Have you ever searched for a business online and noticed that some have star ratings and customer reviews next to their names? These businesses have likely claimed their Google My Business (GMB) listing and actively manage their reviews and ratings. Why is this important?
Introduction to Local SEO
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and online presence to increase visibility and drive traffic from local search queries. For example, if you own a bakery in San Francisco, you want to ensure that when someone searches for “bakery in San Francisco,” your business appears at or near the top of the search results.
Google uses a complex algorithm to determine which businesses appear in local searches and in what order. While there are many factors that contribute to local search rankings, reviews and ratings are among the most important.
How Reviews Impact Local SEO
Google considers reviews as a vote of confidence from your customers; the higher your rating and the more positive your reviews, the more likely it is that Google will rank you higher in local search results. Not only do reviews impact your search rankings, but they also influence user behavior.
According to a study by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 84% trusting them as much as personal recommendations. Additionally, consumers are more likely to click on a business with higher ratings and more reviews.
Google also factors in the quantity and recency of your reviews. That means businesses who consistently receive positive reviews and a high volume of reviews are more likely to rank higher in local search results.
How to Get More Reviews
Now that you understand the importance of reviews for local SEO, how do you get more of them? The most effective way is simply to ask!
After a customer makes a purchase or uses your services, follow up with an email requesting feedback and a review. You can also include a “Leave a Review” button or link on your website and social media pages.
Make it easy for customers to leave a review by providing clear instructions and links to your GMB listing. You can also incentivize customers by offering a discount or small gift in exchange for leaving a review.
Managing Your Reviews
It’s important to actively manage your reviews, both positive and negative. Responding to reviews shows that you are engaged with your customers and care about their feedback.
For positive reviews, a simple “thank you” is sufficient. For negative reviews, it’s important to address the customer’s concerns and offer a solution.
Remember, your response not only affects the customer who left the review but also potential customers reading it. A thoughtful and professional response can turn a negative experience into a positive one and demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.
What if I receive a fake or malicious review?
Unfortunately, fake reviews are a reality of online business. Google has systems in place to detect and remove fake reviews, but it’s important to monitor your reviews and report any that seem suspicious. Google also allows you to respond publicly to any reviews, so you can address the issue and offer a resolution.
Can I delete negative reviews?
No, you cannot delete negative reviews from your GMB listing. However, you can respond to negative reviews and offer a solution to the customer’s concerns.
How often should I check and respond to reviews?
You should check your reviews regularly and respond to them in a timely manner, ideally within 24-48 hours. This shows that you are actively engaged with your customers and care about their feedback.
Reviews and ratings have a significant impact on your local search rankings and user behavior. By actively managing your reviews, responding to customer feedback, and incentivizing customers to leave reviews, you can improve your online presence and drive more traffic to your business.