Why Reviews are Essential for Local SEO
Reviews are often an important determining factor for whether or not a customer will choose to interact with your business. The date, star rating, and overall number of reviews a business has can make all the difference in how many consumers visit a website or chose a specific business.
Reviews also impact how a business ranks in local searches, making them a vital component of any SEO strategy.
Is Organic Search and Local SEO the Same?
The short answer is no. Local search is based on proximity to the searcher, while organic search is more holistic. On Google, local businesses are predisposed to showing up in a local search ahead of larger corporations, because Google cares about getting answers to searches. If someone searches for a local business near them, local businesses are more likely to show up over other establishments that are larger and nowhere near the searcher’s geographic location.
Google determines local search rankings through relevance (or the intent of the search), distance/proximity of the business to the searcher, and prominence (or the recency of reviews). Intent also plays a role: 88 percent of people that run a local search on their phone will visit the store or local business within a week. Consumers place a high emphasis on Google My Business (GMB) profiles, so every business should be applying local intent to their SEO strategy.
Reviews Can Help Establish Consumer Trust
Having many high-star reviews will compound over time, since people are more likely to visit the business and leave a good review if they see another good review. As reviews improve and become more recent, rankings in Google local searches tend to improve as well. People often turn to reviews to decide if they should go to a business. Higher star ratings is a primary competition between businesses: a 3.4 average star rating is what consumers require to even consider engaging with a business. In addition, a business with more reviews will show up in broader local search results. Having a strategy in place for your business to easily collect reviews can be extremely beneficial.
The Way Consumers Discover Businesses is Changing
Over the past few years, updates to Google and other search engines have occurred rapidly. With this, there has been an increase in the number of consumers that use their phones to conduct a local search to find a business. In fac, about 28 percent of consumers look up reviews for a business while standing right outside to decide if they should go in or not. People tend to find validation through reviews when making sure they are choosing the right business. There is also a layer of convenience and benefits that people have come to expect from a business, especially with the rise of companies like Amazon that offer benefits such as free 2-day shipping. If a business makes it easy to contact them and have your questions answered, this engagement can result in more leads.
How to Optimize Directory Listings
The first step to making your business known and start collecting reviews is to claim your business on Google, which will start generating traffic right away. The next step is to review directory listings and update any missing information, and to ensure the name, address, and phone number (NAP) matches on each directory profile. Additionally, keywords should be used on listing descriptions, and hours of operation should be kept up to date. Last but not least, upload photos on your listing if you have not already done so. There is a 35 percent increase in click-through rates if attractive photos are included on a business listing. People are interested not only in reviews, but also in seeing evidence of your work or services.