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Google Reviews: Why They’re Important and What to Do About Them

Why GMB Reviews Are So Important

What we’ll cover in this post:

  • The importance of Google reviews to your online reputation
  • How to respond to both positive and negative reviews
  • A step-by-step how-to on the process

In order to get the most out of your Google My Business listing, it is important to keep up with reviews on a consistent basis.

Responding to Google reviews is just as influential as the reviews themselves. It provides prospective customers with a feel for what you’re like, encourages more customers to leave reviews, and can sometimes result in people amending their initial negative reviews and ratings to positive ones.

gmb review example Responding to reviews will also help you to stay on top of your online reputation, make improvements where necessary, and identify strengths to focus on.

It is important to take special consideration when replying to negative reviews. Be professional and calm when responding to these while also providing either an explanation for the negative experience the reviewer had or a resolution.

If there is no explanation, or if you feel the reviewer is being dishonest or misrepresenting their experience, it is never a good idea to express this in your response.

In the case that a disgruntled person or business competitor is deliberately committing libel or slander there are further actions that can be taken, but that is a bridge to be crossed when the time comes, and going about this is to be resolved circumstantially.

How to Respond to Google Reviews

Here is a step by step guide on how to respond to your Google reviews:

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access the Google My Business dashboard by navigating to business.google.com.

 

 

If you own or manage your business listing but are directed to a page with a search bar in the center that prompts you to “Find and manage your business,” no need to fret. Simply click on the Google My Business logo in the top-left corner of the page.

 

 

Step 2
Click the three horizontal bars in the top left-hand corner and click on your listing from the “Locations” menu.

 

 

Step 3

To the left, you will see a panel containing multiple options (“Home”, “Posts”, “Info”, “Insights”, and below “Insights”, “Reviews”). Click on Reviews.

gmb diagram
It will then, at the top, show you all of your reviews which you can sort by All, Replied, and Haven’t Replied. To the right of these options, there will be three horizontal lines. Click on this to see further ways in which to sort your reviews if you wish to, such as ranking them from highest to lowest or vice versa.

At the bottom of each review, you will see an option to Reply. Simply click on this, type your reply, and click Post Reply. If you have already replied to a review, instead of presenting you with the Reply button you will see the option to either Edit or Delete your reply.

 

Responding to these reviews, good and bad, is essential for local SEO. We hope that this has helped you understand Google Reviews the process so that you can climb your way to the top 3.

 

“Google My Business A to Z” – The Complete Course Pre-Release Announcement

Learn Google My Business from the Experts

If you follow us here at Horizon Web Marketing you know that our passion is for training business people to untangle the world of digital marketing. We conduct workshops and webinars, we even have our own training channel, the Horizon Web Marketing Academy.

So we’re excited to be putting the final touches on one of our most ambitious projects ever: the Google My Business Complete Course. It’s a deep dive into Google’s primary tool for local business people. But even though it’s a “deep dive,” we never go over your head with our training. Lead SEO trainer Ross Barefoot puts everything into plain business English.

The course is broken down into easily-digested modules and you get a full PDF ebook with the course contents so you can refer back whenever you need. Not only that, we give you lifetime access to the course.

Now we haven’t set a price yet, but we will soon. If you want to be notified as soon as we price and release this complete course, please fill out the form to the right and we will make sure you get all the details promptly.

The full information on the course, including the course contents, is listed below, so read on to see why we’re so excited!

Class Release Notification GMB

    I have read and understood Horizon’s Privacy Policy.

Are you in business? Then “Google My Business” is important to your success.

As a business person, you already know that Google is important. For all of the press coverage Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, and other platforms receive, a Google search is still the most likely way a new customer will find you online.

 

 

image of knowledge panel with indicator for Google My Business

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

But most businesses still don’t know how to effectively engage with “Google My Business,” the free management tool that Google has developed to allow businesses to communicate their critical business information to Google. If you’re not familiar with Google My Business (let’s just call it GMB for short), it is a special database that feeds business information into the results that searchers will see about you on Google Maps and in the Google “Knowledge Panel” (see next image).

Drawing of complicated knots to illustrate the complexity of Google My BusinessUnraveling Google My Business is Hard

Although many business owners have explored their GMB account (and more probably have not), very few are not intimidated by it.

First, GMB changes almost weekly, with new features, removed features, changed features. It’s Google’s usual pattern: constant change.

Second, GMB changes from one business to another, so it’s very hard to know how it will appear to any given business, at least when it comes to details of their account.

Finally, it’s not always intuitive. We understand Google does the best they can to make it intuitive and to inform their users, but as with any incredibly powerful software tool, it’s very hard to know what the platform is capable of, and how to access subtle but critical features.

All of this is not to mention the fact that Google has rules and policies surrounding what data you enter and even how you enter it.

Our newly redesigned GMB course is meant to address and remove all of those obstacles for you, the mystified business owner.

We Walk You Through All the Google My Business Features

Our course covers the complete list of GMB features and does it in plain business English with plenty of illustrations and explanations. Just look at the list of modules:

  • Business visibility and Google: what it looks like
  • Factors for good visibility: what will help your listing show
  • A tour of GMB: what’s in the box
  • Typical business action items, overview: here’s your beginning to-do list
  • How to find your business listing: sometimes it’s a treasure hunt
  • Claiming your listing: hey Google, that business belongs to me!
  • Setting up a new business: just getting started? Here’s how!
  • Verifying your listing: prove it’s yours, and not someone else’s
  • Optimizing your business name: keywords, stuffing, and (almost) unwritten rules
  • Determining your business categories: one list to rule them all
  • The importance of how you enter your location: what’s in a (street) name
  • Hours, more hours, and even more hours: And you thought you worked enough hours already!
  • The subtle importance of how you represent your phone number: after all, it’s your lifeline
  • Location links: lots of ways to bring your customers back home
  • Attributes: Google giveth, and Google taketh away
  • Your Business Description: Time to really use those keywords
  • Posts: Microblogging is back in again (take that, Twitter!)
  • Q&A: create your own powerful FAQs, just for GMB
  • Insights and Analytics: who, what, when, how many…understand your audience
  • Reviews: the two edge sword and how to keep it from cutting you
  • Using the GMB Mobile App: sometimes nothing else will get the job done
  • Photos and Videos: leveraging visual assets for a visual age
  • Business-Specific Offerings: Services, Products, Bookings, Menu
  • Tips Multi-Location Businesses
  • GMB Websites: A great tool, but hardly a “website”
  • Users and Access: It takes a team to make GMB succeed; here’s how to manage it
  • Duplicate Listings: Sometimes more is actually less
  • Getting Support from Google: the secrets of the temple
  • Dealing With Spam: the mosquitos of the GMB world

 

Google Does SEO, and They Claim it’s Important to their Success

Every few months it seems I read a post somewhere that proclaims that SEO is dead, or a sham, or useless. So it was gratifying to see that one of the organizations that does NOT buy into that assessment of Search Engine Optimization is Google themselves.

Some of what Google had to say about its own SEO is very important for small business owners. Here are the key points you can learn from this revealing Google post…

Video Review: Google Lighthouse SEO Audit Tool

Did you know that Google has its own SEO Audit tool? It’s part of their “Lighthouse” suite of webmaster tools, which now is itself incorporated into the developer tools that are built into the Google Chrome browser. (Lighthouse is also available as an extension for Google Chrome, which makes it conveniently accessible from the browser toolbar)

In this video review review I take a look at the SEO audit portion of Google Lighthouse. It certainly sounds promising, and after all, if it’s from Google isn’t it from the horse’s mouth? Spoiler alert: it’s not a replacement for a real SEO audit. Have you used Google Lighthouse? Do you like it? Hate it? Are you mystified by it? Watch the video and add your own comments and questions below.

Google Lighthouse Review: Video Transcript

Hi. This is Ross, with Horizon Web Marketing and it’s time for another SEO checker review. I’ll be right back.

As you probably know, I’ve been working through these free SEO checkers that are online tools that purport to give you an overview of the SEO potential of your website. In most cases, you go to a website, put in the homepage or any page, sometimes, of your website, and you click a button and they’ll give you a report.

SEO Checkers in General

Those tools are often referred to as SEO checkers, SEO checkup tools, free SEO analyzers. There’s a whole bunch of them out there, and if you look down below in our list, in the playlist that we have on this YouTube channel, you’ll be able to see that I’ve done quite a few reviews so far.

Now usually, what you do is you go to a website and you plug in the address for your website, and click a button, and it’ll go, and it’ll do its thing and it’ll check a whole bunch of different stuff, and it’ll give you a report onscreen.

The tool that we’re going to look at today is a little bit different for a couple of reasons. One is, it’s not a website. The second is, that it’s actually produced by a company you may have heard of called Google. Let’s take a look at Google Lighthouse, which is Google’s own tool for conducting what they call an SEO audit on your website, so let’s see how this works.

All right. I’ve been using this particular website, Artisans of Colorado. It’s sort of a demo site, and I’ve been using it in some of my other SEO checker reviews. We’re going to run this website through Google Lighthouse. Google Lighthouse has been getting quite a bit of ink lately. It’s actually been around for a couple of years. It’s a, basically a tool that Google makes available for free to webmasters to get a handle on all sorts of good stuff that has to do with your website.

An SEO Audit is Part of Google’s Developer Tools

Most recently, Google Lighthouse has been getting more publicity because the speed test results from Google Lighthouse are now being incorporated into Google’s own PageSpeed test tool which is … Let’s go here and just take a look just for chuckles here. I’m actually going to Google it. Google’s PageSpeed test, which is this one here, PageSpeed Insight. You can see PageSpeed Insights, and it will give you an overview of the speed of your website, and it’s tied into now another tool that Google had made available called Google Lighthouse.

There’s a couple of different ways that you can run Google Lighthouse. One way is by going and getting it as a free extension for Chrome. Now, I’ve done videos before about how you get extensions for Chrome and the way you do that is you click on the three dots up here at the top right of a Google Chrome browser and then you go to settings. Once you get to settings here, you can over and click on the hamburger menu at the top left.

Using Google Lighthouse as an Extension

Then go down and click on “extensions.” Now, the extensions is going to show you the extensions that are currently installed on your browser. If you click on the hamburger menu yet again, and go all the way to the bottom, you’ll see that you can open the Chrome web store. Go to the chrome web store and just go ahead and type in “Google Lighthouse.” If you want to, you can tick the little extensions filter here but, typically, it’s going to come up at the top anyway.

Here it is, and it says “rate it” on mine because I’ve already installed it. Usually, it will have a little button that says “add to Chrome” and you click, and then it asks you for permission to do it. You add that extension to Chrome, and then it’ll show up, this tiny little icon up here at the top right. See how I have that installed, and that means it’s as an extension on my site.

Now, if I go back to the site I want to check, so all I have to is click on that Lighthouse extension, and then notice it’s got a variety of options that we can set, so we’ll click on that. You’ll notice, it’s got a bunch of different categories it says to include. Performance, it’ll test the, whether your site is built according to standards as a progressive web app. This is nothing that I pay attention to right now. I probably should, but I don’t.

Accessibility, best practices and then finally, SEO. This is, I don’t know when they included the SEO audit, I think it’s been within the last year. I’m doing this in January of 2019. I could be wrong on that, but in any case, now we’ve got this nice little tool here, SEO.

What I’m going to do is I’m going to un-tick “progressive web app,” and I’m going to un-tick the “accessibility” one just to keep the set manageable. I’ll go ahead and click on “okay” for options. Now I’m going to click on “generate report.” Let’s see what we get. Normally, what Lighthouse will do is you’ll see it going through its paces, it’s checking various configurations of the site. Then it’s going to come up and open a new browser window, and it gives me a report.

Performance = Speed Performance

Now, notice it’s given me a 23 on performance. Now, this is how fast the site loads. We’re not really focused on load speed here, but we can use this in order to try to determine whether our site is below par or not. This is the same results or similar results that you would get if you go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, that has best practices, and then finally, notice, my SEO audit. I’m getting 100% on my SEO audit, so that seems pretty encouraging at face value.

Let’s scroll down here and see what various categories that we have. Now, there is … I was actually pleasantly or, I guess, unpleasantly surprised to see that the best practices show, pointed me in the direction of something I was not aware of and that is that I have a security vulnerability on this website. You’ll notice it here, it says “one vulnerability detected.” You can typically always drop down the little dropdown button. If you’ve got a down triangle, then you click on it and it’ll show you more information.

This is telling me that, basically, the version I have of jQuery has a vulnerability, and so we would need to update jQuery to be able to patch that vulnerability. I’ll admit straight out, I did not realize we had this problem on this particular site. It’s basically a demo site, so it’s not a big deal but I intend now to go and check my other sites as well.

Checklist of Best Practices – Lucky 13

Now, it says that I’ve passed a total of 13 audits. I can see where I’m doing well, and you can see one of them uses https. In other words, our site is running securely. You can see its checked all sorts of different things, whether the page has doctype, it will talk about avoiding deprecated APIs. Some of this is pretty technical stuff. It displays images with correct aspect ratio. These are all useful tests. Really, although they are not under the SEO section of this audit, I would normally audit these things as part of an SEO audit, so you could say that it’s sort of an extension of their SEO audit.

Let’s go down to the actual SEO section right here. Now, it’ll tell me that there are two areas that I need to check manually. Notice, it tells me that the page is mobile-friendly and we do have some structured data going. If you’re not familiar with that, then this isn’t the place to learn, but structured data is looked for by Google and those other search engines that are still trying to be competitive.

Don’t Forget that Manual Check

Structured data is valid, but Google is going to tell me that I should still be checking these things manually as well. In my experience, this is wise advice. Often, automated tools will tell you that your website is mobile-friendly, and then you’ll go and look at it on a phone and you’ll see the automated tool didn’t really show you that it’s not mobile-friendly at all.

The one thing I don’t like about this, if you drop it down, it basically will just give you an opportunity to learn more, and then you’ll have links to more learning resources at Google, some of which are useful and some of which are pretty general. It points you in the direction of Google’s mobile-friendly test tool that you can use to explore your site a little bit more. Structured data. It’ll tell you more about what structured data is, about the testing tool and so forth, so it does give you resources to be able to follow up.

These past audits in SEO, now we’ll take a look, and those are then further subdivided into other categories. Mobile-friendly. Notice here that the mobile-friendly check is very, very sparse, in my opinion. Basically, it just checks this particular tag, which is a viewport tag, and normally that’s used if you have a responsive designed website.

You can’t be mobile-friendly without having that tag, but on the other hand, there’s a whole lot more to actually being mobile-friendly than simply having that tag. When it comes to explanations, Google’s explanation is pretty lean as well. Same way with the legible font sizes. Tells you that the legible text, notice, is greater than 12 pixels.

It still doesn’t tell you a lot of things like whether the fonts are too close together or whether particular elements are overlaying your site. I guess what I’m trying to say is this is a real cursory check. I would not consider this to be a full-blown SEO audit or even close to one. A lot of the tools we’ve checked that are website-based are more complete than this.

SEO Content Checks: Way Too Shallow to be Useful

Let’s go ahead and look at the other sections they have. Content, best practices. Here’s where I have more criticisms of this particular tool. For example, it says, “the document has a title element.” Okay, fine. Most webpages have a title element, but SEO would involve making sure that that title element was the appropriate length, that it described the content on the page, that it was tied into keyword research that you’ve done, that it would appear correctly on a search engine results page.

There’s a lot that goes into SEO beyond simply having a title tag, and so this is almost useless. As a matter of fact, if you looked at this and said, “Oh, hey, my title is fine,” then it’s actually done you a disservice. The same can be said for the meta description tag, is all it does is check to see if you have one. It doesn’t tell you anything about how well it’s been optimized.

The same criticism applies to “links have descriptive text.” Well, okay, descriptive, but descriptive of what? It says, “hreflang.” This is basically a tag that’s used to make sure that you’re compliant with best practices for multi-language, which is usually not an issue. “Document has a valid rel=canonical,” that’s good to know, but it’s still pretty minimal.

Then finally, “the document avoids plug-ins.” They have also crawling and indexing. “Page has success http status code.” Okay, that’s extremely basic. “Page isn’t blocked from indexing,” also basically what it means is like it’s checking your front door to your store during business hours and making sure it’s not locked. “Robots.txt is valid.”

We’ve gone through here a total of 11 checks that Google has done as part of their SEO audit. Now, here is a comparison, the SEO audit that we normally do on a website is 91 different checks, so this is indeed a pretty basic tool.

Bottom Line: D+ to C- as an SEO Audit Tool (Please don’t hurt me Google; I gotta say it like I see it!)

Before I conclude this review, and I’d give this tool a really low grade overall. No offense to Google. It’s great that they’re moving in a direction of giving us more information, but in terms of believing that you’ve done an SEO audit when you’ve run this, you haven’t.

I’m going to show you an alternate way to run Google Lighthouse, and like I said, it is useful, particularly when it comes to page speed, some of these other best practices, checking for security vulnerabilities. Here’s the other way to do it. When you’re looking at your page, you hit the F12 key on your keyboard. What the F12 key will normally bring up is your developer tools. These will show up as a panel. Most developers who do programming are very familiar with these. Usually, they’ll come up on this panel.

Now, you may have caught, when I first brought it up, it showed Lighthouse because developer tools now includes a hook into Lighthouse through the, when you click on the double arrow, depending on how much screen real estate you have, you often will have a “more,” a little double arrow, that indicates more choices. You click on that and you can go down to “audit.” Click on that, and notice, we can access, we can basically access the same Google Lighthouse tools here, and we didn’t have to get a plug-in to do it.

The plug-in is a little bit redundant now. In a certain respect, I want to show the plug-in availability because it does pull up the results in a separate browser window, which makes it a little easier to use.

All right, so there you go. That’s Google Lighthouse. The bottom line, if I had to give this a grade, I’d give it a C or a D as an SEO audit tool. Good to see Google giving us some SEO information, but we’d really like to see something that’s much more in-depth that what we have here. As far as other SEO checkers that are out there, most of the ones that we’ve tested are far more complete than this one that we just checked from Google.

Now, we’ll be doing more SEO checkers as we go along, and I hope this has proved useful to you. I’m going to ask you now for a favor, and that is, if you’ve made it this far, please go ahead and subscribe to our channel. When you subscribe to the channel, it basically is showing Google that, hey, you were interested in the video. Then Google will know to show the video to more people.

Go ahead and subscribe. Hit the “thumbs up” if you like the video and please also, when you do subscribe, click on that little alarm button next to the subscribe button. That means you’ll get a notification when we have new video content that will help you do the digital marketing that will help your website succeed on the Internet.

Thanks again for watching. My name is Ross Barefoot, and I hope to see you on the next video. Bye for now.

Google Analytics How To Video: Give Another Company Access to Your Account the Safe Way

When we start doing SEO and digital marketing for a new client we always need to request access to their Google Analytics accounts. In most cases where companies have used SEO and marketing agencies or consultants in the past, they have shared their Google login credentials as a way to let that entity into their account. So how does that sound to you? Well, if you have even a moderately cautious nature you probably hesitate to give the keys to your Google Analytics account to just anyone, much less a company you’re just beginning a relationship with.

And you don’t have to. Any professional digital marketing agency should be more than satisfied with the solution illustrated in this video. Use it and keep your analytics account secure!

Transcript

Hi. This is Ross with Horizon Web Marketing and this is a quick tutorial video to show you how to add a user to your Google Analytics account in order to give them access to the account. So here you’ll see, this is a demo of Google Analytics account and I’m assuming at this point that you know how to log yourself into Google Analytics.

And if you do [log into Google Analytics] you normally are given this dashboard or one that looks similar to it. And now you have an opportunity to add a user and we often will make a request of clients that we work with that they give us access to their Google Analytics account so that we can either manage it or do diagnostics on their site.

So you go down to the lower left there where it says Admin. Click on that and you’ll be given this panel here and Google allows you to change things that have to do with your account, your property or your view. Now you don’t need to understand what those three things are in order to do this process.

All you need to do is go to the account level which is normally where we need to have access. Click on User Management. It will show you what users are already granted access to this particular account. And then you’ll notice up here at the top right there’s a little blue or a white plus and a blue circle. You click on that and then we’re going to click on Add New Users.

Then you need to be able to do an email address that is a valid email address. So in this case I’m going to say Ross@HorizonWebMarketing. Then you have the chance to leave this by default. It’s checked and that is to notify new users by email. But if the person you’re adding doesn’t need to get an email you can just go ahead and un-tick that.

And then you also have a chance here to be able to enable certain levels of permissions. Now normally when we ask for access to account we want to have all permissions at least above the line here. Now to give full permissions you also need to tick this box here that says Manage Users and normally is you want somebody to be able to add other users to your Google Analytics account you’re going to have tick that box.
With respect to, for example giving access to a SEO Agency typically they’re going to want to have access these three and if you tick the top box here it’s going to by default, enable the other two. So at this point we are done with our job and now that new user is going to appear. And here I am, Ross@HorizonWebMarketing and then you’ll be able to see what the various levels of permissions are under the permissions column.

And once you’re done all you have to do is exit out. You can go back to the home screen of your Google Analytics property and you’re done. I hope this has been useful.