How To Write Testimonials

What Does Google Like?

I’ve written before about the holy trinity of the Google Caffeine algorithm – Content, Backlinks and Activity – these are vital to persuading the Google spiders that your site is worth pushing up the rankings for your chosen keywords.

Having testimonials praising your work/service/product is a great way to show that, not only do you provide a great service, but that people are reading and interacting with your site. Happy clients should be encouraged to register their satisfaction on your website.

How To Write Testimonials

However, your satisfied customers need to know how to write testimonials that will encourage prospective clients to pick up the phone but also please the Google spiders. It is not enough for your regular patrons to express their gratitude in monosyllabic superlatives. ‘Great’, ‘Fabulous’ and ‘Outstanding’ are wonderful in a face-to-face reference but, for the purposes of local search engine optimisation, they are far too generalised and, therefore, meaningless.

Any review needs to be a complete sentence which includes a few of the keywords that relate to the site/service/product/industry in question. So, whether it’s a massage that sorted out your injury, a website design service that drove traffic to your business or a yoga class that you enjoyed, those specific words need to be mentioned in the testimonial in order for the comment to be indexed in the correct place by Google. However, care should be taken to ensure that the wording does not seem too contrived as this will lose credibility with the search engines – it isn’t always necessary to be geographically or product specific at all times. For example, you don’t have to specify the type of massage or yoga every time you mention those generic terms.

And, as with any content search engine optimisation, all accompanying pictures should also include relevant keywords in their ‘alt’ tag.

Done with care and combined with great content and relevant backlinks, the writing of testimonials can be a key part of your local SEO strategy.

Having said all that, you should not overload the site with such praise – five to seven should be sufficient – and any additional testimonials should be directed towards some of the free local listing or social search sites on which you are listed, such as Yelp, Free Index or Qype. Some business owners even offer some form of incentive to encourage their clientele to do this – 10% off on their next visit, that sort of thing.

Computer-savvy customers can also be persuaded to ‘like’ your fan page on Facebook, tweet the url of your website on Twitter and bookmark informative pages or posts on social media sites like Stumbleupon, Digg or Delicious.

Great service is no longer about being personally thanked vocally or by letter, it’s getting your expertise out to the wider audience and, if your clients know how to write testimonials effectively, these can really help your Google ranking.

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My Voucher Codes

National discount voucher website company, myvouchercodes.co.uk are starting a ‘local’ page which will show the geographical locations of a number of selected small businesses who are offering special offer discounts to attract new customers.

Take a look and see if there’s something of interest in your area.

The listings for Southend are being put together as we speak.

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Creating Website Content for Small Business Customer Relationship Management

Despite what some experts may tell you, engaging in social media marketing for business will not produce results quickly. This is a long-term game with connections being made and interaction being undertaken.

However, one of the main problems is learning exactly what to say to promote small business customer relationship management on Twitter. You only have 140 characters and, as I’ve mentioned before, endlessly Tweeting uplifting but recycled quotes is going to become tiresome. This is why you need to utilise a blog or RSS feed for creating website content that is interesting and informative which can then be referred to via a link in a Tweet or Facebook status update.

As a writer, with a bit of research, I can produce relevant articles that address the needs of a website’s audience but this should also be accompanied by a mixture of other transmission methods because not everyone learns effectively through the same type of media. This is why content creation should involve video, audio as well as written posts. Sometimes, it is possible to just transpose my own writing into audio or visual media but at others I need to be a curator – searching the internet for information that will appeal to the website’s audience, whether it be by links, utilising article directories, retweets or rewriting less well composed articles to better relate the ideas.

The next area to be addressed is the question of frequency. How often do you need to post to satisfy both your reader and the Google algorithm’s need for refreshed content. You don’t want to come across as just another marketer by overloading people with useless information, but you don’t want to give the impression that furnishing your site with new content is low on your list of priorities.

And, finally, quality control. It’s all very well having software and automation in the form of RSS feeds, but you need to check what’s being submitted in your/your client’s name prior to publication. You must watch the videos and read the articles that you are offering to your audience as informative content on your client’s behalf. Vet everything, as poorly written content or bad advice will not reflect well and could damage your site’s reputation rather than enhance it.

The best advice when creating website content is to choose your output carefully to ensure that you become a trusted source of valuable information and drip-feed its release.

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Social Media Marketing For Business

A 2009 survey by Alterian discovered that 66% of companies will be investing in social media marketing for business strategy in 2010.

Listening first and then communicating and engaging have become “musts” for any successful social media campaign and a large proportion of those companies plan to utilise more than 20% of their traditional direct marketing budget in social media.

However, it’s all very well saying that but how should a small local business get the best out of any social media interaction? We know that just bombarding potential customers with direct messages or continually linking to products just turns their attention away so what’s the best method of engaging and connecting?

Here’s a great post that talks about how to integrate social media marketing for business with traditional advertising methods.

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Small Business Customer Relationship Management

"small-business-customer-relationship-management"When I worked up in Town, I remember that one of my secretarial duties was to file away all the business cards that my employer had collected when he attended different industry events/corporate parties/business lunches.

Our small business customer relationship management existed in the form of about four leather-bound books containing several hundred cards, most from different individuals representing the same major players in our niche, but there were an awful lot of bits of thick paper. Very occasionally, I would be despatched to look through the plastic pages to see if I could help my boss to remember the name of the person he had been chatting to about a particular deal a few months before so that he could invite him out to lunch.

In what my kids would term ‘the olden days’, networking was done over lunch or in the pub across the road from the ‘market’ but this was the City and it was not a process that really affected local businesses. Such establishments would get their custom from passing trade, many of whom would be regulars because that shop/firm would be the only emporium of that particular type locally. They might give out a few ‘gifts’ at Christmas to those clients who had supported them the most but, more often than not, they had a pretty captive market because no one was going to travel all the way to the next town on the off-chance that things might be a bit cheaper.

These days, every High Street has two or three representatives for any one type of store – butchers, greengrocers, hairdressers, accountants, solicitors, restaurants, cafes, wine bars, pizza, fish and chip, and other fast food outlets, banks, building societies, chemists, off licenses – and these are all in competition with the giant supermarkets, who seem to have a toe in a vast number of markets that never used to come under their remit. Times have changed and people are no longer confined to shopping locally. Suddenly, the competition is not only right on your doorstep, it’s in every other local shopping centre, as well as on the internet.

This is why it is vital for small bricks and mortar businesses to hold on to their regular clientele, but so many of them have absolutely no idea who these are and no way of contacting them.

I was listening to a webinar recently and the speaker reminded us of the ‘goldfish bowl’ that used to stand at the check out of most businesses in days gone by – well, in small town America anyway. This bowl was a repository for the business cards of the regulars – just in case anyone needed their services. That was what you did. You made opportunities for yourself by leaving your card in places that other people might see it. Nowadays, most shops no longer have such a thing… or if they do, they just dispose of the contents after a week or so, with barely a second glance.

But, said the speaker, if you turn the original purpose on its head, isn’t that a great way to find out who your regular customers are?

In today’s hugely competitive market place, we should be using every method at our disposal to discover and retain the identities and contact details of our customers so, if they don’t return for some reason, we can offer an incentive to make them check us out again. Often, they haven’t come back because they’ve just forgotten the great service that was given. In today’s busy world, there are so many distractions and, if someone else is shouting louder/offering a cheaper service, it is easy to forget the original provider. Loyalty is not really a reliable commodity any more.

By offering your customers an incentive to leave their email address or name and phone number, a business can acquire a list of clients and have the ability to contact them from time to time with the offer of a money-off coupon or just to keep them advised of new business activities/changes of menu.

It’s a far more cost-effective way of advertising because you are preaching to people who have already tried and, hopefully, enjoyed the company’s service. Think about what happens if you put an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or local newspaper. These tend to be grouped together according to service/niche and so your ad is surrounded by all your competitors. If one of them is offering the service more cheaply than you, then you’ve wasted your money on that advert. They also tend to be aimed at a very large geographical area so you can also lose out if you’re too far away from the customer’s locale.

"small-business-customer-relationship-management"If you can email your customer base with a coupon, that’s a great deal cheaper than putting the same discount promotion in a newspaper ad and also a lot more focussed.

However, small business customer relationship management is still a tricky thing. There are rules and etiquette and codes of behaviour. Certainly in America, there are even federal laws covering ’email solicitation’. And you can’t just keep trying to sell people stuff or they will unsubscribe.

As with all social media, the goal is to provide information and offer good service. To build trust in your brand so that when people do need your product, it is you that they remember.

It’s not a quick process, it takes time. But it is an extremely worthwhile endeavour.

So, where is your goldfish bowl?

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