Here’s how to use customer reviews to boost your local SEO strategy in the new year.
You asked: “How do customer reviews impact local SEO?“
We answered: “A lot.“
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In this piece, you’re going to see just how much impact customer reviews have on your local business online marketing efforts.
Ready to dive in?
First, let’s start from the basics:
What exactly are customer reviews?
Customer reviews are feedback customers leave after using a product or interacting with a business.
These reviews are usually, either left on the product page, on review sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor for the hospitality industry, on Facebook pages and Google reviews.
Why should you care about customer feedback?
For one, customer reviews are as powerful as word-of-mouth marketing. Don’t take my word for it, according to a BrightLocal survey, eight out of ten customers say they read customer reviews online before making purchasing decisions.
Still not convinced?
Here’s a detailed article about the benefits of having a customer review page for your business:
How do you ask for reviews from your customers?
For some, business owners and marketers, asking customers to leave feedback on their experiences might feel a bit cheeky.
But, it shouldn’t, especially when you consider the reviews as a way to get customers to leave honest reviews of your services or products, which will, in turn, help new customers discover your business.
That said, here are 7 creative ways to get customers to review your business without feeling cheeky about it.
What is Local SEO?
Suppose you are new in a neighbourhood – Let’s say, you just moved to a new area and with no idea where the grocery store is located. You don’t know any decent place to eat and have no idea where to find the local pharmacy.
You can do either of the two: hit up your next-door neighbour and ask for directions and recommendations to the grocery store and the best restaurants around the area.
Or, you can wipe out your smartphone and google “Restaurants near me” or “grocery stores in XYZ town.”
On the result page, you will see several local grocery stores and nearby restaurants. You can tap on each location to expand the map to get directions and finally, read other people’s experiences to decide which business gets your money.
Local SEO is a search marketing strategy that optimizes business websites for local searches.
As BrightLocal right explained:
Local SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization), sometimes referred to as local search engine marketing, is an incredibly effective way to market your local business online, as it helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them online.
The key difference between local SEO and conventional SEO is that while local SEO targets customers in a particular area, traditional SEO is broader.
Any search query with a location or “near me” is a local search and only websites optimized for such queries (local SEO) show up in search results.
It’s important to note at this point, that there are several factors which you can use to improve your local search ranking, however, in this post, we’ll only focus on how to use customer reviews to boost your local SEO.
How to use customer reviews to boost your local SEO strategy in the new year
According to Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors report, Review Signals contribute 15.44% of the total ranking factors search engines such as Google use to determine how relevant a website is. (Source)
Customer reviews signal is the third most important factor only behind Google My Business signals (25.12%) and Link signals (16.53%) for local search ranking.
It makes perfect sense considering that 8 in 10 consumers say they rely on reviews to make up their mind whether to buy from a vendor or not. So, when customers say a product or business is good, Google would naturally want to match such businesses with customers searching for related services.
That said, here is a couple of ways to use customer reviews to boost your SEO strategy for 2020.
Claim and complete your Google My Business profile
Google My Business (GMB) is Google’s directory for local businesses. When someone makes a search with local intent, Google goes through its database of local businesses and shows only relevant results.
So, without claiming your business and completing the profile on GMB your business wouldn’t show up when related searches are made.
To claim your business on GMB, you will have to do the following:
- Write a detailed business description.
- Select a number of categories that matches your niche.
- Add office hours (opening and closing time).
- Add your business contact details (phone numbers and address). Be sure that the address and phone number you use here is the same as the ones on your website.
- Provide lots of images of business premises and products
- Add and encourage your customers to review your business on GMB
Want to learn more about how to claim your Google My Bussiness Profile? Read up here.
Create a review landing page
The idea is to have a dedicated page on your website where you collect all customer reviews. And, also to target a specific local keyword using the page.
If you have ever shopped on Amazon you would notice that all products have dedicated customer review page – you may want to implement the same strategy for your business.
The thing is, customer reviews are user-generated content, rich in keywords and authentic. Since customers are constantly adding new reviews and comments, it will trigger Google bots to crawl and rank your website regularly.
The constant updates from users also tick the social engagement signal box which contributes to ranking your website top.
Need inspiration with your customer review landing page? Check out our collection of 8 customer review pages.
Respond to customer reviews
You may not know it, but responding to customer reviews encourages other customers to leave positive reviews on your business.
This finding was made by David Proserpio, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Southern California and Giorgos Zervas, assistant professor of marketing at Boston University Questroom Business school.
The researchers analyzed tens of thousands of reviews and responses from TripAdvisor – they found that:
…when a consumer notices a manager responding to past reviews, they might decide not to leave a trivial or unsubstantiated negative review, to avoid a potentially uncomfortable online interaction with the manager.
Here’s the link to read more about the research.
Also, Google encourages businesses to interact with their customers by responding to their reviews. According to Google:
Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.
Then, it hinted that responding to reviews sure does help improve visibility.
High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.
Claim your business on other review sites
Aside from Google reviews, there are several other review sites you can list your business on. For example, Yelp, Facebook and Tripadvisor are great sites to create a business profile on.
Vconnect, NigeriaConnect, and Nigeriabusinesslist.com are other local directories to target a local audience.
Here’s a list of 26 customer review sites to help boost your local SEO in 2020.
As we’ve shown, customer reviews not only help you rank well on search engines. It is a great way to persuade potential customers to buy from you.
Hence, it is a no brainer, especially if you are serious about growing your business using local SEO, to leverage customer reviews.