We all know the impact of a bad review, but as local search continues to grow, what about their importance in SEO? Do reviews make a difference to your search ranking?

Since Google introduced their Pigeon Algorithm, reviews have become increasingly important in SEO.

Take a look at the first page of a local search, those at the top typically feature more reviews than the rest, there’s a reason for that.

Good reviews are like a vote of confidence in your business. They tell search engines like Google that your business is worthy of the top positions. In fact reviews are one of the most valuable ranking factors for local businesses. According to a 2015 local search study by Moz, reviews make up around 8.4% of local ranking factors.

Not only will reviews help you to reach the top spot, they will help you to get results once you’re there.

Remember reviews are not just important to Google; they affect customer decisions too:

  • The average consumer consults 11 online reviews before making a purchasing decisionMarketing-in-CT
  • A high product rating will increase the likelihood of completing a purchase for 55% of consumers
  • A one-star rating increase can result in a 5-9% increase in revenue

When given a choice of three businesses, you’re probably going to pick the one with the most positive reviews, right?

The Dominance of Review Sites

There’s more than one way to reach the first page with reviews.

Since Google introduced their Pigeon algorithm, review sites have appeared more and more in local searches. Sometimes sites like Yelp outrank the same websites that they review.

Yelp In SerpsTake a search for “Electrician in CT” for example, and you will notice directories and review sites, not just individual business websites.

It’s no secret that Google has a certain preference for some review sites. Understandable Google+ reviews are considered important, as are Yelp, Trustpilot & Citysearch.

These sites have a much bigger impact on your ranking than lesser known review sites. If you’re going to do anything, get your business listed on these sites first!

One of many considerations

Don’t assume that reviews will be the answer to all of your SEO questions. Reviews are just one of many factors that contribute towards your search ranking.

Even without the SEO benefits, online reviews still improve trust and increasing customer conversions. If you’re not already using reviews as part of your web strategy, what’s stopping you?

How to get more online reviews

Obviously good reviews don’t appear on their own, you have to encourage them in the first place.

Remember that consumers are more likely to talk about a bad experience than a positive one, so a little nudging may be required..

What can you do to get more reviews?

  1. Register to top review sites
  2. Ask your customers – Customers know how valuable reviews are to your business. If you have provided a good service, most won’t mind being asked to leave a review. If you collect customer emails, this is the ideal way to request an online review, but don’t wait too long! Your customers will be more receptive right after doing business with you.
  3. Incentivize staff – One of the best ways to increase your number of reviews (and overall customer experience) is by incentivizing staff. Give employees a reason to ask for reviews & work for them too, a small bonus or prize for the top performer is just one way to get those reviews rolling in.
  4. Make it easy – Leaving a review benefits your business more than the customer, so make it easy for them! No one’s going to leave a review if it’s too complicated or time-consuming. Sites like Yelp provide banners & badges for your website, these remind customers to leave a review and send them to the correct place. Tell customers where they can leave a review and how to do it.

So to finish off, if you want to increase your search ranking, you need to use reviews as part of your SEO strategy, especially as a local business.

Beyond improving your search position, reviews help to increase traffic to your website and encourage sales. A 5* rating makes your business stand out from the rest, what sort of value can you put on that?

What are your tips for getting more online reviews?