Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away word-of-mouth was a significant piece of the puzzle for small businesses to reach new customers. If you had a great experience somewhere or if you needed a recommendation then you’d likely consult family, friends, or any other trusted group of people that you could speak to directly. The internet and other technology advancements have largely changed that landscape making it much easier to get information about businesses, products, and services. This has led some to say that word-of-mouth is ancient history but not so fast young padawan ( I started with a Star Wars theme and now I’m committed ). Sure, traditional word-of-mouth doesn’t have the same impact but it’s not gone entirely – it has just taken the form of online reviews.
Well, this article is no path to guaranteed success because even the smartest SEO folks don’t know exactly how all the ranking factors coalesce to create the results for any given search term. However, for the average local business this is a highly practical guide to inspecting your local search failures to weed out some common errors and put yourself on the right path. Keep in mind that proximity is a major factor for the local pack and map results. The location you’re searching from can make all the difference. Basically, don’t search from the other side of town and be surprised if your business doesn’t show up ( providing you’re in an industry with any reasonable competition where Google thinks the user will prioritize results that are close by ).
The Importance Of Online Reviews
Consumers still highly value what other people have to say about products and businesses, that never changed. The psychological concept of social proof is timeless, when people are unsure about a decision they look to see what other people are doing or saying. The only thing that changed is how people get that information and the supporting data is staggering. Several recent studies including those done by Google, Edelman, Moz, and Bright Local have all come to the same conclusion that good reviews are extremely important for your business.
Here’s a few statistics from the article I linked above to give you a sense of the impact:
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Peers are now considered to be as credible as experts
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a business more
- 15% of consumers don’t trust businesses that don’t have any reviews
- 77% of consumers think reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017
- 49% of consumers say a business needs at least a 4 star rating before they’ll use them
Are you still comfortable with how your reviews look after reading these insights about consumer behavior? If not, it’s time to put together a strategy to actively start turning that around. What some businesses fail to acknowledge here is that step 1 of your strategy has to be delivering an exceptional experience for your customers. This isn’t about tricking people ( I promise that will blow up in your face ) but even businesses who do a great job don’t necessarily have a process in place to translate happy customers into new reviews
Reviews Help Boost Local Rankings
While looking trustworthy to potential customers is obviously something your business needs, it’s not the only way that reviews help you reach your goals. A local seo ranking factors study found that reviews are the second most powerful ranking factor for Google’s local pack results. Additionally, the local ranking factors survey done by Moz found that reviews have a 7% influence on local organic rankings. With the majority of local intent searches displaying local pack results now, good reviews improve your odds of showing up twice ( local pack + local organic ) to maximize the visibility for your business on high value searches.
So could we make the argument that reviews are kind of like the force in Star Wars? No, of course not, that doesn’t even make sense. However, I think you’ll agree at this point that positive reviews are essential for your small business. If you need a hand auditing your online reputation and coming up with a plan to get more online reviews feel free to contact us.