Are User Reviews the Key to Better Local SEO?
There is no doubt about it; customer reviews have a huge impact on your business. Better customer ratings mark your business as trustworthy and influence customers to buy your product, stay at your hotel or enlist your services. Not only do ratings influence your customers, they also play a huge role in your local SEO ranking. So if your business has a higher rating and more customer reviews compared to your competitor, it’s not just a selling point for your customers, it’s also a signal for search engines to rank your page higher and a reason why optimizing your business for local search should be a high priority.
When you search for any business on Google using a location description, Google Maps are often one of the first things to show on the page. So if you type in “Vancouver Restaurants,” you’ll see a list of businesses, their location’s proximity to you, their overall rating and the number of reviews they have.
Google determines the ranking order based on a couple of factors including your business’ average rating on Google+ and the number of reviews you have. Google’s goal is to increase user satisfaction, so it makes sense that they would feature the best local businesses as rated by their users.
But Google reviews aren’t the only ones that matter. Sites like Yelp, Zagat and any OTA are powered by reviews. These sites can influence Google’s ratings and the quality and quantity of reviews in general account for nearly 10% of overall search rankings according to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors report.
How to Get Great Customer Reviews
When optimizing your business for local SEO, reviews are pivotal. Aside from the obvious need for unbeatable customer service and a great product, how can you actually elicit reviews? As with any digital marketing strategy, there are best practices to follow when getting customer reviews to improve your local SEO.
Never Pay for Reviews
Offering any kind of incentive or giveaway in exchange for reviews is actually forbidden by Google. You can encourage your customers to leave reviews by reaching out to them or using a soft-sell approach like suggesting it in your newsletter; but offering a Facebook giveaway in exchange for reviews is not Google approved.
Pay Attention to the Reviews You Already Have
The goal is to get great reviews and improve your rankings, but don’t forget that reviews can also show you areas of your business that can be improved on. If you notice a consistent complaint, make an effort to resolve the issue so it won’t become a recurring complaint in future reviews.
Respond to Bad Reviews as Quickly as Possible
If you can reach out directly to a customer, offer an apology and remedy the situation if you can. It’s possible to turn a negative review into a positive one if you reach out and try to resolve the problem.