Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. 5-star guac and queso? Double check.
If you’re anything like me, before heading out on the town you like to see what restaurants are nearby. And if you’re even MORE like me, you want to know that not only will food be easily accessible, the food is GOOD. Not 2 or 3-stars good, but as close to a 5 as you can get it. And how do I know if the food is good at a restaurant I’ve never tried before? Online reviews.
I’m not alone. According to Forbes, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Not only that, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.
Online reviews and local review management have incredible power over the way new customers view your business. But did you know that reviews are hugely important to local SEO, too?
Local Review Management Helps Your SEO
Reviews act as a beacon, letting search engines know that your business is…in business! Google is all about legitimacy and reviews let Google know your business is fully operational and that people are interacting with and using your products and services.
According to digital marketing power-house Moz, online reviews are estimated to make up to 15% of the criteria for how Google displays search results in local packs.
In a way, reviews are like an ongoing conversation about your business.
A conversation that includes new, fresh content. Google “reads” your site and the more content you have available, the more Google will know about your business. Without realizing it, your customers are peppering their reviews with keywords that add to Google’s understanding of what your business is all about. And the more Google knows about you, and the more they see people can vouch for and recommend your business, the more visibility Google will give your business online.
Manage Your Reviews—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
For better or worse, people trust online reviews. Warren Buffet once stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Managing your reviews is crucial to your business’ success.
When talking about review management, Moz has a simple word of advice: keep calm and have a strategy. This strategy should always include quickly and appropriately responding to consumer reviews, both positive and negative.
Customers are reading your reviews, whether you respond to them or not. Take control of how your business is perceived by engaging with reviewers. If someone gives you 5 stars, thank them and welcome them back. Likewise, if a customer has a bad experience and leaves you 2 stars, acknowledge their disappointment and engage with them to find a solution.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to turn a negative review into a positive. Many people are willing to amend their negative reviews based on how their complaint is resolved. The more positive reviews you have, the more trusted your company will be perceived. And the more trusted you are the more Google will want to feature you in on their results page.
Reviews as Social Proof
Incorporate reviews across your website for better social proof and brand authority. You can include them as a subfolder on your website architecture and reference them as case studies for potential customers. Although, be aware, Google no longer views those reviews hosted by your own site as a ranking factor. They consider those reviews to be “self servicing”. The only reviews that are up for possible inclusion in rich result format are from third party sources like Yelp, Facebook or even Google My Business.
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