How Do Online Reviews Affect Local SEO?
What is the link between online reviews and local SEO? Below, we’ll clarify exactly the impact reviews can have on search rankings.
Over the last few years, online reviews have become a non-negotiable part of every local business owner and marketer’s arsenal. The volume of review sites has grown significantly and the rate at which consumers are writing and referencing reviews is also growing exponentially.
Reviews help people decide which products or services they should buy, where they should travel and even where they should eat. Reviews have slowly become an integral part of business on the internet, meaning that online reputation management is more important than ever.
Numerous studies have been carried out to help determine the exact impact that both positive and negative reviews have on the popularity, number of sales, product awareness, conversion rate and profitability of businesses selling products or services.
But there’s more to it than that: as reviews have grown in importance, they have also started to infiltrate search engine algorithms and impact on search positions for both local rankings and general results. In fact, the importance of reviews for SEO can’t be underestimated.
Before we delve into the link between online reviews and local SEO, let’s quickly recap how reviews can directly impact your bottom line:
The business benefits of reviews
- Having four and five star reviews shows your business can be trusted to deliver on its promises. This means consumers are more likely to choose you over competitors.
- Having numerous positive reviews increases the likelihood of convincing customers to pay more money for products or services. In fact, studies have shown that consumers are likely to spend around 31% more on products and services from businesses that have excellent reviews backing them up.
- Studies also show that having a four or five star review on your Google My Business profile increases clickthroughs , so reviews deliver more traffic to your site, too.
- More than seven in ten consumers trust an online review as much as they would a personal recommendation, making reviews as powerful as word-of-mouth marketing for growing your business.
- A study by Harvard Business Review suggested that improving the average review rating on Yelp by one star could lead to 5%-9% increase in revenues.
The impact of negative reviews on your business
- Negative reviews can be damaging to the prestige, profitability, and trustworthiness of a business.
- A single negative review can drive away approximately 22% of customers, whereas around three negative reviews can drive away 59% of customers.
- A single negative review could cost your business customers, with 40% of consumers saying reading a negative review makes them want to take their cash elsewhere.
- People hesitate to purchase from businesses with no reviews.
Research has also shown that around 86% of potential customers will not purchase products or services from a business with negative reviews. In the unfortunate case that these negative reviews pop up in Google searches, a business can potentially lose around 70% of its future customers.
In an era where the internet has taken over the world, online reviews are bound to drive customers either towards or away from your business. Making customer satisfaction an essential part of your business can only help your company’s sales and profitability.
Do reviews affect local SEO rankings?
Yes, search engines will factor in your review profile (including quality and quantity) when calculating your search position. We have established that consumers love reviews and in many cases, use a good or bad review to validate their decision to do business with you or look elsewhere. Search engines also take a similar stance.
It should come as no surprise that reviews and SEO are closely linked because they have much the same objective. A search engine wants to help its users to find the right product, service or information in the timeliest manner possible. Reviews serve to separate the good from the bad and help consumers find the best local business for their need.
Think of reviews as crowd-sourced recommendations—a four or five-star review tells a search engine that they can confidently show that business in a premium, high-visibility location.
Reviews and SEO
According to the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, review signals make up 16% of the search engine decision-making process when it comes to local pack rankings. When factoring reviews into algorithms, experts say that metrics such as the number of reviews a business has, the velocity of reviews, and the diversity of reviews received are all taken into account. And reviews are only growing in importance, having gone up from 13% to 16% since 2018.
Having reviews on a number of review platforms, lots of positive sentiment within the reviews, and having product and service keywords within the text of obtained reviews were also identified as being competitive difference-makers by a panel of local search experts.