Online reviews have become one of the most powerful tools for local SEO over the past few years. With the changes made to how we shop for things and browse the growing list of local businesses over the last decade or so, more people than ever are checking out reviews before making purchases. This means that it’s critical to get more positive reviews and make sure that people can see those reviews in order to maintain a successful digital marketing campaign and dominate local SEO.
Not only does it theoretically increase traffic to your listing from having a higher click through rate (i.e. “who are those guys with the most stars”) but it also appears to now be baked into the algorithm to dominate your local area. Google is also displaying “Best” Searches that filter only showing 4 star ratings and above.
In this search for “Best Personal Injury Attorney in Scranton” you can see Google is filtering by both dominance and star ratings:
You can see that Munley Law has done a great job with being both authoritative and generating great reviews from their clients thus being rewarded by Google.
Why Your Customers Care
Marketing has changed, and digital marketing is now changing at an accelerating rate. According to BrightLocal’s Annual Local Consumer Review Survey for 2016, when researching a local business over 91% of consumers look at reviews of that company and their products or services. This confirms what SEO analysts and shoppers alike have come to realize; that reading about other people’s experiences when making a purchase has become an essential part of the buying process for everyone.
However, what this study discovered further about the impact of these reviews on whether or not a person decides to do business with your company is even more surprising. According to their data for 2016, 84% of consumers said that they trust online reviews for businesses as much as a personal recommendation. From the consumer’s perspective, these reviews help to display your reputation as a whole and give them an idea of how well they believe their experience would go if they used your service. Reviews have become hugely influential in how customers form an opinion of you, and how that they share their experiences with future clients.
Reviews and Local SEO
The past few years have seen a dramatic growth in the significance of reviews to online marketing. And while they matter a great deal to whether someone becomes a customer, it makes sense that search algorithms would have grown and evolved to reflect these trends. Things aren’t as simple as they used to be. Reviews no longer just influence whether or not people choose to use your business—they impact your business’s local SEO entirely.
Both Moz and The Local SEO Guide each recently released their official list of ranking factors that influence local search, and what they showed everybody about customer reviews was interesting. Both of these revealed that Google business reviews now directly influence where a business appears in a Local 3-Pack as well as how highly they rank in local organic search results. Moreover, both have also agreed that there is a significant and overwhelming trend that search and marketing are obviously moving toward businesses that are investing more into the review strategy of their online marketing campaign. As stated by Moz, the reasoning is pretty simple, “Reviews = trust and increased CTR.”
Using Reviews to Boost Your Local SEO
With these changes and where search is heading, businesses that can’t gain people’s trust–along with their positive reviews–are being left behind. On the other hand, companies that can take advantage of this new environment to learn from negative reviews and gain more positive reviews will have the opportunity to thrive, boosting rankings, traffic and sales. The road to getting those reviews might even be easier than you’d think, according to BrightLocal. During their consumer review study mentioned early, they also found that 7 out of 10 consumers said that they would leave a review for a business if they were asked. When, more often than not, no one is even asking, taking that extra step could make all the difference.
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