Online reviews and search engine rankings

Ionline reviews and online reputation management for google local +f you’ve been frustrated by the amount of time, money and effort that’s spent on SEO, then here’s something that will probably change the way you approach things: the truth is that online reviews will determine your search engine rankings.

Many businesses focus almost exclusively on SEO.  Some see Social Media as the way to gain market share online. But most businesses either ignore or undervalue the importance of online customer reviews.

Over the past few years, online reputation has become increasingly important. Not only because potential customers are checking out your reputation online – although the statistics are pretty convincing – but also because the search engines, particularly Google, are making this a priority when deciding on where you should rank.

When you look at the statistics, it’s obvious why they’re placing so much emphasis on customer reviews.

  • 97% of consumers and 92% of business purchasers search online before making a purchasing decision – even when it’s local.
  • 78% of people who search online before purchasing will check out online reviews in order to make a decision – they will check out, on average, 10 reviews for a single purchase
  • 98% of those people will believe a review by someone they know or someone who has credibility with them
  • 75% of people are influenced to purchase by reviews by people they don’t know

Google recently purchased Zagat who used exclusively feature restaurant reviews. They’re now the Online review engine for Google Local + (formerly Google Places).

With Google Local +, the number of positive reviews you have attached to your listing is key to how much traffic you get.  http://googleblog.blogspot.ca/2012/05/localnow-with-dash-of-zagat-and.html

This is for three reasons:

  1. Google gives you higher rankings because of the number of positive reviews you have,
  2. and the higher you are, the greater percentage of traffic you will receive
  3. People are more likely to click on a listing displaying multiple stars (positive reviews) and images
With Google’s purchase of Zagat, there are a few more little wrinkle to getting online reviews that matter on your listings.
  • Zagat reviews are the ones that count for Google Local + (Bing features Yelp reviews)
  • Zagat only begins to show your ratings once you have 10 or more reviews
What does this mean for you if you’re trying to get ranked in a competitive market?
Here are the key implications:
  • You should have a Google Local + listing, first of all… without this, you’re dependent solely on your SEO and this could be a slow go and is highly vulnerable to any Google updates.  If you’re a national or multi-location concern, you should have a listing for each location. But, beware. This has to be handled correctly or you could find yourself removed from Google Local + entirely.
  • You need to passionately cultivate the right kind of reviews on the right platforms – some matter a lot more than others. Don’t leave this to chance. You absolutely need a system that makes ‘word of mouth’ recommendations controllable and predictable.
  • You have to pay attention to your online reputation and deal with negative reviews as soon as they happen.  Don’t let them just sit there. There are a few basic things you can do to mitigate bad reviews and you should implement these strategies as quickly as you can.  This includes positive rebuttals. If you need help with this, contact us.
  • Cultivate social signals. This means getting people to post Facebook comments and reviews, Tweet on Twitter, checkin with foursquare and so on.
You can have the best SEO implementation in the world, but, according to Google’s latest announcements, it’s not going to help you rank as much as it used to if you do not have the right social proof – which includes online reviews.



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