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Why Reviews are More Important Than Ever for Local Search

There are many reasons why customer reviews can positively affect your local search results. These include the following facts:

  • The volume of your reviews affects your local search ranking
  • Other review signals also dictate where you rank
  • Online reviews build trust
  • Great feedback helps you to win business
  • Responses from customers will help you to improve your performance

If you’re a business owner looking to attract custom from your immediate locality, one of the most effective things you can do is harness online customer reviews.

According to a recent study into customer behaviour undertaken by Spiegel Research Centre, just under 95% of consumers study reviews before making a purchase decision.

This should be enough to reveal the power of public feedback on its own – but there are even more benefits.

In this article, we’ll go into a number of the reasons why reviews of a product or service can help you perform better in local search engine results.

1. The volume of your reviews affects your local search ranking

The more customers leave reviews for your business, the higher you will rank in the search results. This is because a high volume of reviews show that numerous users have interacted with you and continue to do so.

While a few great bits of feedback are good to have, it’s important to keep pushing on with your review requests – as here, quantity is almost as important as quality.

It’s also vital to ensure that you keep getting new reviews. If you’re sitting on the same old write-ups, you’re likely to slide down the rankings, as search engines prioritise interactions that are as up to date as possible.

2. Other review signals also affect where you rank

Of course, it doesn’t stop with collecting tons of new feedback. Businesses are ranked in local search by volume, velocity and diversity, to name just a few signals.

“Volume” refers to the number of reviews you receive, as mentioned above.

“Velocity” means the rate at which customers write new reviews for you. If the numbers accumulate steadily, it shows that you perform well at all times. If there are sudden spurts between quiet periods, you’re less likely to rank well.

“Diversity” means the number of sites on which your reviews appear. The more widespread your write-ups, the better your SEO performance.

Try to attract a selection of great feedback from different platforms. Google, Trustpilot, Amazon, Facebook and Yelp reviews are all valuable – plus, it’s possible to collate all of your positive write-ups and display them on your site for potential customers to see.

You should also share good reviews via your social media streams, as this creates yet another platform to promote the great work that you do – plus, many social media users follow businesses in their local area.

3. Online reviews build trust

Potential customers seeing service feedback and product reviews from consumers represents a form of “social proof”.

Author Robert Cialdini coined the term “social proof” in his 1984 book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, explaining that “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it”.

This means that customer trust can be built as more people see positive reviews of your business – because those people have been made aware that others like them have used your products or services and had a good experience.

4. Great feedback helps you to win business

This leads directly on from the previous point. If a user sees positive customer feedback online, they’re more likely to trust you and therefore use you.

Often, potential customers use review sites to compare the quantity and content of multiple business’s feedback to help them decide which to use.

Of course, you’ll also win more business if you receive numerous, frequent reviews across multiple platforms as discussed above, as this will result in you appearing further up the search results and attracting more custom.

5. Responses from customers will help you to improve your performance

Of course, it’s not all about SEO. Generally, customers write reviews to let businesses know what they think of the customer service they received as well as the products and services on offer.

It’s important not to forget that this kind of feedback provides a valuable insight into your performance as a company.

If you receive negative reviews, don’t just focus on resolving the immediate problem and asking the writer to change their comments or take them down – try to make some visible changes to ensure that the issues mentioned don’t happen again.

Some positive reviews also include suggestions for improvements or future products, services or events that customers think would work well. Take these on board as they reveal what your audience wants to see from you.

You can also take action if you receive a lot of positive reviews. Focus on what those pieces of feedback mention. Do they have anything in common? If so, you may have found a USP you weren’t aware of. Try to provide more of the same, drawing attention to these strengths.

No matter the tone of the review, it’s important to always answer it – ideally within two days. This is great customer service as it shows that you care about what your customers think and wish to continue a dialogue with them.

It’s extremely important to push for as many online reviews as possible in order to boost your local SEO. For best effect, these reviews need to be high in volume, added to frequently and posted on a variety of platforms.

They will help you to build brand trust and win more business, as well as ensuring you know how to improve your performance in the future.

The best way to start gathering reviews is to sign up for Google My Business and ensure that your reviews and star reviews will appear to those searching for you.

You should also claim any existing profiles for your company on review sites – or create new ones if you don’t yet have a presence – then start requesting feedback from your customers, either online or in person.

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Updated on June 9, 2020

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