Content Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

With content marketing, you control the conversation online.

There are many aspects to a business’ online reputation — one of which consists of what people say about your business online, and the other has to do with what comes up when someone searches for your business online, which is all about SEO (search engine optimization).

You can’t control everything people say about your business online, and, in many cases, you probably won’t be able to get it removed or taken down — at least not without a good amount of effort on your part. But, through SEO, you have a lot more control over what people see when they look for your business using Google, Bing, or another search engine.

SEO can be intimidating, and a lot of business owners don’t even attempt to master it because they believe they don’t have the technical skill or know-how. But, if you had a chance to read our previous blog this week — Simplifying SEO for Local Businesses — then you already know that it really doesn’t have to be complicated. The basics of SEO are keyword research, content, and backlinking, and once you have those down, you don’t have to worry too much about the technical side of things.

Today, my focus is on just one aspect of those SEO basics, and that’s content.

We’ve said it many, many times before in past blogs, but it bears repeating — when it comes to SEO, content is king. But, it’s in producing that content that many business owners get caught in the weeds.

5 Content Marketing Tips to Help You Get Started

#1. Know your target audience.

When you’re creating content for your brand, it’s important that you always do so with your target audience in mind, which means that, before you start creating content, you need to know who your target audience is.

Take a few minutes to think about the customers you have, as well as the ones you’re trying to reach. Do you work mostly with homeowners, or do you work with other businesses? Are your services geared toward a specific gender or age group; what about a specific socioeconomic group? Do you want to target people within so many miles of your shop, office, or warehouse? Are your services designed for married couples, or are your services most useful for people with certain kinds of lifestyles?

Your target audience can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be, but before you start creating content, it’s essential that you define what it is. Once you do, you’ll be able to start creating content specifically for them.

#2. Don’t limit yourself to a content type.

Too often, when business owners think of creating content, they think of writing blogs. And, while blogs are certainly a powerful form of content that you should absolutely utilize as a part of your SEO strategy, they aren’t the end-all-be-all that they are made out to be.

There are so many different types of content that you could create for your audience, including videos, images, articles, and more — all of which can be incredibly effective when used correctly. The type of content you choose to produce will depend on what the message is that you’re trying to get across, as well as where you’re trying to get that message across.

For example, let’s say you own an HVAC business. Your blog may be the perfect place to share tips and advice for choosing the right furnace for your needs, but if you’re looking to share that information on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll have better luck if you do so with an infographic or a video.

#3. Think about your keywords.

Knowing which keywords you want to target is another important aspect of content marketing (be sure to read more about it in our previous blog — Finding the Best Keywords for Your Brand). And, once you identify which keywords you want to target, you need to start using them!

Whether you’re writing blogs, social media posts, or creating descriptions for your YouTube videos, you should always keep your keywords in mind. The most important thing about using keywords in your content is that you use them naturally. If you try to stuff keywords into awkward places, Google can actually penalize you for keyword stuffing, which can hurt your website’s ranking in the SERP.

You also don’t have to worry about using your keywords exactly. While exact-match keywords are great, the most important thing is still that keywords are used naturally, even if it ends up being a variation of a keyword.

#4. Include a call to action.

When creating content, it’s important to take the time to think about what you want the end result to be. Are you hoping to convince people to buy a product or use a service, or are you just hoping to establish yourself as an authority in your field? Once you identify the result you’re looking for, create a CTA (call to action) to support it.

Whether your goal is to earn more followers on Facebook, get people to visit your store, or to subscribe to your monthly newsletter, direct your audience toward it by including a CTA in your content.

Be sure to test out your CTAs, the wording, the placement, the format — everything. You may think you know what kind of CTA will get you the most engagement, but there’s no way to know unless you test it.

#5. Get help!

The thought of being the one person managing and producing all of your own content can get overwhelming quickly. And, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t necessarily have to do it on your own.

Collaborating with others is a great way to keep your brand content fresh and original, and it automatically leads to a bigger audience, as the person you’re collaborating will likely want to share it, too. If that person links back to your website, that will also help to improve your rankings in the SERP.

Who should you collaborate with? Industry associations, your local chamber of commerce, and businesses that are related to yours (but are not your competitors) are all great options.


Content marketing is one small aspect of your business’ online reputation. Learn how to take control of your online reputation today by signing up/claiming your Top Rated Local® listing!

Alabama’s Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2020

From southern hospitality to mouthwatering gulf seafood, Alabama is known for so many wonderful things. In addition to being home to a long list of famous people, like Willie Mays, Rosa Parks, Harper Lee, and Condoleezza Rice, the Heart of Dixie is also home to a number of truly incredible local businesses — from nail salons to accounting firms — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make Alabama such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of Alabama, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2020. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2020 award winners in Alabama.

To calculate our 2020 winners, we’ve looked at each business’ Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites, and the business’ average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has, and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of Alabama and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 392 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 96.55 and average star rating of 4.87. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 69.35 Rating Score and a 4.25 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in Alabama that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in Alabama for 2020 — Terrame Day Spa & Salon. A luxurious day spa, salon, and blow dry bar that is committed to the well-being, comfort, safety, and enjoyment of its clients, Terrame Day Spa & Salon is Hunstville’s premier source for pampering. Terrame Day Spa & Salon has received 3,032 reviews across six verified reviews sites with an average star rating of 4.98, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of Alabama for 2020.

Congratulations to all of our award winners in Alabama for 2020, and we commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

How to Get the Most Out of Google My Business

Google My Business is one of the best weapons in any local business’ arsenal.

When someone is looking for the right local business to work with — say an accounting firm or maybe a physical therapy clinic — they’ll often start that search online, on Google specifically. And, when someone looks for your business online, what will they find?

If, let’s say, someone was looking for your business email address or phone number, how easy would it be for them to find it? Or, if someone wanted to know if you’ll be open on the weekends or during a holiday, would they be able to easily find that information?

This is where Google My Business comes in. Although a lot of that information can be found on your website, Google My Business makes it easy to find because it shows up right in the search results. That’s also why it’s so essential that you either sign up for Google My Business if you haven’t already, or claim your listing if there’s already one for your business.

Be sure to check out our previous blog to learn how to claim your Google My Business listing.

Get the most out of your Google My Business listing by optimizing it!

Signing up for Google My Business or claiming your listing is a great first step, and once you do, you’ll need to learn how to make the most out of it. Optimizing your Google My Business listing will help to ensure that your business gets found online, which is what it’s all about, really.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your Google My Business listing:

#1. Update your information.

Your core business information — business name, website, phone number, address, category, attributes, and, finally, description. A part of your optimization process should include making sure that all of this information is up to date and listed exactly the way that it’s listed on your website.

Google Maps uses this information to index your business, which makes it the basis of your SEO strategy, so it’s essential that you get it right. If there are any inconsistencies between your Google My Business listing and your website, it can hurt your website’s rankings in the SERP (search engine results pages). For instance, if “drive” is spelled out on your website and abbreviated on your listing.

#2. Add high-quality images.

Your Google My Business listing is often the first interaction potential customers will have with your business online, and it’s important to make the right kind of first impression. Using high-quality, high-resolution images is one of the best ways to do that.

Blurry, low-quality images make it all too easy for people to skip over your listing. After all, there’s a lot of competition out there, and you need to give people a reason to choose your business over the many others. That’s why, if necessary, hiring a photographer that can help you capture your business in the best light is not the worst idea.

#3. Generate more reviews.

People check out your Google My Business listing for a lot of reasons, but the two main ones are to learn how to get ahold of you and to read reviews about your business. Think of reviews as the word of mouth of yesteryear.

Don’t get me wrong, word of mouth is still a powerful thing — probably the most effective form of advertising there is — it’s just not as common for people to ask for personal referrals as it used to be. Instead, most people will turn to Google, and they’ll read reviews to help them determine whether or not to work with your business.

If you have only so-so reviews, only months- or years-old reviews, or, worse, no reviews at all, most people will move on to the next listing. That’s why it’s important to put an effort into generating reviews for your website. Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Ask for reviews! – Asking is the most effective and most straightforward way to get reviews. You might be surprised at how many people are more than willing to write a review for you when you just ask.
  • Send follow-up emails – After the sale has been made or the service has been completed, follow-up with your clients or customers in an email, telling them how much you value their feedback and letting them know where they can write a review for you (make sure to include links!).
  • Incentivize reviews – Offering to enter customers who write reviews in a drawing or sweepstakes is an effective way to get more reviews. But, be careful with this one. Google does not look kindly on businesses that bribe customers for five-star reviews.

#4. Respond to your reviews!

When your customers do take time out of their busy schedule to write a review for your business, it’s important that you also take the time to respond to it. Responding is important, and you should respond to every review, not just the positive ones. In fact, it’s especially important that you respond to negative reviews.

Your response to a negative review is your chance to share your side of the story, but make sure that you’re not minimizing their experience or responding in a defensive manner. And don’t get in a public argument with someone, either. You’ll only come out looking petty to anyone reading the reviews. Instead, give the reviewer your phone number or email address, and invite them to contact you directly to discuss it.

When done correctly, your response to a negative review gives you a tremendous opportunity to turn a negative experience around, earn a customer for life, and let any prospective customers know how much you value providing a great experience for them.


Take your online reputation to the next level with Top Rated Local®.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing can do great things for your business’ online reputation, but it’s not the only thing you can do to keep it strong. Claim your Top Rated Local listing today to take your business’ online reputation to the next level!

Simplifying SEO for Local Businesses

SEO isn’t as complicated as you may think.

Being visible online isn’t something any local should take lightly in this day and age, and there are two basic ways to ensure that your website is visible online — paid ads and organic results. Paid search ads are a great way to get your name out there when you’re just starting out, but when you’ve dominated the organic search results, you’ll save money with each and every lead that you get.

SEO (search engine optimization) is all about increasing both the quality and the quantity of the organic traffic that your website gets from search engines. And it’s something that every local business should think about. After all, a business that learns how to dominate local search results through SEO not only saves money on paid search ads but also benefits from better, more qualified traffic to their website.

As important as SEO is, it’s often an overlooked piece of the online reputation management puzzle for many business owners. That’s because SEO can seem like an overly complicated thing, and while it’s true that it takes time and hard work, it’s actually a lot more simple than you probably think.

The Basics of SEO for Local Businesses

Keyword Research

Keywords are what people type into Google, Bing, or other search engines to find the topic they’re searching for. Identifying the appropriate keywords to optimize your website for is done through keyword research, and it’s the first — and arguably the most important — aspect of your entire SEO strategy. The bottom line is that you need to be able to identify which terms you want your website to rank for, and once you do, you’ll be able to base the entire rest of your SEO strategy off of it.

The keywords you choose will have a direct impact on both the quantity of the traffic your website gets and the quality of that traffic. Choosing broader, more general keywords will mean more competition, and choosing irrelevant keywords will hurt your ranking and diminish the quality of your organic leads.

Want to learn all about how to find the best keywords for business? Check out our previous blog.

Content

If you’ve talked to many people who work in digital marketing, there’s a common saying about SEO you’ve probably heard — “content is king.” Everything in SEO has to do with content, and it’s one of the easiest and also one of the most challenging aspects of SEO for local business owners.

The good news is that SEO won’t require you to have a whole lot of technical knowledge or marketing savvy, but the bad news is that it requires you to create original, high-quality content on your website, social platforms, and beyond on a regular basis. That can be daunting for business owners who may not exactly think of themselves as writers or who may already have an over-flowing schedule to contend with.

Luckily, Google doesn’t expect every business owner to be Hemingway, but they do expect them to create content that adds value. And for the benefit of your website’s SEO, that content should be built around your keyword research. Keep in mind that it’s more important to use keywords naturally than it is to force them into your content as many times as possible.

As a business owner, you have a lot of knowledge about your industry that the average consumer does not, and a great strategy is to use that knowledge to create content for your website. Tips, how-to articles, and client testimonials are the perfect things to put in your blog.

It’s important to know that content isn’t just text. There are many different types of content that should be added to your website, and when optimized correctly, videos and photos can be valuable commodities when it comes to organic rankings.

Not many businesses think of them this way, but reviews are actually another type of content that can help a business rank higher organically in the SERP, and the best part about reviews is that you don’t have to write them yourself! Google also weighs what other people say about your business more heavily than what you say about yourself, and reviews can be a major boon for your SEO.

In addition to adding content to your website consistently, posting on social media should be a regular part of your SEO strategy. Excerpts from blogs on your site, tips and tricks, photos of your team, and client testimonials are just a few examples of the kind of content that works well on social media.

Links

The other major aspect of SEO is link building. Link acquisition can be challenging, and it will take a solid investment of time and hard work to achieve it. One of the most straightforward ways to acquire it is to email website owners directly to earn links.

Contacting website owners directly is just one aspect of earning links; you also need to have link-worthy pages on your website to link to. What makes a page linkable? Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to determine linkability:

  • Is the content useful? – Link-worthy pages are informative and useful. How-to guides, advice, and concept explanations are just a few examples of the kind of pages that are linkable.
  • Is the content original? – In order for a page to be link-worthy, it can’t have the same information that’s available everywhere else. Use your industry expertise by taking a new perspective on something, or share original data or research to create link-worthy content.
  • Is the content entertaining? – There are a lot of ways to make an impact with your content, but the best way is by creating content that entertains. Humorous content, as well as interactive content, like quizzes or games, can be very entertaining and link-worthy.

In general, the most linkable pages appeal to a wider audience, which means that they probably won’t be your highest-ranking pages. But as long as your content is strong enough, you’ll earn links to those pages anyway through your manual efforts to reach out to site owners. And when you do, those links will add credibility and authority to your website and your brand.

SEO often gets a bad reputation for being overly complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. Neglecting SEO can hurt your business’ visibility and online reputation, so it really isn’t something you should overlook.

Take the first step toward building a strong online reputation by becoming a Top Rated Local business today!

The Basics of Online Reputation Management for HVAC Companies

HVAC companies depend on having a solid online reputation.

In this day and age, HVAC companies can’t depend on word of mouth as much as they used to. While word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising today, it’s also not something people seek out like they did back in the day.

It used to be that, when someone needed air conditioning repair or furnace replacement, they’d ask for referrals from their friends and family. Now, most of those people will simply turn to Google or the search engine of their choice to find the right HVAC company to work with.

Chances are, you’re already well aware of how much competition your business has online. There’s no shortage of companies people could turn to for their heating and cooling needs, and the only thing that separates your business from the pack among all of those listings is your online reputation.

While it’s true that aspects of your online reputation are out of your hands, you’ll be glad to know that there are a lot of things you can do to influence and build on that reputation.

Online Reputation Basics for HVAC Companies

Claim your listings.

The first step you should take when building your online reputation is to claim your many business listings across review sites and directories. There’s a strong possibility that, whether you know it or not, your business is already listed on many of these sites, and if you don’t take the time to claim those listings, there may be inaccurate or outdated information about your business out there.

When you take the time to claim your listings and update your business’ information, you can create a more cohesive brand across the web. You can also ensure that, whether someone finds your business on Facebook, Google, or Yelp, they’ll always be calling an active number or visiting your current address. This helps to establish trust, which could easily be undermined if someone ends up calling a number that’s no longer active or travels all the way out to your old, now-abandoned location.

Provide great service.

Not every aspect of online reputation management happens online. In fact, a strong online reputation starts with providing great service to the people you serve each and every day. After all, your online reputation is just a reflection of your service, and If you don’t provide great service in-person, how can you expect to have a good online reputation?

People expect at least decent customer service, and while they may not always jump at the chance to write a review for your business based on good customer service alone, you can bet that, if they’re upset, they’ll tell the world about it. People can be reluctant to share a positive experience, but that reluctance evaporates in a negative experience. When people feel they have been wronged, they typically want to shout it from the rooftops.

Focusing on providing great service is something you should be doing anyway, but it’s also a key part of online reputation management. And while it may not generate a whole lot of five-star reviews, it can go a long way toward helping you avoid one-star reviews.

Start asking for reviews.

Reviews are the bread and butter of your business’ online reputation, and there’s never such a thing as too many of them. People like to read about other people’s experiences, and many of them use reviews when determining which local companies to work with. So if the decision comes down between an HVAC company with a handful of reviews and an HVAC company with thousands of reviews, it’s easy to tell which option people are likely to choose.

There are a lot of dos and don’ts when it comes to generating reviews for your business online, and the first place you’ll want to start is by looking at the rules of various review platforms. But in general, you’ll want to avoid bribing people to write reviews, trying to influence how many stars people give you or what they say about you in reviews, or only asking specific clients for reviews. As long as you’re following these rules, most review sites are perfectly fine with you asking clients for reviews, which is a good thing since it’s also the most straightforward way to actually get them.

Respond to your reviews, negative and positive.

While it’s true that most people will write reviews if you ask them, in time, you’ll come to really appreciate the people who take the time to write reviews for you. Although you may not see the problem in taking five minutes to write a few sentences about your business online, you have no idea how busy a client’s schedule is or what’s going on in their life. The fact that they took the time to give you feedback online means something, and whether that feedback is positive or negative, it’s important that you respond to it.

Not only does responding to your reviews demonstrate how thankful you are that your client took the time to write them for you in the first place, but it gives you a chance to show the world how dedicated you are to great service.

It’s not always easy to get negative feedback, especially in such a public way, like with a negative review, but if you really listen and learn from that feedback, you can use it to make your business better and make your clients happier. The right response to a negative review should always include thanks for the feedback, an apology for the bad experience (even if it wasn’t your fault), a commitment to making the situation right, and a gameplan for how you’ll use that feedback to get better. This kind of response could not only win back the dissatisfied customer but could convince anyone else reading it to choose your business over the competition.


These are all great first steps toward building and maintaining a solid online reputation for any HVAC company, but truly effective online reputation management is an ongoing thing, and one of the best weapons you have in your arsenal is Top Rated Local®. Claim your Top Rated Local listing today!

Finding the Best Keywords for Your Brand

Keyword research is a key part of any online reputation management strategy.

Maintaining your online reputation is a multi-faceted beast, and a major part of any successful online reputation management strategy involves being in control of what people see when they search for your business online. This is accomplished through search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is all about managing both the quality and the quantity of the traffic your website gets through organic search results, and it all starts with keyword research.

While often overlooked as just a small aspect of SEO, keyword research is actually the single most important aspect of any digital marketing strategy, as well as any online reputation management strategy. If you don’t know which keywords will lead to your website — and which keywords to optimize your website for — you won’t find success in driving traffic to your website. Furthermore, when you optimize your website for certain keywords, you’re telling search engines what your website is all about.

Understanding the importance of keyword research is one thing, but actually doing it effectively is a whole other ballgame.

How to Find the Right Keyword for Your Website

Use your intuition.

As a business owner, you understand what your business is all about and what you have to offer better than anyone else. You also probably have a pretty good idea of what kinds of keywords people may search that are relevant to your business.

Put together a list of possible keywords that you think people may enter when looking for businesses like yours. Add any keywords that are relevant to the services and products you offer as well. It also doesn’t hurt to ask for ideas from friends, family, or even your team.

When brainstorming keywords, put yourself in a consumer’s shoes when they might need your services. For instance, if you were a homeowner with a frozen pipe that burst, you might use keywords like, “emergency plumber near me,” “local plumber,” or “emergency plumbing services.”

Use the Google Keyword Planner tool.

Google offers a free keyword planning tool that business owners can use to find relevant keywords for their website. With the Google Keyword Planner tool, the keywords you’ve come up with when brainstorming can be used to find thousands of related keywords.

People search in all kinds of ways, and the Google Keyword Planner tool can help you pinpoint the most common ones. The great thing about the tool is that it shows you search volumes for each term, helping you avoid optimizing your website for a search term that only a few people are using, or a search term that is far too competitive. Google’s keyword research tool also allows you to search by location, helping you to find the keywords people in your area are using.

Tips for Finding the Right Keywords

You’ll find that keyword research tools generate thousands upon thousands of results, and not all of them will be relevant to your website. Besides, it’s not going to be possible to optimize your website for all of those keywords, and you’re going to want to choose a few top options to focus on primarily. Here are a few tips for finding the best keywords to focus on:

#1. Make sure that keywords are relevant.

No matter how much search volume a keyword gets, it won’t pay off to optimize your website for it unless it’s relevant to your website. The biggest benefit of SEO is that it drives better, more relevant traffic to your website, and it does so without the need to pay for ads.

Relevancy is probably the most important aspect of keyword research, and in addition to driving the right kind of traffic to your website, choosing to optimize your website with relevant keywords will also help to establish trust in your brand.

Think about it. If you optimize your website for “emergency plumber near me,” but you’re only available Monday through Friday 9 – 5, it’s not going to create a good impression of your business if someone who really needs emergency plumbing services during after-hours can’t get ahold of you.

#2. Get the best results with long-tail keywords.

The more search results a keyword has, in general, the more competition you’ll have in trying to rank for it. Small to medium-sized businesses often don’t have the resources of large corporations, which means trying to compete with them on Google can be a real challenge. But when you target long-tail keywords, you’ll have less competition and a higher chance of success.

Let’s say that you own a men’s shoe company. You’ll never compete with an overly basic keyword, like “shoes” or even “men’s shoes,” but you’ll have a lot more luck when you target relevant, long-tail keywords, like “brown leather oxford shoes for men.”

Not only does targeting long-tail keywords make it possible for small businesses to be competitive players online, but they also lead to increased conversions. People who use more specific keywords are more likely to be ready to buy; whereas, people using more general search terms are more likely to still be in the research phase.

#3. Look at what keywords your competition is using.

When you need a few more ideas for keywords to target, looking at what your competition is doing is a great place to start. Knowing which keywords your competitors are going after can help you determine which keywords you might be forgetting. It will also help you expand your ideas,

Start by making a list of your competitors, and then find their websites online. From there, you can look at the metadata and read their content to figure out which keywords they are targeting. There are also tools out there that can help you figure out what keywords your competitors are actually ranking for.


Keyword research and SEO are just one aspect of online reputation management. With Top Rated Local, you’ll gain an understanding of your online reputation overall. Claim your Top Rated Local listing today to start managing your business’ online reputation like a pro.

Virginia’s Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2020

As the first British colony in America and the birthplace of eight presidents, including George Washington, James Madison, and Woodrow Wilson, Virginia has a rich historical past that has helped to make it such a unique, incredible state today. The home of our founding fathers is also home to numerous local businesses — from nail salons to accounting firms — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make Virginia such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of Virginia, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2020. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2020 award winners in Virginia.

To calculate our 2020 winners, we’ve looked at each business’ Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites, and the business’ average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has, and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of Virginia and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 408 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 97.86 and average star rating of 4.91. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 69.31 Rating Score and a 4.24 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in Virginia that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in Virginia for 2020 — Blue Seafood And Spirits. A chef-owned and -operated restaurant that is committed to serving the freshest seafood available, Blue Seafood And Spirits is Virginia Beach’s premier seafood restaurant. Blue Seafood And Spirits has received 2,278 reviews across seven verified reviews sites with an average star rating of 4.93, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of Virginia for 2020.

Congratulations to all of our award winners in Virginia for 2020, and we commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

A Roofer’s Guide to Reputation Management

Every roofing company needs a solid online reputation management strategy.

The fact of the matter is that it can be difficult for a roofing company to acquire new clients. After all, it’s not like anyone needs a new roof on a monthly basis or even needs roofing repairs or maintenance that often. Roofing companies are unique in how seldom clients need their services, which means that, when someone is searching for a roofer online, you absolutely want your business to show up.

Making sure that your roofing business is visible is just the first step though. There are a ton of different roofing companies consumers could choose from, and they need a reason to choose your business over the many others out there. And they’ll find that reason in your business’ online reputation.

Reputation Management Tips for Roofers

#1. Claim your listings.

First and foremost, a roofing company absolutely must claim ALL of its business listings online. It’s not enough to just claim your Google My Business listing. You want all of your information to be accurate across the web so that, no matter how someone finds you, they’ll always have the right contact information to get a hold of you.

Ensuring that your contact information is accurate will help to establish trust with consumers and make your listing more legitimate in their eyes. If someone finds your listing on a directory or a review site and ends up calling a number that is no longer in service or visiting an old location, they’re going to think that your business is either invalid or has gone out of business — either way, it doesn’t bode well for your business.

Another big reason why consistency across business listings is important is that Google looks at consistency when determining whether a business is valid or not. If there are multiple addresses and phone numbers across Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, and other listings and directories, Google isn’t going to rank your business as high because it appears less legitimate.

Finally, when you claim your business listings online, it gives you more control over them. In addition to giving you the ability to update your contact information, you’ll also be able to update and optimize your business description, add photos, and even respond to reviews.

#2. Earn more reviews.

Reviews are the number one thing consumers will look at when determining whether or not they want to work with a roofing company. Let’s face it, there’s a lot at stake when hiring a roofer. It’s not like going to a nail salon or finding a jewelry store — the roof is the number one thing that stands between you and the elements, and you want to be able to trust the company you’ve hired to take care of it.

If your business doesn’t have a solid average star rating — or worse, if you don’t have any reviews at all — it doesn’t bode well for your chances of attracting new clients online. It also means that you should start working on generating more reviews for your business.

Although you should never bribe your clients for reviews or presume to tell them what kind of a review they should leave you, simply asking for reviews is perfectly acceptable, and it’s also a super-effective way to generate more of them. While many people won’t write reviews on their own, believe it or not, the vast majority of people will write a review if you just ask.

#3. Generate content.

A big part of online reputation management is controlling what consumers see when they find your business online. When someone searches for your business name, ideally, your website should be the first thing that pops up, along with your listings on directories and reviews sites and your social media pages. What you don’t want to pop up is bad press about your business, and that’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in handy.

By optimizing your website, business listings, and social media profiles, you can ensure that consumers will find what you want them to when they search for your business online. And although SEO can get pretty complicated if you let it, the most basic and powerful strategy you can have is to simply publish content consistently online.

As a roofer, you have a lot of valuable knowledge to share with consumers. Your average Joe Blow won’t understand why a metal roof may be a better option for their needs than an asphalt shingle roof, or how important regular maintenance is for the longevity of your roof. This is the perfect kind of content to publish on your website and social media pages.

#4. Respond to reviews.

Generating more reviews is a great step in the right direction toward maintaining your business’ online reputation, but your job isn’t done yet — you also need to respond to those reviews. And that’s true of all reviews, whether they’re one-star, five-star, or somewhere in the middle; however, you especially want to make it a point to respond to any negative reviews you get.

When you respond to negative reviews, it gives you a chance to share your side of the story with not only the person who left the review but with anyone who may happen to read it. Unhappy clients often don’t understand why something happened the way that it did, and by simply explaining your side of the story, you might be able to effectively defuse the situation.

It’s important, though, that you always take ownership of the situation, even if you feel that it’s not your fault. This doesn’t mean that you have to claim responsibility, but you should at least apologize that their experience with your business wasn’t what they expected or wanted. You should never argue with a reviewer or insult them, and if necessary, give yourself a little time to cool off if you’re upset before responding to a negative review.

One of the best things you can do when responding to a negative review is to invite the reviewer to discuss the matter offline. This will save you from having to argue or set the record straight with a client on such a public forum, and it shows other people that you’re willing to work to correct a bad situation.

#5. Sign up for Google Alerts.

When it comes to your business’ online reputation, you can’t effectively manage it if you set it and forget it. A good online reputation management strategy means ongoing, real-time management, which means that you have to be in the know what people are saying about your business online.

One of the best ways to stay on top of what people are saying about your business online is to sign up for Google Alerts. Google Alerts are totally free, and you can use them to monitor all kinds of things, including brand mentions. You can even use Google Alerts to monitor what people are saying about your competition online, giving you a much needed leg up.

Become a Top Rated Local® roofing company!

There are a lot of things that go into building and maintaining a strong online reputation, and it can all seem overwhelming when you already have so much going on. Luckily, it’s easy to get started — sign up or claim your Top Rated Local listing.

Becoming a Top Rated Local business means that you’ll get real-time notifications when you get new reviews, the ability to reply to your reviews, monthly breakdown of your online reputation overall and so much more. Get started today!

West Virginia’s Top Rated Local® Senior Living Communities Award Winner: Elmhurst House Of Friendship

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Elmhurst House Of Friendship is a 2019 award winner for senior living communities in West Virginia!

For a retirement community that is dedicated to offering its residents independence and choice, look no further than Elmhurst House of Friendship in Wheeling.

Elmhurst House Of Friendship has received dozens of reviews on two verified sites with an average rating of 4.68 stars, earning them a magnificent Rating Score™ of 90.79 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for ranking among the top five senior living communities in all of West Virginia!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“We are so happy with the care my father is receiving. The residents are treated like family. All the employees go above and beyond to make them feel special. It’s a great feeling to know that my dad is well cared for in friendly, safe, clean and comfortable living quarters. The food is wonderful. Couldn’t find a better place.” – C.L.

A One-of-a-Kind Senior Living Community’s Secret to a Strong Online Reputation

Elmhurst House Of Friendship has managed to build the kind of reputation any business owner would envy, and to learn a little more about that reputation and this one-of-a-kind business, we sat down with Director of Marketing Marilyn Mull.

The first thing we wanted to know was what makes Elmhurst House Of Friendship unique compared to the many other senior living communities in West Virginia. Marilyn told us that, this year, they are celebrating their 130th year in business and said:

“I think that the personal attention we provide every resident is critical. Family members want to know that they are safe and secure. We also encourage residents to enjoy life to the fullest.”

When we asked what the secret is to such a solid online reputation at Elmhurst House Of Friendship, Marilyn pointed to the quality of their product and said that the care they provide for their residents is top-notch.

Making the World a Better Place by Enriching the Lives of Their Residents

We also wanted to know what their mission is at Elmhurst House Of Friendship and how they work to make the world a better place. Here’s what Marilyn had to say:

“Our mission is to provide the finest affordable living for older folks as an assisted living residence. We maintain a quality of care and lifestyle that enriches the older adults who call us home.”

Outside of building a powerful online reputation, Elmhurst House Of Friendship has grown with the help of their residents and their families:

“Our best marketers are our residents and their families. The word of mouth we’ve received over the years has been one of our strongest assets.”

It’s clear that Marilyn knows a thing or two about growing a business and building an online reputation. When we asked what advice she has for the many other business owners out there, she told us that every business is unique and emphasized the importance of playing up what makes each business one of a kind.


Congratulations to the team at Elmhurst House Of Friendship for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner!

We highly recommend Elmhurst House Of Friendship in Wheeling. Visit their website today!

West Virginia’s Top Rated Local® House Cleaning Companies Award Winner: Clean Up Quality Cleaning

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Clean Up Quality Cleaning is the number one house cleaning company in all of West Virginia for 2019!

Come home to a clean, relaxing space with the help of the professionals at Clean Up Quality Cleaning in Martinsburg.

Clean Up Quality Cleaning has received dozens of reviews on three verified sites with an average rating of 4.86 stars, earning them a tremendous Rating Score™ of 95.57 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for being ranked the number one house cleaning company in all of West Virginia!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“Rachel was extremely professional and prompt in all communications regarding this one-time cleaning job. I was managing this from out of state for a family member who was hospitalized. Rachel was compassionate in a difficult situation. She did an amazing job of cleaning and organizing, and it was a lot of hard work!!” – Shaunie C.

Not Your Average House Cleaning Company

We wanted to know what makes West Virginia’s number one house cleaning company so special, so we took a few minutes to talk with the owner, Rachel.

The first question we had for Rachel was what makes Clean Up Quality Cleaning unique compared to their competition in West Virginia. She pointed to the fact that they always do a thorough job and to the strong relationships they cultivate with their clients.

We also asked Rachel about Clean Up Quality Cleaning’s mission and how they work to make the world a better place. Rachel told us:

“We clean up. We help people keep a clean lifestyle.”

Building Success by Taking Pride in Their Work

When we asked Rachel what their secret is to such a strong online reputation at Clean Up Quality Cleaning, she told us that she takes pride in her work.

Apart from building the kind of online reputation any business would envy, Clean Up Quality Cleaning has spread the word about their service through word of mouth, Google, Facebook and HomeAdvisor.

Every business owner wants to grow their business and build their online reputation the way Clean Up Quality Cleaning has. Rachel’s expert advice for them is to always follow through and be consistent.


Congratulations to the team at Clean Up Quality Cleaning for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner, and thank you so much, Rachel, for taking the time to speak with us!

We highly recommend Clean Up Quality Cleaning in Martinsburg. Visit their website today!