Google now uses business reviews as part of its methodology in determining search rankings. And businesses who aren’t paying attention to this are doing themselves a disservice. There are all kinds of research out there that show customers read and rely on online reviews when it comes to making purchasing decisions, so integrating this element of local search strategy into your marketing efforts just makes sense.
Oh yeah. You better believe it. Online reviews most definitely convert into offline sales. We covered this in a recent webinar series and it’s so important we wanted to write about it, too. And if you’re interested enough that you want to dive deeper into local search and other SEO focused strategies for business, check out the webinar series here.
Back to business. Business reviews impact search rankings – not an opinion, it’s a fact.
There are a myriad of business, large and small, who stand to benefit from online reviews. Some examples of small businesses include dentists, an eyeglass shop, a neighborhood bakery, travel agency or wedding planner. And examples of medium-sized businesses who might likewise benefit from reviews include fitness clubs, restaurant chains, hardware stores, the local UPS franchise pack and ship shops or large medical practices. There are many others, these are just a few that came immediately to mind.
Here’s what positive reviews can do for you:
- They increase your rank by linking important and relevant websites to your website.
- If there are a constant stream of positive reviews, this only helps increase and improve your online reputation. Let’s go back to the dentist example. If you were in the market for a new dentist and went online searching in your geographic area, would you be more inclined to patronize the dentist with 40 positive reviews or the one with 2? I’m pretty sure we both know the answer to that one.
- Positive reviews drive traffic. Period. Believe it.
- Positive reviews can help counterbalance any negative ones you might receive, by pushing them lower. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that negative reviews won’t happen – they will – it’s just human nature. But many positive reviews will help persuade prospective customers that a negative review or two should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Positive reviews on relevant directories help you get a leg up on the competition. Hard to argue with that one. So don’t. Believe it.
Hey, I’m just a marketer. Don’t take my word for this search business – let’s talk to an expert. My good friend, Gabriella Sannino, owner of Level 343 a full service SEO and copywriting consulting company, has this to say:
Google is investing heavily in functionality tying into a user’s geographical location. Local search is becoming more vital and valuable every single day. Sentiment analysis or reviews is far from perfect yet, but positive reviews are always a good idea for a business. Get listed on relevant local business directories and try to get positive reviews there. Keep in mind relevance is key and don’t forget to keep your eyes on and control of your Online Reputation Management (ORM) in the process.
Bottom line – business reviews are an important part of local search strategies for many businesses. Here’s an example of what they look like when they show up in search:
If you want to grow your business – or your clients’ businesses – in the coming year, turn your attention to reviews as part of your overall search efforts and we think you’ll be happy with the results you’ll see.