Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful channels for sales and business growth – but times are changing. Consumers are now shifting their attention to the internet, and online reviews have quickly become the new word of mouth.
It is clear that in today’s buying process, online reviews are trustworthy. In fact, 85% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Search engine giant Google has also recognized this shift and has subsequently changed its algorithm to reflect and encourage consumer satisfaction. Google has observed that consumers have immense power to impact business success, and that power extends to the online space.
For that very reason, online reviews now greatly affect website search engine rankings. This is big news for small and local businesses who need to optimize their local presence online in order to take full advantage.
But how exactly do online reviews affect your SEO and how can you get more positive reviews? Keep reading below to learn more:
More Positive Reviews = Boosted SEO = More Business
Online reviews for your business directly affect how high you will rank in Google’s local search results. While rankings are challenging to predict, they do depend on several known factors when it comes to local search.
Backlinks, or links to your site from external sources, are an excellent SEO boost. Because reviews generally live on sites like Yelp, the more listings and reviews you have on external sites, the more backlinks your business collects.
Reviews also prove that you are a legitimate business that provides quality customer service. The more positive reviews your business has, the more likely it is to rank well in search results. Conversely, too many bad reviews may drop your business to a lower position in search results.
Quality vs. Quantity
Quality is better than quantity when it comes to review volume. This is because visitors who view reviews of your business likely already have an intention to convert (make a purchase or select a service provider).
Providing visitors with as many detailed reviews as possible can greatly increase your likelihood of winning them as customers. In fact, 50% of consumers visited a local business’s website after reading a positive review. That’s huge potential!
Online reviews act as excellent organic content in support of your business and services, expanding your overall available search result volume. In this way, reviews are a bit like keywords. They may not be powerful alone, but a high volume of them combined can result in drastic SEO improvements.
Reviews are the perfect way for the customer to sell your business for you, using language that other potential customers will understand and respond to. Basically, good reviews are like free advertising and your customers are your top salespeople!
How to Collect More (Positive) Reviews for Your Business
You may be wondering what strategies you can employ in order to improve your review game. In fact, many of the best ways to increase reviews are so simple, you might not even realize their power. If you’re looking to grow, consider the following best practices:
1. Audit your directory listings across the web.
It may seem tedious, but many of the online platforms where your contact and business info are listed also allow customer reviews. Inconsistent contact information for your business could lead to a loss of SEO, with multiple locations “battling” one another for the top search result spots. Make sure that your name, address and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all online listings.
2. Write reviewers back!
Whether the customer feedback is good or bad, this tactic shows that your business takes the time to read and consider customer feedback. Current customers will be more likely to stay, and future customers will appreciate your efforts.
3. Share the love.
When you receive a glowing review, don’t just say “thanks” and let it be. Ideally after gaining the reviewer’s permission, share that review to spread the word even further. Post the review on your website, social media and any other outlets that potential customers may be looking.
4. Develop a review initiative.
Customers generally don’t think to write reviews unless they have had a memorably negative experience. For your best (and happy) customers, they likely only need a little encouragement to create a shining testimonial. You simply need to ask!
Try using marketing automation workflows that gently encourage positive reviews. Send customers an automated email after they have visited your business and provide a survey or links directly to your online directories, Make sure to include a series of follow-up reminder emails that encourage customers to leave the review in case they forget. This is a great way to boost reviews without having to do any extra work!
Summing It All Up
Online customer reviews are one of the best ways to boost your SEO and also the most trusted and compelling content a potential customer can find online about your local business.
Reviews address specific customer pain points and describe how your business helped them solve these issues. This is exactly the kind of information your ideal customer is looking for.
Google understands the power of these reviews, and places a high value on them, so the more positive online reviews you can collect, the better your chances of growing your reach, and subsequently, your business.