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5 Key Ways to Use Online Reviews for Local SEO

Reputation is incredibly important in business.

What people are saying about your business dictates the first impression other prospects have when they come into contact with your brand. This is especially true when it comes to what customers are saying about you online simply because the internet is such a public thing.

This means you should be listening to the feedback you’re getting - like online reviews. Though reviews make up just a small part of the bigger picture of your online presence, they can be some of the most important sales-drivers you have.

In fact, 93% of customers say that online reviews heavily affect their buying decisions.

The aim of reviews is to provide potential buyers with accurate information before they dive in and make a purchase. This is where reviews start affecting SEO ranking.

Google and other search engines are in the business of providing internet users with the most relevant, informative content on the topic they have searched for. Online reviews are some of the most informative content you can get on a product, so a heavy emphasis is placed on landing pages and websites that feature reviews.

The Lure of the “Local Pack”

According to the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey by MOZ, online reviews make up 10% of how search engines rank results.

But, more than this, they make up 13% of what gets your business into the “local pack” at the top of the search results.

Getting one of the three spots in a local pack is a highly-coveted goal for brick-and-mortar businesses, as well as brands that offer local services online.

You won’t find businesses with two or even three star ratings in the local pack because Google prides itself on serving up only the best hotspots.

In this survey, MOZ goes on to discover that the quantity, diversity, and frequency of the reviews your business has determines whether or not it gets listed in the local pack.

So now you know why online reviews are a hugely important part of local SEO, let’s take a look at how you can use them to boost your ranking.

1. Create a Reviews Landing Page

The number one thing Google looks for when choosing where to rank a page in its search results is high-quality content. The page it’s linking to needs to be relevant, useful, and help the searcher get the answers to the question they want.

The more relevant a page is, the more times people will go back for more, and that will indicate to Google that it’s a useful page (and they’ll continue to rank it higher).

Here’s where reviews come in.

Customer reviews are some of the most relevant snippets of content you have about your business.

Think about it:

They aren’t polished marketing scripts with the main aim of selling your product. Instead, they are messages sent peer-to-peer with no hidden agenda.

To maximize the results of this method, create a dedicated landing page that targets keywords to do with your location and business (for example, if you’re a hairdresser operating in London, you’ll want to consistently target phrases like “hairdressers in London” or “London hairdressers”).

A screenshot from a landing page on Rush’s website.

Then, once you’ve compiled high-quality content around those key phrases, you can insert some reviews on to the page to give it added authenticity and rich, user-generated content.

2. Beef Up Your Google My Business Profile

Without filling out your Google My Business profile, it’s unlikely that you’ll rank high on Google, let alone in the much-coveted local pack.

If you haven’t already, you need to start by claiming your Google My Business page and fill out your profile consistently and in detail.

Here, you want to make sure you put in things like:

  • A lengthy and detailed description of what exactly your business is and what it does
  • Select a number of relevant categories that your business fits into
  • Add in opening and closing times (this is often key information that users are actively searching for)
  • Lots of images to provide a visual aspect to your business
  • A local phone number and your businesses’ address
  • Reviews from customers

Only businesses with this information filled out will stand a chance being shown in the local pack, so once you’ve got all the main information about your brand down, it’s time to start collecting customer reviews via your business profile to put yourself head and shoulders above your competitors.

3. Respond to Reviews

Responding to reviews is really important for building a connection with your customers and showing future buyers that you really care about what they think, but review responses can also help you rank higher in local searches.

How?

They provide an excellent opportunity for you to add in keywords - we’re not talking keyword stuffing here, but rather nuanced, detailed responses that naturally incorporate relevant keywords.

For example, if you’re a hairdresser in London and a customer leaves a review saying that you did an awesome cut and blow dry for them, rather than just responding with a simple “thanks!”, you can take it one step further and say “thank you so much, we’re really glad you enjoyed your cut and blow dry with us.”

Then, when a future prospect is searching for somewhere to get a cut and blow dry in London, Google already equates your business with providing that service and will place more emphasis on it in the search results.

4. Add Online Reviews to Your Website

Unlike a landing page that has been specifically dedicated to targeting local search terms, adding online reviews across your entire website gives it that extra rich and deep quality that Google is looking for.

Remember, quality content is the most important thing for search engines, and providing as much information and relevant content as possible will really help you stand out in local searches.

You can start by adding online reviews to:

  • Your homepage
  • Any product pages where you target specific product search terms
  • Case studies

5. Claim Your Business on All Relevant Review Sites

Google reviews are (unsurprisingly) the most important types of review when it comes to ranking high in local searchers, but having customer reviews splashed across other top sites can give your business the extra push up the search rankings it needs.

Here, we’re talking sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and any relevant review sites within your industry.

The more reviews you have across multiple different sites, the easier search engines will be able to tell if your business is relevant and high-quality enough to share with local searchers.

To do this, you need to claim your business listings on any relevant sites you want to tackle. This means signing up to them and taking the time to fill out your business profile there, just like you do for your Google My Business profile.

Online Reviews Mean Higher Rankings

Appearing at the top of relevant local searches and getting into those three local pack spots is the holy grail for most businesses.

But to get there, you have to put in a little bit of work. As well as filling out your Google My Business profile and making sure all key information potential customers might need from you is easy to find, you can really help your rankings with online reviews.

Because they’re authentic and rich pieces of content that directly answer key questions potential customers might have, they quickly help search engines determine that your business is relevant.

It’s worth going all out with online reviews if you want to rank high in local searches - you can publish them on your website, create a dedicated landing page, and make sure you give reviewers options of which review sites they can leave their say on.

Over to you: how will you leverage your online reviews to boost your local SEO rankings?