Over the course of the past few months we’ve talked about how different aspects of digital marketing affect how you get found online. From utilizing engagement and social media as a new best practice of SEO to posting regular blog content, these elements all play into how you’re found online. Now, we’re going to talk about the importance of online reviews and how they impact local SEO. As we’ve learned in the past, how you engage users online and what they say about you can have a huge impact on your website traffic.

Importance of Online Reviews

  • Informing consumer purchasing decisions
  • Influencing which search results get clicked on
  • Local search engine rankings
  • Managing your reputation both online and off
  • Encourages internal communication and development

Because 90% of customers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions, it’s essential for your business to have a strategy in place for acquiring and managing this content. Online reviews are the part of your digital marketing strategy that you can’t specifically control, but you can make a diligent effort to acquire positive reviews and influence consumer buying decisions with the words and praise of former and current clients.

Online Reviews for Local SEO

As search engines work to build a better Internet and online experience for users, online customer reviews have become more and more important. Because consumers love reading reviews to inform their purchasing decisions, so do local search engines. Search engines like Google and Bing want to provide users with the information they need to make decisions on future purchases.

According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up approximately 10% of how search engines decide to rank search results. The review signal is thought to include review quantity, review velocity, review diversity and more.

Positive online reviews can help companies clinch a prominent position in local search engine results. Search engine listings with good reviews encourage more clickthroughs and physical visits. Online reviews, both positive and negative, give consumers the extra push they need to make a buying decision. In local search results having positive online reviews can mean the difference between winning over a potential customer or not.

Acquiring Online Reviews

Acquiring online reviews doesn’t have to be a scary process. Some small business owners may feel intimidated to ask customers for reviews, but it’s a commonplace strategy in the digital era.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to local SEO, Google reviews are the most important. For local search it’s completely necessary to have a Google+ listing. When asking for online reviews, direct customers to your Google+ page. In local search results, the star ratings will begin to show up in your listing after you’ve acquired five reviews, but many SEO experts recommend having at least 10.

Yelp is another online reviews site with heavy weight in search engine results pages and in the minds of consumers. When choosing a restaurant, spa, contractor or any variety of businesses having no reviews or negative reviews on Yelp could be detrimental for your brand.

Facebook is another source for online reviews, as well as industry specific review sites. In the restaurant industry reviews on OpenTable.com would be beneficial. For senior living communities, APlaceForMom.com is home to their industry specific online reviews.

Asking for Reviews

  • Ask customers at your business via messaging on receipts, on business cards, or by asking them as they’re paying their bill
  • Email them with links to your online review profiles, making it as easy as possible to access
  • Use social channels like Facebook and Twitter to ask for online reviews, but don’t overdo it and alienate your network
  • Add a reviews landing page to your website

Be sure to monitor your reputation online through consumer reviews. It’s important to be proactive and engage with consumers. You’ll soon learn how to respond to positive and negative reviews in the proper way. Don’t be intimidated. Odds are the person you ask to leave you a review may need you to return the favor someday.