SEO Articles

WordPress pages or posts: Which should you use?

Since its launch in May 2003, WordPress has become the most-used website platform globally. The WordPress platform powers almost 37% of the top 1 million trafficked websites, according to BuiltWith data.

Given the low cost (you really only pay for hosting), ease of installation and use and flexibility, WordPress is ready for websites of all sizes, from personal blogs to enterprise businesses.

Count me as a fan. I’ve advocated for its use, going back to nearly the beginning of its existence in 2003.

I’ve worked on many WordPress websites, and one of the most common questions I still get is about pages versus posts – which one should be used?

Before answering that question, let’s review how WordPress pages and posts differ.

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WordPress pages

Pages in WordPress are intended to hold content that may be considered more “evergreen,” such as the home page, product/service pages, or about us-type content.

Pages can be nested to create a directory structure by making one page the “parent” of another.

Generally, pages cannot leverage categories, tags and authors and are usually not included in RSS feeds from the website.

WordPress posts

Posts in WordPress link the platform back to its roots as a blogging platform. Posts were intended to hold news-related, time-sensitive, and other content that might be associated with websites that are strictly blogs.

Posts are time-driven and can leverage categories, tags, and authors for archive pages and on-site search. Posts are included in RSS feeds.

Content authors can make posts appear in a directory structure by setting up categories, which can be in parent/child relationships, and creating the structure in the Permalinks settings in the WordPress settings.

One crucial thing to remember: Both pages and posts are content for your users and the search engines.

The website owner sets their appearance and use. Pages and posts can be used interchangeably for any purpose – though it’s a terrible idea to mix similar content between the two formats.

WordPress pagesWordPress postsIntended for evergreen contentIntended for news or “blog” content – very time-drivenCan be nested together in parent/child arrangements to create a directory structureCan fit into a directory structure using categories that can be nested in parent/child relationshipsCannot leverage categories, tags or authorsLeverages categories, tags, and authorsCannot use RSS feeds to share contentCan use RSS feeds to share contentCan be styled any way the website owner wishesCan be styled any way the website owner wishesIs considered content to the website visitors and search enginesIs considered content to the website visitors and search engines

Evolving recommendations

In the past, I most often recommended that “evergreen” content be created as pages. These would include items like the home page, product/service pages and “about us,” etc.

Other news-related, time-sensitive, instructive, blog-type content would be created as posts. As mentioned above, this follows what most consider the intention of pages and posts.

Although this way of working is still quite valid, I’ve been rethinking this advice lately.

Why?

A large number of websites I’ve worked on lately have had terrible information architecture.

For many of these sites, most, if not all, content is in the website’s root folder. Some sites have content on the same topic mixed between pages and posts. The former issue is relatively easy to fix, the latter, not so much.

Part of the problem is that WordPress is set to put all content at the website’s root by default. Another part is a misunderstanding of how pages and posts are intended to function.

My recommendations now are slightly different if a site is being built from scratch or undergoing a significant reorganization.

In that case, I have two recommendations based on the type of content that will comprise the majority of the website:

For sites with a majority of evergreen-type content, I recommend the site be all pages.
This allows pages to be built and nested together in parent/child relationships to construct a logical folder structure. Even if there is timely blog-type content, pages will work quite well unless there is an absolute need for tag or author connections.For sites with a majority of timely, blog-type content, I recommend the site be all posts.
This allows for content to be organized along category lines. Posts also allow for tag and author archives to be used. This type of setup also allows for easy RSS feeds. The home page can be set up to show the latest posts to help keep it fresh with the newest information.

Either of these arrangements would work well because pages and posts are just content to website visitors and search engines. Both content formats can be styled to suit the needs of the website.

If forms and other interactive features are needed, they can be applied equally well to pages or posts.

From an SEO perspective, the content format on the back end is irrelevant – it’s what is presented to users and search engine spiders that matters.

Should I uproot everything and change the structure of my site?

As I mention above, I recommend building this type of structure on a new site or if a site is undergoing significant work like a re-platforming onto a new theme or migration to a new design.

If your website is working well and you don’t notice any significant problems, it’s OK to take an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

Final thought

The main reason for my changing recommendations is the lack of a logical directory structure on many sites I support. While it is quite possible to create a logical structure with a mix of pages and posts, it is certainly much simpler to set up and maintain if the site is set up with all one type of content.

The post WordPress pages or posts: Which should you use? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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4 proven methods to improve Google RSA conversion rates

As machine learning seizes yet another opportunity to beat out human capabilities, Google Ads is officially retiring Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) on June 30.

The simple days of three headlines and two descriptions will be replaced by mix-and-match opportunities of up to 15 headlines and four descriptions. 

Advantages to running Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) include:

The ability to test multiple ad copies at once without the manual labor of setting up different ads.Endless ad copy combinations, allowing for robust testing and quicker learning. Automatic winning ad-optimization. The system will award the most impressions to the winning ad copy combinations in the end. 

However, trust concerns arise when advertisers use these algorithms. RSA reporting leaves much to be desired, as you can only see the number of impressions for each asset and combination.

Does the lack of control over ad copy combinations leave you questioning if there’s more you can do to optimize performance?

Read on to discover four ways to improve RSA conversion rates – with test findings to back them up.

1. Look beyond impressions for decision-making

Google provides impression volume for each headline and description.

If you’re receiving enough volume (over 5,000 impressions in 30 days), then the algorithm may be able to assign a performance rating to your ad copy. The ratings include:

LowGoodBest

While it is recommended that you replace a “low” performing asset with a new variation to improve CTR, impression volume is simply not enough to dictate a true winner. 

What’s missing?

Click and conversion volume are the missing links in this report.

To put our trust behind RSAs, we need to ensure they are supporting our goals.

CTR and CVR are critical to analyzing performance on campaigns with conversion goals as well as low-volume ad groups where it may be impossible to get out of the learning phase.

A proposed solution

We need to test two RSAs against one another to look at ad-level KPIs, not just copy-level impressions.

Ad copy in each RSA should be intentionally limited to just three headlines and two descriptions and the ads should be tested in an experiment.

In this way, you are creating pseudo-ETAs.

Once you start recognizing winners, you can optimize performance by turning off poor-converting assets in your non-experimental RSAs.

2. Don’t worry about ad strength for conversion volume

When comparing ETAs and RSAs, advertisers often see higher CTR in RSAs but lower CVR.

This could be caused by the lack of messaging control and Google’s push for advertisers to follow best practices to improve their ad strength.

In order to bring your RSA ad strength from Poor to Excellent, Google wants to create and test as many ad copy combinations as possible, recommending:

To maximize the quantity of headlines and descriptions (up to 15 headlines and four descriptions per ad)Unique headlines and descriptionsUnpinned copyTo include high-volume keywords in your ad copy

While following best practices is said to be optimal for performance, advertising rebels should run their own tests. Manual testing can continue after ETAs disappear.

To test how much ad strength impacts conversion rate, we set up an experiment in Google for two weeks:

Client A is on a tCPA bidding strategy and needs to get the most efficient CPL possible.

Control (Base): RSA with ten headlines and four descriptions; no pinned ad copy

Test (Trial): RSA with the same ten headlines and four descriptions; Top 3 headlines and top 2 descriptions pinned, based on impression volume

Impressi-onsClicksImpr. ShareAd StrengthCTRCPCCVRCPLControl17,54051244.53%Average2.92%$18.476.36%$290.60Test16,69244742.44%Poor2.68%$18.486.58%$280.90

Both the control and test showed similar results. With a goal of lower CPL, pinning the headlines and descriptions would be a better decision to optimize this ad group’s performance.

3. Run experiments to test ad copy variables

Now that we know we can pin ad copy without any repercussions to our CPL or CVR, we can think about the proper way to A/B test headline and description variations.

When leveraging smart bidding tactics, algorithms are doing what they can to help you reach your goals. Even when you check the Do not optimize ad rotation option in the settings, Google is not serving your ads evenly because it is working to satisfy your campaign goals first.

Knowing that Google will favor one RSA over another if you run two RSAs in one ad group simultaneously, gaining true KPIs on each ad copy variable is difficult when impression volume is so skewed.

The best way to test one variable at a time is to set up a custom experiment or ad variation. This will ensure that the spend gets split 50/50 for each ad.

4. Create ETAs within RSAs

Although this test defeats the purpose of Google’s ETA exile, you can offer just three headlines and two descriptions per ad.

Testing two pseudo-ETAs in an experiment is a great way to analyze winning ad copy.

In this experiment, we looked at giving the algorithm some freedom while maintaining control of our messaging:

Client B is on a tCPA bidding strategy and needs to get the most efficient CPL possible.

Control (Base): RSA with ten headlines and four descriptions; Top 3 headlines and top 2 descriptions pinned, based on impression volume

Test (Trial): RSA with only top 3 headlines and top 2 description, based on impression volume

ImpressionsClicksImpr. ShareAd StrengthCTRCPCCVRCPLControl11,17630948.72%Poor2.76%$16.254.02%$404.66Test11,27133446.07%Poor2.96%$15.877.04%$225.60

Since the trial copy was unpinned, Google’s algorithms decided which position to show each headline in.

Giving the system this freedom brought CPL down 45%.

This is a great way to test ad copy, as long as specific headline positions aren’t important to you. 

Don’t be afraid to go against best practices to unlock new potential

Trusting the algorithms can be an easy way to test multiple ad copies simultaneously. However, with some extra experimenting and detective work, humans can optimize conversion rates even further than machine learning.

The post 4 proven methods to improve Google RSA conversion rates appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google May 2022 core update is finished rolling out

Google has confirmed that the May 2022 core update is now finished rolling out. The update took 15 days to roll out, starting on May 25, 2022 and ending on June 9, 2022.

The announcement. Google posted on Twitter this morning at 3:44am ET that the update has completed rolling out:

The May 2022 core update rollout is now complete.

— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) June 9, 2022

May 2022 core update. As a reminder, the May 2022 core update started to roll out at about 11:30 a.m. ET on May 25, 2022. This update took 9 days to roll out after it was announced, it finished rolling out on June 9, 2022.

When and what was felt. Based on the data, this update was a big update and rolled out quickly for many queries the data providers track. We did see some “tremors,” shifts in volatility, after the initial update, the largest tremors were around June 5th and that should be the final sets of volatility you would see from the initial broad core update release.

More on the May 2022 core update

The SEO community. The May 2022 core update seems much more significant than the November 2021 core update. Unlike the November 2021 core update, where the timing for that update was not the best, i.e. right during the busiest online shopping season, this update was scheduled a lot better for retailers. I covered the community reaction in one blog post on Search Engine Roundtable early on. It includes some of the early chatter, ranking charts and social shares from some SEOs.

On Twitter you can find plenty of examples of SEOs sharing charts from their clients – mostly showing winners but also showing losers – with this update.

What to do if you are hit. Google has given advice on what to consider if you are negatively impacted by a core update in the past. There aren’t specific actions to take to recover, and in fact, a negative rankings impact may not signal anything is wrong with your pages. However, Google has offered a list of questions to consider if your site is hit by a core update. Google did say you can see a bit of a recovery between core updates but the biggest change you would see would be after another core update.

Why we care. Whenever Google updates its search ranking algorithms, it means that your site can do better or worse in the search results. Knowing when Google makes these updates gives us something to point to in order to understand if it was something you changed on your website or something Google changed with its ranking algorithm. Google released the May 2022 core update on May 25th and it is now complete – now it is time to dig in and investigate how your site(s) did with this update and take the necessary steps to continue to improve in the future.

More on Google updates

You can read more of our coverage in Search Engine Land’s Google Algorithm Updates history.

The post Google May 2022 core update is finished rolling out appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google expands financial services verification policy to Australia, Singapore, Taiwan

Google announced today that it is expanding its Ads Financial Products and Services policy to Australia, Singapore and Taiwan. 

Last year Google announced the implementation of measures aimed at verifying the legitimacy of advertisers in the financial services industry in the UK. These measures were added to prevent financial product scams and scammers from exploiting the Google Ads platform for their benefit.

As Search Engine Land reported last year, the verification process included proving that the advertiser is “authorized by the UK Financial Conduct Authority,” or must qualify for an exemption.

Verification requirements for advertisers. As part of the verification process, “financial services advertisers in these markets will need to demonstrate that they are authorized by their relevant financial services regulator and have completed Google’s advertiser verification program in order to begin promoting their products and services.”

Launch date. Advertisers will be able to apply for verification at the end of June, and the policy will go into effect on Aug. 30. Advertisers that have not completed the new verification process by this date will no longer be allowed to promote financial services.

What Google says. “We work tirelessly to make sure the ads we serve are safe and trustworthy, and we know that partnering and collaborating with government regulators is critical to our success,” said Alejandro Borgia, Director, Ads Privacy and Safety. “That’s why we’re closely coordinating with regulators in these three markets to make sure this program is effective at scale. In the coming months, we plan to further expand these verification requirements to advertisers in additional countries and regions.”

The results are in. Google launched the verification program in the UK in September 2021. Since then, Google states that they have seen a “pronounced decline in reports of ads promoting financial scams.” According to Google’s 2021 Ads Safety Report, they blocked 58.9 million ads for violating their financial safety policies. 

Why we care. Although nothing is 100% foolproof, it’s a good effort by Google to combat financial scams. If you’re running ads for financial services in Australia, Singapore or Taiwan, mark your calendars and keep an eye out for a notification inside your Google Ads dashboard. Review the procedures for exemptions and start the verification process ASAP so your account doesn’t get suspended. 

The post Google expands financial services verification policy to Australia, Singapore, Taiwan appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Webinar: Build a unified keyword strategy across Google, Amazon and YouTube

Webinar: Build a unified keyword strategy across Google, Amazon and YouTube

Search behavior is no longer limited to a single space. So, how can you build a unified keyword strategy across Google, Amazon and YouTube?

In this webinar, you’ll see how consumers interact with each search engine and what type of content resonates most effectively with different audiences. 

Register today for “Build an Integrated Search Strategy Across Google, Amazon and YouTube” presented by Similarweb.

The post Webinar: Build a unified keyword strategy across Google, Amazon and YouTube appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Mastering Google Reviews For Business: Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Brand

Mastering Google Reviews For Business: Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Brand

As a business owner, you know that online reviews are essential, and they can make or break your business.

In fact, 89 percent of worldwide consumers say they read online reviews before buying products, and 49 percent report trusting those reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Good reviews can help you attract new customers, while bad reviews can deter potential customers from doing business with you.

That’s why it’s crucial to learn everything you can about Google reviews and how to use them to your advantage.

In this blog post, we’ll show you everything you need to know about Google reviews and ratings, including how to get more reviews, how to respond to negative reviews, and how to use Google My Business to your advantage.

What Are Google Reviews?

Google reviews are public comments and ratings left by customers about your business.

Customers can review businesses on Google Search, Maps, and Local Finder. These reviews are essential because they help potential customers learn more about your business before they decide to patronize it.

Google reviews can be up to 4,000 characters and include a small writeup and rating from 1 star (lowest) to 5 stars (highest).

It probably doesn’t surprise you that Google is the most popular online review platform, with more than 59 percent of consumers using it.

Why Do Google Reviews Matter for Your Business?

Google reviews for business are critical because they can improve your business’s visibility and click-through rate (CTR) on Google Search and Maps.

A higher CTR means that more people see and click your listing in search results, leading to more customers.

In addition, Google reviews and ratings act as social proof. They show potential customers that other people have had positive experiences with your business, making them more likely to shop with you.

Google reviews for business are also one of the many factors that search engines consider when determining local SEO rankings.

This means that if you can get more positive Google reviews, you may be able to improve your position in local search results. In other words, Google reviews have the potential to bring you more customers and help you grow your business.

Asking for Google Reviews: How to Get Customers to Leave Google Reviews and Ratings

According to BrightLocal, 67 percent of consumers are willing to leave a review for a positive experience, and 40 percent consider leaving a review for a negative experience.

However, just because a customer is willing to leave a review doesn’t mean they will. If you want to increase the number of Google reviews left for your business, you need to make it easy and convenient for customers to leave them.

The best way to do this is by asking your customers directly. Consider including your Google My Business review link in:

email signaturespost-purchase confirmation emailsphysical receiptsthank-you cards or notes

When asking customers to leave a review, make sure to:

Personalize the request: Address them by name and mention their recent purchase or experience.Keep it short and sweet: Customers are more likely to leave a review if the request is simple and to the point.Include a link to your Google My Business listing: Make it easy for customers to leave a review by including a direct link.Send a prompt: Try sending a short prompt for the review you’d like them to leave. This gives reviewers a starting point and can make sending the review a little easier. For example, “My favorite thing about <company> is….”

NOTE: Most review sites, including Google, do not permit businesses to offer something in exchange for a review. Instead, focus on making it as easy as possible for them to leave their review.

Remember, the best Google reviewers have had a recent, positive experience with your business and are likely to leave a detailed review.

By following these tips, you can get more Google reviews for business and start building your online credibility.

Tips for Responding to Google Reviews

Responding to Google reviews is just as important as getting them in the first place.

When you take the time to respond, you show potential customers that you value their feedback—good or bad. You also have a chance to give your side of the story if a customer leaves a negative review.

Once you start gathering reviews, take the time to respond to positive and negative feedback.

While positive reviews are great for boosting morale, responding to negative reviews is essential for maintaining your business’s reputation.

ReviewTrackers found that more than half of customers expect a business to respond to negative reviews within a week. Yet, 63 percent reported never hearing back from a company about their review!

In addition, research from BrightLocal found that 89 percent of consumers would continue to frequent a business that responds to all of its online reviews.

Tips for Responding to Negative Google Reviews

Follow these steps to help turn a negative review into a positive interaction:

Thank the customer for their feedback and apologize for their poor experience.Acknowledge the issue they raised and offer a solution.If appropriate, invite the customer to reach out to you directly so you can resolve the issue offline.Once they reach out, consider offering them a discount or coupon to incentivize them to return (and hopefully leave a nicer review.)

Tips for Responding to Positive Google Reviews

Here’s how you can reply to a positive Google review to create a lifetime customer:

Thank the customer for their feedback and let them know you appreciate their support.If appropriate, invite the customer to reach out to you directly so you can thank them personallyPersonalize your response so they feel seen by your business.

The most important thing to remember when responding to Google reviews is to be responsive, professional, and courteous. By doing so, you’ll show other potential customers that you care about your business and are committed to providing the best experience possible.

How to Leverage Google Reviews for Your Business

Google reviews for business are more than a way to get feedback from customers—they’re also a powerful marketing tool.

Here are five tips for leveraging Google reviews to improve your business.

1. Showcase Reviews on Your Website

Once you have a collection of Google reviews for business on your Google My Business page, you can showcase them on your website using a widget. This gives potential customers an easy way to see what others think of your business before they decide to make a purchase.

Different widgets are available depending on the content management system (CMS) you’re using. Be sure to choose one that’s compatible with your website platform and fits the style of your site.

If you’re not sure how to add a widget to your website, most providers offer instructions or customer support that can help you.

Some popular Google reviews for business widgets include:

WP Review ProWidget for Google ReviewsTaggbox

2. Use Positive Reviews to Reduce Abandoned Carts

If customers see that other people have had a positive experience with your brand, they’re more likely to complete a purchase.

One of the easiest ways to increase customer confidence is by adding testimonials and product reviews to your checkout process.

A detailed review can help you reduce abandoned carts by:

helping customers with specific problemsbuilding trust, which is important for potential buyersreducing any friction during the checkout process

When adding reviews to product pages or checkout flows, make sure they’re specific and highlight the features that are most important to your customers.

For example, if you sell headphones, a customer might be looking for reviews that address sound quality, battery life, or comfort.

If you’re not sure which reviews to showcase, start with your most recent ones or those from customers who have made similar purchases in the past.

In fact, online flower delivery service Flowers.ie saw a 37 percent increase in purchases on products that showcased reviews.

You can also use Google reviews and ratings to collect feedback about your business, product, or service. Use this valuable customer feedback to improve your business.

For example, if you see that customers are mentioning a problem with your checkout process, you can take steps to fix that pain point.

3. Update Reviews Regularly

Not only do customers want to see that you have reviews, but they also want to see that you’re actively collecting them. Would you rather shop at a company that hasn’t gotten a review in the past six months, or one that gets them regularly?

If it’s been a few months since your last review, reach out to some of your recent customers and ask them for feedback. You can always offer an incentive for leaving a review, like a discount on their next purchase.

PhysioRoom.com increased its review collection by 1,900 percent, which improved its monthly B2B sales by 8 percent.

Here are a few ways to collect new reviews:

Ask customers for reviews in confirmation emails.Post signs in your store or office promoting reviews.Include review requests in product boxes or packaging.

4. Leverage Best Reviews in Retargeting Campaigns

Did you know retargeted display ads convert almost as much as high-intent search ads (and sometimes more in certain industries)? That’s because you’re targeting people who are already interested in what you have to say.

One way to make your retargeted ads even more effective is to include customer reviews. This social proof will remind potential customers why they were interested in your product or service in the first place– and it could be the push they need to convert.

For example, if you’re selling a new type of toothbrush that’s gentle on sensitive gums, you could include a review in your retargeted ad that says, “I learned to love brushing my teeth again!” or, “I don’t have to dread going to the dentist anymore.”

Similarly, if you’re an accountant, you could include a review that says, “I have so much more time to dedicate to running my business now.”

Here’s an example from TaxSlayer whose featured reviews brought in a whopping 60 percent increase in CTRs.

Including customer reviews in your retargeted ads is an easy way to show social proof and improve your click-through rate. When done right, can be a powerful way to increase conversions.

Take the time to read through your reviews and find the ones that would be most impactful for your target audience. Then, start testing different review placements in your ads until you find what works best for your business.

5. Choose Reviews That Elicit Emotion

Think about some of the recent reviews you’ve read online. What really stood out to you?

It likely wasn’t the two-line review about the product working as expected. Instead, it was probably the review that made you feel something. Maybe it was funny, maybe it was weird, but whatever it was, it made an impression.

The same principle applies when choosing which reviews to showcase in your marketing strategy. Look for ones that evoke an emotional response from your target audience. For example, if you’re focusing on new parents, look for reviews that mention how your product has made their lives easier.

On the other hand, if you’re targeting millennials, you might look for reviews that are funny or quirky.

No matter who your target audience is, make sure you’re choosing reviews that will resonate with them on an emotional level. The bigger the impact you can make, the more likely you are to convert prospects into customers.

Here’s an example from G-Form, an athletic equipment company that isn’t afraid to flex its funny bone.

Google Reviews for Business Frequently Asked Questions

Are Google reviews fake?

Generally no. Google states it has a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews. However, BrightLocal found that 62 percent of consumers believe they have seen a fake review in the last year. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a review, check the username and avatar of the reviewer to see if anything is suspicious. You can also look at previous reviews the reviewer has made.

Pay attention to the date, time, and location of past reviews. If you see a reviewer has left reviews in cities across the world in a matter of days, that’s a red flag. If the reviewer has never left another review, that’s also something to take note of. If you believe a review is fake and in violation of Google’s policies, you can request a removal from Google.

Can Google reviews be removed?

In some cases, yes. Google has a request removal system. However, the company is very clear that decisions to remove (or not remove) a review is final. In most cases, Google will only remove reviews that are in violation of their policies. These include reviews that contain profanity or sexually explicit language, reviews that promote illegal activity, reviews that are off-topic, and spam.

Should I respond to negative Google reviews?

Yes, responding to Google reviews is a critical part of managing your online reputation. By responding to negative reviews, you can turn a bad situation into a positive one. When responding to negative reviews, always be professional and courteous. Never leave a response that is derogatory or inflammatory.

How many Google reviews should I try to get?

As many legitimate reviews as possible. Generally, the more Google reviews for a business you have, the better. Having more reviews will protect your Google My Business rating if you do get a negative review. A good rule of thumb is to try to get at least 50 Google reviews.

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Conclusion: Google Reviews for Business

Google reviews for business are a powerful way to build trust and credibility with potential customers.

Reviews show customers that your business is reputable. They can also highlight your company’s best assets and show your customer service commitment.

By following Google’s review policies, you can build a strong list of reviews that will benefit your business. Plus, by responding to negative reviews in a professional manner, you can turn a bad situation into a positive one.

Do you feel Google reviews have an impact on your business?

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