Category Archives for "reviews"

3 Important AdWords Developments You Should Know About

Google’s always tinkering around in AdWords and making changes. Recently there have been a few significant ones that I want to make sure are on the radar of all of you who care about AdWords.

Google Reviews Are Now Even a Bigger Deal For Local Businesses

It used to be your AdWords account and Google Maps reviews had nothing to do with one another. The only exception was if you were using Google AdWords Express (which you should NOT be doing), Google would show a business’ ratings next to their ads.

Now, however, if you are running a real (ie. non-Express) AdWords campaign and are using the Location extensions, your ad can show your star ratings and link to your reviews on Google. Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like…

local adwords review ad

(I don’t know for sure but from what I’ve seen it looks like you need to have at least 5 reviews on Google in order for this to appear.)

There are 2 big reasons why this is important…

1. Those star ratings REALLY make your ads stand out from the competition. So if you don’t have Location extensions turned on… you should. Also, if you don’t have 5 Google reviews for your business, you should work hard to get them. The more reviews and the more positive reviews you have next to your ad, the better.

2. If you have a number of negative reviews, this can work against you. You don’t want to be paying for AdWords ads if your 2.7 star rating is running next to them! You’d basically be advertising “Hey, we suck!”

That’ll hurt your results. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of good reviews on AdWords, you’re probably better off not using Location extensions at all.

Because reviews are now a much bigger deal in AdWords, we’ll be bringing you more on this in the weeks/months ahead. Keep your eye out for this because, for local businesses, this is a big deal and we want to help you improve your ratings on Google.

Structured Snippet extensions

AdWords ads continue to take up more and more space on the search results page at the expense of the organic listings. And one of the main ways Google does this is by giving AdWords advertisers ad extensions to display with their ads.

For those who don’t know, ad extensions are additional bits of information that Google can display next to your core ad (which consists of the headline, 2 lines of text and URL field).

The newest ad extensions are called structured snippets and they are a way for you to display a list of items under your ads.

What items you display in this list is a bit limited to the categories of structured snippets Google has made available to advertisers. These include Brands, Destinations (for travel businesses), Neighborhood, Insurance (for medical practices) and more.

We’ve seen great success in the early days when using structured snippets in clients’ campaigns. They seem to have a very nice impact on the Clickthrough Rates of our clients’ ads.

For local businesses, the Service catalog snippet seems to be the most practical and you can use it to list a number of different services you offer. However, depending on the clients, we’ve also had success with Brands and Insurance snippets.

Structured snippets help your ads take up more space on the page and provide even more information about your business so there’s really no reason you should not add them to your AdWords campaigns immediately.

Customer Match

Personally I think this development is the coolest one, however, it is the least applicable to local businesses.

Customer Match lets you upload a list of your customer’s email addresses to Google. Google will then match those addresses to people who are logged into Google and allow you to target your customers with Search, YouTube and/or Gmail ads.

Facebook has had a similar offering for a while and it’s nice to see Google offering this too. It can be a very effective way of getting your message out to customers or those who have opted into your list (and it has to be a list of customers/opt-ins, using a list you bought is against the rules).

I can see an application to a local business that offers some sort of regular or seasonal service to their customers like an HVAC company. In a situation like that you can have ads that show up on Gmail or YouTube that remind customers to get a fall/spring tune up.

There are other scenarios like that for some types of local businesses but this feature isn’t as helpful for a local business as it may be for an Ecommerce or info marketing business.

This feature is rolling out to AdWords advertisers over the next few weeks so, if it is applicable to your business, keep an eye out for them. The star ratings and structured snippet extensions are already available so take advantage of them ASAP.

Own a Local Business? Then You MUST See This Screenshot From Google!

Last weekend I was in a rush to take my daughter to an event at a local school I’d never been to before.

So I headed over to the computer, typed the school’s address into Google Maps and was met with a screen and short slide show welcoming me to the NEW Google Maps.

As I started fast-forwarding through the slide show so I could get the directions I needed, one slide leaped out at me and I froze. Not having much time, I took a screenshot of what I say and want to share it with you here.

highest rated biz

Now if you blink, you might miss what the bid deal is here.

See, this slide is about how Google is making it easier for you to make “smarter” choices when you’re looking for local businesses.

The most important piece of this that local business owners should be paying close attention to is this

“… find the highest-rated shops nearby.”

That’s right, the number and quality of the ratings your customers leave about your business on Google may well determine whether they find your business or not.

Online reviews have long been important for local businesses and now seem to be getting even more so.

If you’re struggling to get more reviews for your business, a good friend of mine has developed software that makes it dirt simple.

All you need is a customer’s name and email address and the software does the rest. And does it really well.

One of my clients has been using it for about 6 months. When they started, they had 2 just reviews for their business on Google. Now they’re the most reviewed, highest rated business in their local niche on Google and the other major review sites (and almost all the reviews are 5 star reviews from very happy customers!).

And his results are common. The software’s been around for about a year now and the businesses using it are dominating their local market when it comes to reviews and referrals (and at $49/month, find it an incredible bargain for the results they get)!

Now this software is not for everyone. But if you think it might be a good fit for your business and would like to know about it, send me an email with the subject line “More Local Reviews” and I’ll put you in touch with my friend to see if his software can help your business become the most reviewed business in your town (which, as you can see from the image above, is more important than ever!)

So if you want to become the most reviewed, highest rated business in your niche/area, email me now – adam (at) wordsthatclick (dot) com!

Abe Lincoln’s Key to Marketing Success

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately.

It all started when I was on the set of an online reality show I’m a part of. The show chronicles the creation of an information product from conception to launch and beyond.

A cadre of experts (myself included) meet on a regular basis to discuss all aspects of the project. Our meetings are videotaped and will be put online for the world to see (I’ll let you know when it goes live).

At a recent taping I made some points about the importance of research and how, especially on the marketing side of things, the project would benefit from doing some (I’m purposely keeping things vague here… can’t reveal too much right now!).

As we were wrapping things up for the evening, one of the other people involved made a comment that if she had a gun to her head and had just 30 days to launch a business, she’d skip the research and just jump in and get started.

I totally understand the thinking here. In fact, you’ll hear a lot of business experts saying that one of the marks of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to execute on their ideas quickly.

But I guess where she(they) and I differ on things is I believe that research is the first, and most important part of executing a successful business/marketing plan.

And that’s why I’ve been thinking about Abe Lincoln’s quote.

Because when it comes to marketing, research is your AXE.

The Secret That Separates The Top Copywriters From the Herd

Here’s a little secret about the great “A” List level copywriters…

Yeah, they’ve got some writing chops. But that’s NOT what makes them truly great.

The thing that separates the truly great ones from the pack is their research skills.

Before they write a WORD of copy, they’re immersing themselves in the product/service they’re selling, the audience they’re marketing to, and the competition.

  • They ask the key questions of the business owners, salesman, inventors, etc. to find the golden nuggets that’ll provide the foundation of the copy.
  • They interview customers and prospects to understand what their needs are. (And not their superficial needs… their DEEP emotional needs that the product/services fulfills.)
  • They keep digging until they’ve got the emotional hook that’ll drive the copy that makes prospects quiver with desire, the bullet points that tease and tantalize their emotions, the offer that leaves prospects with little choice but to pull out their wallets and hand over their hard earned cash.
  • They’ll uncover the company’s Unique Selling Proposition that can be used to position them in a way that makes the competition largely irrelevant.

And It’s No Different for PPC…

All the top PPC guys I know are all fanatical about research… Keyword Research… Competitive Research… Market Research.

That’s the heart of getting a successful AdWords campaigns off the ground (as is digging in/researching the data of live campaigns to religiously optimize them).

The cool thing about the Internet (well, other than Amazon Prime and TED Talks) is that it’s now easier than ever to do your research. And you don’t even have to TALK to anyone to do it.

Some of the Most Valuable Stuff on Amazon is FREE

Speaking of Amazon, that’s one of my favorite sources to use for research.

The reviews on Amazon are a treasure trove of information that can be invaluable to the savvy business owner.

These are reviews written by people who have taken their time to express their views (the good, the bad and the ugly) about the products they bought.

The key word being BOUGHT… these are BUYERS writing about products they’ve actually shelled out their hard earned cash for. These are the people you need to be paying attention to.

During one of our recent filming sessions we spent some time on Amazon and got some incredible insights.

What we did was look at reviews people left for books related to the info product we’re tasked with creating and marketing.

Here’s what we were looking for…

  • The things they liked about the books and the things they didn’t like about the books. (Or, more accurately, what they liked/didn’t like about the information contained in those books and the impact/lack of impact it had on their lives.)
  • The emotional needs of prospects in this market, the problems keeping them up at night, their ultimate goals, etc.
  • Colorful quotes that could make great headlines, bullets and copy for our marketing materials.
  • The Table of Contents of the most popular books on the subject to see what topics they had in common (which is a GOOD indication we need to include those topics in our product).

At the end of the day, doing this research gave us a much clearer picture of:

  • WHO we were creating this product for
  • WHY they were looking for this information
  • WHAT information they’d value getting from us (and the emotional benefits they were seeking from it)
  • HOW the information helped them/didn’t help them achieve the outcomes they’re after

And we got all these insights simply by spending some time on Amazon.

Now you might be thinking you’re a dentist or run a restaurant or own an industrial/manufacturing company and there are no books/products related to what you sell on Amazon.

Fair enough. But Amazon ain’t the only place to find this sort of information. If there are no related products/books on Amazon, you can…

  • Check out reviews on Yelp or Google for businesses in your niche.
  • Go to message boards and forums where your clients hang out and discuss things.
  • Listen to what’s going on in social media. Are there any groups on LinkedIn/Facebook related to your field? Any key industry players/companies active on Twitter? Those are great places to do some research as well.

A BIG Word of Warning

There is a deadly trap you have to be wary of with research. It’s one I’ve been guilty of falling into in the past.

The trap is Analysis Paralysis… it’s when you just keep researching but never take action. That trap’ll kill your marketing efforts because you never leave the starting gate.

As I said at the top, I think research is a PART of executing on a successful marketing plan. But it’s just a part of it. You have to ACT to have any chance of success.

With 6 hours to chop down a tree, Abe Lincoln would take 4 hours to sharpen his axe. And that’s probably a decent rule of thumb. Spend about 2/3 of your time up front doing your research… then create your USP, write your copy, build your campaign,  etc.

Most of your competitors have dull axes. Do the research… sharpen your axe… and you’ll be chopping down trees they don’t have a shot at making a dent in.


I know. Yuck. Homework. So let’s not call it homework, let’s call it a challenge.

I challenge you to spend 1 hour on Amazon or Yelp or Google or some other site where your customers hang out and are describing their wants, needs, emotions, opinions, criticisms, etc.

What insights does that give you into your market that you didn’t have before?

What ideas for headlines, copy, offers, products, services, etc. did it give you?

What ideas for new products/offerings or tweaks to existing products/offerings did you get?

After you spend that hour, come back here and share what you learned in the comment section below.

I’m betting that 1 hour may be one of the most enlightening hours you’ve spent in a LONG time.

And I say that confidently because, well, I’ve done the research! 😉

The One Number That Makes the Case For Why You Should Care About Online Reviews

I find this statistic astounding.

Last year, a study published by BrightLocal asked consumers this:

Do you trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations?

The results?

72{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} said yes!

That’s right, when it comes to assessing a local business, 72{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of people said they trust the reviews from people on the Internet as much as they trust personal recommendations from people they know!

There is a little bit of nuance to the results.

Of the 72{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} who said yes…

  • 28{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} said yes IF there are multiple reviews to read about the business.
  • 24{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} said yes IF they believe the reviews are authentic (I wonder how good people are at truly assessing this).
  • 20{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} said yes BUT only for some types of businesses.

Still 72{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} is a BIG number and demonstrates as much as anything the importance of having a system in place for getting positive reviews.

A close friend of mine has spent the past year developing an incredible system to do that and is currently in Beta. If you’re interested in finding out more, shoot me an email and I can get you on the waiting list for this incredible system.

A Sneaky (Yet Ethical) Trick To Get More Customers To Review Your Business Online

People are lazy.

Online they’re even lazier.

Any extra effort you put between someone online and the action you want them to take (like leaving a review for your business) greatly decreases the chances they’re going to do it.

Here’s a sneaky little trick you can use to make things as easy as pie for people to leave reviews for your business at local review sites.

First, you have to understand something important about these review sites. Most of them, and all of the important ones, require a login in order to leave a review.

This can be tricky for a local business owner. If you send someone to a review site and they don’t have a username and password for that site already, chances are between slim and none they’re going to take the time to set  up a new account just to write a review for you.

But you can stack the deck in your favor. Here’s how…

If you’re asking for reviews by email, use your customers’ email address to send them to the appropriate review site.

Sending an email to someone with a Gmail account (ie.

Send them a link to your Google+ Local page to leave a review there. If they’re checking Gmail, then they have to be logged into Google. Once they go to your Places Page, all they need to do is give you your 5 star rating, leave a review and they’re done.

Sending an email to someone with a Yahoo! account? These can end in,, or, because of Yahoo!’s partnership with AT&T any of the following:


See any of those extensions in an email and send them to your Yahoo! Local page to leave a review.

Now, here’s the extra credit. If you have a Facebook Fan Page, you can link from that page to your review sites. The thing to know here is that many of the local review sites like CitySearch,, SuperPages and others allow users to sign in through Facebook. Once they see your review request on Facebook, they’re just a click away from leaving a review for you on any of those sites.

Hey, you’re not going to know the best place to send everyone to make leaving reviews as easy as possible for them, but using the strategy above, you can stack the odds in your favor more often than not!

Yelp Cracking Down on Paid Reviews

Gotta give credit where credit is due.

trashed Yelp pretty hard a few weeks ago. While I don’t like many of their business practices, in that article I did mention the unenviable task Yelp has of sorting out the good reviews from the bad.

One of the factors making this so difficult is that some business owners, knowing how important a good review can be for their business, will have fake positive reviews added to local review sites like Yelp.

While review sites (especially Yelp) don’t like business owners to pay for reviews, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a business to offer incentives to customers to leave online reviews. These review sites have become so powerful for generating business you can’t fault a business owner for wanting to do all they can to promote their business.

What isn’t okay, however, is paying people who have never set foot in your store to leave good reviews for your business online. That’s just downright unethical.

So in an effort to crack down on business owners who are paying for reviews, Yelp has reportedly been conducting sting operations. And, if they catch you, it looks like they are now taking to public shame to penalize businesses doing this and to make an example out of them.

A recent New York Times article reports that Yelp has started adding “consumer alerts” on the Yelp pages of companies that have been caught trying to pay for reviews. The alert says “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.

Not only that, but Yelp is making the evidence available and letting potential customers for the business see the “incriminating emails trying to hire a reviewer.”

While I still don’t like many of Yelp’s business practices, I applaud the concept behind this one. If businesses are trying to purchase reviews from strangers they should be penalized.

Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


Do Local Business Reviews Matter?


There’s a lot of buzz in the Internet marketing world these days about reviews.

And it’s also a big topic of conversation for local business owners as well. Hardly a week passes without me having a conversation with a business owner who’s ticked off about a negative review of their business and wants to know how to get rid of it or who wants to know how their competition is getting so many more reviews than they are or who want to know how to rack up the 5 star reviews.

But are reviews worth all the fuss?

If the data from a recent study from Cone LLC (a PR and marketing agency) are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.

Here’s a few key pieces of data from their study

  • 89{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of consumers say they find online reviews sites as honest and trustworthy sources to get product/service reviews
  • (Here’s a biggie!) The report finds that 4 in 5 consumers have changed their minds about a purchase decision based solely on negative information they’ve found online (that’s up from around 67{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} just a year ago)
  • 87{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of respondents agreed that reading a positive review has confirmed their decision to purchase
  • 85{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} consumers say they are more likely to “open their wallet” when they can find online recommendations to support offline advice they get (as opposed to 77{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} last year)
It’s important to note that this data does not just apply to local businesses, but to products as well. While I would like to see just local business focused data, reviews are clearly a key factor (and one that’s getting even more important) consumers use to make purchasing decisions.
If your business does not have a plan in place to get reviews (ethically!) and address any negative reviews you may have, you’re ignoring one of the most influential factors for prospects when it comes to your business.
We’ll have a lot more on reviews in the future. In the meantime, if you’re not sure where to get started when it comes to managing reviews for your business, sign up here to talk with one of the Main Street Marketing Community experts.



Are Your Reviews For Real?

Local business reviews are a big deal.

Many of your prospects will read reviews others have left about your company and use them as a major factor in deciding whether to do business with your local business or not.

And, as you might expect, when it comes to something that can have such a big impact on a business, there are unscrupulous people out there trying to game the system. In this case it’s either paying for fake reviews or having friends/family members/employees write fake ones.

An interesting article from the New York Times gets into the issue of fake reviews and the problem it’s posing for review sites like Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor. It also describes work being done by some Cornell researchers who have developed an algorithm that can supposedly tell real reviews from the fake ones (not surprisingly Google has already asked at least one of the members of this team for a resume!).

You can read the New York Times article on fake reviews here.

We’ll be talking a lot about reviews in the coming months…how to get good ones (ethically), what to do if you get some bad ones, what sites you want to get reviews one, etc.

The important thing for now is to understand that reviews are a big deal and, if you haven’t already, check out review site like Google, Yelp, Yahoo, CitySearch and others to see what your clients are saying about your business (and your competitors’ businesses).