It’s no secret that reviews directly affect local SEO in a number of ways. In fact, reviews and testimonials are usually the most important factor customers consider when choosing a product or service.
IMAGINE THIS COMMON SCENARIO: You are searching for a service or product online. What appears in organic results are businesses and products that have a large number of reviews. Would you choose a business with a 3 star rating or a business that has a 4 or 5 star rating? I think you probably know the answer!
According to Shopify, 93% of customers have reported their purchasing habits as being directly impacted by reviews. This is a huge deal!
What this means is that if your business has reputational issues, you should straighten them out as soon as you can. The result of a negative online reputation is that not only will your customers know it, they will also probably choose to not use your services.
Whether you like it or not, your online reviews are either helping your business or hurting it. It’s important to recognize this fact and be proactive in your strategy going forward. Improving your reputation will, in fact, improve search engine optimization.
Reviews Are A Ranking Factor
According to a report done by Moz, review signals contribute to ranking up to 7%. It’s important to note that review signals are also a more significant ranking factor than social signals, behaviour- related signals and online personalization.
In addition, Google states on one of its support pages that certain qualities are considered ranking factors. As explained by Google, relevance, distance, and prominence all effect local ranking in search results.
This screenshot is from Google Support stating that reviews improve ranking
As further explained in the screenshot, one of the elements contributing to a listings prominence is review count and score. These “are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking” states Google.
Customers Trust Businesses With Good Reviews
In addition to the fact that reviews will help your business show up in search, customers are more likely to purchase services from a business with a higher rating. It’s been reported that most consumers will not purchase services from a business with a rating that is lower than approximately 3.5 stars.
For this reason, it’s essential for any business to enlist the help of reputation management services that focus both on review management and business SEO services combined.
Consumers are in fact reading your reviews, and your reviews are leading to your company’s profitability or lack of profit. When a customer reads an online review, it creates a feeling of reassurance that the business is either good business or a bad business. For this reason, your business reviews are crucial and detrimental to your business’s overall success.
Reviews Improve Conversion Rates
If a customer performs an online search, related results will appear in the Google snack pack (or 3 pack) and in the organic results. When viewing these results, consumers also have access to a business’s rating.
A business with more reviews (and positive reviews) is more likely to get ranked and experience more business. The credibility assumed by achieving a 4 or 5 star rating (and a large number of reviews) results in better conversion rates for the business.
Google Snack Pack results and reviews
In the above screenshot, you can take a look at the boxed results labelled Google 3 Pack. If you look in these results you will see that the top result has close to 500 reviews. This is a great demonstration of the impact of review amount and trustworthiness.
TEST YOURSELF: You can test yourself and reflect on which business you would be more likely to reach out to from the example above. Would you trust the business with 483 reviews or the one with 40 reviews? Although both are positively rated, most people would lean towards calling the business with the larger number of ratings first.
Reviews Signal Authority
Another way that reviews impact local SEO is that they signal authority to Google and search engines. More than social signals and behavioural signals, the signals relayed from positive ratings and testimonials which are posted online are enough to improve a business’s ranking.
In addition to signalling a higher level of authority and trust to Google, reviews signal authority and relevance to consumers. A business with a large review count that maintains a positive rating is an authoritative business from the typical consumer’s standpoint.
If you contemplate a business with hundreds of reviews, what does this indicate? To a potential customer, it indicates the business has had hundreds of customers who have been inclined to leave a positive review.
Whether reviews are real or fabricated doesn’t really matter. The fact is that reviews signal authority to search engines and consumers alike.
The importance of reviews to local search ranking is undeniable. Not only do they impact a business’s position in SERPs, but they also impact customers’ attitudes and purchasing behaviours.
A business that has a lot of positive ratings will be regarded by both consumers and search engines as trustworthy and authoritative. The effect of this is that the business’s rank will improve and customers will purchase products and services from the business.
Maintaining positive reviews and focusing on responding to negative ones in a constructive way is a small piece of what you can do on a daily basis to improve your local ranking. But the fact is that if you want to show up in local search, increased focus on reputation and reviews is a must!