Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Study: 72% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

Study: 72% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

Study: 72% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

The findings of this year’s Local Consumer Review Survey (2012) show a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews.

Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.

About The Local Consumer Review Survey 2012

This online survey was conducted between 15th January – 1st March 2012. A set of 18 questions were put to a survey panel of 4,500 local consumers located in US, Canada and UK. We received 2,862 respondents.

This is the 2nd wave of the Local Consumer Review Survey. The 1st wave of this surveywas conducted in late 2010/early 2011. We compared results between the 2 waves (2010-2012) to determine any change in consumer attitudes and behaviour.*

The following results and charts are taken from Part 1 of the survey; Parts 2 & 3 will be released subsequently (expected: April-May 2012).

*2010 survey had 2,012 participants from US & UK, but not Canada.


Part 1: Consumer Attitudes & Consumption Of Online Reviews

Q1: How many times have you used the Internet to find a local business in the last 12 months?

There has been a significant jump in the number of consumers using the Internet to find local businesses, and the regularity of their ‘searches’ has also increased.

Key Findings:

Only 15% of consumers said that they had not used the Internet t0 find a local business (vs. 21% in 2010)

16% of consumers said they used the Internet every week to find local businesses (vs. 9% in 2010)

Q2: Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?

More consumers are reading online reviews now than 15 months ago, with 27% regularly reading online reviews when looking for a local business to use.

Key Findings:

27% of consumers regularly use online reviews to determine which local business to use (vs. 22% in 2010)

24% of consumers never use online reviews. (vs. 29% in 2010)

Q3: How many online reviews & ratings do you need to read before you feel that you can trust that business?

This year’s survey shows a decline in the number of reviews being read by consumers. Consumers are forming opinions faster and trusting reviews more, leading to lower consumption of reviews.

Key Findings:

65% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews (vs.58% in 2010)

Just 7% of consumers read more than 20 reviews (vs. 12% in 2010)

Note:  the total quantity of reviews a business has remains important. Having a high number of reviews gives users more confidence in star ratings (represent an avg. across all reviews) and allow users to feel more confident in the fewer reviews which they do actually read.

Q4: How do online customer reviews affect your opinion of a local business?

More consumers are reading online reviews and using them to form an opinion about local businesses. Positive reviews can establish greater trust in a local business.

Key Findings:

58% of consumers trust a business which has positive online reviews (vs. 55% in 2010)

Q5: How do online customer reviews influence your decision to use/select a local business?

More local consumers are now taking notice of online reviews and online reviews are an important factor in deciding which local business to use. Consumers appear to bess swayed by location and price which don’t represent any guarantee of quality or reliability.

Key Findings:

52% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if they have positive reviews

Just 28% of consumers cite location &/or price as main decision making factor (vs. 28% in 2010)

Q6: Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Appreciation and value of online reviews is growing as more consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Key Findings:

72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

Key Takeaways

The importance and value of online reviews is on the way up!

Local consumers are becoming more familiar with online reviews and therefore placing more value and trust in them.

Online reviews give users quick access to information which helps them make informed decisions faster and more easily than ever before. This growing trust means that users are prepared to make decisions based on fewer reviews.

The continued growth of mobile Internet usage (cell phones & tablets) means that more and more consumers will be searching and finding local businesses online.

The availability of clear and easy to consume review/star-rating content will become even more important to consumers and extremely valuable to local business owners.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

About The Author: Myles Anderson is Founder & CEO of BrightLocal.com. BrightLocal provides local SEO tools for local businesses; see their Research section for the latest findings about the local search market. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three Easy Steps To Measure Your Organic SEO Traffic; a secret to internet marketing

SEO organic links
Three Easy Steps To Measure Your Organic SEO Traffic; a secret to internet marketing

Organic liks are the bread and butter to expanding your web site traffic. They are not a quick fix like the golden arches, but the rewards are very significant.

Organic linking is the development of hypertext links between web sites with or without an explicit agreement to exchange links. Organic links are more likely to appear in a context relevant to the subject of the target document, which makes them useful for search engines like Google search that rank pages according to their links.

Good SEO makes organic links

In my opinion, one of the best ways to measure to overall success of your SEO campaign is to look at your organic SEO traffic. Rank just isn’t a good SEO metric for a variety of reasons including the increased personalization of search, the impact of social signals on the search results, the effect of local SEO on search results and more. A site’s rank changes too frequently to be a viable method of measuring your long tern SEO success. Looking at your organic SEO traffic, however, can give you a much better idea of what is going on.
How do you measure your organic SEO traffic that is a direct result of your SEO efforts?

1. Start with a traffic overview.
Using your analytics tool (I prefer Google Analytics because you may as well get the data directly from the horse’s mouth), start with an overview of all the traffic that has come to your site in a given period including SEO traffic, PPC traffic, direct traffic, branded traffic and so forth. This number is the total amount of visitors that have come to your site. Google Analytics does a good job of breaking it down into traffic sources so you can see exactly which sources are sending the most visitors to your site.

2. Segment down to organic traffic.
Now the trick is to weed out all the non-organic SEO traffic, so the next report you should pull should be strictly search traffic. It’s important to make sure that you are only looking at non-paid traffic so you aren’t lumping PPC visitors in with your SEO visitors.

3. Remove branded keywords.
At least in Google Analytics, when you zero in on the SEO traffic, the report also pulls a list (up to 500) of the most used keywords to find your website. You can export this data into an Excel spreadsheet and organize it alphabetically by keyword. In order to determine your true organic SEO traffic, it’s important to remove any and all branded keywords from your list. While SEO can definitely help build your online brand and introduce it to whole new audiences, pure SEO traffic comes from non-branded keywords that drive visitors who have never heard of/interacted with your site before over.

The keywords and numbers you are left with are your organic SEO traffic numbers! In order to determine if your SEO is working, you can compare these keywords/numbers to the same time period in the previous year before you launched your SEO campaign. In addition to sheer percentage growth, it’s also worth comparing your keyword lists. What new keywords, either ones directly targeted on the site or long-tail variations of them, are popping up in the new data that weren’t there last year? Every new keyword that drives visitors is a results of your SEO efforts.

Steu Mann is an SEO Specialist. He has been successfully working with online technology since 1997. Follow him on Twitter at @EzWebManifest. Subscribe to receive Free Web Site Tune Up Tips at ezwebmanifesting.com

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Internet Marketing, five reasons videos are hottest internet marketing technique

five reasons videos are hottest internet marketing technique

Internet Marketing, five reasons videos are hottest internet marketing technique

Online video is becoming a first stop for many customers, it's an excellent method of internet marketing.  Because this technique is fairly new, its' development is comparable to where web pages were a decade ago — something that can give early adopters an edge over competitors. It gives them a channel to talk directly to customers in ways previously accessible only to large companies that could afford TV advertisements. According to Website Magazine, video is a driver of consumer confidence. Consumers are willing to watch videos 60% of the time they are found.

Video results appear in about 70% of the top 100 listings, the type of content most often displayed in universal or blended search results. (Marketingweek, 2011)

Short of getting a customer in the door or sending a salesperson on the road, online video may be the best way to demonstrate a product. Visitors who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy than visitors who do not. (Internet Retailer, April 2010)

It is easier to win customers if you give them a reason to tune in. Blog posts incorporating video attract 3 times as many inbound links as blog posts without video. (SEOmoz, October 2009)

Use video for creative purposes like your newsletter or your periodic update to clients and customers. More than three out of five consumers will spend at least two minutes watching a video that educates them about a product they plan to purchase, and 37% will watch three for more than three minutes. (MarketingCharts.com, 2012)

#5 OFFER INSTRUCTION Online video makes it easy to follow the adage “Show, don’t tell.” Many businesses have turned to video for instruction manuals and how-to guides.

You can tell somebody over the phone to turn the screw in the top right corner, and they might understand what you mean and they might not. If you show them on a video, they get the point. A recent Cisco survey of US and UK consumers finds that shoppers prefer to research products online prior to making in-store purchases and recommends making video content available in-store by kiosk, touchscreen and smartphone integrations. (Internet Retailer, January 2011)

Steu Mann 541 210 4375

This article may be reproduced and distributed as long as all content remains intact as it is shown herein.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is Your SEO (aka Internet Marketing) On Auto Pilot?

Is Your SEO (aka Internet Marketing) On Auto Pilot
Is Your SEO (aka Internet Marketing) On Auto Pilot? 

Let’s be clear, to qualify your site as having an existing online marketing program or internet marketing plan there must be - at a bare minimum - these characteristics:

  1. A key word phrase implemented on individual web pages
  2. You have an active blogging presence
  3. You are regularly posting in social media networks
  4. Your pages offer at least one connection opportunity to visitors
  5. You provide visitors opportunities to satisfy that “impulse buy” factor with your online store

There are plenty of SEO tools and software programs out there that can help automate some of the aspects of your SEO program, freeing up your valuable time so you can focus more on other SEO-related tasks like content creation and blogger outreach that can’t (and shouldn’t) be automated. I’m all for finding new ways to be more efficient and maximize the return for my time, but site owners need to be careful that they don’t get mistake efficiency for complacency. 
The bottom line is this, you want to streamline your SEO program, but don’t put it on autopilot.
What does SEO auto pilot look like?
  1. Only going after easy link exchanges
    Link building is still a valuable component of any SEO program, but Google’s crackdown on web spam in 2012 means good link building isn’t as simple as building links wherever you can find them. Easy links might look nice on a monthly report  but their long-term value usually doesn’t amount to much. 
  2. Not updating web page content regularly
    Leaving the same content spread on your pages stagnates your web reputation. In the short term it is good for your search engine results, but even your ranking there will suffer if your content never changes. Whatever your content is, it has to be informative and educational. Of course, making it entertaining is likely to produce some short term interest.
  3. Redundant outreach program
    Using the same email to blogs hosts to request guest blog spot is almost something a software program can do. You want to create personal relationships with folks who allow you to do guest posts. By sending the same email to each blog owner there is no personal touch and that is not the web reputation you want to promote.
What are three actions that will stream line your SEO and internet marketing program?
  1. Remove all non-relevant links to your on your web pages.
    Only exchange links with sites and blogs that have content matching or aligned with your content. This type of link building takes time but the payoff is BIG in your page rank score and in determining how you will appear in search engine results.
  2. Update your web page content regularly.
    Once your site is soaring in the search engines then it’s time to revise the content around different themes (phrases and concepts). This is easily accomplished without losing the rankings from your existing page content. The goal is to attract new visitors and build a consistent stream of reoccurring visitors which is only achieved with fresh content.
  3. Create a diverse organic network
    Your material must be located in other places along links back to your site pages. This tells the search engines you are the web and it also gets you in front of new audiences. When you are creating personal relationships with other site owners and blog owners you are building an organic network that is a very powerful tool in
    delivering your message(s) around the globe.
In summary, three essential fundamentals to an outstanding SEO and internet marketing program include 1) building and enhancing your organic network, 2) providing rich content opportunities to educate visitors, and 3) offering multiple connection strategies to your visitors that will bond them with you.
Steu Mann is an SEO Specialist. He has been successfully working with online technology since 1997. Follow him on Twitter at @EzWebManifest. Subscribe to receive Free Web Site Tune Up Tips at ezwebmanifesting.com

Monday, March 18, 2013

Does Digital Marketing Produce Improved Marketing Over Yellow Page Ads?

Does SEO & SMM yields improve marketing over Yellow Page ads
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) are newer marketing tools than yellow page advertising.  While all three have the potential to reach a diverse audience, which is the best suited to accommodate the morphing attention spans of consumers in this digital age? A recent report by analyst firm Gartner predicts that digital strategies like social and mobile marketing will influence at least 80 percent of consumers’ discretionary spending by 2015.

To get started I wanna make sure we all understand the same definition of SEO, SMM, and Yellow Page ads.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.[jargon] In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image searchlocal searchvideo searchacademic search,[1] news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. A corporate message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it appears to come from a trusted, third-party source, as opposed to the brand or company itself.[citation needed] Hence, this form of marketing is driven by word-of-mouth, meaning it results in earned media rather than paid media

Yellow Page Advertising
 Traditional paper phone book that is distributed freely. Also, there are numerous directories of phone books on the web for free that act a an online yellow pages.

There are three reasons that any financial investment you make in SEO and/or SMM will yield higher results than spending money in yellow pages. Why? The internet is causing people’s habits to change. Two examples of these changes include more print publications go out of business (ADAGE) and, most recently, more than 50% of all Americans get their news from the internet, not television news (PEW).

1. Larger 7/24 audience
The online audience is growing by leaps and bounds over all age segments. It is easy to access the development of cell phones and mobile devices. Most homes, schools, businesses have internet service. What is easier, go to your favorite search engine and google ‘your city name plumber’ or go find a phone book and look it up. First you would have to remember where the yellow pages are instead of pulling our your phone or opening your computer.

Who Uses Internet?
The majority of employed adults (62%) use the internet or email at their job, and many have smart phones that keep them connected even when they are not at work. (PEW)
What is Audience of Social Networking?
Internet users under 50 are particularly likely to use a social networking site of any kind, and those 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic cohort to do so (83%). Women are more likely than men to be on these sites. Those living in urban settings are also significantly more likely than rural internet users to use social networking. (PEW)

Internet users

What do internet users do?
Internet users

2. Make Lasting Impressions
SEO and SMM make lasting impressions. They are not a publication that comes and goes. When SEO and SMM are done correctly, they continue to expand your web presence.

Reports indicate that users of search engines most often click links that are not ads. Those non-paid links are called “organic” links. In order to be visible on the first page of search results you have to take appropriate steps - read this link - to establish your web reputation

The time proven test for making yourself visible as an organic link on the first age of search results is to 1) managing your meta tags, 2) create relevant links to your site (back links), 3) establish a web reputation using internet media and social networks, and 4) be an active blogger. If someone tells you they are going to do SEO for you, that plan best include those four activities or else you are going to be scammed ... so shame on you because you have been warned in advance.

3. You Own Your Results
Its your business, so it follows that you need to have 100% ownership of your marketing resutls. This is the beauty of SEO and SMM. Your web site directly benefits from all online material: other web pages, articles, blog posts, posts in social marketing sites, and so forth. When you place an ad in the yellow pages your exposure is limited to the printed publication. In some cases yellow page ad folks say they will place a free web site for you or charge you an extra fee to produce and maintain that site. You have to ask your self, “What good is a web site unless it can be found in the search engines?” With that understanding you can ask them how they will specifically accomplish those steps to create organic links I mentioned above. 

Make no mistake about it, unless you have an active plan to create organic links on the internet to your site; you are a boat without oars, no engine, and no sail. Get my drift?

In summary, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) increasingly show improved results that demonstrate they are valuable methods to marketing your products and services. In any online marketing endeavor you are enhancing your web reputation when your marketing plan includes creating organic links back to your pages or blog. Compare the facts and services of SEO, SMM, and yellow page advertising to better understand what you are paying to receive, how long those benefits will last, and the reach to potential customers you will achieve.

Steu Mann is an SEO Specialist. He has been successfully working with online technology since 1997. Follow him on Twitter at @EzWebManifest. If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe to receive Free Web Site Tune Up Tips at ezwebmanifesting.com.