There are a number of factors that will impact your website’s local SEO efforts, but you might be surprised at how much reviews can do for your search results.
While this may not be a surprise to some business owners, far too many owners are unaware that 90% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. And the really frightening thing about this statistic is that it is pretty much the same for bad reviews as it is for good reviews.
In other words, almost 90% of people who do not buy from you are probably being influenced by poor reviews. So you can see that the power of reviews works for you - or against you. But the point here is that reviews matter. A lot!
Lions and Tigers and Reviews! Oh My!
Reviews have a habit of intimidating some business owners either because they do not know what to do with them, or because they fear the negative review. But reviews - pretty much any reviews - are a good thing, especially when an owner embraces them and learns to leverage them.
It is essential to understand that online reviews are important for a number of reasons, primarily since that can affect the following:
- Actual rankings in search engines
- Which search results are actually clicked
- Purchasing decisions of prospective customers
Consequently, this means that online reviews are as critical to your local SEO strategy as having good citations and your website’s optimization. Yet, too many business owners and marketers tend to dismiss or ignore reviews.
And to their peril…
What Reviews Can Do For You
Online reviews do much more for your business than simply add some “stars” to your search results. As noted already, there are three primary benefits of having and continually acquiring positive reviews.
Having significant numbers of good reviews can increase your business’s local rankingsin search engines. For example, Google is currently displaying the "top three" most relevant businesses for a specific search. And those “top three” have good reviews.
In other words, when someone searches for a business like yours in their area, Google factors in consumer ratings and reviews for determining who ends up in those top three spots.
Also, having good reviews means searchers are far more likely to click your link results. This is true even if you didn’t happen to rank in the top three. If you were searching for a print shop and you get three choices, which one do you click first? Statistics show that if one has an average five stars, while the other two have an average of two or three stars, the five star rated result will be clicked on.
Ultimately, more and better reviews mean more business for you. While we all understand that customer reviews are subjective indicators of the quality of a given business, they are still seen as a reliable method for establishing credibility with potential customers. They are the digital “word of mouth” for our day.
It is these benefits that validate the need for attracting good reviews online. If your business actively and strategically pursues more and better reviews while your competitors ignore them, your business will ultimately benefit in increased traffic and more conversions.
Show Me the Numbers
There is a certain appeal to statistics that tend to validate concepts that are otherwise amorphous and easy to question. Reviews can be like that for a great number of business owners. But the numbers really do say otherwise.
For example, a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, noted that 90 percent of those asked stated that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86 percent said that their buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.
The survey also noted that Facebook was the leading single resource for positive reviews at 44 percent, attesting to the value of having an active Facebook business page.
Review scores are an important signal for Google. In fact, Moz has determined that review signals make up 8.4 percent of the overall ranking signals in terms of impact.
Another survey from BrightLocal shows that 92 percent of consumers now read online reviews and that, of these, 68 percent say that positive reviews are a significant trust factor.
That same survey provided a number of key statistics that support the argument that online reviews matter. For example:
- 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they're asked to
- 90 percent of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
- 54 percent of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
What’s a Business To Do?
Not only do local businesses need reviews, but they need lots of them and regularly. But how can you help your business get more reviews?
1. Make sure your listings are accurate.
When customers search for your business, it should be easy to find. Don’t give customers any obstacles to leaving a review.
2. Set up profiles on multiple review sites and directories.
If customers can’t find your business online, they can’t leave reviews, so make sure your business is listed on a wide variety of review sites. The number of sites varies by industry, but Yelp, Facebook and Google are some of the basics for every industry.
Finding and signing up on directory sites can be time consuming, but it usually it won’t take long to set up a number of business profiles on the major directory sites. Take time to find any industry-specific directories, as well. Better to have too many listings than too few.
3. Ask for reviews.
Too often you customers are willing to give you a review, but they usually aren’t thinking about it. It’s been proven that local businesses who ask for reviews are much more likely to get them. It’s okay to give a nudge by asking because, no matter how much they love your business, your customers are usually busy.
4. Make customers aware.
Putting up signage promoting reviews is a great option for brick-and-mortar businesses to serve as reminder for customers. Window stickers asking for Google or Yelp! reviews, printed reminders slipped into bags along with receipts, and even kiosks in the store with a laptop or tablet for leaving reviews are all ways to increase customer awareness.
5. Use the Internet.
Send email reminders to your customers. Adding a blurb asking for reviews to every post and piece of digital correspondence will help ensure a steady flow of reviews. This is far better that massive numbers of reviews posting all at once, which Google may see as spam.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask. People who know you, like you, and trust you will be happy to give you good reviews.
Because we live in a world where almost everyone is on social media, having your business presence there is a powerful way to be seen by potential customers. Because your business is visible in a medium they regularly interact with, social media allows you to make those digital relationships to build trust and gain valuable leads.
Love it or hate it, social media is a must-have for businesses. And so are those reviews!
Local Experts for Your Local SEO Strategy
Leveraging your Internet marketing efforts is essential for your business. But achieving your local marketing objectives with a content marketing strategy does take time. It won't happen with some great reviews, or even a few blog posts or other great content. While great content is important, visitors will usually read your content for a while before they contact you.
Yet, without your content compelling them to contact you, your goals may never be met.
The good news is that you don't have to figure out alone. In fact, one of the best investments you can make with your marketing budget is to partner with a solid firm like Petaluma-based BroadVision Marketing. We are your local partner for your local marketing needs.
Click on the link below to get your free white paper "10 Powerful Inbound Marketing Charts" or call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238.