Mid-May Marketing Recap & SEO News

SEO
Matt Cutt says, “Pretty much every SEO should watch this video…(unless you prefer surprises)”. Watch it now!

Social
Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive Mike Jeffries speaks candidly: “We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Talk about a social media fail and PR flop!

Local
1.1 million local businesses have claimed their profiles on Yelp. The company said that this is an astounding 58% increase from the first quarter of 2012. Read more here.

Mobile Search
Straight from Inside AdWords, shoppers who use mobile more are more likely to spend more in store.

Have any other stories that caught your eye so far this month? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Quotes to Make You Think About Your Online Reputation

A recent article by VentureBeat found that Amazon is in the business of deleting negative reviews… but only for their own shipping service. Although this might seem like a convenient way to deal with bad reviews, there are more consequences to think about. Check out these 10 quotes on the importance of maintaining a good reputation:

1. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
Warren Buffett

2. A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.
Baltasar Gracian

3. Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
George Washington

4. Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.
Elizabeth Arden

5. Ones reputation is like a shadow, it is gigantic when it precedes you, and a pigmy in proportion when it follows.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

6. Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs.
Anthony J. D’Angelo

7. Unfortunately, your reputation often rests not on your ability to do what you say, but rather on your ability to do what people expect.
Bryant H. McGill

8. A reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.
Ernest Bramah

9. There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.
Brian Koslow

10. Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Abraham Lincoln

Make sure to also read our related posts:
What We Can Learn About Taking Criticism & Reputation Management
Why You Should Never Immediately Delete a Negative Comment
Managing Your Online Reputation

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Building Authority and Trust with Testimonials

testimonialsWhat’s the big deal with testimonials? As a small business, it’s important to recognize that potential customers place a lot of weight on reviews and that they are becoming increasingly influential. Testimonials can make or break your business’ credibility. In fact, a study from earlier this year shows that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Many small business owners fear customer reviews, especially sites like Yelp or Citysearch where customers can “bomb” their listing with bad reviews. There are aspects of reviews you can’t completely control, but it’s important that you monitor your online reputation and respond in a timely and sincere manner. Reviews are important to customers because it helps them determine if the business is reputable and trustworthy. Here are 4 easy steps you can take to buildup and showcase positive testimonials:

Make it Easy for Customers to Review and Leave Feedback
This is where an easy to access Testimonials page on your site can help. You are in complete control of this content and you can also add success stories, effective case results and other content to supplement positive customer experiences. It can also be as easy as leaving a Leave Feedback button or dedicated space on your site.
Some businesses even post links to all their listings to make it easier for customers to find. For example, have a page with links to your Google + Business/Bing/Yahoo local page, Yelp, Super Pages, Kudzu listings and more. That way, customers don’t have to go digging around to leave reviews and leave them in the appropriate place.

Asking for Reviews
If your business is lacking online reviews, it doesn’t hurt to ask recent clients for an honest review. The key here is to ask them for a testimonial and not to push the fact that you are expecting a “good” review from them. Make your customers feel important and let them know that you will take their questions and concerns into consideration. You can make it convenient by showing customers links to your Google Places page, Yelp page, and other reputable review sites.

Send a Form for Testimonials
After a project is completed, you can also e-mail clients a generic form to fill out. This eliminates the hassle of asking them to sign up for review sites in order to leave a review for your business. These reviews can be placed throughout your site and expanded on through Case Results, press releases and even blog posts.

Implement Microformats to Highlight Positive Reviews

Have you been noticing 5 star reviews (not related to review sites) like this showing up? This snippet makes a big impact if you’re on the first page for competitive keywords and will help bring in more clicks. Learn more about how you can easily implement that on your own site here.

Add Video Testimonials
Adding videos of actual customer testimonials is an easy way to add a personable touch to your website. It’s one thing to talk about yourself and the effectiveness of your business, but testimonials from a real-life client brings that trust to a whole ‘nother level. Learn more about video marketing for your business here.

For some businesses, gathering and monitoring reviews may seem like an afterthought that takes up too much time. Remember, it is the little things such as this that will help build credibility and trust which will help bring in more conversions and that’s what matters.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

What We Can Learn About Taking Criticism & Reputation Management

Sometimes, the blogosphere feels like a small place that is relaxed and almost too casual. As a regular reader/blogger you might feel the need to respond immediately to criticism. But as a owner or manager, you have to think about how your words will reflect upon your brand or company that you represent. There is no exact science in how you should respond to “negative” comments you come across and there might not even be a need to respond sometimes.

What brings me to this point is some comments in this article about ranking decreases on Search Engine Journal. (Interesting and valuable read, I might add.) A self-proclaimed SEO at JCPenney made some comments and you can read them for yourself – was this really necessary over 1 year after the “event” had taken place. I know this wasn’t an official statement but it seemed off-putting to me. For those of you who are fuzzy about JCPenney’s run in with Google’s penalization, this may refresh your memory.

Anyways, here are some takeaways from that are inspired by this dialogue and others like it:

1) Don’t appear so defensive – This is something that we all see so often. Many people feel the need to come out with fists flying and like they are so offended that they have to put up a defensive barrier. Even though a timely response is seen as a good thing, it doesn’t help to post an emotionally charged response without thinking things through. This might be ok for flame wars or YouTube comments but not if you’re representing or associated with a company. What’s even worse… immediately deleting a negative comment.

2) Don’t change the subject and bringing up other irrelevant topics – Another thing that is common is to try to shift the focus and somehow turn the blame on the comment/commenter. When this occurs, with especially a valid point, it makes your company seem less credible and trustworthy. This reminds me of a client who got a negative comment and responded by shifting the blame on a name mix-up! As in… “It wasn’t us! It was someone who went by a similar name who happens to be in the same area…” Regardless of the situation, it’s important to present a calm response and take the conversation off a public forum. Reputation management should not consist of the blame game or being so eager to teach a lesson to people who don’t agree with you.

3) Don’t not provide a solution – One thing I don’t get is when responses don’t provide a solution. While you could go back and forth on criticism made, it doesn’t help to bring up the past and not show what you are doing to improve the situation. This is what effective reputation management is all about, going forward and focusing on the good that the company can provide.

4) Be positive and useful – Sometimes, things just come across more cold and unfriendly in text. This isn’t to say that you should be overly enthusiastic but you should be mindful of how your responses are read and if it’s easy for an angry or sarcastic tone can be applied to what you wrote. If someone has an opposing view, you can respond with your side of the story and facts to back it up. It’s not as simple as just telling them that they are wrong or that they don’t know the whole story without presenting any credible proof – especially if you’re focused on maintaining a company’s integrity and image after a mishap.

This post isn’t about ragging on jcp, as it’s just small example of many situations. It’s a difficult position to be in to respond to negative comments and we can all learn from these and be prepared. If you have any other thoughts on responding to negative comments and such, it would be great to hear it.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Web Hosting Solutions for Small Businesses

Website hosting is an important but often overlooked step when preparing a new site. Whereas some may think to find the “cheapest” option available, it helps in the long run to choose a company that can accommodate your business needs. Cheap is cheap and you get what you pay for in web hosting. That doesn’t mean that you have to pay a monthly fortune… but instead, be more aware of the options you have and the ones you should look for:

Reliable servers – Does the company have a good track record? Search the company name + reviews to find out what other customers have to say. When your site is hosted on an unreliable server, your site may go down. Your site could even be hacked and injected with virus – not a fun thing to deal with or explain to clients!

Watch out for hidden fees – While some companies offer a low upfront fee, they may try to tack on additional costs when you need something else. For example, fees for email, website backup, and fees to transfer a domain – which is something that should commonly be included in the price you initially pay.

Customer service that’s readily available – Nothing’s worse than seeing that your website is down and having no one to help you out. Let’s say you sell jewelery online and your site is down during peak-Valentine’s Day buying hours. During this precious time lost, you will be losing potential customers and there’s nothing that you can do to make it up, except prepare for precautions in the first place. In a more serious scenario, imagine that the company operates on limited hours and is not open during the weekends. Who will be there to help you when you need assistance? Can your business really afford to wait?

Flexible options – All small businesses are not alike and understandably so, you should have a variety of different hosting options. Make sure that you don’t get locked into something that you don’t understand clearly and that there is room for upgrades or downgrades, if necessary.

Here are some helpful resources to check out before you choose a web host. And if you need the opinion of a website marketing firm, we’re always here to help!

10 Worst Web Hosting Providers as rated by About.com readers
Website Hosting Buying Guide by CNET
Web Hosting Reviews – 7052 Web Hosting User Reviews

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Seasons Greetings!

merry christmas
The Emarketed team wishes you a very Merry Christmas! Celebrate, relax and have a good time with your family and loved ones!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Why You Should Never Immediately Delete a Negative Comment

If you receive a negative comment, reply or message on any of your social media profiles, your first instinct would probably be to delete it before anyone sees it. But you can turn this negative into positive if you resist the urge to delete.

Resisting the Urge

Let’s say you do get rid of the comment – you’ll also immediately lose the chance of getting more information about that customer and getting to the root of their (and your) problem. As much as we’d like it to, deleting this comment won’t make the angry customer go away. What’s even worse is failing to recognize if your business or employees have wronged a customer. We’ve all heard that a satisfied customer might tell a few of their friends about your business. But an unhappy customer will go out of their way to let the whole world know!

Making Your Problems Worse

In fact, it could make your online reputation problems even worse. Have you ever heard of a little thing called Ripoff Report? This site is notorious for publishing all types of uncensored complaints from customers. The real kicker is that they NEVER (or almost never) remove these complaints, whether it’s unwarranted or not.  So, before you know it, that one quip on Facebook could turn into a permanent black mark on your brand’s name.

A Quick Response is Better

If you delete a customer’s comment, it will only make them more angry and ensure that you’ll lose their business. Instead, try to reach out on the public forum to show that you take customer service concerns very seriously. Converting a once unsatisfied customer could turn them into a new brand ambassador for your business, and at they may even follow up on their initial complaint. The bottom line is that you need to show that you’re paying attention to their comments and complains instead of just trying to make them disappear.

With the instantness and speed of social media sites, it’s important to learn about how to respond to all types of comments. Oh yeah, don’t forget to keep everyone on your team up to date about the response protocol. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open so that you won’t have to fear a negative comment again!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.