Importance of Reviews in Local SEO

Q: We are a local business operating in Chicago. Some of our competitor listings are displayed with stars when people search for industry-specific keywords, but ours does not. How can we make these stars show up for our listing in Google search?

A: Stars show up in Google search as a result of your status in Google Business Profile. When Google identifies a search is local in nature, it will automatically show listings which have their presence in Google My Business.

Importance of Reviews in Local SEO

If you want Google to display stars with your business listing, first of all you have to claim your Google Business Profile listing. All you have to do is login to your Google account and go to Google Business Profile. Once you have claimed your listing, optimize it for search engines by writing a relevant description with the right keywords, images and by including possible categories.

All done, you need to get reviews on Google Business Profile. Local. Remember; keep it easy for them to review your business. Customers will avoid reviewing your business if it includes a complicated process.

A minimum of four reviews is a must. As soon as you get four reviews, Google will show stars next to your listing in Google search. Stars are important because they help you to get to the top of the Google search results. Also, the more your business is reviewed, the more the chances of it appearing in Google search. Naturally, consumers tend to click more on that website which has several positive reviews. So make sure your business has lots of reviews, all of which are positive and genuine.

Now, let’s discuss how reviews and ratings that affect your local SEO depending on the scenarios below:

Google Maps

The average number of reviews for Google Maps listing significantly affects its performance. Positive ratings always benefit your local SEO, even if they don’t determine if you fetch the top position on Google Maps. The total number of reviews a listing did correlate with their positions.

It is crucial to engage as many happy customers as possible to review your business. If you maintain a rich Google My Business profile and a large volume of reviews with an average rating of over 4.1, it boosts your visibility in Google Maps results.

Distance also plays an important role in local SEO. Google said that the three major ranking factors for a Google My Business profile are distance, prominence, and relevance.

Local Pack Rankings on Desktop

The impact of ratings and reviews on Local Pack performance is a little less than Google Maps’ findings. When it comes to Google Maps, the average rating for the top three Local Pack positions on the desktop did not match with the position.

The difference is mainly because of the existence of outliers. Some categories (such as food and dining) generate much more reviews than other types of businesses. This creates outliers which can skew the data. In such situations, the median is a little more trusted.

The total number of reviews influences the Local Pack performance on desktop, mainly if your rating is over 4.1. Customers tend to post a review depending on their positive experiences rather than negative encounters. 91% of people go through reviews and 84% trust reviews as much as a friend’s recommendation. Encouraging your satisfied customers to post reviews can have a noticeable positive impact, not only increased visibility but also on conversion.

Local Pack Ranking on Mobile Devices

Like Google Maps and Local Pack on desktop, the average rating doesn’t indicate a position in the Local Pack on mobile phones. When checking the Local Pack on mobile phones, provided that your business:s average rating is high(mainly over 4.1), the total number of reviews is a more impactful factor in determining the positioning in search engine results.

As there is no stark difference between the review quotes appearing on mobile phones and desktops, you should use the same tactic you use to encourage happy customers to post reviews that benefit both platforms.

How to Get Customer Reviews for Local SEO?

Here are some of the best practices to get customer reviews to improve your local SEO:

Ask in Person

The person-to-person request always works, mainly if the requester has invested an ample amount of time with customers. A person, who has the strongest relationship with the customer, should ask for reviews.

Guide Customers on How to Post Reviews

Many customers don’t know the importance of Google reviews nowadays. So, you should educate your customers on how and where to post reviews. You can create a handout with instructions on how to post a review.

Request for Reviews via Email

You may think about sending an email to customers who have had satisfactory experiences with your business recently. Ask them to write and post reviews via email. If you do so, ensure you mention where you would like them to post reviews about your business; it is advisable to ask for reviews only for Google and Facebook as Yelp discourages review requests.

Send the email from a genuine person’s email address. Customers tend to feel close to your brand when they receive an email from someone whose name they know.

Write the email as a personal request from a specific person. The email should come across as an email sent to many people at a time. Add a clear and strong CTA button or link. You should have a single mother of users clicking the review button like with a high CRO.

Add a review link to your standard email signatures. The addition of the  “Please review us on Google” or “Check us out on Yelp!” can encourage your satisfied customers to leave a review.

Never ask customers to review your business on Yelp as the platform does not support that. Rather, you should encourage customers to you out on Yelp. If they have liked your products/reviews, they will post a Google review. Google gives you a lot of freedom to ask for business reviews.

Reply to Reviews

Replying to reviews has become quite important for businesses to survive these days. Many people judge a local business through reviews. Once you get a negative review, reply publicly and put effort into solving their issues.

If you respond to reviews, it proves that you are listening to their needs and are concerned about their opinions.

In a Nutshell

It is not always easy to encourage your satisfied customers to post reviews. You can implement numerous strategies to make them do so as many businesses exist with online profiles. The first step is to make sure that a maximum number of customers have a positive UX.

You can encourage those satisfied customers to post more impactful reviews by offering them links to your Google listing and starter questions, which make it simpler for reviewers to draft their reviews. You can also slightly encourage them to add those keywords, which you want to target, to your Google reviews.

Make sure you monitor online reviews and reply as and when required. You can check the Reviews report in the Listing Management tool to monitor reviews for all your business locations, your average rating, and even reply to reviews

Of course, one of the best ways to stay on top of local SEO is to arm yourself with knowledge without leaving the web page. If you want to take your business to the peak, review stars should show up for our listing in Google search. The more target customers discover your business online, the higher chance for your business growth.

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