When you run a brick and mortar business that relies on your local area to thrive, the marketing strategy that you choose will ultimately determine your success. Besides engaging in physical marketing strategies that will attract your desired audience, the right SEO marketing strategy can also increase the exposure of your business to customers near you.
Many of us who are just beginning to develop our SEO strategies are curious about reviews and how they impact our exposure and ranking. Specifically, many wonder about Google reviews and whether or not they change your standing on the search engine. Are you visible online? Do you currently have reviews and want to know how they impact your Google ranking? If so, we are going to break down how these reviews work and what kind of role they play in your overall online success!
Why Are Reviews Important?
Beyond the importance of ranking, reviews tell potential customers about how others view your business. People trust online reviews to help them better understand the experience and quality they will receive when they choose your business over others in your area. If you have mostly great reviews, more customers are going to be willing to visit your business. If you have a lot of poor reviews, you are going to see fewer people purchasing your products or services. It is up to you to provide a great experience in order to receive equally excellent reviews!
How Do Reviews Impact Ranking?
Reviews impact your search ranking in several ways. The first is in regards to the number of reviews you have. If you have more positive reviews than other competing businesses, you will most likely rank higher as you have proven your local popularity and experience. This makes you relevant to the search engine and places you higher on the list. It serves to increase your traffic as well, which will then impact your ranking in Google. Put simply, you want more positive reviews than your competition if you want to be the most successful and visible.
Reviews also help customers find you when they search for keywords that are related to your business. For example, if you run a bookstore and customers are searching google for books near them, certain keywords will trigger the maps and show nearby businesses. This, in turn, will show your business (which is hopefully at the top of the list) and the reviews that accompany your listing on Google. Relevant review and website keywords will boost your ranking by bringing more customers in who can create more positive reviews of your business.
Popularity and relevance are the two main components of reaping the rewards that Google reviews have to offer, but how do we leverage these reviews to our advantage and make sure that they are part of our online marketing strategy?
How to Make Reviews a Part of Your Business
Because reviews are so vital to your online presence, businesses who have a strong understanding of this importance will develop a strategy to make sure that reviews are constantly being posted and responded to.
The first part of your strategy should be customer outreach. Whenever someone shops with you online or at your physical location, you should make sure to remind them that leaving a review is both recommended and appreciated. Some business owners will remind their customers via text or email after they have made a purchase or have signed up to receive email correspondence. Others may have these reminders printed out on paper marketing products that customers receive after making a purchase. You could also send these reminders out with coupons or other promotional material to give you customers an incentive to leave a review once they’ve used their coupons.
The second part of your strategy should focus on following up with the individuals who are leaving reviews for your business. Although getting plenty of reviews is the goal, it is engagement that keeps customers happy and wanting to return. People who have taken the time to leave a review and who have not received a response are not going to feel as satisfied with your overall customer experience. Regardless of whether you have received a positive or negative review, make sure to follow up with each individual, express your appreciation for their review, and respond appropriately.
For example, if they left a positive review, take the time to ask them further about their experience, to give them reasons to come back, and to answer any questions they may have. If they left a negative review, apologize and ask them what you could’ve done better. You can also try to remedy the situation by inviting them back and giving them certain discounts to make up for the poor experience the first time around. The goal is to make sure that they feel important. If your customers are taken care, they will be more likely to continue leaving reviews and improving your ranking.
Engagement is everything. In fact, it has been proven that many customers who have received a response back from a business regarding their negative review have either changed or deleted that initial negative review afterward. If you are seeking to maintain your current ranking, you are going to need to stay on top of your reviews and make sure that there is a steady flow of review postings and responses.
Local businesses will have to put a lot more work into their online strategy in order to keep local customers coming back and continue their growth. Without the right online exposure, physical marketing techniques and local reputation can only do so much. Fortunately enough, local reputation can quickly boost your online presence when you have the right reviews floating around on the internet. If your SEO strategy is on your to-do list and you are wondering whether or not you need to focus on reviews, use this guide above to learn more about Google reviews, what you need to do to make sure that they are leveraged to your advantage, and how much of an impact they have on your Google ranking!