In today’s digital world, reviews have become one of the most important factors for any local business when it comes to ranking higher in local search results.
With over 90% of consumers reading online reviews before visiting a local business, reviews significantly influence two critical elements of local SEO – trust and authority.
In this post, we’ll explore how reviews impact local SEO, why they matter so much to customers, and actionable tips to leverage reviews for better local rankings and visibility.
How Reviews Influence Local SEO
Reviews act as social proof and reinforce your credibility in the eyes of search engines and customers. The more positive reviews you can accumulate, the greater your local authority.
Specifically, reviews help local SEO by:
- Improving local rankings – High ratings and numerous reviews correlate to higher local pack and map rankings. This effect has been confirmed time and again in studies.
- Increasing click-through rate – Listings with 4 or 5-star ratings tend to get more clicks than those with lower average ratings. Reviews boost trust and confidence.
- Driving brand mentions – Every review that mentions your business name or location is another brand mention search engines can associate with your website.
- Providing unique content – Each review adds new and unique content to your listings. More content means more signals of relevance.
- Building citations – Reviews on different sites create citations that reinforce your NAP consistency.
Clearly, reviews are not something any local business can afford to ignore. But just how much do they influence consumer behavior?
The Powerful Impact of Reviews on Customers
Here are some statistics that demonstrate how important reviews are to your potential customers:
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 72% of customers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars.
- 92% of people read at least 6 reviews before trusting a business.
- 78% of customers claim reviews are essential when deciding on a local business.
- Consumers who read positive reviews are 5 times more likely to purchase from that business.
As you can see, people rely heavily on reviews to evaluate a local business before engaging with it. They want social validation that it’s a good, reputable company before they spend their money there.
Positive reviews boost conversion rates. Negative reviews do the opposite. This makes review generation and management crucial for any local business.
How to Get More Local Reviews
Now that we’ve looked at why reviews matter for SEO and conversions, let’s explore some proven tactics to get more local reviews:
1. Add Review Links to Your Website
Make it easy for customers by putting visible calls-to-action linking to your review profiles on Google, Facebook, and other platforms. This passive approach drives ongoing reviews.
2. Send Review Requests After Purchase
Actively ask for reviews via email or SMS messages to customers who just had a positive experience. Strike while the iron is hot!
3. Run Review Incentive Campaigns
Offer discounts, free gifts, or entries into contests to motivate customers to leave reviews. Incentives spur quick action.
4. Partner With Complementary Businesses
Ask business partners in non-competing industries to help get reviews from shared customers.
5. Use Social Media
Leverage your social media channels to request reviews from followers who use your business.
6. Print Flyers and Signs
Place signage with QR codes linked to review sites around your physical location to make leaving reviews effortless.
7. Personally Ask Customers
Don’t be afraid to personally ask your best customers for a review while they’re in your establishment.
8. Install Review Plugins on Your Site
Add plugins like Yotpo that make leaving reviews a one-click process right on your website.
Responding to Reviews
Getting reviews is only half the battle. You also need to respond to them, both positive and negative.
Reply to every review if possible. This shows customers you value their feedback. For positive reviews, thank the customer. For negative reviews, apologize and offer to make it right.
Responding to reviews also gives you an opportunity to incorporate relevant keywords naturally to reinforce your optimization.
Here are some best practices for review responses:
- Be prompt – Respond within 24 hours.
- Be personal – Use the reviewer’s name and show you read their full review.
- Be humble – Thank reviewers or apologize sincerely. Don’t get defensive.
- Be helpful – Answer questions, offer solutions, and appreciate suggestions.
- Be professional – Use proper grammar and a friendly tone even when responding to harsh reviews.
- Be thoughtful – Add value by providing useful information relevant to the review.
- Be brief – Keep responses concise. You can continue the conversation offline if needed.
How you handle reviews sends signals to potential customers about your brand. Responding thoughtfully and promptly turns reviews into opportunities to provide amazing customer service.
Review Sites to Focus On
While reviews on any platform can help, certain sites hold more weight than others for local SEO and visibility.
Here are the top review sites to prioritize:
Google My Business
Google My Business reviews factor directly into local pack rankings. Having lots of 5-star reviews pushes your listing up higher in local results.
After Google, Facebook is the second most influential platform. It holds massive reach for consumer opinions.
Reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Avvo carry more weight in their respective industries.
Niche Review Sites
Reviews on local directories and niche sites related to your industry also boost trust and authority.
In general, the more authoritative the site, the more its reviews influence SEO and conversions. But all reviews have an impact on consumer perceptions.
Using Schema Markup for Reviews
Finally, don’t forget to add schema markup to your website to help search engines better understand and index your reviews.
There are two main schema types for reviews:
AggregateRating: A summary of all the ratings on your site, including total number of reviews and the average rating score.
Review: Markup for each individual review, which includes info like author, date, rating, and text.
By adding proper schema markup, you make your review content more visible and valuable to search engines. This can enhance the local SEO benefits reviews provide.
Reviews are clearly no longer optional for local businesses who want to rank higher, earn more trust, and convert more customers.
A proactive strategy to generate more positive reviews across high-authority platforms, along with thoughtful responses, is well worth the effort.
Reviews act as social proof that boosts conversions while also signaling to search engines that customers trust and recommend your business – the ultimate local SEO signal.
What has been your experience leveraging reviews for better local search visibility? What review generation tactics have worked for your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
- Google My Business: https://www.google.com/business/
- Facebook for Business: https://www.facebook.com/business/
- Yelp for Business Owners: https://www.yelp.com/business
- TripAdvisor for Business: https://www.tripadvisor.com/TripAdvisorInsights/n2664/tripadvisor-for-restaurants
- Schema.org: https://schema.org/
- Yotpo Review Plugin: https://www.yotpo.com/
- BrightLocal: https://www.brightlocal.com/
- ReviewTrackers: https://www.reviewtrackers.com/
- BirdEye: https://birdeye.com/
- Podium: https://www.podium.com/