Why Customer Reviews Matter to Your Local Search Engine Optimization

Marlene SlabaughSearch Engine Optimization

Businessman drawing five yellow stars on customer review

Reviews. The very word can strike fear into some business owners’ hearts. That’s because unhappy customers are two or three times more likely to leave reviews than happy ones. For some reason, disgruntled customers feel a stronger need to post their vent online for all the world to see. But here’s why it’s important to ask for—and stay on top of—your customer reviews.

Customer Reviews Affect Your Search Rankings

It takes a lot of work to get your business to rank higher on the search engines. But did you know that your customers’ reviews are an important piece of the puzzle? The search engines have factored it into their algorithms. According to Moz, reviews account for 7 to 13 percent of a business’s online search rankings. Google search bots take the following criteria in consideration:

It takes a lot of work to get your business to rank higher on the search engines. But did you know that your customers’ reviews are an important piece of the puzzle? The search engines have factored it into their algorithms. According to Moz, reviews account for 7 to 13 percent of a business’s online search rankings. Google search bots take the following criteria in consideration:

  • Google reviews: Who would have guessed? Google search bots give more weight to reviews on their own platform.
  • Other reviews: It’s even better to have reviews coming from multiple sources. That shows the search engines that you’re relevant and getting organic mentions from customers. It also helps with building links to your site, another coveted ranking factor.
  • Quantity: Google lends weight to businesses that have more reviews. You need at least five Google reviews in order for them to be shown in search and map results.
  • Quality: It’s not enough to simply have a bunch of reviews—they must also include a higher number of positive reviews than negative ones.
  • Responses: If you respond to reviews, it shows engagement with your customers and boosts your rankings.
  • Keywords: If your customers mention some of your keywords in their reviews, you’ve just gained a few extra brownie points with Google. Because that tells the search bots that a real live person wrote that review and gave their sincere feedback on your plumbing services in Walla Walla.

In summary, what customers are saying about your business holds weight for your local search engine optimization. And a lot of poor reviews—or no reviews—can cause you to drop below your competitors on search results.

Customer Reviews Affect Your Sales

Did you know that somewhere around 90 percent of consumers decide who to buy from, based on online reviews? Or that 88 percent of these same people trust online reviews over the opinions of their own friends?

Your star rating affects your trustworthiness as well, and in some cases, your ability to charge higher prices (consider the inherent value we give to 5-star hotels versus 4-star hotels). Generally, you should try to maintain a minimum of three stars. You’ll also be interested to know that a five-star rating doesn’t automatically build trust with consumers—95 percent of consumers will wonder if you’re getting fake reviews or censoring reviews to increase your rating. They want to see honest reviews.

How You Can Ask for Reviews (and Fix Bad Ones)

Build a plan for regularly asking customers, particularly happy ones, for reviews. The best time to ask is on the spot, right after the transaction. If it’s easy and fast for them to post that review, you’ll get more responses. You can also follow up with an email, asking them to rate your service, but be sure you have permission to contact them in this way.

Even one bad review can strike an appalling gloom over your sales. So, if this happens, how can you shift your online reputation in a positive direction? Studies show that it can take up to 12 positive reviews to balance out one bad one. Since review sites don’t allow you to remove reviews, your best option is to respond to these customers and do your best to resolve their issue. However, there are some folks who simply refuse to be consoled. In those cases, you’ll need to state your response and then move on to collecting good reviews.

One word of caution: don’t ask for reviews in exchange for a discount or payment of some kind. If Yelp and Google find out, you could get soundly penalized.

Top Review Sites

Google and Facebook lead the way on the review site hierarchy. For this reason, it’s extremely important to set up your Google My Business listing and Facebook business page if you’re serious about getting reviews.

Other search engines, such as Yahoo! and Bing, and other social media sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, follow close behind Google and Facebook on the list of top 100 business directories. And of course, there’s Yelp. Yelp is the top directory devoted solely to reviews about local businesses.

Review Monitoring Service

Obviously, the number of sites to monitor can quickly suck up valuable time that you’d prefer to spend on your actual business—say, closing that house deal or creating the ultimate confectionery delight. Fortunately, there are some nifty review monitoring services that can monitor the reviews pouring in on review sites. Yext is one of the best service providers offering review monitoring; however, this service may only be available through their business partners, such as local search engine optimization companies.

Customers are the bread and butter of your business, and their reviews are important, not only for your business’s ranking on Google, but also for your reputation and bottom line. Make sure you find a way to help your happy customers tell the online community about your fabulous service.

About the Author

Marlene SlabaughMarlene Slabaugh is a resident business copywriter for Optimize Worldwide. She writes for Optimize and for a number of Optimize’s clients. As a result, she knows a little bit about everything, and her encyclopedic knowledge is growing by the day. Sometimes, she checks reviews before dropping a large sum on a purchase or service.