In this episode (3) of “Switched on IT,” the PowerTV Australia show that I co-host with Doug Endersbee of OZ Hosting, we cover some of the high-level areas that you need to understand about Search Engine Optimization for Small Business.
While the first phase of Google review traffic success is getting them, taking your Google review strategy to the next level is most certainly responding to Google reviews. Setting and managing buyers’ expectations is tough when you control little abou…
Google commands nearly 80% of Web and 90% of mobile search traffic on the planet. With global search leaders such as Yahoo, Bing (Microsoft), and Baidu (in China) still commanding between 5 and 15 percent each, they are forces not
Google commands nearly 80% of Web and 90% of mobile search traffic on the planet. With global search leaders such as Yahoo, Bing (Microsoft), and Baidu (in China) still commanding between 5 and 15 percent each, they are forces not to be ignored, but we know the clear winner of this battle in the war for consumers’ attention. People google things. And, they’re googling your business’ products or services to see Google reviews.
So Google has decided that these local reviews of your products or services are important to the decision-making process for consumers. And, if the search juggernaut thinks this is important, it’s best to take advantage of the opportunity that Google’s review platform provides (which is built within Google Maps and is managed with the Google My Business dashboard).
Often, local businesses don’t understand how to gain traction with Google reviews. Or, they don’t understand Google’s review policy. So, here I’d like to outline how to take your business to the next level with getting (mostly good) Google reviews.
Note: If you have a bad product, service, location, staff or customer service, this methodology won’t help you, unless you decide to fix these management/operations issues. I can’t also help you remove Google reviews. If the problem is deeper than that and not working, I’d head over to the Google My Business community to learn how to handle spam, fraudulent, and other wrongful review issues.
Get Your Google My Business Listing Completed Fully | Getting Google Reviews
To start, get your business listing claimed and verified. Not everyone can have a business listing on Google My Business; I don’t make the rules, but you do need to follow them. You will need a Google account (or G Suite account), so create one or sign in using yours to Google My Business, then follow the “get your business listing claimed and verified” support article. While you can do this on a mobile device, I recommend doing so from your desktop Web browser so you have all functionality available to you.
Set Your Review Capture System Up | Getting Google Reviews
Now that you have your business listing claimed and verified, you can watching the Google reviews pour in, right? Uhm, no. Sorry. There’s still quite a bit of work ahead. But, that’s an important milestone on your way to getting (mostly good) Google reviews! To really start getting the reviews flowing, follow my three-step process for soliciting and capturing customers’ reviews on Google.
Get your Google Review link. I don’t know them, but (for creating such a great tool and being Canadian, I can’t help but think they’re good and nice people) the folks over at White Spark agency have provided the free Google Review Link Generator.
Create a special customer service email address that is handled by someone dedicated to handling negative feedback, preferably you or someone high enough to make substantive, timely decisions and actions to turn unsatisfied customers into raving brand advocates.
A happy customer who buys and leaves your business and says nothing about you to anyone is of no really value in the world of reviews. An unhappy customer that you’ve helped fix their issue is one that will tell many more people about his or her experience and has a great value to you for review purposes! Seize opportunities of unhappy customers turned happy ones, and the meat of how to do this is in Step Three.
Send your customers either upon purchase, delivery or at their highest satisfaction peak in your relationship, a review request. Turn this into a system that is executed precisely and consistently throughout your business operations.
This review request communication will read something like this:
Hi, [Customer’s Name],
We appreciate your business! As part of our process to continually make good on our [product/service] and our customer service promises, we would really appreciate your feedback. This also helps new customers evaluate our [product/service/business] and helps us grow our business to continue living up to our standards. Could you take a few minutes to review us?
Yes, I love our [product/service]! No, I had a bad experience.
Now, the “Yes, I love your [product/service]!” is hyperlinked to your Google Review link that you generated in Step One. And, your “No, I had a bad experience.” link is to your special customer service email address. Mostly good reviews go to Google, while bad feedback primarily gets sent to someone who can deal with it.
Your responsibility is now to handle the negative feedback with “white glove” treatment. That’s a topic we cover in our next blog post. But, it is imperative to solicit these Google reviews well and consistently. Train your staff (and yourself ) to identify appropriate times and places for asking for Google reviews from your clients, including but not limited to:
- by email,
- printed on receipts,
- by phone,
- In-person, or
- on your website after purchase.
Once you’ve managed to get this three-step process in place and tweaked it so that you can see it working consistently in your business, you will start to reap the rewards of mostly good Google reviews while having a pipeline of new reviews coming in regular. And, in doing so, hopefully that will start to bring meaningful, profitable traffic to your Google My business listing and to your business.
I’m likely preaching to the choir if you’ve ever heard me talk about email marketing. But, it’s worth stating again and again for every Small Business owner to hear this message loud and clear: if you have a Gmail, Yahoo,
I’m likely preaching to the choir if you’ve ever heard me talk about email marketing. But, it’s worth stating again and again for every Small Business owner to hear this message loud and clear: if you have a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, or any other free email address that’s not [email protected], you are missing out on an amazing marketing opportunity. And, you’re likely hurting your professional reputation. I’d like to unpack how branding your email address is as important as your business website’s domain, and ways in which you can take advantage of a branded email address by getting and using it.
Professional Reputation and Legitimacy
Think about the ubiquity of email in business today. And you’re telling people implicitly to visit AOL or Yahoo instead of your company’s website by not having a brand-enabled email address. As well, some people look down on your business or don’t see you as stable by using a free email service.
As an example, I get at least one email a week from a purported Small Business owner asking me if we can help them with their website and whether we “take credit cards.” It’s the strange way the senders write their email messages that make it a dead giveaway that it’s a scam, but their email addresses are always from generic email services. Identifying this kind of scam spam is important for everyone receiving email today. I see email from those I don’t know and I immediately don’t give them as much credibility because they so similar to those that aren’t legitimate. We all only have so much time in the day to manage our email and if you decrease your legitimacy factors to not only spam filters, but to the humans trying to identify you as a real business, having a professional email address is vital.
Furthermore, when you create a branded email account and their accompanied aliases, you can setup DMARC records for your email accounts (as well as DKIM and SPF), which is an email-validation system so that when mail exchange servers receive, they know it’s coming from you (or third-party services you’ve approved to send on your behalf, like your email marketing software). This increases chances you get into the inbox of your intended recipient in the first place.
Proper Email Boundaries
Turn off your email when you are away from the office, whether for just a few days or on a multi-week vacation. That’s simply a free bit of life-work balance for you as an entrepreneur. However, setting good email boundaries and expectations is a form of customer service (which is, in my opinion, a part of the marketing department in small businesses). When you use your personal email account for business email, now you have conflated those two roles in your life. This makes it difficult when you wake the screen on your phone in the morning on vacation and you see an “important” email message from a client. Instead of that client getting a professional automated response noting that you’re away and when you’ll respond (logically), you react (emotionally). Responding to email messages when you’re in work mode is always going to be better than reacting when you’re trying to rest and rejuvenate.
I personally don’t check my personal email accounts that often, but when I’m on vacation I turn off my work email accounts and switch my personal email accounts to notify me as messages come in. I’m usually traveling and wanting higher engagement with my friends and family at those times, and having a separated business email account structure gives me the comfort in knowing those email messages coming in are the right context for me at any given time.
As well, using a branded email, I can add the appropriate persons in my company to contact in my absence via my autoresponder “away” message, or I can forward specific client emails to staff, should they be able to help in my stead.
Marketing Your Website
Your website is where sales happen. And, it takes time, energy and resources getting visitors to your business website. So, why would you squander the marketing opportunity to expose your website domain name to people with whom you share your email address? When someone meets you and receives your email address, this is the chance to get them to become curious in checking out your website. But, you most often than not won’t ask them directly to visit your website. By, giving them a branded email to stay in touch, say, at a networking event, you have planted some curiosity for them to check out your website when they see [email protected]
For different marketing campaigns you can set up forwarding email addresses (which are not real email accounts, but merely fronts for forwarding inbound email along to another email address of your choice). So, when leads and potential clients email you from a business card, flyer, postcard or brochure, you can identify from where they learned about you and/or your business.
As well, your email is more memorable when it’s [email protected] When you give someone a generic email address, like [email protected] or [email protected], it’s harder to remember why they were going to email you or what your name or your business name is.
A good rule of thumb: whenever you have an appropriate chance to share your website domain name, do so.
Present Yourself (as Bigger or Smaller) Depending on your Business Situation
With branded email, you can create accounts such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] These represent departmental emails that go to the correct person for handling inbound messages. In a Small Business, all these hats may be centralized to a few people, if not one person–you. But, your clients don’t need to know that!
Also, as I do, I have separate public and private email addresses. I use my public email address for all public-facing marketing materials, such as when I present to audiences at workshops and seminars. However, I have a private email address that’s only used between my staff and me so that those messages can be segmented and focused on our client needs, and not distract me from all the other email I get every day. This public-facing email is also a shared account with my assistant so email I don’t need to deal with can be processed and organized while I’m in meetings, presenting seminars, or teaching workshops. The remaining, non-time sensitive email messages from the public email address will then we be waiting for me when I get to it.
Branded Email Is Low-Cost and High-Value
I think a big concern for most business owners, established and startup alike, is that branded email is going to cost a fortune. And, the reality is, that most branded email today is very cost effective.
By hosting with a proper email hosting service provider, you get technical support. Email is important for your business and free email services don’t have any guarantees about their uptime. But, your email hosting provider will be able to give you 99.9% uptime guarantees.
As you might imagine as the Google Small Business Advisor for Productivity, I’m a huge fan of G Suite, Google’s business productivity suite. It includes almost every type of software a business owner needs today to get started and grow their business over time; what’s not available in G Suite proper is possible through an integration partner in the G Suite Marketplace. But, to our topic at hand, every G Suite license comes with branded email powered by Gmail. This is substantially and substantively different than consumer-grade Gmail as G Suite email is your business data, owned by you, private, no advertising, and secure. Yet, it has all the features you have come to love about Gmail; it does have the ability to turn off features you don’t like. As well, for those who are in a Microsoft-preferred ecosystem, you can get business email through Office 365 Business Premium or Exchange.
Also, W3 Consulting’s Web Services provides 100 free email forwarding aliases for departmental email addresses (as I indicated above, such as [email protected], [email protected], etc.) with the purchase of any domain registration or Managed WordPress hosting purchase. These will forward to one or several email addresses in your company that cover the appropriate roles. If you’re using G Suite, you can create these within the Admin Console as Groups.
Protecting your Brand with Employee Emails
When you hire new employees, you want them to use your company’s email address when corresponding with clients. This not only positions them professionally and legitimately as acting on behalf of your company, but it also gives some protections for you and your employee.
When an employee leaves, you don’t lose control over that email account. You can change the email alias (which is the yourname in [email protected]) and direct it to your email or another employee’s email account when an employee resigns or the business terminates an employee. This continuity with your client communications is very important in marketing and other operations management areas of the business.
How to Create a Branded Email Account for your Business
It’s increasingly easier to get your branded email account set up for your business today.
If you didn’t know, you can have branded email without having a business website yet. I recommend that you have your business’ branded email account set up as soon as possible when you are starting out. You can plan and launch your website thereafter, but it’s never too early to get your audience aware of your business website’s domain.
So, here are the basic steps to getting your branded email account for your business.
- Register a business domain name, which you want to use for your business and email.
- Decide on your business email hosting provider, whether that’s G Suite or another email hosting provider.
- Set your domain’s MX (mail exchange) records in your Domain Manager to direct to your email hosting provider.
- Now, choose an email program that you want to handle your email management on desktop and mobile. From your email hosting provider, get the email setup information so you can establish control over the branded email within your software on both desktop and mobile.
- Create a professional email signature for your email account, and you’re ready to go!
Do you have any questions about branding your email address? How about creating a branded email address? Feel free to contact us, or comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer questions or direct you to a resource that can help!
If you want a pleasant Sunday morning read, check out this list of data breaches of major companies, organizations and government agencies. These are entities with IT departments, security professionals monitoring their networks, cybersecurity policies…
In our latest Beyond Google Webinar, I had the pleasure of talking about “Getting Found on Google: Search Engine Optimization for Local Small Business.” This is an important topic and one in which is even more important today with increased
In our latest Beyond Google Webinar, I had the pleasure of talking about “Getting Found on Google: Search Engine Optimization for Local Small Business.” This is an important topic and one in which is even more important today with increased Web traffic competition, especially in local communities.
Getting to the top of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is more complicated than ever when updating and contributing content to your website, blog, and Social Media. For local Small Business, there is an added layer of trying to drive local Web and Mobile traffic to our websites, not traffic from national or international audiences who can’t buy or use our products or services. For the majority of local Small Business, most of your revenue comes from a five-mile radius from your business location. In this Web-based presentation, we talked about what you should do to create a Web presence that optimizes for a local audience.
In this Webinar, we covered:
– Who benefits from local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)…and why the answer is every business;
– How to create a targeted local Web presence for your business; and,
– Tools you can use to help you know you’re on the right track for getting found on Google.
This Webinar, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC (http://www.virginiasbdc.org/training-…), are presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained, President of W3 Consulting, and Managing Director of W3C Web Services, providing affordable Web/WordPress hosting, domain name registration, SSL certificate, and email hosting services focused on helping Small Business market and manage on the Web.
Who should watch?
– Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
– Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
– Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
– nonprofit executive directors and board members
Netflix, you might have heard of it. It’s a billion dollar company that provides movies to your devices. The company has evolved and leveraged technology better than most in its industry. When I first heard of Netflix years ago, you could rent a DVD from their catalog of movies. They would mail you a copy of the DVD (or more depending on your subscription), you would watch it and they would mail another one to you from your list. Even then it was kind of innovative. Now, with technology, a subscriber can now stream from Smart TVs, Smartphones, Tablets, Computers and even Game Systems.
This is all well and good but what can a digital marketer learn from this company?
Well, a lot.
I recently had a meeting with a potential client. One of the first questions he asked was, how would I describe SEO and the Long Tail. To this I answered, have you heard of Netflix?
The reason that I brought up Netflix was because it’s a perfect example of the Long Tail coined by Chris Anderson in a book back in 1999 (you will even see a review from Reed Hastings from Netflix on the book–go figure). Taken from Anderson’s website, he defined the Long Tail as:
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.
Do you see the connection yet? If not, let me drill down…
The best comparison is Netflix versus Blockbuster. Traditionally speaking Blockbuster was a storefront that you went to more than likely Friday night to pick whatever movie (or game) that you wanted to watch over the weekend. I remember doing it as a kid. I would get in my parents car and we would go to Blockbuster typically after dinner and I would get to rent a movie.
Of course the movies (or games) that I wanted were never there because someone (or a lot of “someones”) would often get there before me and I would have to wait for them to bring the movie back. Now, from a business standpoint, Blockbuster was always limited by the size of their store. They could only keep so many movies and so many titles on hand.Growing up in Northern Virginia, we even had 2 Blockbuster stores and I would try to go to either to get the movie that I wanted if I could talk my parents into it. Still, I often couldn’t get the movie or game I wanted.
So, how did Netflix disrupt that industry? Well, in short it allowed an entire catalog that Blockbuster never could shelve because the demand was too small. In other words, if someone was looking to watch 30 vampire movies over the next month, Blockbuster would only have 5 or so of the most popular ones. There wasn’t enough demand for the others so they couldn’t justify the shelf space.
That’s where Netflix changed things. They increased the catalog of movies that people could rent. There were way more movies that they could send to you because instead of having a storefront they shipped from a huge warehouse where they were able to stock more movies and as technology increased they were able to offer more and more movies that could be streamed on demand. Not only that, I’ve noticed that TV series that people were sad to hear were canceled, were now being picked up on Netflix. This was incredibly disruptive because as people started to realize their choices weren’t limited, they were able to “search” for exactly what they wanted to find. If someone wanted to search for Zombie movies with werewolfs, they would find that. So, Netflix was basically not competing with Blockbuster on the “Blockbuster movies” but instead were focusing on developing a different way for people to rent movies (subscription) and a larger catalog they could access. This would eventually (along with Redbox)sink Blockbuster.
This is where your blog and SEO are so important.
There are so many niche products and services that are making a “killing” largely because they are catering to these target markets. With the changing customer (the same one that is watching movies on Netflix or Amazon or tuning into YouTube series) that is now able to click a button and search specifically for what they are looking for, the long tail is an enormous opportunity.
Here’s one takeaway that you should remember–it’s not that the small long tail searches are more than what is mainstream but collectively if you add them all up it’s more.
In other words 10 (searches) is greater than 1 (search) but it’s not greater than 1+1+1+1+1+2+4+3+5+8+1…(you get the picture).
That’s were Netflix blazed a trail that business owners and entrepreneurs can now follow. It’s where you can become top of mind not just for that one keyword that you are trying to show up for but the 1,000 other searches that are more attainable and honestly probably add up to more.
On a practical level when people are searching on Google, it’s where your blog can show up. You will quickly be out of business if you target an entire website for 1 search but you can target a blog post for a specific keyword. It’s how you build your own Netflix model.
It’s something that has not been leveraged in most industries.
So, how do you get started?
I would say after you start your blog and you get everything up and operational, do a really strong and dedicated discovery exercise and determine what people are searching for–think of everything–product names, DIY searches, product alternatives, frustrations, everything you can think of. Don’t forget to ask employees, clients, everyone.
Then, just develop a calendar and start blogging. There’s more to it of course from an SEO standpoint but this is the approach you want to take to answering your client or potential clients questions.
Another future note, don’t neglect the importance of social media as well. Some people are searching natively on these networks especially with hashtags so make sure you pay attention those changes as well.
That’s how you become the digital Netflix of your industry!
Be sure to check out and reserve your copy of our eBook–The Blue 16 Corner. It’s FREE!
Originally posted: What Does Netflix Have in Common with Blogging & SEO?