Leverage Your Network
Leverage your network and associations are an awesome opportunity to garner quality backlinks your competition can’t duplicate. For example, your Alma mater probably has several ways you can get the coveted .edu backlink. Do they give alumni updates in the university online magazine or have an alumni directory?
Another method is to write a glowing review for products you use and love. Make sure to thank the company personally along with a link to the review you wrote on your blog. Many times, they will share it on their blog and/or post it on their social media along with a backlink to yourwebsite.com. I’ve even garnered a backlink directly on their website for a testimonial.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
HARO is the secret weapon SEO professionals don’t want you to know about because you can do a better job than they ever could.
So What Is HARO?
HARO acts as a hub for journalists seeking quotes from expert sources (You!) for articles. When you are quoted, many times the journalists will include a backlink to your company’s website from a higher rank, SEO-juicy website. Think msn.com, usatoday.com, Inc.com, cnn.com. I cannot overemphasize the power a backlink from these sites have on your ranking.
Why You Can Do Better!
If you are paying big money for a professional SEO company; STOP. Most likely they are relying on HARO. Instead, pitch the journalists yourself because a) its free – and free is cheaper than whatever you’re shoveling out – and b) you will have more success than an SEO company.
Why? Because you know your industry more intimately and have more motivation to do a decent job (After all, it’s your business!). No SEO guru can duplicate your knowledge or motivation. This is why you will have better results.
How To HARO
Go to helpareporter.com and create an account. Sign up to receive HARO’s daily emails. Don’t forget to read the rules. You’ll receive an email something like this, three times a day:
Seek stories related to your expertise and reply with a pitch. Eventually you will get mentioned and backlinked in a nationwide magazine or news site such as USA Today, Associated Press, The Washington Post, Inc Magazine like we did.
Positive online reviews are powerful social proof, pulling in people and profits. Conversely, negative reviews can kill business. Guard your online reputation with your life!
If you want to dominate Google (and I assume you do), Google My Business reviews should be on top of your list. Don’t forget about the plethora of other popular review sites (Yelp, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, etc). Even if less business flows in from these other online review sites, ensure you maintain good reviews. Google will notice your consistent good reviews across the internet, rewarding you with rank.
Getting Good Reviews
Both my cleaning companies, Dallas maid services and Emily’s Maids, are rocking a 5-star averages (below). Here’s my secret on how to rocket your reviews to the moon:
Step 1: Provide good service – It all starts with providing and maintainingsuperior service because accruing reviews is a long-term play. As Warren Buffet touts, “Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre.”
Pro Tip 1 – Reward for Review:
Great reviews are an opportunity to reward your staff. For example, each 5-star online review earned by my cleaning staff, earns them a bonus. Incredible incentive for my staff to go above and beyond to make our customers happy.
Step 2: Ask for reviews – Don’t be bashful. If you are on the phone with a customer raving about your service, thank them and ask if they could share their experience online because your business depends upon it!
Pro Tip 2 – The Tip Trick:
We tell happy customers a tip is given on their behalf to the cleaning team if they share their Dallas maid services experience online. This additional incentive to leave a review is a win/win/win: Customer has a free way to tip, staff earns a bonus, and your business inches higher in the SERPs.
Step 3: Remove bad reviews – It’s easier to boost your average rating by removing bad reviews than by adding good reviews. For example, you have five, 5-star reviews and one, 1-star review. To reach a 5-star average, you can either remove that 1-star or earn ten, 5-star reviews. Therefore, follow up and find a way, to make it right for your customer to remove or revise that bad review.
Pro Tip 3 – Avoid Chronic Crappy Reviewers:
Websites such as Yelp or Angie’s List allow customers to send quote inquiries. Before responding with a quote, check their other reviews. If most of them are negative, avoid! Not only are you sidestepping an imminent bad review, chronic crappy reviewers tend to be the largest source of headaches anyway.
Step 4: Reply to all reviews, good or bad – For good reviews, briefly thank your customer. Bad reviews are an opportunity to apologize and empathize while tactfully explaining your side. Be positive and polite. This is an opportunity to further market your services and make a positive impression.
Pro Tip 4 – The HEARD Technique:
The HEARD technique is an effective way to deal with dissatisfied customers, developed by The Disney Institute. HEARD stands for Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, and Diagnose. Learn and implement the HEARD technique. It’s invaluable!
In the infant internet of 2004, I had no idea what SEO was. I simply relied on common sense. It is another reason why you can do a better job than SEO professionals. SEO companies constantly study the newest strategies to game Google. Granted, they may be effective in the short term however SEO is a long game. Google is adept at fighting tactics that manipulate rankings because Google’s business depends on delivering relevant search results.
Found a way to game Google? It is only a matter of time until Google discovers and changes the game. At best your ranking will drop. At worse, you’ll be kicked out of the SERPs. I’ve seen it happen a few times; a competitor inexplicably rockets to the top only to be banished.
Common Sense to Remember:
- Google does not like to be manipulated (their business depends on it!).
- Google is all-knowing online.
- Don’t evoke the wrath of Google.
Therefore, don’t stress about learning the latest SEO strategies. All you need is some common sense: Provide a good service, have a user-friendly, well-written website, earn quality backlinks (no link farms!), and don’t be evil! Google will reward you with an ascension into ranking heaven.
The pressure professionals feel to deliver results can lead to using questionable methods. Take the case of Just Cleaning Co. In 2013 they took the top spot, supplanting dallas maid services.com (Ouch!). After some online research, I discovered they had paid a SEO professional who was implementing black hat SEO tactics.
Google’s update was not kind:
And the outcome, worse:
They paid big money to rank their website. Unfortunately, the SEO professional was unfazed by risky behavior. After all, it wasn’t his business. And it cost his client their maid service (Double Ouch!!).
Google likes search results that provide value for their visitors. Therefore, provide value by creating a user-friendly website with great content, offer great service, and trust your common sense.
You don’t need to pay a small fortune for a SEO company to attain top ranking. You can do a better job yourself, for free. I wasn’t a SEO expert. I simply provided a quality cleaning service, good website content, earned quality backlinks, and never used questionable SEO methods. In other words, I used common sense. As a result, Google has helped grow my business to a million-dollar company. And Google can do the same for you!
P.S. If you like this article, give it a backlink and let me know. I’ll send you a free SEO Guide.Greg Shepard, a graduate of Baylor University, moved to Dallas in 1999 to pursue a career at IBM and later joining the tech team at Bank of America. In 2004 Greg left the high-tech world to start Dallas Maids, LLC.