Online reviews are important. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. But taking full advantage of them is a pain in the neck. At least that's what the folks at SOCi and FreshChalk found during their recent studies.

I recently came across an article on the Search Engine Land blog. Greg Sterling wrote about two marketing studies with an interesting takeaway. “Local marketers are not following basic local and SEO best practices.”

Based on what I see with the folks I work with, that a fair statement. It's also pretty understandable. There are very few instruction manuals online and more than enough distractions to confuse you along the way. In his article, Greg lays out three best practices that make sense for all small businesses.

  1. Claim and verify your Google My Business Page, Yelp Business Page and Facebook Page. If they don't already exist then create them.
  2. Respond quickly to people who leave reviews or comments on your pages.
  3. Continuously update your pages by adding locally relevant content and images.

From the original article

Best practices are clear

Without question, GMB is the most important local platform or “local directory,” as FreshChalk called it. But Facebook and Yelp should capture similar attention and effort. Many of the brands in the LSM study were paying insufficient attention to Yelp, which also syndicates its content to Bing, Apple Maps and Alexa.

It should be a no-brainer to claim and verify 100% of brand locations across Google, Facebook and Yelp. And while there are practical, logistical challenges in managing hundreds or thousands of locations, profiles with local content and images should be built out for each one. Most importantly, marketers must respond to reviews (and Google Q&A). And do so within 24 hours at the latest.

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