How Customer Reviews Boost Your Local SEO
by Al Gomez
As a business owner, you’ve probably taken the right steps to ensuring maximum online visibility by now. You have a well-designed website, a few social media accounts on popular platforms, and maybe even hired local digital marketing services. Wonderful. But how are your reviews? Are you encouraging your customers or clients to leave positive feedback?
Fact is, whether you own a small or big company rarely matters nowadays. You can go head to head with large brands if you want to – and win. There are plenty of ecommerce Cinderella stories out there: businesses that started with nothing but rose to become corporate giants. Although their success can be attributed to many factors (such as product/service quality, management style, budgeting, etc.), a crucial part of it involved their customers.
Specifically, customer reviews.
Yelp Really Helps
According to one study, people on average will look through 2 to 3 reviews BEFORE making a purchase. Individuals believe online testimonials as much as personal ones, and in 2013, more people bought products based on reviews compared to previous years.
Think about it as a digital version of word-of-mouth advertising. Back when smartphones were non-existent, people who loved particular stores or brands would casually mention them during talks with friends and family. This created a rippling effect that appeared in the form of blog posts and recommendations. People would naturally flock to a shop because ‘one of their friends mentioned that it was good’.
It’s one of the oldest forms of advertising and it STILL WORKS TODAY. The only difference is that it has taken another form. As a lot of folks are busy these days, they rarely have time to meet with peers. Instead, they rave about their favorite businesses online. This is where review sites like Yelp come in.
In 2014, TIME released top businesses in Yelp, which included local favorites such as Bottega Louie in Los Angeles, CA and Katz’s Delicatessen in New York. Katz’s, located at 205 E Houston Street, raked in almost 6,000 reviews – each featuring lengthy descriptions and praises for the delicious pastrami sandwiches.
Several studies have shown that having a Yelp account can help increase your revenue by as much as $8,000 a year. 90 percent of Yelp users claim their buying decisions are affected by positive reviews; while 93 percent do make purchases at the businesses they were searching for. Despite these amazing stats, 87 percent of small businesses still do NOT take advantage of Yelp and similar review sites.
No matter how great a product or service is, if there’s no one to rave about it, it’s like every other thing on the market. We now live in a world saturated with choices: from food to basic necessities; companies are competing hard against each other to gain attention. Sometimes, the ONE thing that could mean the difference between a person’s decision to pick you is a REVIEW.
Be Where Your Customers Are
Yelp isn’t the only place where you can receive reviews. Business owners should also get their companies listed in top local citation sites like Google Local and Yahoo Small Business to give their shops a chance to appear on third party apps, such as Google Maps. When picking which review sites to get an account on, check that the website has the following attributes:
- Has a downloadable app for Android and iOS (like Open Table and Around Me)
- Caters specifically to local businesses
- Contains more than 200,000 active users
Don’t limit yourself. Social media platforms such as Facebook are also a great place to encourage and get reviews. Online shoe and clothing shop, ZAPPOS, does a great job at this by responding to customer comments; making them look approachable and trustworthy (which is really great for businesses – no matter the niche).
Another awesome platform is none other than Youtube. Why not showcase customer testimonials about your amazing product and/or service? This will give off stronger trust signals because people can see and hear the experience of being with your business. Unlike written reviews, videos feel more personal. Just look at famous mobile brand, Samsung. Their content doesn’t just focus on their cool phones – they also emphasize how people look as they enjoy Samsung products.
No wonder they have more than 1 million Youtube subscribers. When you shift your focus to your consumers, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Aside from positive reviews, you will gain customer trust and loyalty: two things which are hard to come by these days. If nurtured, it’s possible to have a cult following (so there’s no need to envy Apple and their legion of devoted fans).
Don’t forget to maximize reviews by embedding them onto your web pages or blogs. These provide additional trust signals, as well as keep your pages looking active. Every time someone leaves a review, your embedded widgets will simply update the feature. So what are you waiting for? Boost your local SEO by encouraging feedback from your customers.
Let’s talk about customer reviews! Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us how you received positive feedback from your clients.
July 12, 2017