Business owners have become accustomed to regularly seeing new additions and changes on the search results page of Google. On August 6, 2015, Google shook things up for local businesses once again by shrinking their seven pack local listings into a consolidated three pack, referred to as the “local stack.” Suddenly, 57% of businesses that appeared on the seven pack lost their first page visibility. Rather than going up in arms about the new changes, businesses can now embrace utilizing Google+ as a tool to help them earn one of those coveted three spots on the local stack. While it is rare for Google to be cut-and-dry about their next additions and latest updates, one certainty in these changes is business reviews via Google+ will be imperative for top local results. Let’s take a look at how to use reviews to get found on the local stack.
A brief history of Google+
In 2011, Google+ was launched with the initial intent of overthrowing the social media giant we all know as Facebook. The initial platform would allow users to share interests and photos as well as connect with friends. Many users found these features to be so similar to Facebook that it failed to impress. A major turnoff for both businesses and casual users alike was the mandatory Google+ signup in order to use additional Google-owned sites such as YouTube and Google Play.
Fast forward four years to 2015 and Google announced that they will no longer make signup mandatory to use of other Google websites. You simply just need a Gmail account with no obligations to use the Google+. There are now over 500 million users on Google plus making it the second largest social network just second to Facebook.
Using Google+ to get Business Reviews
Google has always done a nice job of offering subtle kickbacks to its active users. One of the most prominent examples of this is prioritizing businesses that get a lot of reviews on Google+. Due to Google revoking mandatory signup to utilize Google services, you now simply need just a Gmail address in order to leave a review. In other words, unlike Yelp, Angie’s List, and other local directories, you do not have to sign up for something new.
Now that we’ve explored how easy it is to leave a review, how do you get your clients to actually put in the legwork of reviewing your services?
Simply put … ask them. I know – we want to get stuff done using a dashboard and move on. But let’s remember clients and customers are flesh and blood with their own needs and feelings. When you do something that satisfies your client’s needs – ask for a review. If they’re online shoot them a request – and ask for a review. In a perfect world you should be able to ask them to VISIT YOUR SITE, and click on the “Review Us” button, that takes them to your social media page’s review section. Including of course, Google +.
Rather than question Google’s motives and stress over lost visibility, business owners can now embrace a rhyme and a reason behind using Google+ to drive them. Utilize Google My Business to help you build local citations and make comprehensive listings. It can help you ensure local search success and longevity in the three slot local stack by:
- Making sure you have accurate citations
- Generating quality links
- GOOGLE+ CUSTOMER REVIEWS!
Follow these guidelines and see how Google+ reviews can improve your online presence and help you maintain one of the three spots in the local stack. It takes determination and skill – but success almost always does.
Online marketing has changed rapidly over the past few months. Once (August of this year), online multifamily marketing was conducted almost solely through internet listing services – Apartmentguide.com, Apartments.com etc etc. These are aggregators of a great number of apartments throughout the country. Using a search engine to find a property, these would always come up first, and it was only through searching these internet listing services a community would be found. Making it even harder, listing services charged properties to get a high ranking within their site. Smaller properties, were often over-looked, pushed away from the first page of results.
There has recently been a change to search engine algorithms, offering a preference to local businesses over the large aggregators. When you search for properties in Fall 2015, the internet listing services will still show up, but above them a handy map showing properties near the user. This new phenomenon is known as the Local Stack, and it’s a BIG deal. The Local Stack means properties once been buried under pages of results on an internet listing service can now be FOUND ON THE FIRST PAGE of a search. The Local Stack shows only local properties and NO – repeat no listing services are shown. Fifty percent of all online searches are done on mobile phones. For mobile users the Local Stack is even more revolutionary because the it’s the first thing to show up while doing a search, making your multifamily community is even easier to find.
Of course, one wants to know how to take advantage of this seismic change to the industry. The biggest gateways are reviews on sites with high domain authority, optimized websites, and making sure the search engines aren’t confused by ill-informed directories that point to your site. If you have a well-constructed website page and are receiving reviews, you can well find your community located in the Local Stack. It takes two things to get found in the Local Stack. Skill and determination. Finally the odds are stacked in your favor to get found by your prospects – without spending an arm and a leg on listing services that are becoming increasingly irrelevant to your success.