Getting found when people go searching on Google is essential for pretty much any business today. And if you’re a local business – meaning your customers come from your town or your area – then you absolutely have to make Google your friend.
Businesses ranked 1 to 3 in local results — those who win placement in Google’s 3-Pack — earn 126 percent more traffic and 93 percent more conversion-oriented actions than their competition, according to new research by SOCi. So there’s a lot at stake to getting your local SEO right.
That same research report found that Google Reviews are now the second most important ranking factor for local businesses, behind only Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) signals. Let’s have a look at how you can leverage this insight to grow your business.
Getting More Google Reviews
According to the report, businesses with an average rating of 4.5 stars or higher are more likely to appear in the top 3 local search results on Google. In fact, 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and 89% of consumers say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
The number of reviews you have is also important. The study found that businesses ranking in the top 1-3 spots had an average of 21% more reviews than their competition. Consumers will also choose businesses with a lot of reviews. For every 10 new reviews earned, conversion of Google profiles improves by 2.8 percent according to the report.
Businesses should focus on generating more positive reviews from customers. Encouraging customers to leave a review after each visit or purchase can be an effective way to do this. Businesses can also incentivize customers to leave a review by offering a discount or other rewards. Be cautious here, though. Offering an incentive for a positive review runs afoul of Google’s rules and could get you penalized, but encouraging a review in general is okay.
Responding to Google Reviews
Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, is also essential. According to the report, for every 25 percent of reviews responded to, conversion of Google profiles improves by 4.1 percent. Responding to 100 percent of reviews, as opposed to none, boosts conversion by 16.4 percent.
Responding to positive reviews also shows customers that the business values their feedback and appreciates their business. Responding to negative reviews can be even more critical, as it allows companies to address any issues and show that they are committed to providing excellent customer service.
Businesses should also ensure that their Google Business Profile listing is accurate and up-to-date, including consistent business name, address, and phone number (NAP) information, as well as high-quality photos and detailed business information. The use of relevant keywords in reviews can also improve local search rankings. Here’s are some tips for optimizing your profile.
Read Your Google Reviews
Monitoring and analyzing Google Reviews on an ongoing basis can provide valuable insights into what customers like and don’t like about the business and allow them to make improvements.
Your Google reviews can also unlock to what people REALLY like about doing business with your company provide insights into how to position yourself to attract more people like those happy customers. Read this post on building a marketing strategy for more insights on how you can use this trick to be more relevant to your prospects.
The importance of Google Reviews in local SEO is clear. Businesses should focus on generating more positive reviews, responding to feedback, ensuring accurate business information, using relevant keywords, and monitoring and analyzing reviews to improve their local search rankings and attract more customers.
Do all of this and you’ll start to see your business rise in the ranks and get into that coveted 3-Pack when your prospects are out looking for a solution to their problem.