Your Guide to SEO Basics for Small Business Owners

seo basics

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is part art and part science. It involves creating content for your website that’s optimized for search engines – but part of good SEO is optimizing your content for readers, too. Learning SEO basics isn’t terribly difficult, and it definitely pays off.

So where do you start?

SEO Basics: What You Need to Know About Optimization

Basic search engine optimization techniques include:

  • How to implement SEO in your web design
  • How to research the best, most profitable keywords
  • Understanding Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
  • Using keywords and their counterparts in your content
  • Hiring the right SEO professionals
  • Tracking performance

Before you can dive into the specifics, you need to understand search engine optimization and why it’s important, which the following section covers.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is a digital marketing tool available to every business owner with an online presence. It helps SMBs reach potential and existing customers through major search engines, which all generally follow Google’s lead.

A basic SEO strategy keeps the principles behind a standard Google search in mind.

Users enter a phrase called a query into a search engine. These words best approximate what the user is looking for, such as “where to find pho in Dallas” or “how to knit a scarf.”

When Google receives a query, it automatically assembles a collection of results that provide an answer. The most complete and accurate answers, as determined by Google’s algorithm, appear at the top of the search engine results page, or SERP.

This is possible because Google’s crawler – commonly called the Googlebot – reads the content of each page it discovers and uses more than 200 factors to assign it a ranking. The algorithm Google uses latent semantic indexing. That means Google can recognize related terms and phrases in groups (like knit, knitting, yarn, stitch and purl) to understand, categorize and rank pages.

Think of Google like a giant file cabinet. It files away useful webpages in each drawer and knows precisely where to go when someone needs an answer.

The higher a page ranks in the SERPs, the more likely users are to click it.

Businesses can optimize online content with specific Google searches in mind. For example, a local shoe store can optimize its content to reach people searching terms like “Nike retailer” or “designer boots in San Francisco.”

Good SEO is about more than keywords, though. It’s an entire strategy that successful businesses implement to gain greater visibility in the SERPs and, as a result, more traffic and more sales.

How to Implement SEO Basics

As a business owner, you can take SEO basics into your own hands. It’s possible to engineer a powerful SEO strategy on your own. You have to be in it for the long haul, though – good SEO doesn’t happen overnight.

1. Spend Time On Web Design

Optimizing your website makes your business more visible to a highly targeted group of searchers who want or need what you have to offer.

There’s one catch: Google is all about user experience, or U/X.

If you search Google and the results you get are consistently underwhelming, you’re going to switch to a different search engine. There are myriad reasons you could be displeased with the results, like:

  • The pages you get don’t answer your question
  • The website you land on is slow to load or uses outdated technology, graphics or design
  • The pages you click don’t render properly on your device

That means your site needs to feature responsive design that renders properly on phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. It also needs to load quickly – within 3 to 5 seconds – and each page needs to answer a user’s specific query. You also need to provide users with:

  • Easy navigation
  • Interactive, intuitive content
  • A user-friendly interface

Before you can dive into SEO, your website needs to provide the U/X Google and its users demand. (Learn more about responsive, intuitive web design services here.)

2. Research Keywords

SEO Basics - Keyword Research

Keywords are central to any SEO campaign – and the most successful search engine optimization campaigns are data-driven.

Start by researching your competition. Note where your competitors rank on Google for keywords and phrases that also relate to your business.

Perform some organic searches for keywords you feel your users may use to find your business. Start with the basics, but don’t be afraid to try out long-tail keywords.

Examples of basic keywords:

  • Turkish restaurant
  • Bowling alley
  • How to knit
  • SEO basics

Examples of long-tail keywords:

  • Turkish restaurant in Dallas
  • Bowling alleys near me
  • How to knit baby booties
  • List of basic SEO techniques for beginners

You can use a variety of tools to plan your keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner is the most obvious choice, but it only offers broad data unless you’re paying for advertising. However, there are a number of free and paid services that allow you to research keywords relevant to your business. Some can become very expensive, so for most business owners, it makes sense to hire an SEO expert who already has access to the most effective tools.

Pro tip: Only use one keyword or phrase per page of content. Keywords must be distinct between pages.

3. Familiarize Yourself With Google’s Guidelines

Following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines helps ensure your pages are compliant with Google’s requirements. Spend some time learning best practices – and what not to do – before you begin.

If you violate any of Google’s terms, the search engine will penalize your site. Google may elect to exclude a few pages from its index or it may deindex your entire site, depending on the nature and severity of the violation.  

4. Optimize Content

Content optimization is the most fundamental part of a basic SEO strategy. It involves choosing a keyword or phrase and building content around it naturally.

Googlebot is programmed to discover and index pages based on the text they contain. Google’s algorithm, Hummingbird, uses latent semantic indexing to determine a page’s purpose.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing?

Latent semantic indexing, or LSI, is the method Google’s algorithm uses to scan through data and identify relationships between words. This enables determine the context of a page and eliminates the need for keyword density.

What is Keyword Density?

Keyword density refers to the extremely outdated practice of using your keyword a certain number of times per 100 words. In the earliest days of search engine optimization, webmasters could stuff a page with keywords and rank well for the term. The result was generally useless spam that read like this:

 

Use each keyword naturally. Make sure that keywords appear in the page’s meta title, a heading or two, within the body of the content and in the meta description – but don’t “stuff” keywords in. The best way to incorporate a keyword is to write naturally, then revisit your content and ensure that it appears where it will help readers most. Because Hummingbird understands word groups (like the knitting example above), there’s no need to worry about keyword density.

Pro tip: Optimize image file names and alt text on images with your keyword.

If you use WordPress for your website, you can install a plugin that can help you with optimization, such as Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO Pack. Just bear in mind that as of this writing, Yoast still considers keyword density a factor as it “grades” your content.

5. Consider Hiring Professionals

Successful SEO depends on link-building and dozens of other factors, including local optimization, getting reviews and establishing social media profiles.

  • Link-building is an important component of SEO. Google uses inbound links – links that lead into your site from other websites – as a measure of how valuable your website is. If already-reputable sites link to yours, it’s a strong signal that you have something to offer users. Conversely, if several spammy sites (like link directories) link into yours, Google can interpret that as a sign that your site is likely not worth much or that you’re trying to game search engine results.
  • Optimizing content for location-based searches, such as “Brooklyn bagels” or “Dallas roof repair” can help bring in local business. A good SEO strategy also includes using Google My Business and other tools that help establish your company as the local go-to when your potential clients are looking for help.
  • Many people trust independent online reviews as much as they’d trust a recommendation from a friend, so it’s important to build a presence on review sites like Google, Yelp and others. Building a presence includes responding to reviews (both positive and negative) and showing people who read them that your company is interested in maintaining a good reputation for customer service.
  • Establishing profiles on social media sites is a proven SEO strategy – not only because social signals are one of the ways Google determines how valuable your site is, but because social media itself can bring in targeted traffic. (You can learn about how social media plays a role in any good website strategy here.)

Business owners who want a complete SEO campaign often turn to professionals. At Market Crest, for example, we assist our clients in all aspects of search engine marketing.

6. Track Performance

SEO Tools for SEO BasicsSEO is always evolving, and you need to know where your site stands on a day-to-day basis to ensure you stay on top. Use Google Analytics to track which pages people land on to enter your site, where your visitors are coming from and how long people spend on each page. You can also use paid tools, like Moz and SpyFu, or built-in tools that come with platforms such as Wix and Squarespace that track your site’s performance.

The most important thing you can do is monitor whether your efforts are paying off. That way, you can adjust your strategy and focus on the optimization techniques that are bringing you new business.

SEO Basics: Final Thoughts

Learning SEO basics can make a huge impact on how well your website performs. Used properly, SEO enables business owners to connect with larger audiences and increase profits.

Simply by familiarizing yourself with Google’s guidelines, researching keywords and investing in the right web design, you can boost your bottom line.

At Market Crest, we love helping our clients take their digital marketing to the next level. Learn more about our award-winning work here – and when you’re ready for a free, one-hour consultation with a marketing expert, call us at 469-661-1040. We’re here to help.

 

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Dallas Marketing Agency, MarketCrest, Experiencing Record Setting Start to 2018

Dallas Marketing Agency Experiencing Record Setting Start to 2018 copy

2018 has been packed with excitement for the MarketCrest, LLC team. So far this year, the Dallas Marketing Agency has added valuable staff to the team, onboarded several new clients, won a number of awards, and had its President, Scott Berry, named as a grand jury panel member for The International Muse Creative Awards (MCA).

 

MarketCrest is a multi award winning, Dallas Marketing Agency (Consulting, Website, SEO, PPC & Social) located in the Historic Downtown McKinney Square in North Texas.

 

Since moving into the McKinney, Texas office in 2016, MarketCrest has experienced exponential growth. In January of 2018, MarketCrest received its first award for the year, a Gold Ava Digital Award for a Business to Consumer (B2C) website created for a Dallas roofing contractor.

 

Soon after, MarketCrest’s President, Scott Berry, was chosen for the Grand Jury Panel to judge the Muse Creative Awards. The competition seeks to recognize International talent and creativity in advertising, design & digital marketing.

 

With other judges scoring MarketCrest’s own submission, the agency was able to compete for a Muse Creative Award and was named a Rose Gold Winner for Website Home Pages and Landing Pages.

 

Finally, MarketCrest was recently awarded a Hermes Creative Award as a Gold Winner. The Hermes award was for Website Optimization and Conversion Results based on documented performance with a client in the legal industry.

 

There is still a lot to accomplish for this Dallas Marketing Agency in the second half of 2018!

 

To keep updated on MarketCrest happenings or get in contact with the firm, visit the website at https://marketcrest.com/ or call (469) 661-1040.

 

For a greater understanding of digital marketing and SEO, visit the MarketCrest blog: https://marketcrest.com/blog/

 

To get a first-hand look at MarketCrest’s award-winning work head to: https://marketcrest.com/about-us/award-winning-case-studies/

 

About MarketCrest,

 

MarketCrest, LLC is an award winning, Digital Marketing Consulting & Services firm specializing in client revenue growth. Simply, we exist to help our clients compete and grow… and we expect to be held accountable for their improved performance.

 

MarketCrest, LLC

105 S. Tennessee St. Suite 103

McKinney, TX 75069

https://marketcrest.com

 

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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Website Marketing Strategies

website marketing strategies

Running a business has always required a solid marketing strategy, but this is the Information Age – and now, marketing takes place on more levels than ever before. If you want your business to succeed, you need a strong online presence that follows the most cutting-edge website marketing strategies.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Website Marketing Strategies

Your digital marketing strategy starts with a highly engaging and functional website. You need to:

  • Get to know your ideal buyer persona
  • Develop your brand presentation
  • Provide a high-quality user experience online
  • Optimize your website
  • Strategically position your company on social media channels
  • Gather and maintain online reviews
  • Create and commit to an email marketing strategy
  • Track performance with powerful analytics

The following sections delves into each of these website marketing strategies, how you can implement them, and how they’ll help you.

Get to Know Your Ideal Buyer Persona

Before you start any website marketing strategy, get to know your ideal buyer persona. Identify the perfect customer for your product or service, and write down who he or she is – this information will inform every marketing decision you make, from content development to social media engagement.

Website Marketing Strategies - Develop Your BrandSample Buyer Persona #1

She’s between 25 and 40, and she knows exactly what she wants. She doesn’t spend a lot of time window-shopping – she goes directly to the department she needs and zeroes in on her favorite brands. Her salary as an emerging professional in her field ranges between $65,000 and $85,000 per year. She’s in command of her finances, her emotions and her decisions, but she always appreciates tongue-in-cheek humor and prides herself on her ability to choose quality home furnishings and décor.

Website Marketing Strategies - Developing a Buyer PersonaSample Buyer Persona #2

He’s a hard-working adventurer who’s always looking for an opportunity to escape to the lake, the woods or the mountains. Because he works so hard, he appreciates a great deal – but when he’s not working, you’ll catch him stepping into a canoe at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, packing his Jeep with gear for a weekend getaway or strapping on snowshoes and heading north. This all-around good guy earns between $45,000 and $75,000, and he’s always on the lookout for the latest outdoors gadgets.

Send out surveys and questionnaires to help zero in on your ideal buyer personas. You can use your existing opt-in email list or pose questions on social media. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to inform your future marketing decisions.

Develop Your Brand Presentation

Website Marketing Strategies - Develop Your Brand

Once you identify your target market by creating buyer personas, figure out how to present your brand in the most effective ways.

Define your company’s values and mission, and translate them into language your ideal customer can understand and appreciate. How does your company meet your customers’ needs? How does your brand fit into and complement your customers’ lives?

Create a story around your brand. Follow it from its inception through today, focusing primarily on how you want your ideal customer to feel when he or she sees your logo, your company name or your products.

Pro tip: Use color psychology to match your brand to your buyer personas, and always keep your branding consistent across every channel.

Provide a High-Quality User Experience Online

Zero in on optimal website design so your users have the best possible experience when they find you online. You have to stand out with:

  • Fast, responsive design that renders exceptionally well on any device
  • Easy navigation between information and products or services
  • Great content that informs, inspires and encourages visitors to act

Good user experience, or UX, focuses on what users want – not on hard sales and self-promotion. For most business owners, consulting with a professional marketing agency to create a positive UX is absolutely essential.

Optimize Your Website

SEO as a Website Marketing StrategyYour website is the connection between your company and its potential customers – and the best way to attract them is through search engine optimization, or SEO.  

Sure, you can put up a dozen blog posts or promotional videos each day, but that’s not going to cut it. Your competitors are doing better, and you need to, too.

You need data-driven ideas that bring in search engine traffic and turn prospects into loyal customers.

Search engines crawl websites to rank and sort pages according to how useful they are to searchers. Search engine optimization allows your site to meet users’ needs so Google and other, less popular search engines can deliver it on the first page of results. For that reason, 61% of all marketers make SEO a top priority.

Strategically Position Your Company on Social Media Channels

Social media is your key to connecting with buyers where they’re most comfortable. Facebook dominates the U.S. market – 68 percent of adults in the U.S. actively use it. Here’s a quick run-down of other platforms:

  • 35% of American adults use Instagram
  • 29% are on Pinterest
  • 27% are on Snapchat
  • 25% are on LinkedIn
  • 24% are on Twitter

Drilling down more, Americans aged 18 to 24 are primarily on Snapchat – 78 percent of them, in fact. Further, 71 percent use Instagram and 45 percent use Twitter.

Pro tip: Take note of your buyer personas and zero in on the sites that dominate those age groups to inform your social media strategies.

Social media marketing is about more than creating a few posts. It’s about engaging your customers and sharing content they really find useful – and that they know their friends and colleagues will also find useful.

You can’t afford to drop the ball when all your potential customers are watching from the sidelines, so it may be worth outsourcing social media development and maintenance to the pros.

Gather and Maintain Online Reviews

Your website is the foundation of your digital marketing campaign, but social proof is the glue that holds everything together. Your reputation is on the line with every order, every purchase and every delivery – and because 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust a friend’s recommendation, it’s important that you’re proactive in managing yours.

Seek out favorable reviews, and when you get them, acknowledge and thank the people who leave them.

Pro tip: Promote favorable ratings by asking your webmaster to create code that incorporates Google’s star ratings in your search results. (Websites that feature Google’s aggregated star ratings get higher click-through rates than those without them.)

Create and Commit to an Email Marketing Strategy

Give your visitors an incentive to receive marketing emails from you. Maybe you’ll create an e-book packed with great tips, or perhaps you can send people exclusive access to members-only deals. You can use that valuable asset to encourage your customers to share their email address with you – and the best part is that they’re already interested in what you have to offer.

Creating an email marketing strategy helps you stay a step ahead of your competitors. Your customers are hearing from you, and you’re giving them something your competitors aren’t – your brand earns loyalty that way. Use your email campaigns to continue building that relationship with people who already trusted you enough to give you an email address.

Track Performance With Powerful Analytics

Google Analytics in a Website Marketing StrategyA professional gymnast watches his routine dozens of times to evaluate exactly where he slipped. An expert archer shoots thousands of arrows and scrutinizes each draw. A successful marketer does the same thing: carefully executes an informed, data-driven plan and watches its journey all the way back to the website.

Use powerful tools like Google Analytics, Moz, KISSmetrics or CrazyEgg – or another tool you’re comfortable with – to evaluate the life cycle of every piece of marketing material you use. You’ll be able to make more informed decisions and enjoy better results after every cycle.

Let’s Talk About Your Marketing Strategy

The internet isn’t going to stop evolving, and neither should your marketing strategy. Because you have other things to do – like run your business – it pays to learn from and work with the industry’s most trusted experts.

We invite you to read through our marketing blog for tips and tricks that help you stay on top.

When you’re ready, call us at 469-661-1040 or fill out the form below for a free, one-hour consultation with a marketing expert who can propel your company to the next level.

Tell Us About Your Company

 

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Free Tips From a Digital Marketing Consultant

Free Tips From a Digital Marketing Consultant

Best Digital Marketing Techniques: Free Tips From a Digital Marketing Consultant

Learning about the best online marketing techniques doesn’t have to be expensive. These free tips from a professional consultant can help you get started.

In today’s digital world, you have to keep on top of different digital marketing techniques to stay relevant and reach out to your target audience.

Expert digital marketing consultants project Google to have a 32.4% market share of the net digital ad revenue worldwide in 2018. It remains the biggest search engine in the industry. With the digital age, it’s important to always be refining your marketing strategy to fit the internet landscape.

The majority of consumers today spend a lot of time online. It’s important to use digital marketing techniques that drive more people to your website and convert this traffic into qualified leads. 

The best way to grow your business is to hire an SEO agency. These digital marketing consultants have the know-how when it comes to digital marketing techniques. There are some things you can do on your own, especially if you’re starting to apply digital marketing techniques to your strategies.

Here are some tips to get you operating like a professional digital marketing consultant:

Keep Up With the Upcoming Digital Marketing Trends

Of all the techniques you can use for digital marketing, “trend hijacking” is useful and proves successful when content marketing. It’s best if you put your brand out there, especially on the World Wide Web. There are likely a number of trends going on in the digital world related to your brand that can help you gain a massive number of online audiences.

The best marketing techniques you can use to capitalize on this is to use tools like Google Trends to help identify ongoing trends. If you have the right set of tools and the passion to stay ahead, you can strive and gain knowledge about your customer base. This can help you surpass your competitors and make your way to the top.

Use Marketing Automation

The digital marketing world is fast-paced and ever-changing. If you want to stay on top of your competitors, one of the best marketing techniques is to get into marketing automation. It’s the best method if your marketing strategy involves result-driven approaches.

Market automation apps can help fill up knowledge gaps your business might have. There are a lot of apps out there that automate the promotion of your business. Some of these apps can do:

  • Automated e-mail marketing
  • Automatic Twitter tweet posting
  • Automatic Facebook feed posting

To test its degree of success, you need to observe the engagement and responses from your target audience. Some people prefer “real people” engaging them in your social media channels. However, there are chatbots out there that can simulate an almost human-like conversation, so you can look for that if you want to get the very most out of automation.

Optimize Your Marketing Techniques for Mobile Devices

A mobile-optimized strategy delivers tons of value for businesses, especially local ones. This is because mobile-responsive websites convert more people on higher resolution screens compared to the lower ones.

Google still keeps its mobile-first stance on the situation, but it’s undeniable that a large chunk of people online use desktops, laptops, and tablets for their online business transactions. If you want to optimize your marketing strategy for mobile, keep these factors in mind. Build mobile-responsive websites that have relevant and engaging content, call-to-actions, and faster load times.

Use Social Media Marketing More

This marketing strategy is one of the newest approaches you can use to gain a massive audience for your brand. With large subscriber base, social media networks like Facebook serve as one of your primary channels for brand promotion. Facebook, for example, influences 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases.

You can use social media trends to position your brand for all subscribers to see. Recent changes to social network policies now make them more viable advertising platforms. 

Social media marketing does come with a price, since you need to pay these platforms to advertise. The price is worth paying if your target audience is online. SImply target your ads to specific audiences that are more likely to support your brand.

Optimize Your Conversion Rate Through Your Website

When talking about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), it involves steps that help make your brand more attractive to your audience. It’s a systematic way of expanding your customer base, helps you get found online, increases your conversion rate and helps to reduce the bounce rate of your website pages.

The simple things like filling out forms, subscribing to your blog, clicking on a call to action, and other similar tactics can help convert your site visitors by steering them into performing a specific action. Testing CRO can help you get more understanding about your website visitors’ behaviors and how to best adapt to it.

Make Your Brand Appear in Search Engine Results with SEO

You can use SEO marketing services to focus on expanding your brand’s visibility on the search engine results without paying for the ads. This is called organic traffic.

You need to have an effective SEO strategy and take technical steps to help boost your rankings, drive more website traffic, and increase the search engines’ recognition for your brand. There are a lot of aspects you need to consider when it comes to SEO, from the optimal word count to how other websites link to you online.

The main objective of an SEO strategy is to make search engines prioritize your site over your competitors. That way, you can get more customers and let your business flourish in this digital landscape.

It is recommended to hire an expert digital marketing consultant to assist you with this, as SEO is complicated and needs to be managed correctly. 

Don’t be Afraid to Use Paid Marketing and Campaigns

Despite having an attached price tag, paid marketing (PPC) is one of the most effective means for you to use search engines for paid ads. When you pay for Google or Yahoo advertisements, your website becomes visible at the top of the search results with the “Ad” label. There is a lot of research supporting the fact that online users click more on paid search results than other forms of online advertisements.

Paid advertisements also add another layer of legitimacy to your website, since people will acknowledge the money you shell out to advertise your brand. It’s one of the better marketing techniques to partner with your SEO efforts.

Familiarize Yourself with Influencer Marketing for PR

Another marketing technique you should capitalize on is influencer marketing. It’s one of the most recent and distinct digital marketing strategies that has its own set of benefits for your brand. You can link it to your content strategy, SEO efforts, and social marketing techniques.

Influencer marketing means that you promote your brand with the use of experts, influencers, popular figures, and other celebrities. These people have followers that can change what people consider for buying. It’s categorized under word-of-mouth marketing, which has the potential to spread faster, especially when your influencer has at least a million followers.

Reveal the Power of Partnership with Affiliate Marketing

This is another of the many great digital marketing techniques you can use to market your brand online. This type of marketing has a lot of similarities with commission-based marketing, where you pay your affiliate based on how they perform. When you engage in affiliate marketing, you only pay your affiliate if they’re successful at selling your brand to people.

There are a lot of companies that use affiliate marketing today, like:

  • Banks
  • Finance Companies
  • Travel agencies

Most of these companies report a successful campaign through this strategy. You can try it out and see if it works out for you.

Identify Your Goals to Know the Tools You’ll Need

Your marketing strategy should always tie in with your business goals. No matter what kind of goal your company has, you need to know the methods necessary to measure it. The method you’ll use to measure success depends on the kind of business you have, as well as the goals you set for yourself.

The metrics that you use can help you adjust the strategy based on whether goals are being met. Knowing the areas where improvements are needed can help ensure that your business strategy is sound and adaptable as the digital marketing landscape continues to change.

Get More Digital Marketing Help Today

There are a ton of great marketing strategies out there that you can use depending on the type of business you have. Knowing what works can take a lot of trial and error on your part, especially if you’re doing it on your own. If you want a more efficient way to implement your online marketing strategy, hiring a digital marketing consultant is the best way to go.

If you need assistance with your marketing strategy, MarketCrest can help. We have years of experience working with various brands across many industries. We can determine the right tools to use to ensure that your business thrives in the digital landscape.

Do you have more questions? We offer free consultations and services that can boost your company to the top of the search engine results. Contact us today to get you started on your journey to success.

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How to Get Started with Digital Marketing

How to Get Started with Digital Marketing 

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing encompasses a broad range of marketing strategies associated with the internet that are designed to target and engage specific consumers. Attention-grabbing websites uncovered during Google searches, customized email programs, and social media are becoming universal elements designed to engage existing customers and attract new ones. Unlike traditional mass marketing strategies like TV, radio, and newspapers, digital marketing attempts to focus messages to a population that is most likely to require the company’s goods or services in the near future.

As the population continues to spend more time online, creating a presence to connect with them is critical.

Effective digital or online marketing is essential in today’s business environment. According to an Adweek.com, 81% of shoppers conduct an online search before making any important purchasing decision.

Digital marketing, much of which is also termed Inbound Marketing, is designed to attract viewers’ attention with an exciting and pertinent website or other marketing devices that may include such tools as:

  • infographics
  • interest-catching blogs
  • online brochures
  • ebooks
  • details such as newly imagined logos and other branding assets.

Also, useful interactive tools are designed to engage consumers to linger and take notice as they speed through their internet searches.

As another important element, online consumer feedback and commentary are driving many of today’s purchases. Consumers seeking products to provide pleasure or to solve a problem usually rely on experiential input from online posts to guide their decisions. Effective digital marketers capitalize on positive feedback while minimizing negative feedback in timely ways.

Important disciplines to enhance your presence are:

Experienced professionals like MarketCrest in McKinney TX provide creative support to companies throughout the United States and key international markets.

Establishing Your Starting Pointdigital marketing

MarketCrest offers a free one-hour consultation and discovery call for potential clients to discuss their current situation and identify strategies that may begin to build profitable new revenue and sustainable growth through digital marketing. Each professional at MarketCrest brings a unique set of skills and experience that will provide a holistic view of your brand and market building.

During the discovery phase of the free introductory consultation, the MarketCrest experts will address your current circumstances including:

  • How does your company work?
  • What are the ways you generate revenue?
  • What are your ongoing marketing initiatives?
  • What are your online marketing goals?

From the analysis of your current situation, the digital marketers can develop a customized strategy designed to drive the appropriate traffic that generates qualified leads and profitable revenue.

Once initial objectives are established, the process of further evaluation and strategy development begins. The three core categories for consideration are:

  • Website Design and Development: Evaluate the current design and adjust to meet the new objectives. Such issues as visual appeal, user experience, mobile readiness, and page load speed will be analyzed for acceptability. If tweaks or significant changes are needed, this will be the time to do so.
  • Content Optimization: Evaluation of success rate of your landing pages is essential. With ongoing, real-time analysis of your content, MarketCrest professionals can determine if you are developing trust, establishing credibility, and enhancing the image of your company.  Content should be engaging and include relevant keywords that increase search engine optimization. Other data tools can be added to track demographic and geographic interest.
  • Conversion Optimization: How many visits you successfully convert may depend on a variety of elements in your content. Continual monitoring and adjustment where needed can improve conversion rates.

MarketCrest’s Digital Marketing Process

The MarketCrest Process consists of four steps from the initial discussion to the goal of sustained revenue development.

  • Strategy Development is a result of website analysis, traffic analysis, keyword research, competitive analysis, campaign planning.
  • Traffic Creation will stem from initiatives that include organic and paid searches, display advertising, online directories, social media, public relations, and blogs.
  • Lead Generation is output resulting from improved landing pages, enhanced content, online calls to action, conversion forms, and email marketing, for example.
  • Sales Conversion strategies utilize ongoing analytics, A/B testing (comparing two web pages or other variables), CRM (customer relationship management) integration, lead scoring, and customer nurturing strategies.

 Managing the Strategic Campaign

Once the newly designed digital marketing campaign is in place, MarketCrest will monitor traffic and impact generated by strategies that include SEO activities, content, Pay-per-Click (PPC), web optimization, automation, social network interaction, and more. By monitoring and analyzing real-time data, the firm will actively manage your campaigns, deliver daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual summaries depending on your plan preference. From continuous data, the strategies can be reinforced and refined to ensure optimal results.

Sign Up for a Free Consultation with the MarketCrest Professionals

Situated in downtown McKinney, Texas, MarketCrest, LLC, is an award-winning digital marketing agency committed to helping companies generate more revenue through new business. The firm offers a team of experienced, talented people and proven technologies to attack your market, transform your business, and build market share.

MarketCrest believes that for each dollar spent on online or digital marketing, you should reap at least 2-3 times your investment in meaningful revenue. Contact the experts in driving online leads and successful conversions through well-designed digital marketing campaigns. The firm offers four different levels of ongoing digital marketing support or a specially customized program that meets your objectives.

Visit the MarketCrest website to learn more about our capability and sign up for a free one-hour discovery consultation to learn more about digital marketing strategies that can move your business to the next level.

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Trademark Attorney: Four Trademark Questions for Growing Businesses

 

business trademarkBy Eric Perrott, Esq.

We have a special guest author today. MarketCrest has known Eric and his law firm for years. Actually, Eric was the attorney that secured both of the MarketCrest registered business trademarks.  

He is a business trademark attorney with Gerben Law Firm, PLLC. Eric counsels clients on trademark and copyright law issues and provides business trademark analysis, process and registration services at flat-fees.

 

Enjoy, and take good notes:

Your trademarks are more than just the name of your company or a sleek logo. A trademark represents not only your company’s product or service, but also the quality, the ethos, the mission statement, the customer service, and many other facets of your business that customers will identify with.

Are you an “Apple” person or a “Google” person?

Are you a “North Face” person or a “Lululemon” person?

Brand identity is important and developing a strong brand isn’t easy. Companies of all sizes spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness and to drive new customers to their business.

While marketing and advertising is key for brand development, business owners from local mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies know that to build a strong, long-lasting brand, companies must protect their trademarks.

Below are four questions company owners should be able to answer about their business trademarks.

 

What are some of my business trademarks?

It might sound simple, but one of the hardest aspects of trademark protection is recognizing what a trademark actually is.

A trademark can be almost anything that represents the “good will” of a business. (Think of “good will” as all of those aspects-quality, customer service, style, etc.-mentioned above).

It can be a word or design, but it can also be a slogan (“I’m Lovin’ It”), unique store layout, or unique product packaging. It can even be a sound (the NBC chime), color (Tiffany blue), smell, or movement (like the unique way a Lamborghini’s doors open). The possibilities are endless.

However, every trademark must be “distinctive,” meaning that it must be something that consumers connect with one business, as opposed to a descriptive term or generic term that merely describes the products or services.

Descriptive words can still become trademarks, but a company must show that over time, those descriptive words are cemented in consumer’s minds as representing one company.

For example, American Airlines, National Rent-a-Car, Best Buy – all of these terms are, at their heart, descriptive. However, they are so engrained in consumers minds as trademarks that the companies enjoy trademark protection for those phrases.

 

Is someone else using a trademark similar to yours?

Once you’ve selected or identified a strong trademark that is not merely descriptive, the next step is to analyze whether another company in the industry has been using a similar trademark for longer than you have.

Under U.S. trademark law, trademark infringement occurs when a company uses a trademark that is confusingly similar to a pre-existing trademark for related goods and services. This is not just an analysis of whether someone else is using the exact same business trademark as you.

Trademarks can be confusingly similar is they are similar is sight, sound, meaning or overall commercial impression. Similarly, the goods and services do not need to be identical either, just similar, which is a legal analysis.

For example, hotels and restaurants are almost always considered “similar.” Wine and cheese have been considered similar because they are frequently used in conjunction with each other.

In order to gauge the potential risk of a trademark, a trademark attorney can perform a comprehensive search and analysis, wherein the attorney will look at registered and unregistered trademarks and provide a detailed analysis of the potential risks from a legal perspective.

Without a comprehensive search, it is extremely difficult to know about existing trademarks that could be confusingly similar to your own.

Once you have “cleared” the trademark, or generally accept and understand the risks of using (or expanding the use) of your trademarks in the marketplace, the next step towards protecting your trademark is registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Why should I register my Business trademark?

Trademark owners can register their trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). Trademark registration gives the trademark owner a number of significant advantages over those who do not register their trademarks. A few of those advantages are:

  • A government document stating that you are the owner of the trademark: When you apply for a trademark, a government attorney will review your trademark in the same way that we discussed earlier – the attorney will make sure it meets the standards of trademark protection and make sure no other registered trademarks are confusingly similar.

When a registration is issued, it is an official document from the U.S. government that gives you the legal presumption that you own the trademark. A prior user can attempt to cancel your registration, but until that happens, you are presumed to be the owner.

  • Trademark Registrations as an asset: Investors and other potential partners often look at intellectual property when looking at the health and long-term plans of a company. Trademark registrations are assets that can show you have a long-term plan for your brand. Trademarks can even be used as collateral for loans in some cases.
  • Deterrents to Competitors: A trademark registration acts a deterrent to competitors, who are likely searching the USPTO website (and other third-party aggregator websites) to gauge the risk of using certain trademarks. In fact, a registration acts as notice throughout the U.S. that you are the owner of the mark. No one can then say that they had never heard of you before selecting their mark – the law presumes that businesses will do their due diligence.
  • Online Marketplace Enforcement: An increasing number of online marketplaces are requiring trademark registrations to join special brand management programs.

For example, Amazon’s Brand Registry Program required a registered business trademark in order to join. The U.S. Customs department also requires a trademark registration to register with their counterfeit brand monitoring program.

From start to finish, registration will take at least nine months and sometimes more, as the government reviews the trademark and allows third-parties an opportunity to object to the registration.

However, your protection starts from the date you apply, so it is important to file as soon as possible.

 

How do I keep my trademarks protected?

You developed a strong trademark and registered it with the USPTO. Now what?

Now, you must police the marketplace and the USPTO to ensure that no competitors infringe on your trademark rights. A trademark is only as strong as its impact on consumers, so if someone else is using a similar trademark, then any experience not under your control can permanently damage your trademark.

Brands are often about first impressions. Customers also are human and don’t have perfect recall and often make impulsive decisions on whether to purchase something without thorough research.

If a customer has a bad experience with a brand that is close in sight, sound or meaning to yours, your brand is likely to suffer as well. Unless that client can recognize the differences at a fleeting glance, the negative feelings they have towards that brand are likely to transfer to you, losing you customers.

Whether its an innocent mistake by a competitor or a deliberate attempt to “cash in” on your brand’s recognition and good-will, you must be diligent about the protection of your trademark against infringers.

If not, you could lose the ability to protect your trademark in the future, as the scope of your trademark becomes smaller and smaller, until you barely have any rights left to protect.

 

Why is protecting trademarks Important? 

Trademark protection is important for a long-lasting and memorable brand. Businesses spend large portions of their budget creating brand awareness, but not nearly enough go through the steps to properly analyze and protect their trademarks.

Through effective trademark protection, business can secure help secure and grow their valuable brands.

Gerben Law Firm, PLLC is regularly a top-filer at the United States Patent & Trademark Office and its attorneys have been named “Top Practitioners” in the Washington, D.C. region by the World Trademark Review. Mr. Perrott provides free consultations on trademark and copyright issues and can be reached at eperrott@gerbenlawfirm.com.

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10 Social Media Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners

10 Social Media Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners

The transition from using social media as a hobby to a business platform was a difficult transition for professionals. It was like business owners woke up one day to find out they had another HUGE item on their to-do list.

But we as humans and entrepreneurs adapt. Unfortunately, so do the ways social networks work. If you looked at a list of social media marketing tips for small business from three years ago, you’d laugh out loud!

So how do you stay up to date when it seems next to impossible? We’ve got your guide.

Sit back, turn off your notifications for a few minutes and keep reading below.

1. Find Your Audience

There is a natural law of the universe that says people will always take the path of least resistance. In less scientific terms, that means no one wants to do extra work.

For this reason, we recommend that you go to where your online audience already is and post there, instead of begging people to come over to your platform.

If you’re marketing to young people, use Instagram. Ninety percent of Insta users are under the age of 35.

The same goes for Twitter. The age of the network provides a good guide to its age demographics. Generally, the newer the app, the longer it will take for older populations to catch on.

2. Don’t Overcommit

This is one of the social media marketing tips for small business we wish everyone knew. It’s better to do one thing well than to poorly manage multiple tasks at once.

By things, we mean social networks. Yes, it would be ideal to have a presence on every network your audience uses, but is that attainable? Probably not at first, especially if you are managing social media in-house. 

Concentrate on the network with the highest engagement and expand to others slowly. This will give you time to get into the swing of things and you’ll have more users to carry over to the other site with you.

Be Wary of Snapchat

Unless your demographic is very young (under 25), skip Snapchat. The content only lasts for 24 hours and it’s taboo to re-use Snapchat posts.

Unless you have someone who can commit to creating and posting new content every day, leave snapping to the kids.

3. Hire An Expert

Young adults entering the workforce get a bad rep, but they’re not as bad as the news says (although they have killed the napkin industry… look it up). Sure, they love avocados too much (look that up, too!) but they understand social media. They’re the first generation who grew up with it!social media marketing tips for small business

Since they’re on their networks 24/7, these kids can spot a marketing trend from a mile away. Between reading up on trends and personally living them, you’ll be all set when you outsource your marketing to a team with some fresh and young minds. 

If you have a small budget, you don’t have to find someone through LinkedIn. There may be a tech-savvy young family member who will gladly work for half of what a professional would make.

As far as social media marketing tips for small business go, its a win-win-win to hire a marketing firm that will handle your online presence for you. This allows you to really focus on the bulk of the business. 

4. Front Load

You’ve heard that content is king, right? Well, when it comes to social media marketing tips for small businesses, consistent content is king.

Before you make your page or profile public, be sure you have at least a week’s worth of content to post when needed.

You’ll likely run into a few hiccups in your first week and it’ll be nice to have a queue while you deal with growing pains.

For your first posts, think about how you want your company’s narrative to be introduced. Are you going to start with products or show off the humans behind the wheel? Whatever you do, be sure there is a strategy when posting. 

5. Keep a Queue 

If you’re ever in a place where you’re ahead on posts, that’s great. Now write more! Instead of taking a break, throw those extra posts in a folder in case of emergency (ICE).

That way, if you have something come up or have extreme writer’s block, you can reach into the ICE content file and still have fresh content to post.

Make sure these posts stand the test of time! You don’t want to post a review of the iPhone 6 if we’re using the iPhone 10.

Reviews, opinions, and general education about your business or products are great options. Social media marketing tips for small business that make your life easier? That’s what we’re all about!

6. Post on Time

Remember when we said posting consistent content was one of the key social media marketing tips for small business? That also applies to the time of day too.

When it comes to posts, there are two schools of thought. The first is, post during high volume views and interact with customers. The second is more subtle and simply requires maintaining an online presence. 

Let’s say you run a clothing store. While there may be some scientific data on times people like to shop, you’re more interested in getting your clothes exposure. It would make sense to post when traffic on your page is highest, or to boost your post so a larger audience sees it.

If you owned a restaurant, however, you’d want consumers to think of you at very specific times… like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or right before.

For example, a restaurant pushing a take-out special would do well to post around 4 o’clock.

Targeting consumers right before they have to go home to their families would remind them they could get something quick on the way home.

Try out each method or a mix of both, then stick to what works! 

Use Scheduling Tools

Now that you know what times work best for your consumers (and it can change!) make sure you never miss prime time.

Thankfully, you don’t have to release each post live at the exact time. Social networks and online tools have settings for automated posts and even automated emails. 

Simply upload the post however far in advance you want, then schedule it to release at the right time. Now you can go to dinner without keeping your phone face-up on the table.

7. Be Human

Now that you know the logistics of posting content, let’s talk about creating it.

Far too many businesses under post because they’re scared it won’t be perfect. However, with so many opinions online, no post is perfect for an entire audience or subject. 

When you’re creating posts, do your best and have a distinct brand voice. Don’t be scared to share a meme or two, so long as it’s targeted to your audience.

We’re not saying that you should forego editing altogether, that’d be crazy. Just don’t overdo it and post like a machine would. Install an editing app (like Grammarly) on your browser to catch mistakes, and keep a personable and honest voice.

Even when outsourcing social media posts to a content marketing firm, be sure to either post or relay information that the firm wouldn’t know. They can create engaging content all day long, but they’ll never be able to tell personal stories like your own staff or customers can. 

8. Engage, Engage, Engage

If location is the most important thing in real estate, engagement is the most important thing in social media marketing. Gone are the days where you could expect consumers to buy products just because you showed it to them. There’s too much market saturation for that!

Brands have to create a brand that makes customers feel like friends. Your brand needs to be something individuals can get to know, something more than a list of products or services.

Keep this in mind when you’re creating content for your website and social media. Is anyone going to engage with or learn something from your post? This is key. 

Reward Engagement

In this social media driven world, people get real validation from online attention. Even if you’re just starting out, there’s a thrill in getting attention from an “official” page.

So, when people engage with your content, give them a virtual pat on the back. Like their comment (etc) as fast as you can and do your best to create a personal reply.

They’ll remember your interaction and get a little taste of recognition from a brand, and you’ll be following social media marketing best practices while providing positive affirmations. 

Steal Engagement

Ok . . . Don’t actually steal it, but certainly, take ideas from other similar companies. Keeping your enemies close is a good tactic online too.

Follow your competition on your personal networks and pay attention to what’s working for them.

Are they having a sale you could match? Maybe they’re having a contest and it’s getting lots of attention. Now you know what your population likes without doing intense research!

9. Build Your Own Community

While we do recommend building your own brand and marketing strategy, there are bound to be other businesses in your community that go hand in hand with your own.

Are you a ski rental place that could pair up with a local charter bus in the area? Or a restaurant with a bookstore next door that could market together & encourage people to buy a book and have a literary lunch date?

There is power in numbers and networking, even online!

10. Blog Like Crazy

If blogging isn’t listed as one of the social media marketing tips for small business in a list you’re reading, disregard that source entirely. Blogs are entirely too important as content landing pages and for SEO purposes. They simply must be a part of your content strategy. 

If you’re working with anything other than LinkedIn or Reddit, you’re going to have restrictions on content size. On Facebook, for example, you can’t boost any image that is more than 20% text, which looks like next to nothing.

You need a place where people can go for more information. Think of your social media post as the preview to any branded original content. You need them to see the preview on your networks, then click to read the full content on your blog, ultimately increasing traffic to your website. 

Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Business: Tying Them Together

You can use all of these social media marketing tips for small business, but if you don’t stay true to your brand it’s no use. Before you start a business, let alone create a social media presence, take some time to figure out your brand and voice.

This can be a big task. It’s hard for someone so deep in the business details to see the bigger picture from an outsider’s perspective. That’s where you need professional help.

We can help you create your brand, your social media presence, and even coach you through building a website primed to generate leads. Check out the case studies on our site, then sign up for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and followers to gain.

What are you waiting for? Call MarketCrest today. 

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The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management

The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management

Welcome to the world of online reputation management, where one ill-timed tweet or potentially offense comment back to a reviewer can easily cost you your entire business.

In today’s world especially, it can be tough to know the best way to manage your brand’s reputation online. How can you ensure that you defend yourself and your business practices, while also making sure consumers know you value their opinion?

That’s what online reputation management is all about.

Read on to access our ultimate guide to getting it right.

Step One: Find Out What They’re Saying

We get it: it can be incredibly stressful to think about Googling yourself or your business to know what people really think of you.

However, if you don’t face the music, you have no chance of improving — and you’re telling your customers that their opinion doesn’t really matter to you.

The first step of good reputation management is to do a quick search on yourself and your brand.

Read your reviews, make sure you’re aware of any online complaints, and even search your business’s name on social media marketing platforms like Instagram and Twitter. We also suggest setting up a Google Alert for your brand’s name.

This way, anytime someone posts something online related to your company, you know about it as soon as it happens. This allows you to respond to the comment, and control the situation before it gets away from you.

Don’t like what you see?

If unflattering or inappropriate pictures of you or your employees pop up, do what you can about getting them deleted. Also wipe your old Twitter page if needed, and close any college-era social media personal platforms.

Step Two: Control Your Narrative

So, you did a little bit of searching about yourself and your brand.

Unfortunately, you didn’t like what you learned. Before you start panicking that it’s too late, focus on what you can do to salvage the situation.

The first thing?

Build or completely revamp your personal website. This way, when people Google your name, that will be the first thing that comes up about you — and you can present yourself as a professional.

Next, start doing what you can to push those negative reviews, old photos, and social media missteps off the first page of search engine results.

Submit articles to industry journals. Start a blog. Create new social media accounts for both yourself and your business.

Step Three: Respond To The Negative

How you respond to a crisis or a mistake says a lot about your personal character — and your ability to maintain a level head.

Of course, we know that usually, keeping your cool when someone has insulted you or your business is easier said than done.

The number-one rule of responding to negative comments and reviews? Give yourself a few minutes — or hours — to calm down first. Don’t respond or act on defensiveness or raw emotion.

Instead, step away and get control over yourself. Then, really think about what the person was saying. Chances are that, even if they didn’t say it in the best way, they still provided some constructive thought or criticism about your business.

Even better?

Their review gives you the chance to prove to both current and potential customers that you want to listen to feedback and keep your customers satisfied.

Start by thanking the person for their review. Then, assure them that you’re going to follow up on the situation, both with the reviewer and the responsible staff/team member.

Next, ask them what you could do to make their experience better. Finally, offer them either a free or discounted service/product if they’re willing to give you another chance to make it right.

Step Four: Consider A Professional

Let’s face it — whether because of your age, your nationality, or even the amount of time you spend online, you won’t always know what’s appropriate and what’s not.

Further, you may not have the time or even the writing ability to craft an apology in the right way or to correctly respond to a review.

Sometimes, hiring professional marketers or an online reputation management expert is the best course of action.

First of all, they have the time to do the research into what’s being said about you online. Additionally, they have the marketing experience needed to prevent you from making major mistakes in the first place.

And finally, they have the resources to actually address and fix the situation — instead of just ignoring it.

Need More Help With Online Reputation Management?

Remember — managing your reputation online isn’t always about avoiding mistakes. Instead, it’s about knowing the proper way to own up to them.

Looking for a reputation management professional with the skill set you need?

We can make it happen. In addition to managing your brand’s online reputation, we also offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PPC, website design, and several other online digital marketing services to take your brand to the next level.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking about your online reputation management strategy.

Instead, spend some time on our website to learn more about how we can help you avoid making costly mistakes that severely damage — or even outright destroy — your brand’s reputation.

When you’re ready to take control of your narrative, reach out to us to get started with a free marketing quote.

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Dallas Marketing Agency Wins AVA Digital Award for Roofer’s Website Results

Dallas Marketing Agency Wins AVA Digital Award for Roofer’s Website Results - Roofing Marketing

Recently, MarketCrest, LLC struck Gold in the form of an AVA Digital Award in the category of “Business to Consumer Website” for their client Elevated Roofing.

MarketCrest is a full-service SEO and content marketing agency located in the Dallas suburbs of McKinney, Texas. Its staff provides content marketing, SEO services, PPC marketing, website design & development, marketing automation, and consulting & fractional marketing services, to businesses across the nation and internationally.

In the award-winning case study submitted to AVA, MarketCrest outlines its combined effort with longtime agency partner Improve & Grow and Elevated Roofing to transform the roofer’s existing website with three goals in mind:

1. Convert existing website traffic (Free Roof Inspections) at a higher rate
2. Generate new website traffic to the new home page
3. Improve website visitor engagement/experience

In a unique and valuable partnership, MarketCrest and Improve & Grow worked side-by-side to execute an online marketing plan that proved incredibly successful exceeding even the client’s expectations.

• Website traffic improved by over a 100%
• Website form fills (request for a roof inspection) increased by over 300%
• Website conversion rates improved by over 100%

These results are in line with the results seen by other clients of MarketCrest, as the agency’s main objective is to generate website conversions and landing page conversions for their clients.

This is done by attracting online traffic with targeted content and paid advertising, engaging users on the client website, and turning those website visitors into potential customers via call-to-actions, contact us pages, website form-fills, and phone call tracking from first time visitors.

About MarketCrest,

MarketCrest, LLC is an award winning, Digital Marketing Consulting & Services firm specializing in client revenue growth. Simply, we exist to help our clients compete and grow… and we expect to be held accountable for their improved performance.

MarketCrest, LLC
105 S. Tennessee St. Suite 103
McKinney, TX 75069

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10 Reputation Management Tips From An SEO Expert

 

10 Reputation Management Tips From An SEO Expert

Ninety-seven percent of consumers in North America read online reviews to learn more about a business. If you are not taking an active role in how your business is being perceived online then it’s time to start.

Reputation management is vital to succeed online today. In this article we have compiled helpful tips to help you manage your online presence, respond and learn from and reviews, and discover how to use search engine optimization (SEO) to help your pages rank!

Let’s get started!

1. Create A Consistent Online Presence

In order to manage your online reputation, you need to BE online. Create accounts for your business that are applicable to your industry. These go beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Though, you should have those too!).

Do some research to find popular sites in your industry. For example, if your business provides home services, consider creating an account on Houzz. Are you a B2B company that’s looking for hot leads? LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups will become your kingdom.

Delve into the digital world and find your niche. Among the websites we’ve listed above, you can also create accounts on Pinterest, Flickr, and Vimeo. Keep in mind that not every industry will thrive on these platforms. Do some research of your own to find out if your business will be a good fit.

2. Make Social Media A Priority

Social media is no longer just for friends and family. Users are turning to social media to follow brands, learn more about a business, and of course, share their grievances with the world.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are replacing email complaints and comments. In fact, in the past two years, customer interactions on Twitter have increased 250 percent.

Reputation management begins with your customers. Respond to their comments, listen and always apologize.

Social media is an essential part of business today. These platforms are putting the user in your hand and encouraging engagement. All they expect in return is a response.

3. Don’t Ignore Google (Or Google My Business)

When it comes to reviews, Google should be one of your many areas of focus. With more than 3.5 billion searches made per day, you cannot afford to take a blind eye to your reviews.reputation management

Manage your online reputation on Google by claiming your Google My Business local listing and page. Manage your free listing directly, read and respond to reviews, and control your address, phone number, contact information, and photos.

An incredible 56 percent of local businesses have not claimed their listing. Be part of the proactive 44 percent that are taking reviews into their own hands.

Google reviews may be important but remember that Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare reviews can be equally important. Tackle your reviews on every platform for the best results.

4. Reply to Every Review

You cannot expect to effectively manage your reviews if you don’t reply. Reply to each and every review, the good, bad, and ugly. Avoid defensive language and always be gracious and genuine.

Users seek out reviews to see what others are saying. When users stumble upon a negative review that has not been replied to, they’re only getting half of the story. Reply promptly and offer compensation and your sincerest apologies. Not only do you have the potential to win back a customer, your genuine response may sway a prospective customer.

Replies should always be conducted in a timely manner. A great rule of thumb is to reply within 24 hours Monday through Friday, and 48 hours Saturday and Sunday.

5. Encourage Customers to Review

Studies show that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust friends.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews whenever your business completes a service.

Don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave reviews. If they’re thrilled with the service you’ve provided they’ll be happy to help.

A few clever ways to encourage reviews is to:

  • Ask in-person once service has been provided.
  • Include a link to leave a review on your monthly newsletter.
  • Make it easy to leave reviews by adding a “Leave Us a Review” button on your website.

Set internal goals every quarter to keep momentum and ensure that the number of your reviews never go stagnant.

6. Encourage Honest Reviews

Honesty is always the best policy. Everyone loves five-star reviews, but they should be earned, not just given.

Genuine, honest reviews are powerful tools for business. 

If you’re hovering around a 4 or 4.5 rating, don’t worry! 94 percent of customers said they’d use a business with a four-star rating and 68 percent claimed they trusted a business with a mixture of positive and negative reviews.

Encourage honest reviews of service and reply to every review.

7. Listen and Learn from Your Reviews, Even the Negative Ones

Reviews are windows into the services that you offer. Negative online reviews may be the byproduct of a bad day or peeved customer, but if you’re receiving consistent reviews mentioning a specific service or aspect of your business, listen!

Address any issues, be it customer service concerns or a specific employee complaint. Negative reviews are also an opportunity to build your brand. Genuinely apologize and offer compensation when it’s warranted.

What you don’t want to do is argue. Arguing a negative review is acceptable maybe one out of a hundred times… maybe.

One of the most popular “What Not To Do” examples is the now infamous Amy’s Baking Company.

On an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay met Amy and Salomon “Samy” Bouzaglo, restaurant owners in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not only did they refuse to believe any of their negative reviews–literal dozens of reviews–they actively sought them out and argued each one.

The episode and its subjects were so abrasive and unmanageable, focusing on each negative review as though it were a personal dig, it led to eventually closing their doors permanently.

If there was ever a cautionary small business tale about the importance of reputation management, it’s that one.

8. It’s Never Too Late to Apologize

Everyone has bad days, sometimes there are fires that you just can’t put out. If your business finds yourself on the wrong side of service, own up to it and apologize.

A genuine apology goes a long way online. Some customers may even respond with gratitude and understanding.

Apologize and offer compensation if you feel that it is warranted. Compensation can turn angry customers into satisfied ones. On platforms like Facebook and Google, the user may even edit their review to add a star or two and an extra line.

Customers check reviews before choosing a business. If they find a negative one, a genuine apology may be the deciding factor.

9. Don’t Stoop Down to “Trolls”

Negative reviews are almost a guarantee, especially once your business expands and has a few years under its belt. While there is a protocol when it comes to negative reviews, many businesses fail to anticipate are “trolls”.

A troll is internet slang for someone that consciously tries to stir up the pot by posting rude, inflammatory comments online.

If your business has the misfortune of being plagued with a troll or two, don’t panic, but act quickly. Don’t hesitate to block someone who is obsessively commenting, reviewing, or spreading rumors about your business.

The most important lesson is to not stoop to their level. Delete the comments, attempt to assuage the review, but do not fight back. If you reply with a vengeance, you’re only pouring more fuel to the fire.

10. Invest In Reputation Management

Reputation management is a round-the-clock job. The only downside to social media is that there are no “off” switches. Comments and reviews can come at any hour of the day, any day of the week. An upset or frustrated customer doesn’t take the day off.

As a hardworking business, you may not have the time to respond to each comment, every review, positive or negative. Crafting response after response takes a lot of time and energy. Enlist a trusted member of your team to help carry the load, or hire someone specifically for the role. Reputation management should never be left and forgotten. Have an active role online and you will control what is being said about your business.

Don’t be afraid to outsource the job with a third party reputation management source. Reputation management programs vary depending on your needs. While most are integrated with social media to monitor mentions and delete inappropriate comments, others have a more web-based approach to reply to messages and negative comments on posts or blog articles.

Trust us, it’s worth a little time and money.

Need A Helping Hand?

Reputation management will never be a “one and done” solution. It requires marketing expertise, hands-on management, consistent online content, and a whirlwind of patience.

Sometimes, you just don’t have time. That’s where we come in!

MarketCrest is an in-house marketing company that offers everything from SEO and web development to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and content marketing.

Sign up for an hour of free marketing consultation with an expert. Our award-winning team has helped local businesses and large corporations alike take control of their digital presence.

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