How do online reviews affect Local SEO? Many things factor into where your company ranks in online searches.
As a savvy entrepreneur, you know that online reviews can positively or negatively affect your company’s brand, however you may not have considered how online reviews affect Local SEO (search engine optimization), which in turn affects the pool of potential customers who will even find your company in the first place, in order to be able to consider doing business with your company.
How will customers find you?
If a potential customer is only willing to sift through the first three or four pages of online search results, and your company first appears on page 10, you’ll never get the opportunity to impress that potential customer. Your company benefits by climbing higher and higher in search engine rankings.
How is your search engine ranking affected by online reviews?
The more reviews you have, the higher your SEO ranking tends to be, allowing a greater number of potential customers to find your company sooner in their search. When your company has fewer reviews, you will typically appear farther and farther down in search rankings, allowing fewer potential customers to find your company to begin with.
more reviews = higher ranking = more potential customers.
The vast majority of consumers seriously consider online reviews when making product or service purchasing decisions.
Potential customers deem reviews written by other customers to be extremely trustworthy.
Although personal recommendations are highly regarded, online reviews offer a multitude of different insights, perspectives and opinions, giving the potential customer much more valuable information to analyze than a single recommendation from a friend can offer. A potential customer will likely always choose a product or service from a company that has consistently garnered positive reviews, over a company that has few (or especially a heavy concentration of negative) reviews.
Encourage your customers to leave a review.
Once your company’s product has been delivered or service completed, follow up with your customer to thank them for their business and ask them to leave a review. Offering them an easy way to access the site on which you want them to leave a review ensures that a higher rate of reviews are completed, and customers appreciate you making things easier for them by offering a direct link. For example, Zillow.com offers realtors the option of sending a direct link to their clients, which the client can then follow to leave a review for the realtor.
Even if your company has many reviews and appears higher in search rankings, your ability to close on new business may be affected by whether those reviews are positive or negative, and how you handle them.
If your company boasts primarily positive online reviews, a potential customer will be impressed by the reviews they read, and more likely to proceed with your company to fill their needs. On the other hand, if your company regularly receives negative online reviews, your brand’s reputation can suffer, and you’re less likely to gain new business from potential customers reading those negative reviews.
The more potential customers who are able to find your company on the first pages of their search, and then are able to read your positive reviews, translates to more potential customers choosing your company for their business needs. But even if you have some negative reviews, you can potentially mitigate the consequences by showing understanding and empathy (when possible) for the customer who left the negative review.
Should you respond to reviews?
When given the opportunity to respond to a review (either positive or negative), it’s a good idea to take a moment to write a reply. Doing so shows potential customers that you don’t stop paying attention when the business transaction is completed. It’s crucial that customers know you’ll be responsive beyond the exchange of their money for your product or service.
Why should you respond to a positive review?
Regardless of how simple you make it for your customer to leave a review, it still takes time and effort on their part to do so. For that reason, many customers who are happy with their transaction will simply move on and not bother with leaving a review. Those customers who do put forth the effort to leave you a positive review will feel valued when you take the time to not only thank them for their initial purchase, but also for leaving feedback for your product or service.
How should you respond to a negative review?
Ignoring a negative review will not make it go away, but you should carefully consider how you craft your response to a negative review, to avoid coming off as defensive or dismissive. While your initial inclination may be to argue the negative points of the review, that strategy doesn’t serve to show your company’s empathy for the customer’s experience. Another approach would be to respond in such a way as to make your customer feel that they’re being heard and understood. That may not solve the initial problem, however it will demonstrate to potential future clients that your company is sensitive to ongoing feedback, and they’ll feel more comfortable entrusting their business to your company.
Having so far been speaking in generalities regarding reviews and SEO rankings, it’s extremely important for small businesses to be aware of, and concentrate their efforts on, Local SEO. Ultimately, online reviews affect Local SEO significantly, because reviews often zero in on local businesses or branches.
It’s very likely that the success of your small business depends on a local customer base.
Once you’ve amassed a solid collection of reviews, you can expect to rank higher in local searches, resulting in more potential local customers finding you. If the majority of your online reviews are positive, these local customers are reading great things about your local company’s products or services, and are likely to feel confident proceeding with business transactions with your local company.
To proceed with any transaction, your customer needs to be able to contact you.
Now that your potential customer has found you in a local online search, it’s imperative that all your information is absolutely current and correct. This is where LocalSync comes in.
Your company’s “digital presence” is akin to billboard and newspaper advertising in years past, and is the primary way today’s consumer finds your company. Today’s consumers utilize computers and smartphones to search for local businesses, and it’s imperative that your business presents only current, correct information online.
Much of your company’s information may be out-of-date or incorrect across multiple platforms. LocalSync can correct and control your business location information, and secure it across more than sixty digital business information publishers (including Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, Foursquare, Citysearch and Google+).
LocalSync focuses on improving and augmenting your digital image.
Beyond LocalSync’s ability to synchronize and lock down your company’s digital presence, we provide ongoing services such as assisting your company to publish on prominent, stable search engines, directories, apps and maps. We track the effectiveness of your listings, and suppress duplicate profiles that could hurt your rankings. We help you develop the most engaging and accurate online profile, and help you stay in control of your company’s online image.
By ensuring that potential local customers can actually make contact with you (by having access to your correct website, email address, phone number, street address, google maps location and directions), the hard work you’ve already done to develop a satisfied local customer base continues to pay off by increasing your potential local customer base each time your company is found in search results.
Whether you need general marketing advice, or further information on how online reviews affect Local SEO, or specific information on how LocalSync works, we can help.
Call today at (954) 210-7800 for more information. You can also email us to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you build your brand.