Google’s algorithm uses many factors to determine how to rank your local business; among the most important of these ranking factors are Google reviews. Google reviews, be they positive or negative, are great differentiators that let Google know which companies to display in their SERPs. The company has published content confirming that managing and responding to customer reviews helps improve the rankings of businesses on Google.
If you’re still wondering whether Google reviews can benefit your SEO or if they are relevant to your business, consider the fact that 95% of shoppers check out reviews online before committing to a purchase. What’s more, 58% of customers would be fine with paying more for products if they purchased from a brand with positive customer reviews.
Considering that Google is (and will likely continue to be) the most popular search engine tool worldwide, it’s in all business owners’ best interests to keep an eye on their Google reviews. To that end, let’s look at how Google reviews can benefit your SEO and what to pay attention to if you want to get more reviews.
How positive reviews benefit your local SEO
Let’s say you’re just getting started or are in the process of improving your local SEO. A customer completes a transaction with your business, and they decide to leave a review of their experience. If their review includes keywords relevant to the products you’re offering and the industry in which you operate, it can go a long way toward propelling your website higher up on Google’s search results pages.
Positive Google reviews that contain relevant keywords are particularly important for companies that cater to a base of local consumers and customers on mobile devices. Keep in mind that nearly all your customers are using mobile phones to look for information online at one point or another (and almost 70% of kids have a smartphone by the time they turn 12 years old).
Customers on mobile devices searching for local businesses that deliver what they’re looking for often check out “near me” listings that display a company’s contact info and directions - it’s much easier for your business to appear in these listings if Google is ranking you well.
The basics behind Google local rankings
Google considers multiple factors when ranking local businesses based on search queries that users enter. Keywords relevant to your business, business categories, and on-page SEO all affect a business’s local ranking with Google. Out of all the most important factors when it comes to obtaining better rankings, review signals are some of the most impactful.
In addition to review signals, Google looks at other components to rank local businesses, including:
These components affect whether your business appears on Google’s local pack and how high up on the pack it appears.
The local pack is a go-to spot that consumers look to when searching for businesses in their local area. That’s because the local pack shows people the star ratings of businesses which, of course, influence whether they decide to dig deeper and check out reviews.
Improving your Google reviews
If you don’t want to buy Google reviews, there are multiple ways for you to improve them organically.
Quantity of reviews
While positive, four- and five-star ratings are undoubtedly great to have if you want Google to rank your business’s website, you’ll also want to increase the number of your reviews.
In light of this fact, it’s important that you encourage your customers to write Google reviews, especially those who you’re sure had above-and-beyond experiences with your business. One good way to ensure this is by communicating with customers via phone after you’ve finished helping them complete their purchase.
If you consistently work toward encouraging your customers to leave positive Google reviews, you can increase your review quantity. After all, you’d rather have 200 reviews with an average 4.8 rating than only one or two reviews with an average five-star rating.
Customers tend to pick businesses with a high quantity of reviews. Additionally, Google recognizes that businesses with a high review count are proving their worth and are thus more deserving of being ranked higher than businesses with just a couple of reviews (even if those reviews are very positive).
At the end of the day, Google wants to serve its users and is most interested in connecting searchers with the businesses that best suit their interests and needs. Accumulate as many positive reviews as possible to better position yourself as an attractive brand in your industry.
Next, you’ll want to focus on driving a consistent flow of customer reviews directed toward your business. Google will notice companies actively accumulating customer reviews since high review velocities prove to Google that you’re taking your brand seriously and are running a company worth recommending to users.
Higher review velocities are also essential to attracting a broader base of customers. Customers tend to overlook or completely ignore reviews that are even several months old - even if you’ve got dozens of reviews from just a year ago, they’re not going to cut it for either prospective customers or Google. Besides, your business may transform over just a few months, so your reviews should demonstrate to people what your business is like today and what people have recently had to say about it.
Generate as many new and relevant customer reviews as possible to rise up on Google’s search results pages and attract new consumers.
Signals of engagement
Don’t forget to monitor visitors’ engagement with your Google Business page. Engagement signals such as the number of site visits, the requests for directions to your business, and how many users read your reviews all impact your Google rankings.
Google pays attention to how much time people spend checking out your listing, and an excellent way to increase this amount of time is by having lots of reviews potential customers can read. Monitoring customer activity allows you to start tracking your engagement with existing buyers as well as formulate new strategies for increasing engagement.
The impact that Google reviews have on your rankings isn’t going away any time soon. It’s easy to talk about your brand as the best in the business, but customer reviews are what give your claims of greatness the substance that both Google and potential customers are looking for. Incorporate the above methods to increase your Google rankings, and we guarantee you’ll soon start bringing in a consistent flow of recurring and positive Google reviews.