Advertising on Google for Free

Yes, you read that correctly – FREE. Doesn’t cost you a dime. And it’s easy. We’re not talking about the complexity of AdWords. This is something you could do from your phone. All you need is a few minutes.

Google “Posts”

Google My Business has recently released a new feature called
“Posts” that allow you to highlight specials, services, and other media directly below your Google listing in search results.
See the example that I’ve shared below where TNT Chem-Dry in Nashville has leveraged the space below their Google listing to feature a special for carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, and highlighting their reviews. This costs NOTHING! Let’s show you how to do it.
TNTCD Google Posts

Creating “Posts”

Start by signing into your Google My Business account. When you get to your home screen, you’ll see a menu like this over to your left.

You’ll not only have access to your reviews and other information here, but you’ll notice the “New” feature pointing to “Posts”. Click there.



On the next screen, you’ll see something that looks like this. If you click anywhere in the white box, you’ll be given a screen like the one you see below.

Now you get to create your post.

I’d recommend doing something with a picture that you either downloaded from the Gateway or a high-resolution photo you took yourself. Maybe a before/after shot.

You can also make it an “event” adding dates for the promotion and create a button to drive action like “reserve” or “get offer” which take them to a page on your website.

The Finished Product

By the time you’re done, you should have something resembling what you see to the right.

I’ve highlighted the allergen study results, added a time frame, and made a compelling offer for people to call.

It took me about 5 minutes to put this together. See how easy it is?

Big Takeaway:

It’s not very often that Google gives you the chance to advertise for FREE. Take advantage of every opportunity they give you. This will be especially relevant if you’re working on building up your online reviews, too!
  1. Update your Google My Business listing.
  2. Pick 2-3 pictures that you can create a “post” with.
  3. Make some alluring posts that can drive customers to call your business!
This is a HUGE opportunity that can really benefit your business. Don’t miss out on it! If you’d like some help, click here to schedule an appointment with me.

Courting Your Customers – Part I

If you’ve been following my blog for the last little while, you’ve probably noticed that I’m on a bit of a reviews kick. That’s because it’s something that’s so easy to do that can have a HUGE impact on your business.
I’d like to take a different spin on it today, though. Let’s look at it from your customer’s point of view.

The No-Longer Blind Date

Remember the last blind date you went on? I do. It was… awkward. Largely because, no matter how much the people who set me up told me about my date, I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. The people who set me up are only going to say good things about my date because they want me to have a good time and make a connection. If only there were a way to find out more about my date… Oh, wait! There’s this new thing called the Internet!
That’s right. Thanks to the magic of Facebook, Google, and the like, we can hunt down just about anyone and find out more about their personality – especially the weird stuff.
So, when a potential customer gets a recommendation from a friend to call your business, you have the opportunity to have many of your past customers vouch for you. They talk about their experiences with you and set up expectations. And if you’re working on your social media presence, you can talk about things you’re going to do for your customers.

Building a Reputation

The best and easiest way for you to build a reputation online is through reviews – especially Google reviews if you can get them. But here’s the trick – you can’t expect customers to be so elated that they just can’t wait to look you up and write a glowing review. You have to ASK them.
I wrote a while back about how to create a link to send via text message for customers to leave a review. It’s not complicated and it pays off. The key is to catch your customers in the apex of their emotional satisfaction – as soon as they see how good everything looks/smells. That’s when you say, “Mrs. Jones, I’m so glad you liked what we did today. Would it be alright if I send you a text message with a link to leave us some feedback online? Would you prefer Google, Facebook, or Yelp?”
Darryl and Teresa Adcock of Northern Utah Chem-Dry started doing this in February of this year and, as of today, have TRIPLED their Google reviews. It works! Now whenever a customer is thinking of calling them, they know they can call with confidence.

Coming Next Week

We’ll continue this topic next week with what you could/should be putting out into the world on Social Media and other places online that will help to enhance the impression you have on potential customers.

Big Takeaway:

Customers hate gambling with their business. If you can do things to make them feel more confident in calling you, you’ll gain more market share and lifetime customers.
  1. Be aware of what people are saying about you.
  2. Make sure you have Google, Facebook, and Yelp listings for your business to collect reviews.
  3. Create links that can be sent via text message to take customers directly to leave a review.

Reviews are Reviews are Reviews

I’ve had a lot of people ask me over the past few weeks what they can do with reviews or feedback they’ve received over the years that didn’t “qualify” as official Google or Facebook reviews.
They’re not useless. Here’s what you can do with them!

Quote Them!

If you’re like many business owners, you’ve gotten comments, thank-you cards, e-mails, and text messages in the past years that have told you how much they appreciated your service. And, while they don’t count as official reviews unless the customer logs into their account and leaves it on your Facebook or Google profile, you can still use them (with their permission, of course!). 
Say Mrs. Smith responded to a follow-up e-mail where you just checked in after the job to make sure that everything ran smoothly. If her response says something like:
“Joe did a fantastic job. I’ve never seen my carpets look this clean. I’m going to tell all my friends and neighbors about you guys!”
Do you think that’s worth sharing? Absolutely! Quickly reply back to her and ask if you quote her on your website or on Facebook using only her first name, last initial, and city. Chances are, she’ll be fine with it. Hey, she may be willing to even go there and write it herself!

Snap It!

There’s a fair chance you’re reading this on a device that can help you here – your smartphone. If you received some feedback from a customer – especially hand-written – you can take a quick snapshot of that feedback and share it on Facebook, Google, Instagram, anywhere! A hand-written note is SO much more credible to the viewer.
If you decide to post it to social media, quote the note in the caption for it in case the handwriting may be difficult to read. Once again, cite the person’s first name, last initial, and city.
Big Takeaway:
You work hard to make your customers happy, so you should absolutely use every bit they give you back to its fullest potential. If you can’t get an official online review, you can still use what they give you.
  1. Always invite customers to leave you reviews and feedback on Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
  2. Quote your satisfied customers on social media to add credibility to your work.
  3. Use visual media to enhance your results by sharing pictures of handwritten reviews and feedback.
To stay relevant in the online business world, you need reviews. You should do everything you can to get them – in whatever form they may take.

Make Reviews a Priority this Year!

Quick Review-Getting Tips for Your Business
 Source_ www.kudobuzz.com
At our national convention this year, one of the big messages throughout many of our sessions was the importance of online reviews. Not only do they tell potential customers how awesome you are, but they’re now one of the #1 looked-at sources of information on a businesses’ trustworthiness and level of service. They’re also a HUGE player in how your business can get found online.

Getting Reviews Can Be Simple!

At convention, we introduced several vendors that all offer services to help you get reviews that will improve your online presence. Of the lot, one of my favorites was Podium, and I’ll explain why.
When it comes to getting online reviews, you need to either catch people in the emotional moment of satisfaction, or remind them of it. One of the best tactics I’ve seen to get reviews is doing it in the customer’s home directly after the cleaning is done and you’re performing the post-cleaning walk through
In a nutshell, Podium offers an app on your phone that allows you to send a text message or email link to the customer right away. When the customer opens the link, Podium’s software scans the phone to look for active logins like Google and Facebook, giving them a seamless way to promote reviews on the site you want most. You also get a dashboard that tracks reviews and flags any negative responses that may require your attention.
It’s really a neat system that coordinates some of the key activities at key moments. And, since Podium is a PAP, they’re offering Chem-Dry franchisees a special discount on their services. Contact them at www.podium.com and mention that you are with Chem-Dry and reap the benefits of this useful tool.
If you want to do a home-spun version, here’s a quick tip that you can use in your customers’ homes to get more reviews.

Create a Short URL

That’s right. A short URL allows you to share a specific webpage with a customer without taking a ton of space.
This makes it perfect for use in a text message, tweet, or even a Facebook message.

You can use any service you like whether it be Bit.ly, Ow.Ly, or Goo.gl to do it. But the principle is the same – it’s easy and it takes up less space.

I recommend Bit.ly because you can create a free account that allows you to make custom URL’s (that you can name), and also see tracking/analytics on the links as well.
Here’s what I mean:

Get Your Link

Do a quick Google search for your company by name. Go ahead. Open a new tab and do it now. Here’s one I did for one of my wife’s favorite restaurants: 
You might have to scroll down a bit, but you’ll see on the right hand side of your screen a “Write a Review” button.
When you click on that button, a new URL will appear in the address bar up at the top of your screen.
Highlight it, and copy it (Ctrl+C).
Now, open up a new tab in your browser and go to one of those URL shortening tools I mentioned earlier. I’ll show you Bit.ly.

Make it Short

Now that you’re on Bit.ly (I recommend creating a free account. It only takes a minute.), click the “Create Bitlink” button.
Now you’ll paste the long URL from your Google “Write a Review” button. It will look something like this:
The link will automatically shorten to something looking like this:
Now, you can be done here if you like. That link is yours and you can track it easily.
Or you can take it one step further – Customizing it so it appears more official to your customer.
Highlight everything after the “bit.ly/” and start typing something short, but custom. Your business name, for instance. If you plan on doing this for other sites like Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, or others, you may want to add some sort of letter or number code to the end so you can keep track of it.
In this case, I added “Goog” to the end to let me know this is the Google link.


Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Now that you have these incredibly useful links, you can use them to invite customers for reviews. It’s easy.
As you’re wrapping up your work and getting ready to reload your equipment, you approach your customer (who’s probably been on their phone a considerable amount of the time you were there) and say:
“Hey, Mr./Mrs. Brown, could I send you a quick text message with a link to leave us a review?”
Since you most likely already have their phone number from when you booked the appointment, I’d bet 8-9 times out of 10, they’ll agree. Simply type in the number, paste the link with a message like “Find us on Google here: ______________.”
I’ve seen a dozen or so cases where this has resulted in a 5-star review by the time you’re driving away. The biggest reason this works, is because you’re doing it NOW versus in a follow-up e-mail or phone call (not that you shouldn’t do those).


You can be strategic about which links you send to your customers. 
If you notice that Mrs. Brown is using an Android device, there’s a good chance that she has a Google account, so you may want to send her the Google link. There’s a lower chance of success for Google if she’s on an iPhone.
You can also ask if they have a preference. Say something like “Would Google, Facebook or Yelp work best for you?” A regular Yelp-er will opt for that because it helps their standings.

Big Takeaway:

 Your business needs reviews. It’s a key strategy to winning online business and gaining the trust of your customers before they ever pick up a phone.
  1. These vendors and methods are just tools. You only get value out as you use them.
  2. Near the end of every interaction you have with your customers, invite them to rate their experience by leaving a review.
  3. Whether you hire a vendor or do it yourself, the bottom line is to DO IT.
You can take control of your online reputation today and establish a better future for your business. You can register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.

3 Steps to Getting GREAT Google Reviews

I wrote this summer about getting more Google reviews. It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact it can be incredibly simple. No matter what anyone tells you, “Google” is the final word in valuable reviews. Period. The end.
Google reviews play heavily into your placement in local listings (like the infamous “3 pack”) on Google search results. They’re the single best way to increase your influence in a market.
The challenge comes, though, in getting them. Customers have to have a Google account in order to leave a review there. BUT Google accounts are becoming more and more common nowadays, so the window is opening.
Here are 3 simple steps to getting Google Reviews that will help your business.

Step 1: Get Your Link

After you have a Google My Business listing, all you need to do to get your link for customers to leave reviews is this:
  1. Go to Google.com yourself and type in your company name.
  2. Click the “Write a Review” button on your business listing.
  3. When the review box comes up, highlight the URL in the address bar.
  4. Press “Ctrl+C” to copy it.
After you’ve done this, I’d advise pasting it into a word document or an e-mail to yourself so you can save it and keep for later.

Step 2: Write An E-mail

Now, before you start sweating thinking this will need a lot of work, DON’T. The review request e-mail you send, can be super short. Like, less than 10 words. I’d also recommend copying this into a word document (possibly the same one you used for the review URL above), so you can copy and paste it into individual e-mails.
Shelly Browne from All-Star Chem-Dry in Kennesaw, GA has had great success by using this tactic in a follow-up e-mail that’s closer to a simple “Thank You” note. This is literally all it is:
[Customer’s First Name],
Thanks for letting us serve you! Please give us a review! (Underlined portion is programmed with the review link.)
Shelly Browne
All-Star Chem-Dry
[Phone Number]
[Street address]
[City, State, Zip]
That’s it!
Short. Simple. To the point. In the past year, she’s added nearly 40 Google reviews only by e-mailing customers after they’ve had their carpet cleaned.

Step 3: Send!

Take 10 minutes at the end of every day and send the e-mail you wrote to every customer you serviced that day. That few minutes every day can help you to climb your local rankings and ensure your customers are satisfied.
If it was the difference between booking them again 9 months down the road and having to find a new customer, would you do it? Of course!

Level 2 Tips:


If you’re so inclined and feel comfortable doing it, you may want to add some other review site options into the e-mail. For instance, consider using your company Facebook page.
After Google, I’d rank Facebook as the #2 place to get reviews. Why? Because EVERYBODY and their dog has a Facebook account, and it’s incredibly easy to leave a review there. Facebook is also making big strides into online commerce, so their algorithms will soon be optimized to show more prevalent than many other online venues.
Filter Your E-Mails

Instead of e-mailing everyone in your database at the end of the day, you may consider sending Google review requests only to customers who use a “@gmail.com” domain name. That way, you know they have a Google account and should be able to leave a review quickly.

Big Takeaway:

You have customers who are ready and waiting to give you a Google review. You just need to ask them!
  1. Get Your link.
  2. Write your e-mail.
  3. Send it.
It’s that easy. Take control of your business’ reputation today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.

Getting More Google Reviews

Just when we think we’ve figured them out, Google goes and changes everything. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING, but it sure feels that way.
What’s Changed?
A while back, Google made a change to the way your Google Business (aka “Google My Business”, aka “Google Plus”, aka “Google Places, aka “Google My Cat”) page could receive reviews. It used to be that they required people with a Google account to go to your company’s page and click through 2 or 3 pages to see your reviews, then click “Write a Review” in order to start the process. Well, that’s changed.
A lot.
It’s All About the Search

It appears that Google is trying to make people spend more time on their search results page (which makes them money). The best way for people to leave a review on your Google page is actually to find you through search, meaning they have to go to google.com and search “Scott’s Chem-Dry” for instance. Doing so will bring up my business listing on the right side of the screen. On that listing, you’ll see a button that says “Write a Review”. Clicking it will bring up a screen that looks like this:
I can then write a review in for the company (as long as I’m logged into my Google account, which most people would be).
But Wait! There’s MORE!
That’s kind of a pain, isn’t it? What if your customer misspells the name of your company? What if they just type in “Chem-Dry” and accidentally leave a review for another franchise?
In our society of short attention spans, we essentially have to make everything quick and fail-proof for our customers. Well, there’s a solution for that.
Right now your customers would need to:
1) Go to Google.com
2) Type in the name of your business with correct spelling (sounds easier than it is)
3) Click on “Write a Review”
3.5) Sign into their Google account (if they’re not already)
4) Write the review
5) Submit the review
Here’s what I’d do.
1) Go to Google.com yourself and type in your company name.
2) Click the “Write a Review” button on your business listing.
3) When the review box comes up, highlight the URL in the address bar.
4) Press “Ctrl+C” to copy it.
You now have a link that anyone can use to bring up the “Write a Review” page. What can you do with a link like that? All kinds of stuff!
Where To Put It
Using your email database that you’ve worked so hard to develop, you can sort out customers with a gmail.com address (because you KNOW they have a Google account) and send them a request to leave you a review.
Review Trackers:

If you are a ChemDry.com Local Search Directory Premium subscriber, you automatically get access to Review Trackers (click here to watch a webinar about it). The Review Trackers system will automatically request reviews, and show people where to publish it when they give you a good one.Program this link into the emails they receive so they know right where to go.
QR Codes:

Remember these things? Yeah, those silly-looking codes you can scan with a smart phone and have it take you to a web-page? If you’re reading this on a computer, scan that code with your phone. See where it takes you. I dare you.

Really, though, these are great tools to use on leave-behind cards. Say you leave a job from a customer’s house when they’re not home. You should have a card that you can leave behind inviting them to leave you a fantastic review because you did such a fantastic job! You just made it easy for them!

Big Takeaway:
The biggest obstacles business owners face is the number of steps it takes to get them. Do whatever you can to eliminate as many steps as you can. And then offer an incentive of some sort ($20 off their next cleaning, for instance).
Here are you steps for this week:
  1. Make sure your Google Business listing is up (click here if you need help).
  2. Google your business name. Click the “Write a Review” button and copy the address (and resist the urge to leave yourself a review. Google sees through that).
  3. Sign up for August’s email webinars where we’ll use that link to send to past customers and request reviews.Click here to get notifications for upcoming webinars.



Click-to-Call Accessibility – Are You Leaving Money Online?

2016-03-23 17.23.59You know when you Googled that restaurant on your phone last Friday night and Google offered to let you call right from the search results? You used a function called “click-to-call” which is becoming an increasingly popular method of reaching potential customers. In a day and age where everyone wants to know everything and they want to know it NOW, it’s become a necessity if you want to stay current.
Last year in the US alone, our economy saw $1.12 TRILLION in business sourced to click-to-call phone calls (made from mobile phones, obviously). That number is expected to grow by roughly $110 Million in 2016.
Can you believe that?!
Which will make you wonder – “Is my website mobile friendly? Can customers click-to-call when they Google for a carpet cleaner?” If your answer is “I don’t know”, I have a few suggestions for you.
These are the things you MUST do in order to capitalize on this surge in technology.
1) You MUST have your phone number registered with Google My Business listings.
2) You MUST utilize “Call Extensions” in Pay-Per-Click advertising (check with your vendor if you aren’t sure if you’re doing them).

3) You MUST have a mobile-friendly website that prominently shows either your phone number OR a “call button” (like in the picture on the right —–>) so customers can reach youquickly. A microsite from HRI is automatically responsive to mobile devices. ChemDry.com is also mobile responsive. However, the chem-dry.net websites are not “mobile friendly.” This is one major reason we recommend utilizing a microsite in addition to your .net.
If you’re not utilizing the ease of click-to-call technology, you’re probably leaving money online and not optimizing that Search Engine Optimization you and your vendor have been working so hard on. Make sure you do!

What’s a Review Worth?

In my daily interactions with franchise owners, one of the most common questions I get is: “What can I personally do to improve my franchise’s SEO standings?”

Well, it’s pretty easy, actually. The answer is getting online reviews. Particularly Google reviews.

Think about the logic for a moment. What do you think most people type into Google search when they’re looking for a carpet cleaner in your area? Usually some variation of “carpet cleaning (insert city, state)”. So it makes logical sense that if your franchise is well-recognized in your area as a good carpet cleaner, you have a good chance of showing up in Google search just based on your reviews.

google maps reviews

Click on the picture above. You see the three listings at the top? Now, all of us know that the only reason they’re out-ranking the Chem-Dry listing is because they’ve got more reviews (they’re obviously not better). Google’s algorithm is designed such that it gives preference to listings that are deemed more “legitimate” because of the reviews.

Now, the great thing about Google reviews is that they play a much stronger role in your SEO rankings than other review sites (such as Yelp.com, YP.com, etc.). They’re also fairly accessible. For instance, can you imagine how many more people have a Google account as compared to a Yelp account? No contest.

I’m not saying that Yelp and YP.com aren’t good places to get reviews. They are, but they have limitations on “weight” when it comes to how much they influence your ranking in search results. Millions of consumers use sites like these to get “shop around” for service providers. Other sources may be Angie’s List, Customer Lobby, Thumbtack (though it’s a little different), Screaming Tree, and LOADS of others. It’s definitely useful to have listings with these websites and directories, but none of them have the clout that Google does for advancing your ranking.

So what do you need to do?

First, set up a Google business page.

Second, make sure that your website has a proper link to your Google business page. (It’s easy to do from your Gateway. Click on “Webmaster.” Go to “Custom Settings”, select the website you want to add to, scroll down and expand the “Social Media” section. In the field under “Google Plus Listing” paste in the URL for your page. Click “Submit” down at the bottom and the change will go into effect with the next update cycle – within 24 hours.)

Third, request reviews. You can do that in a couple ways.

  1. E-mail the customer (assuming you’ve collected their email address like you should) thanking them for the opportunity to come and clean their home. Include a link to your Google page and request they take a moment to leave a review.
  2. As you’re packing up after a job, have your customer access your Google page (either through your website, or by looking you up on Google), and have them leave you a review on their mobile device*.
  3. Use Review Tracker from onTrack (coming soon!).
  4. Get creative. However you can convince people to go to your Google page and get a review from them will improve your chances of showing up in the next search.

*The advantage to having them leave a review from a mobile device is that they’re likely already logged into their Google account. AND, since it’s on a mobile device, Google recognizes that as a review that’s more likely to be “real.” Plus, it triangulates their location so that when someone nearby looks up carpet cleaning, you’re more likely to show up.

When you get your company listed and good reviews coming in (because, let’s face it, you’re all going to get 5-star reviews, right?), you’ll soon find Chem-Dry DOMINATING your territory and leaving those “other guys” in the dust.



Setting Up a Google Business Page

If you’re just getting your business started, it’s imperative to your success online to establish a Google Business page. It’s where your future customers can find your: location, services and, most importantly, REVIEWS.

Because you’re an exceptional carpet cleaner, you’re going to do an amazing job cleaning every customer’s home. They’re going to be thrilled with your service and you’re going to ask them to go find you on Google and leave a review. They’re going to go online and help you gain traction in your market with every review.

Here’s how to get your page going if you haven’t done so already:

  1. Go to www.google.com/business. It will take you to a page that looks like this:Google Business Pg 1
  2. Click on “Get on Google” either in the middle of the page or up in the top right. You can also click on “Sign In” if you already have a company Google account. If you don’t, that’s fine. You can create one.Google Business Pg 2
  3. You’ll be shown a map of the US. You’ll search for your business by name. If it doesn’t come up in a search, you can click on “None of these match – Add your business.” Google Business Pg 3
  4. Add your business information on the following page. ***Make sure you check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations.”***Google Business Pg 4
  5. Then you’ll select a service radius (unfortunately, you can’t just select a county) or add zip codes to a list.Google Business Pg 5
  6. Agree to the terms of service, and verify that the contact information is correct.Google Business Pg 6

Once you’ve confirmed this information and you’ve agreed to the Terms of Service, you’re all set up. You’ll now have a Google+ page for your business. You can start posting as a business and start taking reviews. Have your customers search SPECIFICALLY for your company name. You’ll show up on the right-hand side of the page in search. Customers can click “Write a Review” and sing your praises to future customers.

You’ll be glad you did this. Trust me.

– Scott