How much time do you spend on local online reviews? If little, to none at all, let’s re-think that strategy. Local online reviews can have a direct impact on your business, even if you don’t sell products and services online.
What is the Power of Local Online Reviews
Let’s look at three power centers:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), click-through rates, and “buy-ability.”
Up until recently, SEO experts considered local online reviews to be strong search engine juice. The consensus was that reviews had a huge impact on search rankings. But that wisdom has changed with the way Google displays search engine results, gradually phasing out the local 7-pack search results. Reviews still have impact in Google’s local 7-pack search results, which are now showing up less frequently than the integrated results (mixing both local and organic results). Reviews in the new integrated results don’t seem to be much of a ranking factor.
So what’s the value then?
Because once people see your listing in the search results, whether in Google or other local search listings, they have to make a decision to click or not click on your link. Reviews play a big part in that decision.
In my most recent podcast episode with local search expert Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing, says
A business that has solid reviews, that are legitimate reviews, will generally have a better click-through rate…Generally people are going to trust reviews more.”
The higher the quality of your reviews and ratings, the more likely people are to click on your listing in the search engine results.
You can listen to the complete podcast episode here: The Shift in Local Search Engine Ranking Factors.
Local online reviews also influence whether or not customers will buy from you. According to the BrightLocal.com Local Consumer Review Survey, reviews play an important role in consumer purchase decisions:
-71% of consumers read online reviews.
-55% of consumers trust a local business more after reading positive online reviews.
-50% of consumers are more likely to use a local business having read positive reviews.
-67% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If you the math, reviews could be having a huge impact on your sales, whether or not you are taking an active role in affecting those reviews. Speaking of which, how do you take an active role?
The first thing to do is make sure you claim all your listings in the most common business listing sites. Claiming your listings allows you to control the information in your listing and respond to reviews. These are the most high profile:
But you should also look for your business listing in specialized listings. Search for your business category in your town and see what specialized sites are listed. For example; Urbanspoon for restaurants, HealthGrades.com for doctors.
Getting More Quality Online Reviews
Reviews do happen naturally, but you can help that process along by nudging your network. For example, a local irrigation (sprinkler) repair company encourages customers to leave reviews on their Google Places page. The owner, Doug Saylor, passes out a business card with a link to his Google Places page on the back. Then he simply asks them to leave a review if they liked their service.
[ Read how Doug Saylor does that here: Three Steps to Word of Mouth ]
Recently, I simply asked my Facebook Page followers to leave a review and linked to my Google Places page. Just by asking I received three positive reviews that day.
Do you spend enough time with local online reviews? How can you take a more active role to use reviews to increase website traffic and purchase decisions?