How Online Reviews Affect Your Local SEO

As a business owner, you probably already realize how online reviews affect your brand. A negative review here and there is unfortunately a regular part of business, but a number of negative reviews can damage your reputation. Likewise, many positive reviews that show up whenever someone searches for your business online demonstrate a positive overall customer experience. However, you may not have considered the effect that online reviews have on your local SEO.

Online Reviews and Local SEO

Because online reviews tend to focus on local branches, they are incredibly important to local SEO. When users search for a business online, they almost always check reviews to determine whether they will continue to book a service or make a purchase from you. For this reason alone, it is essential to remember the importance of attracting positive reviews and responding effectively to negative ones. If you look at any local search results page, you will notice that the more reviews a business has, the higher it tends to appear in the results. Review sites such as Yelp generally receive high priority in search engine results, so these pages are likely among the first customers see when searching for your brand.

Why Reviews Matter

According to a recent market research study, 91 percent of people read online reviews when making a purchase decision and 84 percent of those consumers place equal trust in online reviews and recommendations from friends. Because consumers view reviews from other customers as highly trustworthy, reviews are automatically an aspect of your brand. Positive reviews are even more important to online users with local intent. For this reason, savvy business owners take the time to address negative reviews and incorporate them into their overall marketing strategy.

How to Address Negative Reviews

While it may be tempting to respond to negative reviews by correcting misunderstandings or providing a legitimate excuse for the customer’s complaint, these strategies are generally ineffective. So is ignoring a bad review or asking the customer to change their rating without addressing the underlying issue. Instead, brand ambassadors should reach out and prioritize making the customer feel understood. If the negative review is general in nature, it is important to ask for clarification of the problem the customer is experiencing before moving forward with a solution. Depending on the situation, it may or may not be possible to rectify the initial issue, but showing that your business understands and cares about the customer experience is crucial.

Trustworthiness

When given the choice between a local business with few online reviews and one that has consistently scored well in customer ratings over time, consumers will obviously choose the latter. Incentivize customers to leave reviews through reminders in your newsletters and advertisements. Approximately 68 percent of consumers read four or more online reviews before determining whether they trust the business enough to proceed with a transaction, making online reviews one of the most important aspects of local SEO.

If you need guidance when it comes to engaging reviewers or general marketing advice, Brandgy can help. Call today at (352) 578-2000 for more information. You can also email us to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you build your brand.

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