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First Content Marketing Priority for 2018: Improve Your Online Presence Using Your Customers’ Data



It is a known fact: just the way word-of-mouth can make or break a business, so too are online customer reviews and overall client participation critical for your local web presence. In 2018, Google places importance on online customer reviews, which are now an important part of your Google+ page.

Reviews work because they are social proof. They provide reassurance and confirmation that their actions are right. For instance, when someone is thinking about ordering a blueberry cheesecake for their wedding, seeing an average rating of 4 starts, or finding positive reviews, may just give them the extra push towards your business that they need.

It’s the same for restaurants, in particular. For local searchers, restaurants with an average score of 4.6 look like a safe bet. The bottom line is that customer reviews are used and relied upon a great deal by many web users.

Google uses the reviews to determine your position and relevance within your niche. Organic search engine positioning is not so much about what you have to say about your business, but instead concentrates on what your customers have to say – exactly the way it would work if you came across a friend who had a poor experience with a stale lemon cheesecake that had a hair in it and wants to tell everyone about it.

Reviews are a big deal for your Google+ Local page. They can be submitted directly on the page by anybody who has a Google account, and many directories also allow people to provide reviews which can show up in search results.

When you work towards getting customer reviews, you are more likely to benefit in the local search results. One way to ask for reviews is to set up a page with a link that customers can click on to get to your Google+ Local page where they can post their review, or add a call-to-action and link at the end of your emails. But, don’t just stop at soliciting for reviews, you must continue to monitor them so that you can respond to any negativity.

Photograph by violetkaipa via

Research and Obtain Backlinks

Backlinks from reputable and relevant websites show Google and other search engines that your website has authority. Essentially, backlinks are validation from a third-party that your website does exist and is trustworthy. Local websites are good for backlinks when your focus is on local search rankings. The search engines see local businesses linking to one another as further endorsement of their location.

As for directories, make sure you carefully research and identify applicable local directories that already rank high for the keywords you want to use. Many directories do offer free listings and inbound links. If you are leaning towards paid listings, be careful. You should only consider the directories that you find on Google’s first page that can offer proof of the traffic they can deliver, and that are willing to provide several backlinks to your site.

Finding valuable backlinks is a complex task, and it takes time, but it does pay off long-term.

Increase Your Social Media Participation

It doesn’t matter what size your business is, your target audience are hanging out on social media, and you need to be, too. As a small business, you may stay away from social media, either not having the time to manage it, or even the know-how. But, there is no denying that social media has a significant influence on our lives. Social media is no longer limited to Millennials. Today, people of all ages are hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+. They are liking, following, sharing, and commenting on the places the go to and the products they use. Search engines now realize that social media activities play a major role in determining the popularity and sway of local places, products, and businesses and social signals are therefore being included in algorithms.

If you don’t have a single social media account, it’s time to create one. You need to ensure that your business or brand name is secured in the top social media platforms for when you are ready to be socially active. If you are new to social media, there are three elements to social media that you need to know about:

1.      Listening

You need to know where your target audience is, so use your keywords and company’s name in searches on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to figure out where they are.

2.      Following

Next, search within the social platforms for local competitors, industry influencers, and partners to find out whether or not they have a social media presence. If they do, be sure to keep an eye on their performance and how they are using social media within the local community.

3.      Engaging

Once you familiarize yourself with the online social world and are ready to contribute content, you can start engaging your community and building your very own loyal tribe.

As for improving your local social media rankings, make sure to include social media icons for your social media accounts to your email signature, landing pages, and offline marketing materials so that people know you are active and waiting to engage with them.

You should also add icons to the header of your website and add Follow, Share, and Like icons to each page on your site so that people can quickly and effortlessly share your content.

The next step is to create relevant and shareable keyword-rich content that links to other content you have already posted. For instance, you could create a blog about key lime cheesecake that links to your key lime cheesecake order page that offers detailed information.

You should also work towards curating and sharing local news that is relevant to your industry and your audience to show that you are on-point and engaged with the local community. It also encourages the posters of that content to share your content in return.

Remember, when posting content to Google+, you must use both keywords and local identifiers to highlight your post for people following locally tagged content.

Important points to remember for social media include:

  • Tag the location of videos and photos that you upload to social media networks
  • Create and post events to Google+ and Facebook
  • Guest post and comment on relevant blogs
  • Run competitions on social media
  • Solicit feedback on your social media networks
  • Host live feeds, Q&As, and webinars on relevant topics

Implement Mobile and Local Search

Since many people are active on their mobile devices, you need to consider if you are being found via searches on mobile devices and how you are being found.

Before you go ahead and budget for a mobile website, there are a few things you can do to your website right now to ensure it displays well on mobile devices, such as:

  • Use standard CSS and XHTML
  • Make use of mobile-specific social networks such as Yelp or Foursquare so that mobile users can check-in, comment on your business, and read your content.
  • Use contact numbers in your meta descriptions on your most popular pages so that mobile users can just click on your number to call you
  • Keep your Google+ page up to date as mobile users often arrive at a page via Google Maps

How to Measure and Adjust Your Strategy

Finally, you cannot succeed with optimization unless you continue to measure and adjust your strategy accordingly for optimum local-specific web presence optimization. After all, measuring what does and does not work is the core of any strategy and being able to effectively manage your local search optimization program and amend whatever needs amending is pertinent to your online success.  Again, you can use tools like Google Analytics to see how you are positioned in search results for the keywords you want to use.

Use this checklist to measure and adjust your local strategy accordingly:

  • Identify conversion points on your website, including amount of time spent on your site per visit, downloaded documents, number of pages per visit
  • Identify which keywords work the best to deliver traffic to your site
  • Identify which keywords drive conversions
  • Determine which specific pages are positioned within the main search engines’ top 50 results
  • Figure out which of your social media networks prove most effective as traffic referrals
  • Determine how you are faring compared to your competition

Armed with this information, you can make decisions about where and how to focus your optimization efforts.


Small businesses, particularly, need to locate the customers and pull in new prospects, and to do this, you need a powerful online presence that shows you are the go-to business in your area. Let Iris Content take the stress out of your content creation by providing relevant, local, and keyword-rich content that will not only ensure you make it to page number one of the search engine results, but will help build a faithful and engaged online community that is excited to interact with your brand.


Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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