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.

Good, Better and BEST Online Reviews

  Image Source_ Huffingtonpost.com

In addition to last week’s message on Pay-Per-Click ads, I’d like to propose another goal for your business to work on in 2017 – online reviews.

Google’s search algorithms tend to favor two types of businesses – online retailers and brick & mortar shops that do business at their location. Neither of those describe most Chem-Dry franchises where you operate out of a home or shop and service a specific area. But there seems to be a workaround – REVIEWS.

What Reviews are Best?

When it comes to valuable reviews, I’d put them into three tiers: Good, Better, and Best.

If you’re going to put resources behind acquiring online reviews, I feel it’s worth going after the ones that are going to do you the most good.Here’s what I mean.

“Good” Reviews

Really, any review is good – wherever you get it. Some  websites, however, are more accessible to people than others and can have a higher payoff.

For instance, I would put the following websites in the “Good” category because of their visibility online, their influence on your own website presence, and difficulty to get them:

  • YellowPages.com
  • HomeAdvisor.com
  • AngiesList.com
  • Thumbtack.com
  • CustomerLobby.com

You’ll notice a trend here. These are typically websites that are aimed at helping the in-home service industry, which is not a bad thing. However, (with the exception of YP.com) you have to have an account to really view or leave a review on those sites. If you do a significant amount of business on those sites (I know some of you do), then go for it – especially if your customer came from that site. But if you’re looking for general reviews, I’d focus elsewhere.

“Better” Reviews

For the same reasons I mentioned earlier, some review sites
that I’d put into my “Better” tier are:

  • Yelp.com
  • Bing.com
  • Yahoo.com
  • Amazon.com
  • BBB.com

I’d put these sites into the “Better” tier because they will play more readily into search algorithms that benefit your business and are more visible and highly-regarded resources. But, once again, they’re not what I’d rate as “the BEST”.

The “BEST” Reviews 

There are two review venues that, to me, qualify for the “Best” tier and I’ll explain why.

Google: Google reviews are the crème de la crème of reviews. They’re the hardest to get, but they’re also the most valuable as they are built right into their search algorithm. They are the fastest way to climb the ladder in the Google Map listings and “Snack Pack”. HOWEVER, in order leave a review on Google, the customer has to have an active Google account, not just a “gmail.com” e-mail address. While most people who have a “gmail.com” e-mail address also have an account, it’s not everybody.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, and for that reason, it’s a FANTASTIC resource for getting reviews. Almost everyone you service has a Facebook account and logs in daily, so they’re familiar with it. It’s easy for them to leave a review. PLUS, in order to do so, they’ll usually “like” your page and see updates from you afterward.
Facebook is also aiming to become a one-stop-shop for many commerce solutions, which means they’re doing a lot of work to SEO and making sure businesses show up on relative Google Searches – they WANT Facebook to be a part of the purchase process. When you get reviews on your Facebook page, you’re getting endorsements on a very visible platform that can turn into a LOT more business.
Who Can Help?  
I’ve written before about easy ways to get reviews and simple practices that can increase your marketing database. But you’re busy. I get it. Who else can help you get these reviews? We see so much value in getting good, valuable online reviews that we’ve done a load of legwork to help connect you with some of the best vendors in the world to get your business noticed. Here are a few we’ve recently partnered with and what they do:
*****Disclaimer***** These vendors provide tools for your use. They are only as valuable as you make them.

ReviewTrackers: If you’ve subscribed to a Premium  listing on Local Search Directory (ChemDry.com), you automatically get ReviewTrackers for free. I explain more about how it works here.

Broadly is a new PAP partner that has a very impressive résumé. They’re an integrated review platform that utilizes cookies and online sessions to streamline the process of posting online reviews. They’ll be at our convention in Nashville and I’ll be hosting a webinar with them early in 2017. You’ll be amazed at what they can do.

Podium: (From the their product page) “Podium brings your business’ reputation, from across the web, into one centralized place where your can effectively build and manage your online reviews from multiple sites. With Podium, it’s easy to see your portfolio of online reviews to make faster, better-informed decisions.”
So Tell Us: So Tell Us recently joined us for a webinar where they explained what they’re all about – video reviews. Yes, that’s right. Think about this for a second. You’re not just getting a text review from people, you’re getting video. Of their face. Saying words. Posting to your various websites. Can you imagine how valuable that is to viewers? Instant credibility.
Big Takeaway:
It’s Business 101. Your satisfied customers are one of your best assets, not only for getting repeat business, but also for finding new customers. You need to be getting reviews online. Want to get more in the “BEST” tier?
  1. Create a business Facebook page. Here’s how.
  2. Create a Google+ Business listing. Learn how.
  3. Schedule some time with me to go over a strategy for getting more online reviews.
Take control of your social media today and establish a better future for your business. Then 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.



Changes – Part II

Last week, you read an email from me that may or may not have rocked your world. It seems every time Big Bad Google makes a change of any sort, the internet let’s off a huge *gasp*. Well, make sure you’re sitting down for this one.

sidebar-elimination-example.sm_Last week, I showed you this picture on the right and told you about how the new search results page would be changing by dropping the sidebar ads, making it ever more important that you aim for the top three spots in ad rankings. If you missed that post, you can find it here.
While what I said is still true, I’d like to add something to it. Look just below the ads where you see the map and all the little red dots. Yep, the Google Map listings.


Put Me On The Map
I’ve had a lot of people ask me how to show up in the Google Map listings, and I discuss that more in-depth here. The answer is to get more Google reviews. They’re the crème dela crème of online reviews. They literally are the most valuable reviews you will ever get, but they’re the hardest to get. But, why?
The short answer is that Google doesn’t necessarily make it easy for any John Doe to go and leave a review. You have to have a Google account. In other words, Google has to know who you are.
But wouldn’t it be great if you had a tool that would help you reach out to your customers and request those super-valuable reviews? Believe it or not, the magical solution is to get a Local Search Directory Listing. No, I’m not kidding.
How Does Local Search Directory Get Me Reviews?
Well, the honest answer is that it doesn’t do it automatically, but it gives you the tools to do it. When you subscribe to a Local Search DirectoryPremium listing, you automatically get the Review Trackers service (usually a $50/mo cost) for FREE!
Review Trackers is a dynamic program that lets you automatically send your customers an email right after you’ve worked in their homes. In the email will be an invitation to give you a private review on a scale of 1-5 stars. If they respond with a 4-5 star review, you get the update and they get an automatic response thanking them for the great review. They’ll also be asked to share their review on your Google Plus, Yelp and other accounts that are linked in the email.
If, for whatever reason, they decide that you deserve a 0-3 star review, you get an update and you’re encouraged to call them backimmediately to offer to fix whatever problems they had and help them turn that poor review into a 5-star.
AND, guess what happens when you get a review posted to those sites? Because your Local Search page is linked to your Yelp and Google Plus pages, they automatically update to your Local Search page and help you stand out as the awesome franchise that you are!
What Now?
So, what do you need to do to take advantage of such a breakthrough?
  1. Get a Local Search Premium subscription. Call Web Marketing Services for more information.
  2. Get the links for your Yelp and Google+ pages so they can be linked on your Local Search page.