Local search engine optimization (SEO) has become a vital part of being noticed online. Google strives to provide the most relevant information for a search query, creating an advantage for local businesses. When someone uses the keywords that describe your business and its location, it is essential that your company shows up on page one, preferably in the top 3 results.
One of the marketing techniques to achieve this is online citations or business directories. Having your basic business information such as name, address, and phone number out on as many sites as possible makes sense, right? This has come full circle.
Around 10 years ago, business citations were a great way to get noticed online and directory sites flourished. Soon after, though, there was a time period when it was almost a negative to be listed on directory sites. Then in 2014 a new update by Google revived local search.
Google realized that with the increase in mobile search, it made sense to provide as much local information about a business as possible, allowing users and local businesses a leg up in the idea of discovering what is nearby.
One of the keys for this revival has to do with the influence of local SEO and reviews. People care about what their friends and others are saying about a business, so reviews are a metric that are included in a search query for an online business. It appears that the more high rated comments your business gets, the better your chances of showing up in the 3-pack for local search.
In this article by searchenginewatch.com, they discuss the importance of reviews for local businesses.
The importance of user reviews for local SEO
Dec 15 | Graham Charlton
Reviews are a massive part of the web now, and an absolute essential for online retailers.
They’re also vital for local businesses, whether or not they sell online, thanks to their sheer prominence in local search results.
Just look at this mobile search for restaurants in Chicago. The best organic listings are taken by the restaurants with good reviews:
After this the next organic listings are mainly from review sites – Yelp, TripAdvisor, Time Out, Zagat, and so on. Only a couple of actual restaurant sites make it onto the first SERP.
While not every local search is exactly like this, the trend is clear. Indeed, the Google My Business listings are so dominant that many users will not even look at the other organic results.
In summary, if you want a prominent position in the local SERPs, you need user reviews.
If you want to encourage clickthroughs, or physical visits, you need good reviews.
Why reviews work
In a nutshell, it’s the power of social proof. People need reassurance and confirmation that their actions are the right ones.
So, when people are thinking about buying a particular camera, seeing an average review rating of 4 stars, or reading positive reviews may provide the extra push they need.
For local searches, if you see a restaurant with an average score of 4.6 from 465 reviews, like the Girl & the Goat above, then it looks like a safe choice.
There are so many stats around reviews that I could pluck almost any number out to show how many read them before buying, how they are trusted more than other sources, and so on.
The bottom line is that they are used a lot and relied upon by many web users.
Read more here: http://ift.tt/1PU1raB
As you can see, the opinion of others is highly valued by consumers. It is fascinating to think about the way social media and the internet have opened up the lines of communication. Ten years ago, you would have had to trust what you have heard from family or friends, or maybe a TV advertisement, about a certain restaurant or shop to decide if you wanted to test it out.
Now you have the assessment of complete strangers to help make your choice. By having the opportunity to express your impression of the quality of a business, online users have come out of the woodwork to do so, at times abandoning any politeness or etiquette to tell it like it is. This created a need for companies to manage their online reputation. Word of mouth can go viral in a heartbeat, be it positive or negative.
The following graph demonstrates the increase in the use of reviews as a deciding factor. Studies such as this were part of the reason Google had to take the viewpoint of others serious as part of the local search results. These are the outcome from a 2014 survey by Bright Local.
You can see more results of their online review survey here: http://ift.tt/1PU1raC
So the question of the day might be “how do I to engage people in order to get reviews?” My first answer would be to not fabricate reviews because this very well could backfire on you. By providing the best possible customer experience, you will then have the opportunity to request a positive review.
Take advantage of a customer who is at your store by providing them a way to give a review either on paper on online. You can use social media platforms to request reviews or do an email campaign to get the opinion of others. Just be sure to manage any negative reviews as quickly as possible, which could make a lifelong customer out of that person and others who witness the way an altercation is handled.