online review websitesThere are dozens upon dozens of online review websites that encourage participation from both individuals and businesses. These include sites such as Yelp, Manta, City Search, Google+ Local and many more.

Individuals (your potential customers) can create free accounts and use review websites to find more information about your company; get directions and leave reviews, etc.

For businesses, review websites are extremely important in gaining more local customers. Participation is required if you want to take it to the next level with local search engine optimization (SEO).

Here’s why:

  • Review websites, such as Yelp, for example, give your business more visibility to more local customers. Some users are addicted to the Yelp app on their smartphone and only use it for locating businesses or for finding products and services they need.
  • There are approximately 50 (or more) high-quality and high-traffic review websites – all of which give you another opportunity for your business to be found in Google search results and in other search engines. For example, if a customer is searching for “Greenville, SC florist,” your website might be ranked high in search results, but the review website might also be ranked high. This gives your business another opportunity to be on front of a local customer.
  • Participation in review websites gives your business another online source of generating new traffic to your website.
  • Review websites create inbound links pointing to your company’s website. The more review websites your company is listed in, the more links you have gained from credible websites pointing to your company’s website. SEO experts call this “link building” (the act of one website publishing a link pointing to another website).

Unfortunately, some businesses refuse to participate in review websites. Why? Because they fear potential bad reviews might be published for their company. However, individuals (again, your customers) can add your business to any review website and they can also leave reviews for your company whether you choose to participate or not.

As a local business owner, you need to claim and confirm your business profile in review websites and begin taking control of your company’s image in Yelp, Bing Local, Yellow Pages and other business listing websites. Once you “own” your business profile, you can then start optimizing your profile for better rankings and improve online conversations with your customers.

07. January 2016 · Comments Off on How One Post Ruined Holly Jones’ Online Reputation · Categories: ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , , ,

No one plans on ruining their online reputation.

However, in this case, Holly Jones of Indianapolis didn’t think before she posted her New Year’s Eve restaurant complaint on the establishment’s Facebook page.

This is a prime example of how quickly one’s reputation can be severely damaged (almost to the point of zero chance of recovery) and how a business’ posse quickly came to the rescue and defended its actions.

In a blink of an eye, the story when viral.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

Jones and her party were enjoying their New Year’s Eve dinner at Kilroy’s Bar and Grill in downtown Indianapolis. During the evening, a 70-year-old woman suffered a heart attack. Paramedics arrived; took the patient to the hospital, where she is recovering.

Rather than showing a little civility, mercy and care, Jones felt the need to post a message on Kilroy’s Facebook Page and blasted the restaurant; management; the suffering woman (who Jones said suffered from an overdose) and complained about her $700 bill.

Now, since the post was published on Kilroy’s Facebook page, the restaurant could have simply deleted her post. However, Kilroy’s Managing Partner Chris Burton blasted back….big time:

“This poor lady, who was celebrating New Year’s Eve with her husband and son, had to be placed on the floor of a completely packed bar and have her shirt removed in front of everyone so the paramedics could work on her. But I can completely understand why you think being intoxicated a******s that didn’t understand your bill should take priority over human life. I especially appreciate you making your server (who doesn’t curse) cry as well. I’m sure she really enjoyed working on New Year’s Eve just to deal with people such as yourself.”

Burton went on and told Jones that she was “cold hearted and nasty” and that he wouldn’t lose a second of sleep over her pledge never to return to Kilroy’s.

However, the fire storm was just getting started.

Enter local media, Twitter and here you go. Even at 2 a.m., the story was trending (#HollyJones). Holly Jones was getting blasted by those who never knew her; never met her; never had been to Kilroy’s; never had been to Indianapolis or, even been to the United States for that matter. Other Facebook users with the name “Holly Jones” were getting hate mail and anonymous threatening phone calls.

Jones took down her Facebook Page (claiming it had been hacked) and it appears she also lost her job as a hair stylist. Burton and his fans donated $14,000 in funds for medical bills of the heart attack victim

Did Holly Jones deserve it? Did she pick a fight with Kilroy’s and is now paying a huge price for her public post?  Did the restaurant manager go too far? Are the tables finally turning on restaurant review trolls?

Holly Jones

Some of the ongoing reviews and conversations on Kilroy’s Facebook Page from January 5, 2016


11. December 2015 · Comments Off on Improve Local SEO, Increase Website Traffic and Earn More Sales by Publishing Videos · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

Customers, clients and website visitors all love videos. In fact, videos are getting more attention these days than photographs.

Videos keep customers on your website longer, especially when the video is informative and entertaining.

Don’t worry: you don’t need to hire an expensive video crew with fancy cameras; giant lights with all the glitz and glamor. And, you don’t have to buy an extra piece of equipment or software in order to create videos for your website.

Instead, for starters, use your smart phone along with free software to help get you started.

Customers don’t need flashy graphics and scrolling text. What they are looking for is information about how to solve a problem or how your company can help them with your goods and services.

Videos can be short (even one or two minutes), but try to keep them under 5 or 10 minutes if you can. Introduce yourself; explain the problem and offer the solution. Done!

Publish your videos on your company YouTube Channel and on your website (like we did in this blog post). Share your videos via your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).

You can see more of our videos on our YouTube Channel:

09. December 2015 · Comments Off on Google Plus Dropping Small Business Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , ,

Google Plus Dropping Small Business ReviewsIt’s not like many were that excited about using Google+ anyhow, so it comes to no surprise few are shedding tears over the Google+ update removing local business reviews.

Yes, small businesses will probably continue to update, improve and optimize their Google+ page. After all, anything you can do to help your business on any Google platform is a good thing. Right?

However, small businesses like – and need – local reviews to help promote their products and services. It’s almost like Google isn’t that interested in small businesses anymore.

Google says reviews are still visible and accessible on Google Search and Google Maps, which is probably the real way most prospects and customers find your business. Business owners will now be able to respond to reviews in “Google My Business.”

Again, do you get the feeling Google is pushing small businesses away from Google+ and making business owners do something else in order to respond to online reviews?

Google has been – and will continue to be – very confusing with its online review process. Google Maps; Google Places; Google Plus; Google+ Local and now – poof! – no more reviews but you can go here and here and here.

No wonder why small business owners struggle with online reviews and trying to maintain a good online reputation for their company.

Remember, Google+ was supposed to be the Facebook killer giving individuals and businesses an alternative. Google+ never caught on as many asked the same question over and over “why do I need to be here?”

Don’t let Google’s small business strategy and failures with Google+ worry you. Focus instead on those online review websites that are increasing website traffic and helping you earn higher rankings in search engines (i.e., Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others).

23. September 2015 · Comments Off on Why Local Businesses Should Ignore Google · Categories: SEO · Tags: , , , ,

ignore googleYou can ignore Google if you focus on local SEO techniques. You will also avoid the dreaded “ranking stress.”

Local businesses – florists, plumbers, roofers, lawyers, dentists and many others – spend way too much time (and money) trying to earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines.

Stop it.

There are many other online marketing opportunities in which your local company can connect with new customers who need to find you for products and services.

If you focus on these techniques, not only will you earn more traffic to your website (and more customers), but your Google ranking will take care of itself. In addition, you’ll save yourself a lot of time; money and “ranking stress.”

Instead of Google rankings, work on:

  • Claim, confirm and optimize your business profile in Yelp, CitySearch, Manta and other review and mapping websites. Business information needs to be accurate and consistent in all review websites.
  • Make sure your Yelp profile is 100% complete. Include pictures and make sure you mention the location (city, town, etc.) of your business in the “About Us” section. Currently, there are over 130 million Yelp users per month and many of them use the Yelp app. In addition, Yelp typically appears in the Top 10 Google search results on many local search terms. A high ranking in Yelp is an automatic high ranking in Google.
  • Create a blog for your company website and write 2-3 blog posts per week. Typically, blogs shouldn’t be about you or your company. Instead, offer free advice to your readers on how to solve a problem; tips on how to save money, etc. Being helpful is much better than trying to convince readers that you have the best products and services.
  • Participate in social media, especially Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Again, be helpful; offer advice and tips; start and engage in conversations.
  • Take and publish pictures. Customers will stay on your profile page; website; blog, etc. two-and-a-half times longer if you publish pictures than they do with pages without pictures. Everyone on your staff should take pictures in the office; out in the field; on service calls; at conferences, etc. Local pictures do best for local businesses trying to gain more local customers.

This simple list is just a start, but these tips will definitely help you earn more local traffic to your website and gain more sales from new and existing customers. In addition, your Google ranking will improve, but local businesses shouldn’t worry so much about link building and Page Titles. A “local” focus will generate local business.

For more information on local search engine optimization; local marketing and online review websites, check out our courses here on Udemy:

Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website

Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales by Mastering Yelp

Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews



18. September 2015 · Comments Off on Use These Local SEO Strategies To Earn New Customers and More Sales – Part I · Categories: SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

local SEO claim your listingsLocal businesses – including everyone from plumbers; heating and cooling specialists; lawyers; dentists; accountants and restaurants – need local customers in order to survive and grow.

Here are 10 ways local businesses can increase sales; improve website traffic; add new customers and keep the telephone ringing.

  1. Claim and confirm your business listing in review and mapping websites such as Yelp, Manta, CitySearch, Google+ Local, Bing Local and many others. Customers who “live” on their mobile devices constantly use location based review apps, such as Yelp, in order to find local products and services. Make sure your business’ profile is accurate and complete.
  2. Update your website’s content. There’s no need to re-design your website. Instead, you probably need a content refresh with new and expanded information about your company and its products or services. Your website isn’t a brochure. It should also reflect what’s going on with your business; new staff photos and bios; etc. Also, make sure your business hours are correct and always include your full business contact and address information. A map is always appreciated by new customers.
  3. Create and write a blog. We can’t stress this enough. A blog is like a diary or sorts, but it should be all about your business; what’s new in the industry; how you can help new customers; offer ideas; tips (like this blog post!) and much more. If you don’t have time to write a blog, get staff involved or hire an intern or local freelance writers. Try to include pictures with your blog. Blog posts should be around 300 words or more. Strive to publish two or three blog posts per week.
  4. Always be looking for ways to improve your website’s content. A blog is a great way to start this process, but update and improve your other website pages on a regular basis. Typically, the pages we see with the most content update opportunities include the About Us page and the Contact Us page.
  5. Don’t let your website developer slow you down. Content updates, especially simple ones, should be easy for anyone to correct and publish. If your website developer is S-L-O-W to update new content and new pages, then it might be time for a face-to-face chat or begin the process in looking for a new website developer. Recently, we helped a company re-write page content for their entire website. Six weeks later and the website is still missing these fresh content changes. That’s not good for the local business that needs to inform local customers of new products and services. Don’t let your developer hurt your business.

For more information on local SEO, check out our course on Udemy at

16. September 2015 · Comments Off on Press Release: SEO Workshop on Ten Effective Ways To Improve Google Rankings · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , , , , , ,

SEO WorkshopMountain Woods Media, LLC, an Internet consulting and content development firm, has released a new SEO workshop course on Udemy.

The course “SEO Workshop: Ten Effective Ways To Improve Google Rankings” features a real life review and critique of five different websites in order to find ways to help them earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines.

“Students will find that as we review our selected websites, they will see some common problems that also exist in their own business’ website,” says Mountain Woods Media, LLC Vice President Steve Phillips.

“In this course, we’ll look at websites for a plumber; a restaurant; a law firm; a brick-and-mortar business, and an e-commerce company,” says Phillips. “In all cases, these companies are ranked No. 11 or worse in Google, but they all have at least three areas that need some minor improvements that will help them move up in Google search engine rankings.”

The “SEO Workshop: Ten Effective Ways To Improve Google Rankings” covers:

  • How to apply quick and easy techniques in order to improve your website’s search engine optimization.
  • Updating and improving on-page SEO elements.
  • Revisiting often-overlooked page and picture tags.
  • How to meet and exceed page content requirements.
  • Optimizing your company’s review website profile.
  • Never missing easy chances for higher rankings in Google and other search engines.
  • Earning more traffic to your company’s website.

This two-hour course includes 19 lectures, quizzes and a course worksheet. As in other Mountain Woods Media courses, students will be able to participate in online question-and-answer discussions with course students and Phillips. Mountain Woods Media, LLC will soon announce “office hours” in which students will be able to connect live via Skype for private one-on-one training and instruction at no additional charge.

“SEO Workshop: Ten Effective Ways To Improve Google Rankings” is currently available for $99 and can be purchased at

28. August 2015 · Comments Off on Where Does Your Business Appear When A Customer Searches For You? · Categories: SEO, Training Courses · Tags: ,

local seo flower shopLocal businesses rely solely on local customers. However, local customers almost always search Google, review websites and social media before they call or visit a business.


They want to know who is going to fix their problem and provide the best possible service.

Consider this:

If a potential customer is new to your area, the Internet is the only source of referrals and reviews.

How does your business appear when a potential customer searches for a “Knoxville Plumber” or an “Indianapolis Dentist?”

In our recent course “Earn More Sales by Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website” ($69, Udemy,, we conducted a simple search in Google for a “Greenville SC Florist.”

We discovered one firm – Twigs Florist – was doing it right in terms of local SEO. Within the Top 10 Google search results, Twigs was No. 1 in the Google Map (also known as Google+ Local or Google Maps) and No. 2 in Google organic search results.

In addition, Yelp was No. 7 with Twigs Florist taking the top position in Yelp. Therefore, of the Top 10 Google search results, Twigs owned the most “real estate” by owning three positions.

This is a result of the florist properly optimizing not only their own website for local SEO, but also properly claiming, confirming and optimizing their business profile listings in Yelp, Google+ Local and other review and local listing websites and mapping sites.

Each one of these listing websites acts like its own little search engine. Customers can search for businesses within Google or within sites like Yelp, Manta, City Search, etc.

These searching options create two scenarios and two different searching results. Your website, for instance, may rank high in Google, but your Yelp profile might not rank high within Yelp. Therefore, local businesses not only need to optimize their website for Google, but they need to accurately (and fully) complete their business profile within local listing and review websites, too.

You can learn more about higher rankings in Google, Yelp and other local listing websites in our course “Earn More Sales by Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website”

26. August 2015 · Comments Off on Mountain Woods Media, LLC Releases New Course on Udemy On Increasing Sales and Local Traffic To Your Website · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

increase-local-salesMountain Woods Media, LLC, an Internet consulting and content development firm, has released a new course on Udemy.

The course “Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic to Your Website” is designed to help local businesses and professional firms increase local sales and rank higher in Google and other search engines by utilizing many techniques and strategies specific to local companies.

“Local businesses need local customers in order to survive and grow,” says Mountain Woods Media, LLC Vice President Steve Phillips.

“Their market is very niche – florists, dentists, plumbers, etc., and this course helps local businesses create a blue print on capturing a larger share of local traffic and better positioning in review and mapping websites as well as higher rankings in search engines,” he adds.

The “Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website” covers:

  • How to claim, confirm and optimize business listings in review and mapping websites.
  • How to earn higher rankings in Yelp, Google+ Local, Bind Local and other review websites.
  • Writing blog posts that will help increase traffic and improve search engine rankings.
  • How to develop a team of local writers and photographers for your website, blog and social media campaigns.
  • How to improve your social media campaigns for more traffic and sales.
  • How to create and publish easy-to-make videos for your business.
  • How attending conferences and trade shows will increase local business.
  • How to gain confidence in standard business internet promotional techniques.

Overall, the four-hour course includes 43 lectures and three worksheets designed to help local businesses and professionals improve their website; blog; social media; videos and more. Students will be able to participate in online question-and-answer discussions with other students and Phillips. Mountain Woods Media, LLC will announce “office hours” soon in which students will be able to connect live via Skype for more one-on-one training and instruction at no additional charge.

“Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website” is currently available for $69 and can be purchased at