The local search landscape is continually changing. Google has introduced a number of new features over the past couple of years, including the addition of an interactive carousel to the top of the search results page and the ability to filter results by star rating.
Business reviews are an essential part of this landscape, but many businesses still aren't familiar with their impact on local SEO or how to manage them.
Today's consumers place high importance on reviews and consider them as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends and family - and with 88% of people trusting online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, it's clear that online reviews are a powerful force in influencing consumer decision-making.
Whether you have one location or several hundreds, you'll want to pay attention to your business reviews - both proactively managing them and responding to negative reviews in a timely manner.
What are Business Reviews?
Business reviews are comments and ratings that customers leave on your business website, or on websites like Google and Yelp. They're a great way for potential customers to learn more about a business before deciding whether or not to visit it. chit-chat can help you achieve fantastic business reviews with only a few steps.
Why are business Reviews Important for Optimizing for Local SEO?
Positive reviews do a great job of informing people about your business. It’s free advertising that is usually quite trustworthy. To me, a review holds more weight than an ad because the reviewer has nothing to gain by writing a good review other than helping someone else make an informed decision. This may not sound like something that will improve your websites SEO (search engine optimization) but it actually has a fairly big impact.
1. Local Listings
The biggest impact on your websites SEO is going to be local listings and citations. When you have someone mention you on their website or social media account, this is called a citation. When you get listed in online phone books and directories this is called a local listing. These are the most important (and often times the most difficult) parts of SEO for any small business owner with a website.
When you get positive reviews of your company or services, those reviews will often include links back to your website which creates citations for you. You can also build these yourself by creating profiles on Facebook, Google Plus and many other social networks as well as in local business directories such as YELP! The more citations and local listings you have pointing back to your site, the better off you are in terms of search engine rankings. All of these steps are also done with our chit-chat online business review platform so it's even easier.
2. Reviews Help Your Site Rank Higher in Search Results as a Result of Trust
One of the most important factors that determines how high your site shows in search results is trust. There are three components to trust – authoritativeness, expertise, and trustworthiness. Business reviews directly impact your site’s authoritativeness and trustworthiness in search engines’ eyes because they make it clear that people are talking about you online. Google knows this and wants to provide the best possible search results for its users, so it rewards sites that have a lot of reviews.
3. Social Engagement
Social engagement is another factor that Google takes into consideration when determining where to list you in the organic search results. When people engage with your business online, whether it's leaving a review or sharing it on social media, Google notices and gives you points for it.
The more people who are talking about your business online, the higher you will rank in the search results. By getting those reviews and using them to grow your social media presence you will be able to see a boost in traffic and sales from both sources.
Google also uses this information in their local search results which are important for businesses with a physical location. For example, if someone searches for "best restaurant near me" they will see a map with three businesses listed as well as links to more listings. The map listings come from Google's local 3 pack.
4. They Increase your Website Traffic
Positive reviews can increase your website's traffic thus increasing your SEO. If I were looking for an air conditioning company in my area and I found a positive review about a specific company, I would be more inclined to visit that company’s website than any other company I might find through a search engine. This is important because when you have increased traffic on your website, search engines will see this as a good thing and rank your site higher than others.
5. Reviews are a Form of User-generated Content (UGC) and Google Loves UGC
Google's job is to find the best results for their users' queries. They look at relevance, authority and quality in order to rank pages in their search results. User-generated content is great because it provides a level of detail and quality that you can't get through other forms of content such as blog posts or product descriptions. User-generated content also indicates that you have an engaged audience which Google loves. Googles love brands that have engaged audiences. So be sure your customers are leaving positive reviews.
Google has made it very clear that user experience is now a ranking factor. So, if you have good reviews on your website and if someone searches for your business name, then Google, Amazon, or Bing will show your website in the search results. There are also many other ways business reviews can help you with your website SEO efforts. For example, you can use these reviews as content to build backlinks. Or you can even create an entire page filled with customer reviews and target some of the long-tail keywords which are related to your services or products. Who really has time to build all of the backlinks when they own and run a small business? chit-chat.biz can handle all of these steps for you and you only have to provide the clients phone number or email address. It's EASY!