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Step 11 to SEO: Internet Partners

Have I been building relationships with non-competing companies?

Why would I need to build relationships with non-competing companies, unless they’re stakeholders in my business?

Two things:

First of all, everyone is a stakeholder in your business.

Second, It’s not all about you and your business.

Just kidding! It actually is, but it’s also all about the other guy and how you can help each other out. You know, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

But rather than risk collecting someone else’s dead skin cells and DNA under your nail bed, let’s view this idiom through the lens of online business and internet marketing.

Forbes noted that “the best way to create a consumer Internet company worth north of a billion dollars is to build a digital transaction business – a company that connects buyers and sellers so they can more efficiently transact.”

So north of a billion dollars is rather ambitious but hey, we also don’t want to limit ourselves so let’s just say that anything is possible.

Now, in my opinion, this statement doesn’t target a particular type of business; this is every company that’s in the business of selling a product or service online.

Let me illustrate:

You have a dog training niche website that sells every possible thing a dog lover could want. Out there in cyberspace, exists a really cool app that measures your dog’s health, sort of like Fitbit, but for your pooch.

With this app, you can time your dog’s walks (and yours, incidentally), find breed-specific diet recommendations, manage your dog’s vet check ups, create a feeding and med schedule, and monitor his vitals. It’s even shareable so when pooch goes to the sitter, they have an automatic detailed set of care instructions without you having to list everything out.

Photo source

This is an ideal non-competing internet partner. You can install a link to download that app on your site, and that app can link to your site for extended, comprehensive information and all the cool doggie merch you sell.

Further, you can also link up with local vets, doggie daycares, and pet insurance companies, so that you’re providing your customer with a toolkit of dog care products and services.

The most important thing in all of this is that they can all drive traffic to your site.

Why Should I Purposefully Create Internet Partners?

It’s probably going to happen organically and randomly after all, why is a strategy necessary?

Think about it this way:

When you hit the gym, it’s for a purpose: to achieve your fitness goals, whatever they are. If you just allow the randomness of Nature or Chaos Theory or the Cosmos to guide you to it, you’ll end up on your couch eating cheese doodles and watching Game of Thrones, wondering why you have to undo the button of your jeans every time you sit down these days (I speak from experience).

The same is true for digital marketing relationships.

Every success starts with a goal.

And every goal starts with a strategy for achieving it.

A strategy involves a set of actions or behaviours that help you reach your goal.

You simply can’t get the goal unless you have some idea of what you’re going to DO (binge eating junk food and watching Netflix ain’t it).

But this is not a blog about productivity (though we could all use a little brush-up on how to be more productive), so I’ll get to the point.

Let’s look at what those actionable steps look like in your Build-BOSS-Net-Buddies strategy (Yes, I just used the word BOSS as a synonym for awesome. No, I’m not 21 and hanging-10).

Step 1: Go Local

Start with citations.

Create online citations so other local online businesses can find you. To learn more about how to do that, check out our Step 5 to SEO blog: Local SEO.

Step 2: Be Present

Develop a social media platform and get active.

I can’t stress how vital this step has become in this Insta-age. People won’t even go to a restaurant these days unless they’ve scoped out entire menus, read related reviews, and seen a catalogue of food pics first.

You need an online presence to be anybody now.

The great part is that it helps you find non-competing companies to hook up with. Even just a few minutes scrolling, searching, hashtagging, and commenting is time well spent.  

Photo source

Step 3: Network

Reach out to other companies and offer them something of value.

Remember the I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine idiom? Here we are. People love givers so be the first to give. You’ve got to give a little to get a little so don’t be afraid to spend your time or expertise helping other people.

This is where you get creative. How can you share your product or service with non-competing companies in a way that truly benefits them and also helps to promote your business?

For example, as a local SEO company in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, I’ve connected with dozens of local businesses in my community through a network called Java Jolt. It’s a member-led group of business people who meet up to help each other out and build a supportive network. From there, my network of contacts exploded and I’ve got partnerships with just about every industry you can imagine. (If you want to know more, check out my interview with Whitby’s Chamber of Commerce).

Now I had a starting point with which to offer my service to companies who needed some digital marketing expertise, perhaps a little nudge in the right direction. This contributed to my professional reputation in all the right ways and I got to meet and help some really cool people and be part of some interesting projects.

The Bottom Line…

Forging new relationships is a vital part of any business development but it’s absolutely crucial for SEO. It’s the other less technical, softer and squishier side of SEO because it deals with real, honest, and often face-to-face interaction if you’re sticking local.

Consider all the people, consumers, businesses or otherwise who search and buy based on recommendation. Consider all the times you’ve searched for a product or service based on someone else’s recommendation.

So the bottom line is, if you want to show up in an online search, Build-Boss-Net-Buddies. That is, create and foster giving relationships with non-competing companies.

Logging out,

Logical Mix

STEP 6 TO SEO: Reviews

Do I have a strategy for gathering reviews from happy customers?

Happy customers leave great reviews.

The number-one, not-so-secret strategy for achieving high customer satisfaction––which causes them to leave positive reviews––is giving them the very best user experience possible.

Let’s assume you’re already doing that (of course you are).

We know your business is awesome. But every once in a while, someone comes along and says something negative about it. And they post it on the web for the whole world to see.

This is both a problem and an asset.

It’s a problem because of what Craig Bloem reports on Inc.com:

“Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they make that decision quickly: 68 percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.

Yikes! (Of course that’s good news in the case of great reviews––which we’re going to help you get).

What people say about your brand can either promote it or destroy it––sorry to be blunt, but research shows we’re more likely to report on a bad experience than a good one. Bad stuff makes better stories, and people love telling stories.

The kicker is that quality beats out quantity when it comes to reviews. One bad review is worth about three good reviews. So even ten incredible, amazing, super-duper reviews are virtually worthless if you have three bad reviews.

This is where most business owners feel a little uneasy because of their inability to control what is said about their product or service offering. Except that’s not entirely true.

Remember I said they’re also an asset?

Reviews are a bit like press exposure: even bad press is good press. Negative reviews are free user-generated content which helps SEO efforts. You might be surprised to learn that once people are on your site, bad reviews have very little to do with how long they stay or how well they engage with your site––keep reading to discover this juicy little stat.

But of course, we don’t want to generate bad reviews just to boost our ranking.

Negative reviews are the insight that helps you improve your already awesome business to make it even more awesome and enhance the customer experience, which organically influences more reviews of the positive variety––and we like those.

You can also take key steps to direct and influence the quality of reviews and ultimately, your business’s reputation. And depending on how you deal with negative feedback, you can transform it into more sales.

The main aim of the game though is to get as many happy customers as possible leaving a review so let’s take a look at how to do that.

How Can I Get Satisfied Customers to Leave a Review?

Give them a voice and let them know you’ve heard it.

Every great business has a solid customer correspondence strategy, whether it’s the people you hire to manage customer feedback or the quality of your email newsletters.  

But it’s not a one-sided conversation. You have to give your customers a voice too, so you can gather insight into how to improve and maintain the quality of your product or service.

And when they leave a positive review you want to jump on it, right?

Word.

But why is that so important?

It is a simple psychological truth called positive reinforcement. People like to be acknowledged. When their “good behaviour” is recognized, they are more likely to continue it. This encourages others who are also vying for recognition, to share their experience too (if you’re not convinced, observe a class of kindergarteners for five minutes as the teacher praises one or two students for good behaviour––it’s a teaching strategy, why not a business one?)

<iframe src=”https://giphy.com/embed/mWZNzV2scR01G” width=”480″ height=”270″ frameBorder=”0″ class=”giphy-embed” allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href=”https://giphy.com/gifs/mWZNzV2scR01G”>via GIPHY</a></p>

One thing to keep in mind here is that good reviews influence other people to leave good reviews. It’s something the industry calls social proof (I call it snowballing), and it looks like this:

Determine which review websites to use and provide your customers with several options.

Type “[your industry] + reviews” into Google and see what comes up in the SERP to determine which one is best for your business. Some platforms keep reviews exclusive; others syndicate them to other sites. Check out this graphic from Phil Rozek:

Source: MOZ.

Ask your customers to leave a review and make it easy for them.

This is so obvious that many business owners overlook it. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Make sure you ask customers for a review soon after their purchase so their experience doesn’t fall from memory. It’s an act of kindness on their part (though I might argue it’s consumer responsibility), they’re not getting anything out of leaving you a review. Don’t send them through a matrix to help you out. Send them an email with a simple call to action.

But go one step further here. While a good review is great, a story is even better. So, in your invitation, ask your customer to “tell us a story about your experience”. It reads like you’re more interested in them than in getting something out of them––which, of course, you are––and they are more likely to provide more details about what they liked because you prompted them to.

Digital Alchemy: Transform negative feedback into sales

Sounds too good to be true, right? I mean, how do you turn a lump of coal into a pot of gold?

More than 65% of users will read four or more reviews before they trust a brand:

Consumer trust is one of the biggest factors in conversion rates and negative reviews make your brand more trustworthy. One online source reports that 95% of people suspect fake reviews if they don’t see any negative feedback.

Further, less than 1% of consumers will actually leave a site after reading a bad review (there’s that juicy little stat I was telling you about).

A few bad reviews peppered in amongst all the good ones give your potential customers a reason to believe the content in the good reviews––and it prolongs their engagement on your site.

But there is a critical point here––owner response to negative reviews. It is the alchemy that transforms those not-very-nice words into powerful sales pitches. This is an opportunity to  demonstrate your superior customer service publicly.

Respond quickly (within 24 hours if possible).

Acknowledge the customer’s concern authentically, sympathetically, and politely.

Offer to make it right.  

A few more bonus tidbits of info…

Did You Know?

  • Reviews influence your rankings in local search engines.
  • GMB (Google My Business) pages that have reviews mentioning a keyword or a city name tend to have higher rankings in Google’s local three-pack.
  • Yelp, Google, and Facebook are three major review platforms that customers can use to join an online discussion about your business.