Reviews

Reviews will continue to have an important influence on the ranking of the website. Businesses with positive reviews will continue to rank higher in regular and local searches. Websites that get reviews and comments will also rank higher in searches.

What does this change mean for your business?

It is important to reach out to customers for reviews regularly. Google places a high value on user-generated content, which also includes reviews. Respond and interact with your customers in comment sections, reviews
and listings — Google is paying attention (as are your future customers).

Talking About Schema

Simply put, schema helps search engines understand what content is present on a page. SEO experts swear by Schema.org and your in-house SEO guy will agree that it is extremely helpful in getting those SEO results.
Schema helps Google understand if there is a list or a survey or an image on a page so that it brings up the appropriate search results. On January 21, Google announced that starting from April 6, 2020, it will go all-in with Schema.org and will no longer support data-vocabulary markup (another type of code) for rich results.

What does this change mean for your business?

Tell your in-house SEO guy to start using Schema in your relevant pages, if you don’t already do so. It will help you get traffic.

Changes To Links And User-Generated Content

When you add links to your content, you are telling Google to ‘do-follow’ or ‘no-follow’ the link. Sponsored (think ads!) and User-Generated Content (UGC – think reviews, comments, photos and much more) are considered no-follow links. No-follow links are links with a rel=”nofollow” HTML tag applied to them. When a link is a no-follow, it just tells search engines to ignore that link for PageRank. From March 1, 2020, Google said that it will read these links and start considering these links as hints that may or may not influence search ranking instead of being completely ignored. This is a big change from Google’s stance on the matter.

Talking about this change, which Google insists is a ‘choice’, the company said: “Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe content they point at.”

What does this change mean for your business?

Decide which attributes you want to use on your links. Although you can label all your sponsored links as no-follow, differentiating between sponsored and UGC links can help Google understand your content better and give your search ranking a boost! And yes, Make sure you use proper ‘anchor text’ in case you want Google to take the hint!

Keywords In Your Google My Business Page

Earlier this year, a change in Google My Business (GMB) usage came to light — GMB profiles that use keywords in descriptions will rank higher. Responding to this change Google said, “The information in question is accurate. While it’s not guaranteed to improve the ranking, it could, depending on other factors, as well as information that is found online associated with the business.”

What does this change mean for your business?

Make sure that you are adding keywords to your Google My Business profile. While it is still unclear how much this will help, you should optimize your Google My Business profile and do everything you can to rank high in search
results.

Letting Go of Rich Snippets

Previously, Google allowed businesses to use review schema to show the business’s overall star rating in their search result through a rich snippet. These rich snippets helped businesses stand out in comparison to their competitors in search results. In late 2019, Google has banned “self-serving reviews”. Google has defined this as “reviews of a business on the business’ own site”. This means that websites with schema “LocalBusiness” or “Organization” will no longer be able to display rich snippets in search results. Remember, self-serving reviews are reviews posted by a business on the business’s own website.

What does this change mean for your business?

There shouldn’t be a big change in your website’s search rankings. Rich snippets will no longer show on your website.

Build Mobile-First Websites

In 2020, the mantra is to build mobile-first websites and then adjust them for desktop. Mobile devices account for 53% of paid-search clicks and this number is only set to increase. Users typically bounce off a page with low speed. By building mobile-first websites, your website is also winning in the speed game. In recent years Google has made it clear that page speed is an important ranking factor.

What does this change mean for your business?

Use SEO best practices like avoiding redirects to other pages, optimizing images, among other things to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.

What’s New To Google Ads

After their recent update, search results and Google ads now look quite similar to each other. Talking about the change Google said they would now be “presenting site domain names and brand icons prominently, along with a bolded “Ad” label for ads.” This is definitely good news for publishers and site owners since users need to be paying close attention to know if they are clicking on the content they are searching for or ads.

What does this change mean for your business?

If you have been considering investing in Google Ads, now is probably a good time. Experts think that Google Ads might have a higher click-through rate because of Google’s latest change, which makes it difficult for a user to differentiate between Ads and content.

Changes To Featured Snippets

First, what are featured snippets? They are a format of content, in which the answer to the user’s search question appears directly and concisely. A featured snippet comes up right on the search results page. The user doesn’t have to click through to a specific result. In February, Google also decided to de-duplicate featured snippets. This means that featured snippets are counted as first position results (as opposed to position 0 they enjoyed till now) and will now be a part of the main organic search results. Speaking about the change Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Search Liaison, said, “If a web page listing is elevated into the featured snippet position, we no longer repeat the listing in the search results. This declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily.  Featured snippets count as one of the ten web page listings we show.” Images are not deduplicated if the image URL is different from the text. Image carousels, listings, and top stories are not deduplicated either.

What does this change mean for your business?

While website owners feared this would mean a loss in traffic to their websites, studies have noticed insignificant changes so far. It is still a good idea to try and rank for a Google Featured Snippet.

Let’s Talk About On-site SEO

On-site SEO is an umbrella term for every detail on the page. This includes metadata, video, image tags, amount of text on the page, interlinking, keyword use, H1s/H2s, among other things and is still pretty important. Yes, Google algorithm has gone through a ton of changes and is much smarter about picking up relevant information but on-site SEO is still key.

In their own words, Google’s ‘How Search Works’ report states, “The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search query. If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is most likely to be relevant.”

What does this change mean for your business?

The biggest change to on-site SEO, keeping in mind the changes to BERT, is that keyword density is no longer a strong focus. The focus should be on creating a relevant piece of content that adds value to the user.

Conclusion

Keeping up with Google’s changes is important. You want to make the search engine work for you and your content. But, that doesn’t mean that you change your content strategy every time there is a change. The biggest learning from Google’s changes in 2020 is that content is king, indeed. Google wants you to create good quality content that provides value to real people. Gather and respond to user-generated content (reviews, comments on social media, etc.), post this content on social media, manage all your listings for consistency and accuracy and reap the rewards of your efforts.

Don’t create content for the search engine. Create content for your customers and end-users. Google will find you.