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Do Customer Reviews Impact Your Businesses Local SEO?

June 22, 2024
Do Customer Reviews Impact Your Businesses Local SEO?

Are my customer reviews helping to boost local SEO efforts for my business?

A question that is commonly asked by small business owners looking to improve their rankings within the local search results. 

 

Are Reviews Important For Local SEO? 

The simple answer is Yes! Reviews are not just important for customers considering using your business services but also a big factor in Google’s Local Algorithm. Reviews left by previous customers are essentially crowd-sourced entity data about your business’s quality of service or product provided. 

If you think about when look for a local business or service provider you are always going to read the reviews before deciding to use that specific company. If you look through the reviews and they are all glowing four and five stars highlighting the quality of service you are much more likely to contact this business. If the businesses review profile is full of 1 star reviews you are going to scroll to the next business listed.  

You want to see the past experiences of the business customers, and you will use this information to help you make a decision on whether you use the company or not. 

Google’s local algorithm works in the same way. 

 

Reviews Evaluation within Google’s Local Algorithm 

Google’s local algorithm is entity-based, and customer reviews of a business are essentially crowd-sourced entities containing business data.  

The Number of Reviews You Have is Important 

Google considers the number of reviews you have, not just your overall score. If a business has 4 x 5-star reviews equaling a 100% (5/5) review score, Ranking purely based on reviews it is not likely to outrank a business that has 100 reviews with a review score of 4.2 out of 5. So keep in mind every client is another potential review so make sure to ask your customers to leave reviews for your business. 

Consistent Flow of Reviews 

How often do you receive reviews? Google takes your review velocity into consideration. A steady flow of reviews is a natural activity within businesses that are trading. A couple of reviews here, and there is also a natural flow of reviews for a small business. 

If you suddenly receive a large number of reviews within a single day and then no reviews for months on end, it indicates an unnatural pattern of review collection and could be a reason for Google to look more closely at your business. 

 

Are Bad Reviews Going to Stop My Business From Showing on Google 

Multiple studies have shown that a perfect score is not always the best for local search. And a negative review here and there is not going to massively harm your business. You want to aim for 4.2 – 4.5 out of 5. If you have an overall good score with a couple of neutral or negative reviews here and there this is going to show that your reviews are genuine. 

When it comes to negative reviews, the most critical thing in the eyes of Google (and clients) is how you deal with them. I know myself when view a potential business and notice they have a couple of bad reviews what is the first thing i do? Update the filter to see the bad reviews written by the customer and also taking note of how the business responded. 

Always Respond to Negative Reviews 

It is important when you receive a negative review to stay professional and try to resolve the matter. This is important not just for the client that has left the review but also for the future clients that will read this. 

You need to publish a public response, It needs to be a professional and considerate reply showing that the customer is important to you and you are eager to resolve the issue (even if you do not agree with their comment).  This shows Google and other customers that you care, that you took the time to respond to them and that you are trying to fix the problem. 

 

Should I Only Collect Business Reviews on Google? 

Whilst Google reviews for your business are considered the most important it is recommended to spread your reviews across different platforms such as Facebook, Apple Maps, Trustpolit and industry specific review websites that specialise in your business sector. 

You now have the ability to connect your social media accounts to your Google my Business profile which then showcases any reviews your business has on Facebook. 

You have to remember how many users will use Apple Maps to search for a business so do not forget to direct your customers here as well as Google and other platforms.

 

My Customers Do Not Typically Leave Reviews 

This is a struggle that many businesses face. It is not typically human nature to write reviews when we have had a good experience with a company. 

If you go to a restaurant, you are served the tasty food as advertised, you have a few drinks and a lovely evening, and everything is as expected, you are more likely going to go home and not give it a second thought. 

But if you go to the same restaurant again, they bring the wrong meal, the food is cold, and the waiter is rude, it is going to stew in your mind, and you are going to go home and write about as you want the world to know what a horrid experience you had. 

Sadly, this is how we are programmed as humans. Unless we are prompted or enticed, we are not likely to write a positive review. 

Prompt Your Customer to Leave Reviews 

So, we have figured that we do not typically leave reviews unless they are negative (damn you, humans!), but businesses can overcome this by having multiple prompts to remind customers that reviews are important for businesses. Do you collect customer data such as their email address? Great! A quick follow-up email after they have used your service can be a great way to generate reviews. 

Suppose you provide a service where you are given the customer’s address, awesome! A follow-up flyer in the post with a QR code is a great way to receive a review. Do you have a business that customers visit with a storefront or a cash register? A Review sign with a QR code can be a creative way to get customer reviews. 

Here are some other creative ideas to get reviews: Creative Review Generation Ideas

Entice Customers into leaving reviews. 

We are always happy to do something if there is a reward involved. Of course, this is not simply “paying a random person for a review” Instead, we can entice our customers to leave a review for our business. 

“Thank you for using our services please could you spare a moment to write us a quick review, as a thank you, you will receive a free drink with your next order”. 

The customer has used your services, so the feedback request is valid. With just a little enticing, it can get your new customer to review it over the finish line! 

 

Should I Respond to Reviews? 

Whether positive, negative or neutral it is important to respond to each and every review your business receives. Yes, even the positive ones! Google will send an alert to each user when you directly respond to their review and with positive reviews. If someone takes the time to say something nice about your business, then it should be a common courtesy to respond by thanking them. It makes the user feel better about your business and its customer service, and it also lets others know that you are actively paying attention to every customer. 

Perhaps just setting aside one hour a week to go through and individually acknowledge every review can be a great way to go. You do not need to do it the very second it is received. 

I Have Received a Negative Review. What Should I Do?

When it comes to negative reviews, the response needs to be quick. As touched on briefly earlier in the post, the public reply is not just for the person who left the review; it also shows other clients (and Google) how you handled the situation of an unhappy customer.  

A template response here will not cut it, “We are sorry you had a bad experience please contact customer service on 123 456 789”. This makes you look uninterested or lazy. 

This is your chance to be honest here, and if there is an error within your business, you can own up to it and explain what you did to make things right. With enough input and a detailed description, you can sometimes come out of this, turning a negative situation into a positive one. An awkward customer has left a review, or their review was warranted. You acknowledged this, made an effort to resolve the issue, and took the time needed to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. 

 

Should I Use Fake Reviews 

I think we all know the answer to this one! No, absolutely not. Paying or using friends and family to generate fake reviews will not cut it. Google, Facebook and other platforms that collect reviews are too intelligent to be fooled by fake reviews. 

They know the whereabouts, activities, IP addresses, Device identifiers and the interests of each and every user. If you suddenly receive 100 reviews from India for your local flower shop in Swindon, this is going to be flagged, and they will be removed. More than likely, a minor penalty will be served to your business for illicit activities on your account. It is not worth the risk. 

Your Genuine reviews will mount up over time, so there is no need to attempt generating fake reviews for your business.  

 

Final Thoughts 

Customer reviews are a fundamental part of of Local SEO. They play a significant role in your businesses reputation and visibability within the Local Search Results. 

Building organic and genuine reviews will build your business’s trust and credibility within your sector helping customers to decide between your business and a competitor. In addition to this data and research suggests this is a ranking factor used within Googles local search algorithm to position you within the SERP’s.

I hope you have found some valuable information here to get started on your review-building journey. I help businesses around the UK with their local SEO campaigns, so if you are looking to improve your local SEO, please reach out to me here. 

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