Columnists Brad Simon Internet Marketing Strategies: Links, Citations, and Reviews

Internet Marketing Strategies: Links, Citations, and Reviews

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Ever since Google improved their Maps a few months ago, getting listed in their 7 pack has become one of the best ways for local retail stores to be found online.  In my February column I wrote about how to claim your listing and how to complete your company description in Google’s Local Business Center which supplies the information about your business in Google Maps.

Claiming your listing and filling out your company information completely are the most important steps to take to get your store listed in Google Maps.  However, as more and more businesses do the same you will need to do more to stay listed and move to the top of the listings.  The 3 items that will help you the most is links, citations, and reviews.  Of course these will not help you much if you have not claimed your listing and filled out the company information.  So dig out your back issues and go to work on that first, then read on.

Links

As with anything ranked by Google, Links are vitally important.  Go to your business profile in the Google Local Business Center and copy the link to the page as well as the Embed Code.  The embed code allows you to place the Google Map to your store on a webpage.

On your Location page on your website place a link to your business profile as well as embed the map to make it easy for your customers to find you.  Both of these links will help your business rank higher in Google Maps.

Embed the Google Map and place links to your business profile in Blog posts, Facebook Fan pages and other Social Media pages such as Squidoo, HubPages, WetPaint, etc.  When creating the links use keywords as anchor text links to gain the most value from the link.  Create different links with all the different keywords that you want to rank for.

The more links you create to your business profile page in the Google Local Business Center and the more places you embed your Google Map, the better chance you have of getting your store to be listed in the Google 7 pack, and when listed move higher to the top.

Citations

A citation is any time your store is mentioned on a website whether or not there is a link to the store’s website.  While these citations will not help your website rank higher in the natural searches, they are counted in Google’s Local Business Center and will help your business rank higher in Google Maps.

The critical aspect of citations is that your store’s name, address, city, state, and zip code are all exactly the same as they are listed in the Google Local Business Center.  Consistency is vitally important.

A good place to start is by filling out the free business profiles at YellowPages.com (owned by AT&T) and SuperPages.com (owned by Verizon).  Those sites have the broadest reach and many other IYPs syndicate their content, so listing with them will get you a lot of exposure across numerous sites. Then as you have time check your listing and make any needed corrections in other yellow page directories including: YellowBook.comSwitchBoard.com, DexKnows.com, LocalEze.com, MyHuckleberry.com, YellowBot.com, Where2Go.com, etc.

You want to sign-up for the free listings.  Many will try to get you to spend money on an upgraded listing or some other search marketing options.  Don’t bother with that, but make sure the information is accurate and up to date.

In addition to all the national directories that have Local Search functions that are listed above, there are a number of communities that have a directory listing especially for them.  To find out if your community has any local directories go to Google or some other search engine and  search for: Your City Name + “Business Directory” (with quotation marks around Business Directory).  You should also do searches for Your County Name, Your State Name and any Regional Name.  Also if you sign in to your city on Yahoo Local http://www.Local.Yahoo.com at the bottom of the ‘Directory’ page there is a list of Local Resources.  Many city and regional yellow pages and other directories are listed here.

Reviews

Getting positive reviews about your store online is now more important than ever.  Ask your better customers to write a review of your store and post it on local business review websites.  But DON’T fake it by writing reviews yourself or asking friends who are not customers to write reviews.  If Google suspects you are writing your own reviews or hired a marketing company to write them for you they can ban your store from Google Maps.

You don’t want all your reviews coming from the same website, so be sure to recommend several to your customers for them to choose from.  Some of the better places to send your customers to are: Google Maps, Yelp, Judy’s Book, Kudzu, Local.com, Insider Pages, and Angie’s List.

Encourage your customers to write a review.  Some of the ways to do this are:

  • Have a laptop in the store logged onto review sites and encourage customers to write one before they leave.
  • List review websites on your sales slips.
  • Place links to review sites on the business website, Facebook page, etc.
  • Ask for a review in your e-mail sig file with a link to a review website.

Potential customers searching for your products or services do not have to go to the website the review is on to read it.  When reviews are available from these websites, Google will list them in your Map listing.

Sometimes the website the review is on will hide the review if the customer who wrote it is not very active on their website.  The review is only hidden from viewers at their website and not removed completely, so Google and other search engines can still see them and list them on your Map listing.

Google will sometimes miss reviews and not list all of them.  Don’t let this discourage you from asking for a review from your customers.  The more you have the better off you will be even if all of them are not listed.

Brad and Debbie Simon have been involved in the retail jewelry industry since 1977 and have been marketing on-line since 1999.  Their company Internet 4 Jewelers provides Local and Mobile Search Marketing, E-mail Marketing, and Website Development exclusively for retail jewelry stores.  For more information log on to www.Internet4Jewelers.com.

 
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