If you have a local business that wants to be noticed by search engines and increase your customer base, you have to understand Local SEO. Local SEO helps you optimize your business’ online presence, helping you target consumers searching for your products, from a nearby location.
One often-overlooked aspect of local SEO is online customer reviews. Today competition has gotten tougher, especially for small and meduim sized businesses. As such, managing reviews can be a great way to differentiate your business and increase visibility in search engine rankings.
The Impact of Reviews on Local SEO
Google’s local search algorithm is incredibly complex. It analyzes a wide range of variables such as external citations, social media presence, on-site optimization, customer reviews and listings on local directories.
Reviews are crucial to every local business, where you sell online or not
Online reviews affect three key aspects. These are your local search engine rankings, customers’ decisions to purchase and traffic to your website. Moz conducted an online study of the 2018 local search ranking factors and according to the study, online customer reviews account for almost 10 % of the local search ranking factors.
Your Google My Business profile must be at the front of your online strategy. Customer reviews on your Google My Business profile appear in Google Maps on the right side of search results when someone searches your business name. For the stars to show up here, you require around five reviews. If a business is targeting Google Maps as a key listing, it should ideally have more reviews than the competition.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Google aggregates online reviews from many different review sites to determine the sentiment of your customers. Google has explicitly indicated that reviews play a part in one of the three primary local search ranking factors. One of the primary goals of search engines such as Google is to provide value to the user and ensure a superior experience. In this regard, what your customers are saying about you matters a lot to Google.
Online reviews also affect the purchase decisions of your customers. Reviews fit perfectly into your product and service purchasing cycle. When consumers read reviews, they have already made the decision on what they want. People tend to make decisions almost immediately after reading just a few reviews online. For this reason, your online reputation on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and other review sites can directly affect your bottom line.
Simply put, having positive online reviews for your business is a powerful ranking factor when it comes to local SEO. Reviews will also impact your customer’s purchasing decisions and website traffic.