For a long time, the success of small and medium businesses was based on word of mouth. Even brick and mortar restaurants found themselves in trouble if opinion went against them. With the advent of the Internet, this phenomenon exploded exponentially. These days customers can render an opinion that can reach the entire world, in seconds. One negative review (no matter if it’s accurate or not) can damage a new business. Even established companies must be careful of negative feedback.
Customer Reviews Influence More Than Just Customers
Multiple studies cite this finding. Let’s start with Moz, a leader in authoritative research. See below is a chart listing local search ranking factors. Note that review signals ranked fifth out of eighth.
No Business Is Too Big Too Change
Google Map tweaked their webpage to now feature reviews in a prominent way. They changed their map search layout to easy show ratings and reviews so that users can give immediate feedback.
Remember, Reviews And Ratings Can Influence Your Ranking
First, let’s be clear: Google may still ignore reviews in its organic search algorithm. However, reviews and rankings still matter for these three types of searches.
Google Map searches
Google Maps clearly states that, when searching locally, the “highest-rated” businesses near you will be shown.
Don’t Ignore Google’s Carousel
In a study done by Digital Marketing Works, a “very strong correlation” was found between ratings/reviews and the Carousel position. This finding was also cited by Search Engine Land. Given, many other factors also contribute to ranking. However, it makes sense that Google would display the “best” businesses first in order to increase user satisfaction.
In Google Now, search results, review counts and average ratings affect ranking and are prominently displayed:
Reviews Ensure Your Website Sends New User Generated Relevant Content To The Search Engines
Customer content powers your site and social media channels with unique, authentic content. This fresh, relevant content shows your site is active and valuable to the customers you cater to. Additionally, it creates conversations among customers to demonstrate you aren’t just talking to your customers, but they are talking with you and about you.
You Can Will The Natural Long-Tail Keyword Searches
We documented in the ‘8 Major Reasons Why You’re Not Driving Ecommerce’ piece, the heavier dependence on search from smart assistances such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa long tail searches are becoming more common. When people are on the computer users might search ‘tom’s shoes’. But, when that same user searches from Siri the search query is much more descriptive; ‘toms organic shoes with donation program’. Click here to read the full article.
Reviews Will Result In Strong Links Build By Users
Your customers will create unique content in the form of reviews. These reviews perform live on multiple platforms linking back to your website. Search Engines such as Google evaluate your site’s links to determine your authority status. In essences, the more reviews pointing to your products pages the most valuable Google will rank those pages.
Make The Most Of Google Analytics
You can utilize Google Analytics to determine what review sites send you the most traffic. This can help you tweak your website. Setting up the Google Analytics dashboard can do just that.
Just log into Google Analytics, click the links, and the dashboard will display your referral traffic.
Next, follow the URLs. Start with the profiles that don’t have a review. You can also utilize Google Analytics to measure keywords that have been locally searched. Using the dashboard link, you can also gather other local SEO data, such as what cities your visitors are from.
From The Desk Of Denise O’Connor
Director of Business Development of Criteek
153 W 27th Street | NY NY 10001