Below is an excellent article written by Bryan Robertson. I really like reading Bryan's blogs as he makes it easy to read, has highlights and gives the you the reader something of value that you can take with you when finished reading his work. His SEO blogs are all excellent. Send your comments to Bryan please..
I read a long time ago that writing reviews of local businesses is a great way to drive blogging traffic. However, I've discovered that there's more to it than just writing a good article and putting an opinion out there. You really need to go beyond a Yelp-quality article. If you do, you'll rank on Page 1 of most Google searches for that business which means you start benefitting from the online efforts of that business as well as better contacts in the community. I recently wrote an article about a new cupcake shop in Campbell, California. Not only did the business owner read the review but the local merchant association asked to quote it on the community website. Wow!
#1 WRITE A GREAT REVIEW - This means you've got to write the same 300-500 words you would write for any other article and it's got to read like a review. If all you do is put in information about what products they sell and business hours, you won't get anything out of it. I recommend writing about businesses you truly like and visit so you can sing the praises of the products and/or services they offer. Write about an especially good experience you had, that really resonates with readers.
#2 INCLUDE A LINK TO THE BUSINESS - By including this link you'll drive traffic to the website of the business you reviewed. The link itself, at this point, won't do anything for your SEO but it does make it easy for anyone reading your review. That could help with people sending your review to other readers.
#3 TELL THE BUSINESS OWNER - Let them know you wrote the review, why, and where to read it. I did this for a wine shop and they sent me a $30 bottle of wine as a "thank you". If they really like it, you could ask for and get a backlink from their site to you or they could quote your review on the "endorsements" section of their website. The idea is that you want to boost their online exposure and hopefully they'll help boost yours.
#4 LEAVE CARDS AT THE BUSINESS - Some businesses have billboards with cards of people they endorse or you can leave cards by the cash register. It all depends on the business. Either way, it's another place for you to put yourself so potential clients see you. You've now taken an online review and leveraged it into the real world.
#5 RETURN TO THE BUSINESS - Stop by and visit from time to time so you can keep up the relationship. Just as relationships with clients are important, so are relationships with businesses. By coming around it's a way to remind the owner and staff that you care and value the relationship. BE GENUINE!
I've written a few reviews and gotten good results. It takes time but when you follow this recipe, you will get exposure both online and in the real world.
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Bryan Robertson, Broker Associate
Realtor, Developer, e-ProSereno Group - Los Altos
369 South San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022