Online Reviews are a Key Strategy to Your Marketing Plan

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On February - 27 - 2014

Reputation ManagementPublishers Note: Gregg Towsley is a fellow Digital Marketer who specializes in helping plumbing/HVAC companies get more local exposure on the Internet and grow their business. If there is one thing we agree on, it’s the absolute necessity for local businesses…in any industry to proactively manage reputation through positive customer reviews.

By: Greg Towsley


Online reviews play an important role in your ability to your grow plumbing/HVAC business, not just with word of mouth marketing, but online reviews also have a stake in the success of your online marketing. If you aren’t soliciting your customers for online reviews then you could be missing out on some great marketing opportunities.


In the past, word of mouth marketing was a very powerful plumbing marketing tool, and it still is today. However with the onset of the internet, word of mouth marketing has changed over the years. While the traditional form of word of mouth marketing is still alive and well, the power of online reviews supersedes the later. With online plumbing marketing trends changing ever so rapidly it is important to stay on top of the trends. Google algorithms are constantly changing and adapting to combat some of the earlier strategies of SEO and link-building, in an effort to promote relevant content for search results. In addition, with the onset of more and more mobile searches, online reviews prove to be more relevant in some search results.


Here’s why you should be soliciting online reviews
Online reviews for a plumbing/HVAC company allow owners to reach out to customers. We hope that all of your customers have wonderful things to say about your plumbing company, however on occasion there will be a disgruntled customer. Online reviews allow company owners to correct a bad business experience. By taking a negative situation and correcting it, it creates a positive customer experience. This is pure customer service, and an important part of owning a plumbing company. It allows plumbing companies to find out what their customers are looking for to better serve them.


Online reviews are also great to create new business. Like we stated before this is the new word of mouth marketing, and new customers are more likely to hire a professional plumber that has great reviews vs. one who has bad reviews with no resolution or one who has no reviews at all. Customers listen to what other customers have to say more than any other source.


Reviews help improve search ranking. The more reviews a plumbing business has the more relevant to search engines your plumbing company will be. Google favors online reviews because they are organic. With Google Local reviews are heavily weighted, and many mobile users pull up search results from platforms such as these because they are more compatible with mobile use. In this sense you are allowing your customers to do the plumbing marketing for you. In addition many reviews will contain keywords that bring in new customers.


All in all, online reviews are great for plumbing/HVAC marketing and a good strategy to grow a plumbing/HVAC business. If you are short on reviews first make sure you have claimed your local directories on Google, Bing, YahooLocal, and Yelp! Then simply ask your customers to review your plumbing business, you can even send a follow up email after service has be completed or reach out to them on social media. This is a great way to engage with your customers and do some free marketing.


Here are 4 tips to get more online reviews for your business.

  1. Organic method—making sure your business is listed on as many third-party sites as possible, so that customers can find you if they feel like writing reviews spontaneously.
  2. Phone call—kinda old-fashioned, but highly effective.
  3. Link to clickable images on your site—something that customers who return to your site can click on to write you reviews.
  4. Single-page handouts—a sheet of instructions you can simply hand to customers, which walks them through how to post a review.

Gregg Towsley is the founder of Grow Plumbing “All Things Plumbing Marketing” and blogs regularly at


Online Reputation Management – Play Offense and Win

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 25 - 2012

Think that being proactive with your online reputation isn’t important because you’re in a small market? Think again. My friend and colleague Malinda Davis with WSI puts it in perspective and offers a few words of wisdom that you can actually do yourself.

You are a small business owner in Mill Creek, WA – most of your customers live or work within a small radius of your business in Snohomish County. Why would it matter what people see on the Internet about your business? And it doesn’t impact sales, right? Not quite…

Digital Word of Mouth

No longer is your business reputation based solely on what customers tell their friends and family about the high-quality products you sell, the friendly atmosphere of your office and your excellent customer service. With the digitization of the marketplace, consumers can easily praise or punish businesses they visit – the impact is immediate, widespread and often long-lasting. We call this Digital Word of Mouth!

Online review sites and social media have essentially provided a megaphone for consumers to broadcast their feedback about their experience at a business. It is one-to-many sharing, reaching well beyond just friends and family. According to Facebook, the average Facebook user has 130 friends. Unfortunately, many consumers often fail to remember the positive experiences and choose to share their negative experiences with the world. Imagine the potential impact (on your reputation and bottom line) of a negative online comment from a customer on Facebook? What if they also posted a negative review at Yelp?

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is important for businesses of all sizes and industries to consider. Businesses need to be aware of their web footprint (or lack thereof). A dentist with a confusing or outdated website may cause potential clients to think twice about scheduling a consultation. A restaurant with the best food will be impacted financially if their online reputation is poor.

What can you do?

  • Be Present – Make your business discoverable on the Internet. At a minimum, this includes having a simple and clean website, claiming your social media profiles and verifying your local business listings (Google Places, online directories, etc.). Once you have a web presence and in order to stay ahead of your competition, sharing video content and optimizing your website and social accounts is essential to being present and visible online.
  • Play Offense – Be proactive. Provide avenues for customers to provide feedback and to share it online. Be proud of your success and ask for referrals! The alternative to playing offense is playing defense – and in this game, it is worth the effort and investment to be proactive. If you don’t, someone else will (i.e. your competition and/or an upset customer).
  • Listen – Monitor what is being said about you and your company online. This is an opportunity to learn how to better serve your customers and improve your business. When you listen and make changes based on the feedback, your relationships and trust with clients only increases.
  • Engage – Add fresh content to your website and social media accounts – this demonstrates your expertise and adds a personal touch to your business. Ask questions. Blog to educate your customers, share success stories and praise your employees for their hard work. If something negative is said about your business online, respond appropriately (acknowledge, apologize and take action to regain their trust). Choosing silence only magnifies the customer megaphone.

What About Negative Comments?

If you have created a solid web presence and still receive a handful of negative comments, don’t worry. Unfortunately, human nature is to share negative experiences. If you have addressed these comments, not only will the positive comments and your solid web presence overshadow the negative, it shows your commitment and pride to serve your customers.

And remember…. Your customers (present and future) are online, either on a computer at home or at work, or on their mobile smart phone. When consumers are unsure, or deciding which business to buy from, they use the information they find online to help them decide. Do you present a professional image? Are you credible? Should they trust you? What do other people say about their experience with your business?

Your customers are using social media. They are reading online reviews and will form an opinion about your business and your products. The perception they form is then strongly tied to whether or not they decide to purchase from you. With the Internet, consumers have access to an immense amount of information and purchasers have a digital megaphone to influence what their friends or families buy, as well as what strangers buy.

It isn’t a surprise or a secret – people use the Internet to find information about local businesses. What will they find when they search for you? Remember, be present, play offense, listen and engage. It is up to you to make sure they find the right kind of information.

Melinda Davies is a Digital Marketing Consultant with WSI based in the Seattle, WA area, and works with local businesses to develop their digital marketing strategy, including local search, online lead generation, email marketing, brand credibility, mobile marketing, social media, reputation management and web analytics. WSI has been providing innovative Internet marketing solutions for clients around the world since the mid-1990s. WSI has a global reach, with a network of digital marketing consultants dedicated to region-specific solutions in over 80 countries. Check out Melinda’s website at


LinkedIn and Your Reputation… 1 Free Tip

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On August - 25 - 2012

As a digital marketing firm here in Orange County, we often work with individuals whose names are heavily associated with their brand, such as an attorney, or a consultant or a doctor (or a digital marketer). One thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is in these cases those individuals names are searched on as much as the industry keywords associated with their brand.

When it comes to your online reputation, control whatever you can.

Here’s the Tip:

Your LinkedIn profile is exclusively yours… you control what’s on it. If you can get it to show up in the search results for your name, you just took control of one more piece of your online reputation.

Here’s How:

  • Make sure that your profile is at 100% completion. There is a bar in the upper right hand side that tells you how far you have to go.
  • Ask your network for Recommendations (you need at least 3 just to get to 100%). Get as many as you can.
  • If your name is popular (like John Smith) try using your middle name or initial in your profile, or even associate it with your geographic location
  • Whenever possible, link to your LinkedIn profile from blog postings, your company website…wherever you can. It’s those incoming links that indicate popularity to the search engines and bolster your search results.
  • Link to it from other social media like Google Plus and Facebook and Twitter.

Chuck Bankoff Director of Web Services for Kreative Webworks, Inc. and is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker, Author and Trainer in Orange County California.

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My recorded Online Reputation Management Workshop now available

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On October - 3 - 2011

A few weeks ago I conducted a special “Insiders Guide to Leveraging your Online Reputation” workshop for U.S. and European audiences.

What’s that all about? Well the fact is that people may be saying nasty things about you without you… whether they are true or not. You can’t stop it, but you can manage it.

This is actually more than a lecture; it’s an actual workshop, complete with the same techniques and actual forms that we use to track our client’s online reputation.




The actual workshop is available at:

I’ve also put together a special edition kit that includes all the forms that we actually use for our clients along with examples of how they should look when completed. If you think they would be useful, just contact us:


The Insider’s Guide to Leveraging your Online Reputation:

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On July - 29 - 2011

People are talking about you without you!

Before the Internet, businesses controlled their public image and message through television, Yellow Pages, radio and print advertisements. But now people are openly discussing your business image, products and services on social networks, review sites, online directories and blogs. Not only that, what they say impacts the buying decisions of your potential customers. During this workshop webinar, you will be presented with a step-by-step systematic approach to evaluating, improving and managing your online reputation. Make no mistake, it DOES MATTER. You can’t stop it, but you can manage it! Not only will you learn how to manage your online brand or personal reputation, but we will provide you with the actual worksheets that we use with our own clients.

There are two sessions to choose from:

Register: Wed, Aug 3, 2011, 8:00am PST *

Register: Wed, Aug 3, 2011, 11:00am PST

*The 8:00am PST session is to accommodate our European audience, so don’t let the 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM BST time on the registration form fool you… both of these sessions are open to everyone.

Note: You will need to use my name, Chuck Bankoff, to complete the registration.

Both of these sessions are free and include our Special Edition Resources Kit which is comprised of the same tools that we use for our own clients.

Chuck Bankoff is Director of Web Services for WSIeWorks, a full service Digital marketing firm in Orange County California.


Don’t let the “S” in SEO stand for Sucker

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On February - 4 - 2011

A personal friend of mine…an attorney, told me that he contracted with a search engine optimization company, (let’s call them the “Mellow” Pages) because they claimed to specialize in search engine optimization for personal injury attorneys.

6 thousand dollars later he was asking me why he was getting top rankings on the search results pages, but no additional business.

It didn’t take a forensic pathologist to unravel this mystery. After reviewing the keyword phrases that he contracted for verses the actual results, it was evident that he was simply the victim of a classic bait and switch.

Let me emphasize that my attorney friend…a VERY intelligent guy and a top attorney had absolutely no reason to suspect what would be painfully obvious to an Internet Marketing specialist.  He is a very competent attorney…not a digital marketing professional.

Here is how it went down:

He contracted for the following phrases:

  • Accident Attorney Irvine
  • Car Accident Lawyer Irvine
  • Car Accident Lawyers Irvine
  • Car Accident Attorney Irvine
  • Personal Injury Lawyer Irvine

Here are the keyword phrases that were actually optimized:

  • Accident Attorney Irvine California
  • Car Accident Lawyer Irvine California
  • Car Accident Lawyers Irvine California
  • Car Accident Attorney Irvine California
  • Personal Injury Lawyer Irvine California

Did you notice the difference? Simply by adding one more word (California) to an otherwise legitimate long tail keyword phrase, it turned a very competitive, highly searched on phrase into something easily achievable, but with no discernable ROI.

Let’s take a look at his actual results:

Notice that virtually each phrase with the word “California” at the end of it ranks higher than the same phrase without the State name. Why is that?

Well, by simply searching on both phrases in Google and comparing the amount of search results, I could quickly see that the phrase “car accident attorney irvine California” was approximately 370% less competitive than the version without the word “California” tagged onto the end.

Is that a good thing? Actually your SEO consultant should be looking for less competitive words; that is an essential ingredient to good keyword selection. However those less competitive phrases must also represent a fair amount of searches. At the end of the day I would rather show up for 20% of a thousand searches than zero percent of a Million searches.

If the research showed that by adding the State name at the end of all those phrases resulted in reduced, but significant traffic, then it would have been a sound strategy. In this case people who live in Irvine rarely search on a phrase like “car accident lawyer Irvine California”, however they do search on a phrase like “car accident lawyer Irvine”. The “Mellow” pages simply made it easy on themselves at the expense of their client.

Let’s put this into perspective; every successful business person is good at what they do. There is no reason for anyone to be good in an entirely different industry like digital marketing. I would never review my own contracts, or do my own accounting. Why would I expect a lawyer to be able to interpret the results of a search engine optimization campaign?

So how do you safeguard against unscrupulous Internet marketing practitioners?  The same way you would when referencing any company or individual; “Reputation Management”. My best advice is to simply search on: “reviews” + “the individual you are working with” to see what other folks have to say about their experience with that SEO specialist you are considering.

Remember, ethics and skill are mutually exclusive. My instincts tell me that the “Mellow” Pages should have been more trustworthy and accountable, but that was clearly not the case.

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