Whether you’re looking for a new restaurant or a local boutique, one of the first things you probably do is search for reviews. In fact, it seems like every business needs to have reviews from customers in order to reach a wider audience.
Let’s try an experiment right now. Search for a local business—restaurant, contractor, veterinarian, whatever you choose. What shows up? In the Google My Business listings, you’ll see that the top results have high ratings. Why is this? And how can it help your business in your local SEO marketing efforts?
Why reviews are necessary
To answer this question, let’s go back to our experiment. What did you think when you saw the results? You probably saw the star rating and the number of reviews. Then you probably thought, “Well, if these places have a lot of reviews that say this place is good, then it must be good.” And you were probably right: it seems that a good business should have a lot of high ratings, so it should be a good choice.
Unfortunately, the practice of purchasing reviews is also something you need to be aware of. If a business has too many 5-star reviews without much detail provided, you can probably discount the business. Because of the necessity of reviews, some places feel the pressure to have enough to compete. This leads them to engage in unsavory business practices such as purchasing reviews. So always take a second look to make sure that you’re not being intentionally misled.
How do reviews help with local SEO?
There are a lot of complicated factors that go into Google’s ranking algorithm, and no one understands fully how it works. However, there has been a lot of research done by a number of reliable sources on the important factors of local search visibility. One of the top sources Google takes into consideration is local reviews. Check out what Moz has to say about it for more information.
But before Google will even show your reviews, you need to have at least five. So it’s important to focus on getting those reviews as soon as possible so that Google will show them in the results.
How can you set up a Google My Business page?
While you could go claim your Google My Business page and try to make sure that all important SEO elements are in place, it might be more worthwhile to focus on getting at least five reviews for your business and let a professional handle the maintenance aspect of it. Zoek is here to help you get your Google My Business page set up and keep your listings up to date and consistent across the web. For example, we’ll take care of writing an SEO-friendly description of your business, focus on keeping your address and phone number up to date, add images and other customized information to the listing, choose the correct categories for the listing to appear in, and update the listing as needed.
Should you focus on getting reviews other places besides Google?
Yes. However, many sites pull information from the reviews on Google and display them on their own listings. Therefore, it’s best to focus on the Google reviews, but getting reviews on sites like Yelp and other sites relevant to your industry (such as OpenTable or TripAadvisor) will only boost your local SEO ranking signals.
So how can you make sure customers leave reviews?
Don’t be shy about asking customers to leave kind words if they appreciate the services they got. You can offer an incentive, such as 10% off coupon or a chance to be entered in a drawing for a small reward. It’s never a good idea to offer cash for reviews, as that is considered buying them and is dishonest. But offering a little incentive can help people remember to take a few moments out of their busy lives to help you out.
You can also place signs around the store or offer business cards with your information and request for reviews. Sometimes a visual reminder is all people need to be enticed to help you out.
Finally, if you have a newsletter or mailing list, you can always send out reminders this way. You can leave a convenient link to the spot where you’d like customers to leave reviews, and most people who sign up for a newsletter are pleased with your company already, and thus are more likely to leave a positive review for you.
What do you think? How have reviews helped your local SEO marketing efforts?