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Credibility in the Business Marketplace can Be Easy, Here’s How

by Matthew Henderson
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Using feedback as a tool to ramp up your company’s street cred

In a marketplace built on networking, it would seem that it really is all about who you know, or rather, who knows your business and what they would have to say about it. New research points toward customer reviews as a crucial part of creating new business from local organic searches with as many as 90% of users checking reviews before ever setting foot in an establishment.  What does this mean to the business owner? The importance of making your company seem credible has never been higher.

Imagine your old college roommate lures you and a mutual friend to a pub and proceeds to ramble on about his business idea. His company is called “Re-Fill” and they produce canteen backpacks that collect and recycle the user’s sweat for later consumption. You respond with the appropriate “pff..” and look to the third friend for solidarity only to find them listening intently with a stern and thoughtful expression. Why? Because everyone has their own threshold of credibility. A sort of mental watermark that divides what we immediately reject from what we are willing to give some credence to and follow further. If a particular idea registers deeply within our logic and value system, we may even regard it highly enough to accept it at once.

Let’s say your old roommate began to elaborate and you learn that his business was actually announced in 2015. The creative team was comprised mostly of professors of health science from the University of Texas.

Is Re-Fill starting to sound a bit more plausible?

He goes on to explain that the seed money for the project was in fact donated by local football legend Vince Young who also happens to be the proprietor of a successful Austin steakhouse. Last month a soundbite featuring Young endorsing Re-Fill aired on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

Starting to wish you’d kept in closer contact with your old roommate?

The Role of SEO in Credibility

If increasing conversions from local searches are based on good reviews and credibility is based on making sure your message and aesthetic will clear the average user’s threshold, you had better make sure you come correct with your SEO structure when they get there. Meta descriptions, clean titles, your social media based business pages. All of this must be calculated to guarantee returned listings and make sure you are projecting the right impression.

Three Steps to Getting a Rep

  1. Presence and Perception

How convincing do you come across at first sight?

Try to answer this question based on the indicators visible to everyone. If you have a Google My Business page, for example, five or more reviews will result in stars. A star rating appears on local, paid, and organic searches. To kick it up a notch, ensure that you are allowing reviews in the highly utilized business directories. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Urban Spoon. These are high traffic portals that have already earned the trust of the consumers you want to reach out to.  If your particular industry has a few prominent names in your city and those other companies are paying more attention to their initial awareness than you, your business may be broadcasting an impression that is below the average line of believability.

If your competition is less tapped into business directories, exploit this to your advantage and boost your credibility! What else are they trying and how do they come off in a first search based impression? How do you come off? What does a typical search around your brand and major terms look like?

  1. Appraisal

Once they are beyond first impressions, your prospective client will begin to evaluate your credibility based on more meaningful criteria. It now becomes necessary to truly internalize the intentions of your target audience and your current standing within the local marketplace.

If you are a downtown sushi bar, what is your ranking on TripAdvisor? How are the reviews? If a map-based search for “Asian food” buries your restaurant in a litany of results, it can often be helpful to designate your business within a more specific subcategory, in this case, “Sushi”.

Being the highest rated Asian restaurant in your local area may be tough, but making the cut for the “top three downtown sushi bars” is a much more workable goal.

  1. Long-Term Integrity

This part of ramping up your stats is a recursive process and not one that you ever really check off your list. The main idea here is to customize the maintenance program for your credibility to the specific needs of your company. To make this happen, you must know your market and customers. You must also be aware of the tools in your arsenal, a few of which are mentioned below.

Choosing the right tactics will depend on the customers you are seeking out. Thorough market research and buyer personals are integral here.

Reviews and Testimonials

  • Reviews are key to local businesses but consideration must be given as to the type of reviews needed and where they will be seen. Google + is a good place to start but you must branch out from there. Testimonials are even more personal than reviews and typically link the reader to the author’s social media profiles. The result is usually positive. To see a well-kept virtual space and a clean cut photograph will enrich the reader’s perception of the review. Make sure to consider your audience and be selective when deciding which testimonials will be visible to readers.

Case Studies

  • Let numbers do the talking! Case studies are typically packed with facts and statistics that demonstrate how you provided your customers with ROI and how you are competing with other companies in the industry.

Blogging and Social Media

  • Purely as a form of content, blog posts can be a strong demonstration of how well you know your industry and your market. The “featured in” section on the main page of larger SEO and marketing agencies is a way to show where they blog in order to gain clout and momentum from these noted industry sites.
  • Social media, on the other hand, is more useful for its transparency. Not only does it provide another forum for reviews but it also allows prospective customers to see how your employees get along with their customers and communicate with their industry at large. Is the tone comfortable? The content? Are they more service oriented or is there a bit of an edgy vibe?

External Sites

  • No matter the industry, there will be abundant opportunities to have your business mentioned on third-party sites. Depending on your location and target audience these shout-outs can refer to anything from generic business directories to more specific or esoteric forums.

Making it Work

Good SEO is about more than raising your listing by a few points on organic searches. At the end of the day, it all comes down to conversion rate. It is the layer effect of a strong presence, valid content and long-term relevance that raise the credibility of a business and keep it there.  The strategies discussed here will lead to a more engaged relationship with your search listings and a stronger sense of who your audience is and how to retain them.

If you want to know more about our SEO and marketing, don’t hesitate to call us or contact us through our online form at Insignia SEO.


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