Why More Local Reviews Will Lead to SEO Domination

Local Search: Your Business Needs Local Reviews to Crush It

Looking to up your local SEO game? Here’s why more local reviews from customers will get you more juice – and how to easily get them.

There is no denying the importance of a web presence, even for small, locally based businesses. And if you have a site, you are probably already aware of the importance of optimizing it for organic search engine results. But, did you know that optimizing for local search using local reviews is just as important?

According to research conducted by Google, four out of five consumers use a search engine to find local information. Even more important, 50% of consumers who searched using a mobile device visited a store within a day, and 18% of those made a purchase.

These stats make it difficult to deny the importance of optimizing your business’s website for local search. But beyond strategies like using local citations and claiming your Google My Business page, is there anything else that you can do that will help improve your local rankings?

While we can’t see inside the Google search algorithm to know exactly what makes it tick, we do know that business reviews help boost your results. But customer reviews go beyond improving rankings and actually influence customer purchases.

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Why More Local Reviews Will Lead to SEO Domination

How Reviews Affect Customer Decisions

As modern day marketers, we’ve more or less completely abandoned the concept of a sales funnel. Instead, we now talk about the customer journey – the path that customers take from knowing they need something to buying it.

That path begins with the awareness stage, where they know they have a problem that they need or want to have solved. They then move on to the consideration phase, where they identify a solution to their problem. And finally they proceed to the decision stage. This is the point at which they know how they want to solve their problem and they are just trying to find the right business to help them out.

This last stage is when your potential customers are looking for and reading reviews of businesses. It’s at this point when they are just trying to find the right vendor to buy from.

And when it comes to making that decision, buyers trust what others say online. 79% of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. So while you’re thinking that word of mouth will get people to come to you, you’re not far off. It’s just that word of mouth is coming from strangers with experience with your business.

Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a small number of consumers using this information. In fact, 90% of people say that their purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Local Reviews Boost Local Search Rankings

There are a number of ways that reviews of your business may help to boost your local search rankings. But one thing is certain, and that is that they do, in fact, help. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Survey, it’s believed that reviews make up around 10% of the influence of these rankings.

SEO can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a lot of people click through to your site, your rankings increase and more people are able to find you. Reviews help to influence that click through rate by giving people a reason to find you.

In addition, relevance is an important factor in rankings. Because consumers love online local reviews, search engines do, too. This means that the more reviews you have, the better your rankings will be.

But not all review sites are created equal. Unsurprisingly, reviews on Google are very important. But other sites, like Yelp and YP.com, are important, too. Reviews on additional sites create links back to yours, and the reviews and links signal to search engines the relevance of your site to customers looking to find a business like yours.

Getting Reviews and Managing Them

There are a couple of dos and don’ts when it comes to getting reviews and managing the ones you do get.

1) Don’t wait around hoping for reviews

Certainly sitting around hoping that people will review your business online is one strategy. It’s just not an effective one. Instead, let your customers know that you would love for them to review your business and products.

One method is to ask for reviews from your customers while they are at your location. Let your customers know that you’re looking for reviews. Print up cards that let customers know where they can leave reviews. Add a suggestion to review your business at the bottom of your register receipts. And have you and your staff mention to customers that you’re looking for more feedback online to help others find your business.

If you have an email list for your customers, add a message to your next mailing about reviews, and provide links to make it even easier for your customers to leave their feedback.

2) Don’t fake them or force them

You may occasionally see a business that encourages customers to leave a review by entering everyone that does into a drawing. Don’t be tempted to do that. This is against Google’s review policy, as well as a number of other review sites.

Also (and this should go without saying), don’t ever fake a review. It’s not worth the repercussions from the various review sites for you to have one or two good local reviews. If you want people to leave positive reviews, give great customer service, and let them know where they can go to leave their thoughts.

3) Do expect negative reviews; don’t respond to every one of them

Customers tend to leave reviews either when they are very happy with the service they received, or very unhappy. It’s unusual to get something in between.

And as anyone who has ever worked in a customer facing role can tell you, you can’t make everyone happy all the time. All this is leading up to one simple fact –eventually you’re going to get a negative review.

When this happens, don’t feel the need to respond immediately. In fact, don’t feel the need to respond to every single negative review that’s left for you.

But you should respond to some of them, in a professional manner that shows that you care about your customers and the services they receive when they do business with you. Customers aren’t turned off by the occasional bad review as much as they are by a business owner that gets defensive or goes on the attack when responding to negative feedback.

Get on the review train – it’s not only great for local search, it’s great inbound marketing for your business. Any questions? Leave them in the comments, or get in touch with us. We’re here for you.