How Local Reviews Influence SEO

“The customer is always right.” This adage certainly takes on a new meaning in the context of search optimization.  Now that life is practically online, people rely much on what they see and hear through their web-based network and what their Google searches tell them. This is why visibility in search engines—especially on Google—is such a crucial component in any modern marketing strategy. With increasingly tech savvy customers, local businesses cannot afford to take online reviews for granted. As a matter of fact, research shows that online reviews—both positive and negative—impact consumer behavior as well as their purchase decisions.

How Local Reviews Influence SEO

Online reviews are the easiest resource for what’s called ‘crowdsourced information,’ which refers to unbiased opinions and feedback coming straight from consumers and users. In particular, reviews from Google My Business (GMB) have direct effects on SEO ranking, which is why it is certainly worth your time and effort to ensure that local reviews about your brand are favorable. Now that Google puts much weight on these reviews when it comes to their SEO rankings, it becomes more important than ever to pay closer attention to them as part of your optimization strategy. Think of these reviews along the same lines as backlinks you receive from other websites—the more relevant reviews your business gets, the higher Google your website will rank.

Understanding GMB (Google My Business)

Google My Business is a free, user-friendly tool that organizations and businesses can use to help manage their presence across the Google-verse—their existence and visibility not just in search engine results pages, but also in Maps and elsewhere in Google. Managing, editing, and verifying the validity and accuracy of your business information will help make sure that customers can find you and learn about your business.

With GMB, you can manage how information about your brand appears throughout Google. The same free tool enables you to interact with customers, both old and new, and let them know your story by responding to their reviews and posting photos showing off what it is that you do and what value you can offer to them. GMB likewise enables you to understand your business better in the Google milieu and expand your presence online.

While Google keeps the underlying principles behind their search algorithm under wraps, there are some things that can be inferred about the way that the search giant uses customer reviews in determining search results:

1. Review content is crucial. Reviews containing your targeted keywords have a lot of weight in SEO. They determine where your business shows up in what’s known as the “local pack” or the top box of search result pages, right under the map, which showcases local businesses matching the searched term. This is significant because the local pack is what consumers see first when performing a search.

2. Reviews = Clicks = Visibility. Beyond their power to generate clicks and visibility, reviews and ratings also serve as a major factor in purchase decisions. It can dramatically affect whether or not consumers choose to use a service or business. According to research, more than 50% of web users tend not to do business with companies with low ratings (lower than 4 stars). Needless to say, the better your reviews and ratings, the more likely consumers will pick you out of a lineup.

3. Engagement matters. Actively responding to consumer feedback via your social accounts is important. Equally crucial is encouraging clients to leave reviews of your site or business on GMB and post questions about you on Google Q&A, so you can interact with them and respond to their queries and feedback under Google’s surveillance.

Do you need help using local reviews to boost your search engine rankings? Talk to our SEO specialists at SEOValley.