The Importance of Google Reviews in Your Local SEO & Marketing Strategy
Have you ever searched for a product or service and found a company that looked like they could meet your needs? Did you take it one step further and see what kind of reviews the company had? The product or service might look great, but if the reviews are questionable, did you look for another company to help you? Reviews can literally make or break a local business.
Most people who search online for the products and services (and who doesn’t) rely on online reviews to help them make buying decisions on everything from vitamins to mobile phones, to collector vintage cars. Reviews for local small businesses can also be a major contributor to ranking higher in local search results in addition to other online marketing efforts. In the case of Google, the search engine giant clearly places a high value on local businesses that have consistent reviews. And along with other contributing factors, Google places these businesses in the search results map area with pin drops on the map to show you where those local businesses are located.
Local Search Engine Ranking: Why Google Reviews Matter
In an area like Pittsburgh, for example, there are literally hundreds of hair salons with countless studios offering virtually the same products and services. Reviews are a major factor in setting one studio apart from another and ultimately leading consumers to a purchasing decision by attracting potential clients to your studio’s website where they can learn more about you and set up an appointment and turn them into lifelong customers.
Google Reviews: Visibility Where It Counts
Using Pittsburgh as our example, and searching for “Pittsburgh Hair Salons,” just below the pay-per-click listings, if there are any, comes what is known as the Google Map “Three Pak” showing local businesses in the Pittsburgh area that match your search criteria. As shown in the screen shot below, several salons appear on the map, but only those that specifically meet the search criteria and have the best reviews show up as part of the selected three local results (other show up on the map as small red dots). There also appears to be a correlation in visibility to the number of reviews a local business has, in addition to the quality of the reviews.
Google Reviews: It’s a Matter of Trust
For local businesses, online search reviews bring the added benefit of “social proof.” That is, they help potential customers evaluate the level of trust they can place in an unfamiliar local business.
In a 2016 survey of local consumer reviews conducted by BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews to the same degree that they trust personal recommendations, with 74% of consumers surveyed saying that positive reviews were a major contributing factor to their reaching out to a business to inquire about their products and services.
How Do I Get Reviews? Simple. Ask for Them.
Don’t be afraid to ask your existing clients to give you a Google review. You may even want to print up a simple “how to” sheet to give to your clients that shows them the three or four simple steps involved in leaving a review for your studio on Google. If your client has had a great experience with you, they will more than likely be willing to give you a quick positive review as a way of showing their appreciation. Another easy way to encourage customers to leave a review for your studio is to place a link on your website.
Client reviews are gold! At the end of the day, our clients are our business partners, and their feedback is enormously valuable in helping us maintain the highest level of professional service.
As with all reviews, there are bound to be a few negative ones every now and again. It’s just a fact of life. Always respond to negative reviews is a short, concise, genuine, and helpful manner. Don’t be defensive or take exception with the content of the review on line. In public, the overall tone of your response to a negative review should be “how can we contact you directly so we can address your concerns and help you?” The way you respond to reviews will be viewed by future customers and your response should always be focused on building transparency and trust.
Ultimately, online reviews (especially online Google reviews) will determine how your business is viewed in search results – both by Google’s search engine and by humans who read them. What we’re talking about here is “social proof” and that more than anything will lead your website visitors to become leads and those leads to become clients.