Online reviews have become an essential part of almost every business model.
Customers no longer have to rely on word-of-mouth or a few friends to know about the best restaurant or doctor or bookstore near them. They can instantly find quantitative data and qualitative feedback on numerous online sources to help them make decisions before almost any purchase.
But reviews don’t just provide a feedback signal to potential customers who intentionally look for them. They are also an important factor in boosting your business’s local SEO.
In this blog, I’ll outline the two ways reviews help your local SEO. This information can help guide your local SEO strategy and next steps to boost your review and local SEO game.
Part 1: Reviews directly influence search engine rankings
In other words, the more positive reviews you have, the more you’re going to show up organically in the spaces that millions of people automatically turn to to help them make decisions.
Part 2: Reviews indirectly influence search engine rankings
Part 1 is a pretty simple answer about why reviews are important. You can even check out the exact percentage points that Moz estimates reviews are worth in the overall calculation of local pack and organic result rankings.
But reviews also have an indirect effect on the ecosystem of local SEO. It’s important to consider these factors to both get a full understanding of the value of reviews as well as see how reviews could continue to influence local SEO into the future.
Here are a few things to consider about the indirect value of reviews to local SEO:
- Search engines’ job is to pick up on searchers’ behavior. Because reviews are both extremely helpful and now an automatic part of many consumers’ purchase process (especially because mobile makes it easy to see reviews anywhere at any time), searchers respond to reviews. In other words, searchers change their behavior in response to reviews. This high (and likely climbing) influence reviews have on the search engines’ customers, means that reviews’ influence on local SEO will continue to be significant into the future.
- Reviews can increase CTR to your site and site pages. If you have lots of good reviews and correctly implement your aggregate rating structured data, your site pages can show star ratings in the organic search engine results pages. A key component of an SEO strategy is getting a high Click Through Rate (CTR) to your site pages. Those directly affect not only your local SEO, but your overall organic site authority.
- In some industries, review sites rank higher than individual company websites. Depending on your business model, it may be just as valuable for someone to learn about your business through an external review site as it is to visit your company site. This is especially true if the “next step” in your sales funnel is for a potential customer to call you or visit your brick and mortar store. If you have an uphill battle to crack the coveted top spots in organic SERP rankings, you may get extra visibility through a review site that does rank in one of those top spots. (And if you can boost your profile on that site, it will probably help your own website’s listing as well.)
- Google (the search engine) actually has a review mechanism. You know that reviews are important when the search engine itself creates a direct system for reviews. Those reviews (in the form of stars) also display prominently on the “business card” that shows up for the top three results in the local 3-pack. So reviews are front and center for the top local results, and you should pay extra attention to the reviews you get on Google.
Whether your business receives reviews on Yelp!, Healthgrades, Zagat, Grubhub, Superpages, Facebook, TripAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, or any other site, reviews are important because they help your potential customers make important decisions. The best way to get factored in to those decisions is to do what your business does best—whether it’s selling real estate or pizza—and treat everyone with respect in the process.
When the core of your business is in place, the reviews will follow. And when strategically executed, the local SEO will too.