Angie’s List is Now Free – Impact on Business Reviews & SEO

Angie’s List is now free, removing the annual membership requirement to view full ratings and reviews.  Now consumers can access this service for free, opening the door to an audience even larger than its millions of current paid members.

In the past only paying customers could read Angie’s List reviews or leave their own, but now anyone can use a free membership to browse with the announcement of Angie’s List new free membership plan.  Why the change? In a March 2016 TechCrunch interview new CEO Scott Durchslag stated, “We get over 100 million visitors each month, but 90% of them have been bouncing because of the reviews paywall.” So they have removed the paywall and now offer a new membership tier structure that offers premium services like emergency services hotlines and handyman prequalification with paid subscriptions. Angie’s List looks to drastically increase its user base and compete with startups like Thumbtack, Handy, and Porch, which have free plans and tools consumers and contractors enjoy.

Angies List Tier MemberhsipAngie’s List Free Membership Press Release

Why You Should Claim Your Profile on Angie’s List

With over 700 categories (see Service Categories here) there is probably a category for your business on Angie’s List since it has expanded to include auto, health, pet and additional services beyond home services and contractors.  In fact, you may have a profile on Angie’s List created when a customer wanted to leave a review and not even know it. Everybody from Dentist to Dog Walkers and Midwives to Wedding Planners have a category on Angie’s List where you could be gathering reviews.

Angies List Categories

According to Angie’s List’s namesake and CMO Angie Hicks, her website is can credit its success to the fact that their members tend to give very detailed and meaty reviews.  These are the best kinds of reviews because they provide tons of keyword rich content that point to your business.

As a business owner, you can claim and control your profile on Angie’s list.  As a business on their platform, you can use free tools that let you communicate with customers, collect reviews, and gather leads.  With billions in revenue for its listed businesses every year, managing your Angie’s list profile effectively could result in getting your very small slice of that $315 billion pie they divvy out to business members.

Angie’s List Now Free – The Impact on Your Business, Customer Reviews, and SEO

As of this month, “Green” membership plans are now free for consumers.  This move to provide a freemium plan for internet users hungry for real-life customer reviews can have a huge impact on your business’s online reputation.  If you are in the home services market and managing your profile on Angie’s List you know the impact reviews on can have on your business, but even then less than one percent of the US population were members.  That meant that the vast majority of consumers couldn’t see the reviews posted to your profile. Moreover, a bad review meant a bad reputation on Angie’s List had a limited audience. Now everyone can see your reviews on Angie’s List, good or bad.

From an SEO standpoint, Angie’s List has always ranked well for your business name even though their publicly accessible pages only provide basic NAP (name, address, phone number) information.  With a strong domain authority and trusted name, adding more access to content-rich customer reviews should raise the rankings for business names (Angie’s List profile names) in search engine results pages. That will make Angie’s List a strong competitor for organic search results.

Angies List How It Works

Not Managing Reviews on Angie’s List? Time to Start

With the expected rise organic search results, your Angie’s List profile and reputation is something that needs to be claimed and managed. Claiming your profile will allow you to control and verify the content and categories, send happy customers to leave a review, get notified of new reviews, and respond to reviews.

Like other review sites, Angie’s list accepts and verifies both good and bad reviews, and won’t remove a review unless the member who posted the review asks that it be deleted.  Good reviews raise your Angie’s List cumulative “score” which raise you in the platform’s search results, and bad reviews push you lower.  With Reputation Loop you can deploy a strategy to get positive reviews posted that have the potential to be seen by millions not only on Angie’s List but in local search results.

Reputation Loop provides reputation management services that help you build a positive reputation with five-star reviews and protects your business by intercepting bad reviews before they are posted online.  Contact us for a free demo on how we can help you manage your reputation on Angie’s List and other review sites like Google, Yelp, and many more.


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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Angie’s List is Now Free – Impact on Business Reviews & SEO appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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5 Free Digital Marketing Tools You Don’t Know About

5 Free Digital Marketing Tools You Haven’t Tried Yet That Will Make You a Better Small Business Marketer

Free digital marketing tools can be a lifesaver for small business marketers and owners.  Marketing a small business is a huge task, and you need all the help you can get.  What is great about where we are today in digital marketing is you can get free tools from some of the biggest names in digital marketing.  Moz, QuickSprout, and Google all have really amazing free tools that you’ve use, tried, or at least heard of.  However, these are just the tip of the iceberg!

You want to grow your business, right?

You want to reach new customers, raise your conversion rate, and increase sales, don’t you?

You want to do all that in less time and with less work?

Using effective free digital marketing tools to that automate your activities, analyze your efforts, and show you where, when and how to improve your marketing is the smartest way to improve your small business marketing.

5 Free Digital Marketing Tools You Should Be Using

Wistia – Video hosting for your marketing videos

Wistia free digital marketing toolWistia is professional video hosting for the non-pro video marketer. Yes, you can easily post your marketing and how-to videos on YouTube, but you have little control over what is happening once it is public.  With Wistia you get secure video hosting that lets you restrict where videos can be played and how they appear in search results and social media posts.  With Wistia’s analytics, you’ll better understand how viewers interact with your videos.  Plus, you get video marketing tools like email marketing integration that help you engage with your audience and generate more leads.  With the free plan, you get space for five videos and all the standard features like adding calls to action, easy embedding, and viewer bandwidth detection, so videos are delivered in the right format with the least buffering possible.

Simply Measured Free Tools – Social media management and analytics

Simply Measured free digital marketing toolIf you are on the bigger side of small business you may already be using Simply Measured.  Companies like Microsoft, Samsung and the Seattle Seahawks use it but with plans ranging from $500 to $2000 for Simply Measured’s high-level analysis and monitoring, it may be out of your reach.  Luckily, you can get some of the in-depth social media insight the big businesses use for free with Simply Measured’s Free Tools. You won’t get competitive benchmarking or a customized executive dashboard but here is what you do get with their free tools:

  • Twitter Follower Analysis
  • Instagram User Analysis
  • Facebook Fan Page Analysis
  • Facebook Insight Analysis
  • Facebook Competitive Analysis
  • Facebook Content Analysis
  • Google+ Page Analysis
  • Vine Analysis
  • Twitter Customer Service Analysis
  • Social Traffic Analysis
  • Traffic Source Analysis

You will have to give your name and email address, of course, and they will try to get the Twitter endorsement, but these reports are otherwise free and can give you real insight on what is working and what is not with your social media marketing.

Hotjar – Heatmaps, clickmaps, and visitor recordings for site visitor analytics

Hotjar free digital marketing toolUnderstanding how visitors interact with your website goes a long way towards creating the right marketing messages and positioning.  Hotjar is an all-in-one visitor analytics tools that gives you insight on what users care about and interact with on your website.  Heat maps and recordings give help you identify how users navigate your site and where there are usability issues. Also, a conversion funnel shows you where in navigation people leave your website and form analysis tells you when and why someone left your forms so you can make the improvement needed to optimize your top marketer – your website.  Hotjar’s free basic plan is 2,000 page views a day and management of three heatmaps, funnels, forms, polls, and surveys, up to 300 recordings, and data storage for three months.

Charlie App – Prep for meeting new people with snapshot of their social media, biographies, and news

Charlie App Owning or managing a small business requires someone to wear many hats.  The line between marketing and selling often disappears as your calendar fills up with meeting after meeting with new people hoping to expand your business.  This is where the Charlie app can help you.  It links up with your Google calendar and using the email address of the person you are meeting with goes through 100+ sources and automatically sends you a one-page dossier on every person you are going to be meeting with a few minutes before the meeting.  Online, on the phone, or in a coffee shop you now know, before you go, a little more about the people you are going to meet and can move in confidently with insight on what is important to them and their business.  Pretty cool, right? There are a lot of pros to this obviously, but I need to point out that there are three glaring cons that limit its awesomeness: it is only for iPhone, only Google calendar (not Outlook), and its only free for a 30-day trial period.

Google Scholar – Scientific and fact-based research for industry content creation

Content marketing should fit somewhere in your digital marketing plan.  In a perfect world, you have writers and copy editors creating new content for your websites, blogs, and social media post every day.  In the real world, you are going to have to crank out some content all by yourself sometimes.  If you work in one of the industries that lean towards science, technological advance, and in-depth research, then Google Scholar can help you generate content ideas and give you the scientific research and data to support your writing.  As an example, a dentist looking for blog content might search for “fear in pediatric dentistry” and he’ll get back page after page or research, studies, and theses search results.

Google Scholar free digital marketing toolDozens of content pieces from web copy to blog post, and webinars to infographics, can be created based on the scholarly literature returned in a Google Scholar search results page.

Small Business Marketing Free Digital Marketing Tools

As an important part of small business operations, digital marketing has become so popular and essential because it is one of the few areas where with just a little bit of work you can get really big results.  Usually faster and cheaper than traditional means of marketing.  Automation has made it possible for small businesses to compete at a very high level in the digital realm and these free digital marketing tools will help you harness the power of that automation to save you time, help you improve your marketing channels,  and give you a leg up on the competition.


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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post 5 Free Digital Marketing Tools You Don’t Know About appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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Google Confirms Ad in the Local 3 Pack is Coming

Google announces at SMX Advanced Local Workshop (an industry conference for search marketers) that their Local 3 Pack will soon include an advertisement.

What does it mean for your business that ads will now appear in local 3 pack results? The most important thing to know about the ad in the local 3 pack is that the ad will take one of the three spots available in the local 3 pack, making it a 2-pack (based on example in presentation) with one less spot for businesses to fight for.  With a third of the 3 pack space going to the highest bidder, regardless of any of the SEO or reviews management local businesses use to get into the 3 pack, it makes the difficult job of getting into the found first in local search results much harder.

Clearly, this will be a huge ad revenue boost for Google.  We can assume that user experience will suffer as organic results get pushed out and more clicks are required to get past numerous ad placements to get to top ranking relevant businesses. Additionally, businesses that have worked hard to earn a spot in the local 3 pack not only have less chance of making the 3 pack but will now be shown below an ad that could possibly be a low-quality result for the search; lowering trust in how Google ranked the two remaining spots.

What Is the New Local 3 Pack Going to Look Like?

Attendees of June’s SMX Advanced were given a screenshot of what the new 3 pack will look like, and Joy Hawkins tweeted a snapshot of that presentation:

Tweet Image of Google Presentation on Ad in the Local 3 Pack

ad in local 3 pack SMX image

Not the best photo. Luckily, Ross Marchant included a mockup of what the new local 3 pack might look like (based on the photo) when BrightLocal posted about the change in the local 3 pack:

Mockup of What the Ad in the Local 3 Pack Could Look Like from BrightLocal

ad in local 3 pack mockup


How Can You Buy Your Way Into the Ad in the Local 3 Pack?

It has been reported that the 3 pack ads will be part of AdWords Extensions.  Ad extensions is a feature that shows extra business information with your ads such as address, phone number, and links.  When and where extensions show depends on your ad rank and where your ad is positioned on the results page.  Ad extensions add to the appeal of your ads, and there is no additional cost to add extensions to your campaign; you are just charged for clicks on your ad like usual.

Local extensions show your business address, phone number, hours and ratings by location. You’ll recognize this as the information shown in the local 3 pack.  On mobile, they can include call, direction, and detail buttons that do count as a click for your campaigns.

Google's Example of Local Ad Extensions

ad in local 3 pack local extensions

The cost of clicks on extension are set the same as headline clicks, so the most you’ll pay is what is minimally required to keep your extensions and ad position. Ads in higher positions have a higher cost per click (CPC), so it is not a stretch to put the cost of the ad in the local 3 pack due to competition for prominence on search results pages.  You’ll pay just enough to beat the ad rank for the advertiser with the next highest ad rank or the minimum ad rank necessary to appear in that position when dealing with ad extensions in AdWords.  We’ll have to wait and see if Google makes any changes to the extension guideline to buy the ad in the local 3 pack.

How Do Consumers Feel About the Ad in the Local 3 Pack?

Raise your hand if you excited about one more ad and one less earned spot in the local 3 pack. No one? No surprise there (and if I missed you, please leave a comment, so you get the acknowledgment you deserve).  Curious how consumers would respond to the ad in the local 3 pack format BrightLocal surveyed 690 U.S. consumers. They showed them the mockup above and asked them to imagine they were searching for a local dentist in Google and were presented with the mockup results.

BrightLocal Survey Results for Ad in the Local 3 Pack

ad in local 3-pack BrightLocal survey


Here are the results of that BrightLocal consumer survey on the ad in the local 3 pack:

Q1. Which of those top 3 businesses are you most likely to click on?

Key Findings:

–> 36% would click on the top (1st) business

–> 20% would click on the middle (2nd) business

–> 43% would click on the bottom (3rd) business

“… Reviews may play a big part here; the most popular 3rd listing has positive review stars, whilst the middle result with zero reviews was the least popular. Also, in terms of pixel space, both the 1st & 3rd listings take up more room due to their display of opening hours…”

Q2. Why did you click on that particular business?

Key Findings:

–> 47% of consumers picked a business because it had positive review stars

–> 16% picked a business purely because it was the top result

–> 13% picked a business that stood out to them first

–> 12% picked a business which a business name they liked

–> 13% either picked a business at random or are unsure why

“… A majority 47% chose a business because it had positive review stars. The paid listing may have the top position, but it doesn’t have the eye-catching star rating & orange review stars. This just shows that having a review strategy in place will only take on more importance once Google rolls out the paid local results…”


Q3. Did you notice that the top listing was an advert with an ‘Ad’ icon next to it?

–> 60% of consumers did notice the Ad icon on the top result

–> 40% of consumers did not notice the Ad icon

“…Searchers are used to seeing PPC results by now & most understand that they are adverts even if they’re not entirely sure how they work. However, consumers may have a different reaction to being served paid listings in local results…”


Q4. How do you feel about Google including paid Ads in these type of search results?

–> 42% of consumers like paid Ads or are happy as long as the businesses are relevant

–> 44% of consumers dislike paid Ads or would prefer not to see them

–> 14% feel tricked by Google

“When served with a paid ad in the local pack, 58% of consumers have a negative reaction, whilst 42% have a positive or indifferent reaction. Furthermore, 14% feel tricked by Google.”

What Is Next for the Rollout of the Ad in the Local 3 Pack?

During the Q&A portion of the SMX Advanced Local Workshop in late June, Ali Turhan, Google’s Global Product Lead for Local Ads, said that Google was still testing, and the ultimate result might be different from the grainy smartphone photo (or creative mockup) shown above.  As Google engineers a final product for introducing an ad in the local 3 pack, there could be variations that have a purple “ad” designator or they could decide three organic results and one ad is the magic combination.  What is for certain is the ad in the local 3 pack is coming, customer reviews are still important, SEO is a must, and optimizing your Google My Business listing is the only way you can compete for a spot in the organic results of the local 3 pack.


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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Google Confirms Ad in the Local 3 Pack is Coming appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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Local SEO for Brick and Mortar Businesses

When you have a business that serves one or several local areas, regular SEO isn’t going to get you impactful results.  Your search engine marketing efforts should be focused on local SEO for brick and mortar businesses.

What is the difference between regular SEO and local SEO for brick and mortar businesses? The main difference is that local SEO uses geographical keywords and designators that let search engines know your businesses relevance in local search results.  Another difference is that optimizing for local search lowers competition for the top spots in search results because you are competing only with businesses within a certain radius of your geographical location.

Local SEO for Brick and Mortar Businesses

Mastering local SEO involves executing a handful of on-page and off-page SEO task that optimize your website for long-term local search visibility.  When done right it helps search engines and search users find, sort and prioritize your most important information such as location, services and benefits.

Local SEO for Brick and Mortar Businesses graphicWebsite Structure and On-Page SEO for Better Local SEO Results

You will rank higher on Google and other sites in local search results by location optimizing your web pages, creating a logical structure, and utilizing proper tagging and descriptors in content, URLs, and metadata. Terms like “site architecture” and “website organization” describe the proper structuring of your website for optimal results and as a small business owner focused on getting customers in the door of physical locations, you will want to focus on structuring your website to highlight your location and services.

Home Page

Your home page is called “Home” for a reason. Ensure all important pages are clearly part of your home page navigation. Search engines look for you to build out logically from your homepage so make sure your best stuff (top selling products, most popular services, testimonials, etc.) are there with easy to use navigational links.


Each of your locations should have its own page.  By having a dedicated page for each location, you let them provide location-specific information that internet searchers are looking for.


Is your main keyword or service and location in your URLs? It should be. Nobody loves a super long URL, but or is the easiest and most effective local SEO you can implement. If your domain name does not contain your business name, get your business name or specialty and location in the URL of your web pages.


SEO-effective information to put on your “Location(s)” pages can include content that describes products or services. Concise content that is keyword rich, and properly titled with location specific headers (H1-H2) is loved by all search engines. Blog posts, videos, images, and event calendars are all additions that, when tagged and labeled correctly, add to your search-ability and give you a competitive edge over weaker websites.

Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Each page of your website has a meta description, and you have the opportunity to use title tags and image tags to help search engines understand what your web page is about.  The metadata is the words that appear beneath your hyperlinked page title (title tag) in search results and explains what a page is about.  Your meta data and title tags should include the keyword you are trying to rank for, as well as your city and state.

Off-Page SEO Where It Matters Most

It is very important that you have off-page signals that let search engines know what you do, where you are located, and that you are a legitimate business.  Google isn’t going to rank you high in search just because you had the foresight to buy the domain name and customers are going to trust it is true just because you said so.

Here are three off-page SEO signals that let Google and customers know you are a legitimate business, located in a search user’s area, that has been tried by other customers.

Name, Address, Phone Number or NAP

Accurate business listings and citations are the foundations of your local search optimization campaigns.  Your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) has to remain consistent across the internet, or search engines will distrust the accuracy of your information or even your existence and drop you in local search ranking.  Business listings management could cover hundreds of directories but here are extremely cost-effective ways to automate the management of your business listingsALSO READ: The What Why and How of Business Listings and Citations

Customer Reviews

User-generated content such as customer reviews is a powerful way to affect local search engine results positively and provide the trust-building social proof that customers need to choose new products and service providers.  ALSO READ: 3 Ways Customer Reviews Improve SEO

Google My Business

Google likes to keep things in-house as much as possible, so it favors its own accurate and current business listings in verified Google My Business accounts when giving local search results to its users.  If you want any chance of showing up in the life-altering Local 3-Pack which prominently displays the top three most relevant results for local search, you have to verify and optimize your Google My Business listing (preferably with dozens of five-star reviews).  ALSO READ: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

optimize google my business local seoMastering Local SEO for Brick and Mortar Businesses

Look at Google SERP results with your business type and city to see how an effective URL, optimizing for local search and getting 5-star reviews keeps brick and mortar business owners at the top of their city’s local search results. If you don’t like where your business is ranking in local search results then now is the time to use the tips in this Local SEO for Brick and Mortar Businesses post.

Are you gathering and posting five-star customer reviews and testimonials on your site as well as top review sites? Should you start a business blog with better content to show your expertise and give the search engines more content to index and provide in search results? More traffic, more customers, and more profit starts with a search engine optimized website and smart structuring for local search, but there are many factors in play that you have control over as a business owner.

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

The post Local SEO for Brick and Mortar Businesses appeared first on Reputation Loop.

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