Why Online Reviews Matter For Local SEO

why online reviews matter for local seo

Local search engines love online reviews for one primary reason, consumers love online reviews. They’re number one goal is to provide people on-the-go or at home with the most accurate information that will help them make buying decisions. The faster they can do that, the more consumers will turn to them time and time again. Have a look at a screenshot of results from Yelp for the keywords “mexican restaurants Cedar Rapids, IA”.

online reviews local seo yelp

According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 8.4% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Check out this pie chart provided by MOZ for the visual break down of the different ranking variables:

online reviews local seo ranking signals

[thrive_headline_focus title=”So How Are You Going to Get All These Reviews?” orientation=”left”]

Before you embark on creating strategy for acquiring new reviews, it’s a good idea to give some thoughts on which review platforms would work best for your business.

To determine that, simply start by going to Google and doing the following search, “[Industry] + reviews” and see which sites pop-up on the first page. For example, have a look at what shows up for “mexican restaurant reviews”:

online review sites local seo

Before we talk about how to obtain more reviews, it’s important to understand the different review policies each platform has that you will need to abide by. For example, Yelp strictly forbids small businesses from soliciting online reviews and will act swiftly if it detects something fishy. While some other platforms don’t really have any issues with businesses making the ask.

Here are some review guidelines for some of the most critical review platforms that you should read through and understand:

  1. Google+ Local

  2. Yelp

  3. Foursquare

  4. Citysearch

  5. YP.com

Once you’ve had a quick look through those, here are 4 tips to help you get started acquiring great reviews:

  1. Use this awesome “Review Handout Generator” by Whitespark and Phil Rozek that allows you to create a handout for customers to provide clear-cut instructions on how they could leave you a review on Google.

  2. On all print materials (invoices, flyers, etc) list all the different sites where customers can review you

  3. Link directly to your review profiles on your website.

  4. Train staff and yourself to “make the ask” upon the completion of the transaction. It’s okay to ask on the spot or call them afterward. It’s okay, just ask!

Online Reviews & Reputation Management

You’re probably wondering how to respond if you happen to get a negative review, but before that it’s a great idea to set up on a Google Alert to get notified every time your business is mentioned online so you can take a more proactive approach to online reputation management.

First, don’t get all up tight the first time or anytime you see a negative review. Your first instinct might be to contact the review platform and request that they take down the review, but don’t.

[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Deanna Yick, Google My Business spokesperson”]Reviews are a form for users to share both positive and negative opinions. We do not arbitrate disputes and more than not, we leave the review up.[/pullquote]

Instead of allowing your emotions to cause you to react, take a deep breath, and deal with negative online reviews like you would with any general criticism.

If you receive a negative review, here are the step to take:

  1. Diffuse the situation

  2. Offer to make up for whatever their dissatisfaction was

  3. End with highlighting the positive when possible and point to more positive reviews and ratings.

respond to negative reviews

The other thing to keep in mind is that negative reviews should be catalysts for internal conversation and actions for improvement. This means getting to the bottom of some potential pitfalls in your existing operations. Don’t let the negativity get you down, use it as an opportunity to improve and grow.

This could lead to staff and management meetings in which you could brainstorm how you can better improve your customer service, whether it’s through policies, or by empowering your front line workers, it’s really up to you.

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on how what online reviews are and how they influence consumer decisions, hopefully, this gets you started in thinking about your online reputation more seriously and about how online reviews factor into your local SEO strategy.

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