Businesses in the current online climate must pay attention to the reviews their customers leave. It's not just for feedback, a bad review will discourage other customers from trying out a company's products or services. Another aspect of local reviews that too many businesses don't consider is their local SEO value. If you want your company to rank high on Google or other search engines, you need to focus on beefing up and improving your review profiles across the web.Online Reviews Are Proof of How a Company Operates
While local reviews can obviously be manipulated, they do give real people the chance to sound off on the service that they get from the companies in their area. What's more, we know from surveys taken that people trust reviews and that they impact their purchasing decisions. In one survey, 97% of respondents said they read reviews for local businesses. In another survey 91% of people ages 18-34 said they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. They rely on this information to save them from having a bad experience with a local business.
Knowing that people believe and rely on local reviews, Google has made a point to factor this information into its algorithm as a way to influence and improve online user experience. This affects what companies come up as a result of any local search query. In fact, reviews are the third most important ranking signal for determining what businesses will appear in the local map pack. This is the map and three business listing that comes up when you type in search terms like "Grand Rapids plumber" or "Lansing HVAC."
To rank similar businesses, Google takes into account review scores, review diversity, the number of reviews a company has across platforms, and the text of each review. The more good reviews that a business has compared to its competitors, the higher they will rank for industry associated search terms.Local Reviews Across All Websites Matter
It's not just Google My Business reviews that matter, either, although those are the most visible to anyone typing in a business by name and Google does assign them more weight. Facebook offers users the option to leave reviews on businesses' pages. Some companies try to suppress reviews and will hide them because they do not want to handle negative reviews from customers. We do not advise this. It turns customers off when companies are not responsive to suggestions and complaints, and having a variety of reviews is reassuring to users. If a company only has positive reviews they may question their legitimacy.
Reviews on Yelp and industry related sites also count. Websites specifically highlighting customer satisfaction in various industries have sprung up over the years. A restaurant should have a variety of good reviews on Yelp. The same is true for a plumbing company on Angie's List. These are places people consult to make their choices, and you want your business to be represented well there. Search engines factor them in for local SEO just as much as Facebook reviews, so don't neglect them or avoid them because you don't want to deal with crank customers or the occasional troll.
Ultimately, increasing the number and quality of local reviews should be part of any company's SEO strategy and general marketing. If you would like to assess your current business listings, examine the reviews customers have left for you, or solicit more reviews, click here to begin. If you need help with this or any other aspect of SEO, don't hesitate to call Corporate Conversions. We are here to help your website rank higher and attract more customers.