Online reviews, you must have come across these on e-commerce websites such as Amazon, eBay, and review sites such as Glassdoor, Yelp, Foursquare, and others. They are an effective SEO strategy.

A way of building an online presence and creating a reputation, these reviews take a business or product to the top of the online market.

The effects are enormous as a survey in North America found that 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. 

The consumer wants to know the authenticity before buying a product or a service — the feedback of existing or earlier customers matter. A study by invespcro shows its importance. The study aptly reflects the opinions and beliefs of consumers.

  • 88% trust online reviews as personal recommendations.
  • 72% say they trust a local business that has positive reviews.
  • 92% use a local store if it has at least one 4-star rating.
  • 90% read reviews before visiting a business.
  • 72% take action only after reading a positive review. 

Why Are Online Reviews Important?

#1 Improved Trust

Good reviews provide signals of authenticity and genuineness to potential customers as well as search engines. However, reviews will be a mixed bag of positive and negative ones.

Lots of good reviews will subsume one odd negative review. It displays authenticity and generates the trust of both the customers as well as the search engines.

#2 Brand Credibility, Awareness and Reputation Management

Professionalism, reliability, and expertise are critical traits for a local business. Once you embed the reviews on your website and actively respond to them, it builds your credibility and reputation.

An excellent way of active online reputation management is by setting your Google Alerts to notify you whenever your business is discussed online.

#3 Online Traffic Boost

Potential customers are drawn to genuine reviews. A 4-star rated and reviewed product will have more probability of recurring purchases by customers than a 2 star one.

It further leads to increased website traffic.

#4 Loyalty and Authenticity Projected

Good reviews leading to increased traffic on a website also signals search engines like Google that consumers like your product or service.

It displays the loyalty of existing consumers and promotes others. The authenticity of your business is established and then grows.

#5 Enhanced Local Visibility

Achieve, increase, and optimize the visibility of your business. You need to list your business on online business directories such as Google My Business and Google Maps to enhance your location-based search rankings and visibility.

#6 Increased Offline Business

Courtesy of the above factors, you have increased local visibility, and loyal customers start forming long term relationships.

What is Local SEO? 

Today, the dominant online search methods such as Google, Google Maps, Bing, Angie’s List have replaced those bulky yellow pages we used when we were kids.

Now, it is easier to find a product, service, or business nearby using these tools with a few clicks. Local SEO is about aligning your business listing and website with search engines’ ways of ranking them.

Local SEO is about optimizing your product and business to take it to the local audience so that they can easily find the products, business, and services near them.

For instance, lets say you have some business in a city and you want to advertise it to the people near you. Then, you need to optimize your online business profile, such as business information, city, phone number, address, and the website URL on a service such as Google My Business.

Do Online Reviews Impact Local SEO?

Well, they do! A survey by Podium suggests that 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. The point is to give potential consumers precise data before they make a plunge and make a purchase, and thus, reviews start influencing SEO.

Experts like Amazon’s Amit Aggarwal and Neil Patel have discussed how customers’ reviews can boost the local SEO of the businesses. Therefore, it is evident that search rankings and consumers’ decisions on whether to buy a product or not are highly dependent on reviews. 

Let’s see how customers’ reviews will affect your business.

 #1 Boost Google Rankings

Reviews help Google to know your website or business better. The more it knows, the more your search ranking goes up. Quality and keyword-optimized content help Googles Rankbrain machine learning algorithm software to get to see the website without much effort.

Talking about SEO, apart from focusing on content building and backlinks, Google trusts the customer’s reviews more than your product, service, or business.

Study shows that local SEO factors are pivotal in increasing the Google ranking of a business.

Google says on reviews and local business how reviews help local SEO affect ranking.

Let’s see how to optimize Google My Business that can help enterprises improve their local ranking.

#a Enter Complete Details

Complete and accurate data looks good as a business, as it makes it easier to search using the given information.

#b Verify Location

Verifying your locations helps your local audience to reach your business faster. Also, making it visible on Google Maps, lets the customers find it easily.

#d Review Management

Customer and seller interactions build trust through feelings of transparency. Therefore, paying attention to every review, and responding to them is vital.

#e Add Photos, Videos, and Infographics

Uploading pictures of your business help customers and search engines to understand your business intimately.

These graphics or any other rich content must be optimized by giving them relevant names. This way, they will pop in image related searches.

#2 Positive and Negative Reviews Affect Local SEO

 #a Positive Reviews

People nowadays don’t ask for a business nearby. They look for customer reviews. For local searches, if a customer sees a restaurant of 4-star rating with more than 400 reviews, there is a more significant probability that he will go to that restaurant.

#b Greater the Good Reviews, the Higher the CTR

CTR is a proportion showing how frequently individuals who see your business or website wind up clicking it. CTR and Dwell Time are essential factors to let your business come foremost in a SERP (Search Engine Result Page). 

Larry Kim impressively shows how organic CTR impacts SEO rankings. The study elaborates that getting reviews brings better organic rankings, resulting in significantly increased clicks to your site.

After all, customers, when finding something nearby, look up to Google, and Google, in turn, looks up the customer reviews to analyze your business. Favorable reviews of your business lead to high CTR and thus improved search rankings.

#c Negative Reviews

Google search quality evaluator guidelines state that a few negative reviews do not impact the google rankings. Not until you have a good SEO marketing strategy.

Undoubtedly any website or business will get some negative reviews. One can use them to improve efficiency.

Instead, it does increase the credibility of the business. It’s only logical that no business can satisfy 100%. The consumers, when seeing the mix comments, know the business is a more authentic one.

#d Review Response Helps

Replying to your reviews sends a positive message of an active business to the consumers. It builds trust in your business and products.

Both the customers and search engines’ spiders look at it as a commitment that you have towards customer satisfaction.

Replying to negative comments, assuring the customers that you will solve their problems, and promising better customer service improves your search rankings as well as customer’s trust.

In a study on TripAdvisor, HBR found that hotels that reacted to reviews got 12% more genuine ones, and their rankings expanded by 0.12 stars.

Another study by Yotpo reflects the importance of review responses which shows that consumer expects a review response within 24 hours.

The numerous advanced filters and suggestion abilities of the search engines and online business directories such as Google My Business and Yelp lets your business to be visible to your target customers.

The Crux

The first encounter always matters. When your potential customers search for a product, service, or business that you offer, a study shows that chances of purchase of a product with a 5-star rating are 270% more than that with no reviews.

Online reviews are critical and undoubtedly impact your business’ online presence, the loyalty of customers, increased website traffic and increased brand credibility.