How Online Reviews Affect Local SEO?
Previously you were reviewed through a customer service card placed in a box at your place of business. Today reviews for your business can be found anywhere, especially on the internet. Unlike the old reviews that were kept in house, online reviews are open for anyone anywhere to view at any time of the day or night. A question that is asked by many is how these online reviews affect local SEO (search engine optimisation). The answer isn’t as simple as it seems so here are some of the way online reviews affect local SEO and why you should be paying attention to them.
Affect Local Search Engine Rank
As a business we often spend hundreds to thousands of dollars optimising our website and content so that it appears higher in search engine results page (SERP). SEO is not a new tool to use. However, even with all the SEO work done on your website, having poor or inadequate online reviews can affect the local search engine rank.
Online reviews are the new word of mouth. Instead of your customers praising you to their friends in person, they do so online. This can be done directly on your website, social media, through Google or on review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. A problem with this is that you are customers are also able to provide poor reviews online for all to see. If you are receiving poor or no online reviews you could risk losing customers. Online reviews are used by customers today to make informed decisions.
If your reviews are great they will rank higher. If you have a lot of reviews you will rank higher. Negative and fewer online reviews will result in a lower ranking. Online reviews can also affect which links a customer will click on. If your business is showing 2 stars while others are showing 4 or 5 stars it is less likely your link will be clicked on. This, in its simplest form is how online reviews affect local SEO.
What you can do:
- Ask clients to review you on Facebook and on Google, having a mixture of review sites also helps with ranking. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers while they are paying for a bill or include it in a note or on your receipts.
- Claim your business on Google my Business, it is the highest referred to review site
- There is a shelf life to reviews, make sure your keep getting new reviews regularly.
- Use negative feedback to make positive changes and let that negative reviewer know these changes have been made.
- Know review site guidelines. Google and other review sites look poorly on review competitions. Knowing how they work can help you to find ways to get the reviews you need.
- Set up a review landing site on your website. This makes it easier for your customers to leave a review.
- Read 5 ways technology can make your content smarter
Online Reviews Affect Consumer Purchasing Decisions
Online reviews are not just good for SEO. Online reviews can be the difference between a prospective customer using your services or making a purchase and finding another option. Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2017 found that the more positive reviews a business has, the more likely a customer is to use that particular local business. So, even if your business ranked higher in the SERP, if your online reviews are not positive there is a chance that a potential customer may choose your competitor.
- What you can do:
Read the content of your reviews as this can tell you what is working and what could be changed.
- Address negative reviews. This shows other customers that you care about what they have to say. Stating how you will address the issues brought up in the review is also helpful in showing that reviews are taken seriously.
- Make the review process easy and simply for customers so they are more likely to leave a review for your business.