How Online Reviews Improve Your Public Relations

By Grayson Kemper, Senior Content Writer for Clutch

People value and increasingly reference online reviews for your company during their vetting process for services providers.

Reviews are the online form of word-of-mouth marketing. Evidence shows that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

According to a recent survey, almost all consumers (97 percent) take customer reviews into account as they are making purchases. In addition, customers spend over 31 percent more on a business that has predominantly positive reviews on their site.

These statistics demonstrate that online reviews can both influence whether a customer decides to partner with or purchase from your company and how much they are willing to pay to do so.

Given these stakes, your business needs to use online reviews to engage people online and improve your public relations. If you can do so, you open the opportunity to make a positive impression of your business, better promote your products, and generate more sales.

How Online Reviews Can Benefit Your Business

Reviews can improve your relationship with customers. Customers trust and often engage with online reviews. Reviews also can result in increased customer conversions. Customers who read positive reviews about a business have a 133 percent higher conversion rate.

As clients browse the reviews posted on your site, they will gain more confidence in your products and business as a whole.

Negative reviews can actually work in your favor as well. As long as you handle negative reviews properly, you can prove that your business values excellent customer service.

Online Reviews and Directory Sites Help SEO and Web Traffic

There also are SEO benefits to online reviews.

All major search engines offer reviews, such as Google Reviews, particularly for local listings. Allowing your site to be listed and reviewed increases the chances that people encounter and click through to it, which increases your website traffic.

In addition to search engine reviews, you can list your company on directory sites such as Angie’s List or The Manifest. These sites generally rank well in search engine results for a broad array of terms, which presents the opportunity to earn secondary traffic. They also provide an opportunity to demonstrate the results you can produce for your clients, a crucial factor of consideration for every potential client.

How to Turn Online Reviews Into PR Tools

Your business should encourage your customers to leave reviews on your site.

Client reviews largely contribute to your company’s reputation. Positive reviews can increase your company’s credibility. Even if you have negative reviews, you can improve your image if you can demonstrate a sincere willingness to fix an issue or improve on past mistakes.

Online reviews are a powerful marketing tool, as they play a significant role in influencing customer purchase decisions. If handled correctly, reviews can be used as a PR tool to improve the reputation of your business.

Grayson Kemper is a senior content writer for Clutch, a B2B research and reviews firm in Washington, D.C. He focuses on marketing and emerging technologies research.

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Building Your Digital Content to Work for You

By Carolyn Sobczyk

As PR professionals, we frequently toss around the terms Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). But what does it actually mean to implement SEO and SEM into an integrated digital campaign? At a recent PRSA-NCC workshop, Aaron Guiterman, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy at Edelman PR, applied his more than 20 years’ experience in digital campaign design to outline strategies for using search to your advantage.

Online content consumption is at an all-time high. You may have a fantastic educational video or snazzy new website, but your viewers are spread a mile wide and an inch deep. When it comes to promoting your content, you don’t want to fill your store (read: website) with a lot of people who buy nothing. Targeted, quality viewers who care about your content provide the highest value. One of the best ways to attract a quality audience is through search.

PRSA-NCC Workshop, Aug 19

Edelman PR senior vice president of digital strategy, Aaron Guiterman, addresses an audience of PRSA-NCC members and guests during a workshop on August 19.

Aaron described SEO as the way communicators send signals to their audience by optimizing content to maximize the number of visitors reaching your content through organic search. “Relevance is the fastest growing metric with search engines,” said Aaron. “Google favors unique, quality content.”

SEM, on the other hand, are the signals your target audiences send back to you through search, which helps you effectively place cost-per-click ads on search engine results pages with the goal of driving traffic to your content and gaining visibility.

The key to SEO is creating a symphony of unique content that reads from the same sheet music. Search optimization is suppressed by duplicate content and the website is only one component of your full content strategy. Integrate your campaign to incorporate desktop/mobile content and an ad campaign that complement one other, and layer SEO into all aspects of your campaign.

Implementing SEO into Your Digital Strategy

  • Create relevant content that resonates with your audience. People don’t care about the company they’re advocating for, they care about how that issue relates to them. Frame your content according to values, beliefs and behaviors that motivate your audience.
  • Abandonment rates are key to SEO, as sites that lose audiences quickly result in declining organic search rates. Regularly review your site’s performance to optimize your campaign. What draws people to your content? What content is not succeeding?
  • Use Google AdWords to calculate the value of words and quantify the value of words according to those that are most receptive by your audience.
  • Conduct a website audit with an online tool such as Raven to find duplicate content and broken links. This is low-hanging fruit that will help increase organic search. You don’t want to build a great website that no one visits. Build it for search and social.
  • When working with your web team, develop copy in Word and include a brief description of each page (under 177 characters) for your coders to tag in the site. Provide captions (alt text) for images, so they’re easy to find via search. Google content analysis won’t read your entire page, it focuses on the tags.

Driving Traffic to Your Kickass Content with SEM

  • Find all possible keywords by identifying existing conversations and select the best performing keywords to implement in your online ads.
  • Invest time to secure your Google Analytics Certification. This can take anywhere from 1 month to 6 months. Google offers free resources to show you how to use their tools.

Developing a digital campaign is not like Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will not come [on their own accord].” Instead, SEO and SEM offer proven ways to increase visibility, measure results and drive traffic to the content you worked hard (and spent a lot of money) to create.

For more information about SEO and SEM, check out Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and AdWords Step by Step Starter Guide.

Carolyn Sobczyk works at JPA Health Communications in Washington, D.C., where she specializes in patient advocacy relations and media outreach campaigns. Connect with her on Twitter at @carolynsobczyk.