Local SEO tips: How reviews improve local SEO

Local SEO Tips: Take Advantage of Customer Reviews

Many local businesses want to improve their results in Google, but aren’t sure where to start…

Sure, Google can be a tough nut to crack, but there’s one very important tool that can help you maximize your local search results.

What’s the secret?

Reviews. 

If you own a local business or work to help local businesses get more results online, you already understand the importance of ratings and reviews.

They’re great for increasing customer engagement, boosting sales across channels, and are a powerful example of user-generated content that can enhance your marketing across channels.

You may know that reviews are awesome, but you probably don’t know the full extent of the benefits of reviews for SEO.

In this post, I will dive into the benefits of local SEO, local search ranking factors, the impact of reviews and tactics to acquire more reviews and use them in your marketing improve results from local search.

Local SEO Tips: improve SEO with customer reviews

Local SEO Checklist: Why Are Reviews So Important?

True to form, Google is always changing, tweaking, and improving its algorithm.

And recently, Google has been shaking up the search engine results page (SERP) for local queries in particular.

3 recent Google changes that impact local SEO ranking factors:

  1. Google changed the color of paid search ads to blend in with organic results, thus increasing CTR and revenue
  2. Google stopped showing right sidebar ads and put 4 ads above the fold (instead of 3), pushing organic results farther down
  3. Ads are starting to be shown on the map results (where reviews are being shown)

There are hundreds of other changes constantly occurring, but these are big factors to be aware of that also have a direct impact on the importance of reviews.

The bottom line?

Paid ads are increasingly getting much more reach.

Now you might be thinking, “Okay this is great, but what does this have to do with local SEO and reviews?”

The answer is EVERYTHING.

As a consulting firm for SEO, PPC, and content, we have worked with plenty of businesses to improve their marketing and local SEO strategy.

And hands down, we have found that for local accounts, the #1 driver in new business and sales is the implementation of a comprehensive review strategy and increasing their ranking in Google’s map results.

The benefits of local SEO are endless. Businesses that learn how to build a local SEO strategy will see the ripples of success throughout their business.

So, back to why Google’s recent changes impact your results.

Now, with four ads above the fold, if you’re relying solely on traditional organic SEO for your local leads/sales, you are bound to be deeply frustrated.

Even when ranking #1 organically, you are technically the eighth clickable result on the page.

Just check out the #1 result below:

Local SEO ranking factors are changing

As you can see, you don’t have a ton of options as a local business if you want to stand out in search results without paying for ads.

But wait! There’s hope.

A little known yet enormously effective strategy for improving the results from local search results is by using reviews to grow your organic traffic and naturally stand out among the competition.

Today, there aren’t a lot of free methods left to get organic traffic. Plus, for those that do exist, they often require an incredible amount of technical knowledge.

But there’s hope.

The last great way to drive leads to your local business (that’s free and not based on an incredible amount of technical skill) is being great at your business and getting terrific reviews.

3 Main SEO Benefits of Reviews for Local Businesses

Reviews can benefit businesses of all types, but they also have very specific and special benefits for local businesses.

Here are a few of the ways that local businesses can benefit from using customer reviews in search results.

Benefit #1: Reviews increase CTR, which can also improve ranking

Have great reviews? Now, you need to truly leverage them.

Fortunately, with a simple line of code you can get these reviews to show up in the organic SERPs!

Simply add this code to your location or services pages (not just your homepage), before the </body> tag and voila!

<script type=”application/ld+json”>
{ “@context”: “http://schema.org”,
“@type”: “Product”,
“name”: “##PRODUCT###”,
“aggregateRating”:
{“@type”: “AggregateRating”,
“ratingValue”: “##RATING##”,
“reviewCount”: “##REVIEWS##”
}
}
</script>

Benefit #2: Reviews help your ads stand out to increase Quality Score and CTR’s meaning you decrease your CPC!

Remember that screenshot from earlier for the query: “local plumber”? Notice which ad stands out…the one with reviews!

If you are running an AdWords campaign then you need to take a serious look at building a review strategy ASAP.

You’re wasting money if you aren’t displaying reviews in search results.

Look at how LendKey takes stands out from the rest by showing Google ratings in their paid Google ads.

Review ratings stand out in search engine results

What kind of results can you expect?

Well, according to PPC hero they saw a 50% increase in conversions when they earned over 30 reviews and they showed up in their text ads!

Benefit #3: Stand out in map results

Take a look at the following results and ask yourself, who are you going to call?

Integration of reviews must be part of local SEO strategies

Notice that the number one result for this query is a Google My Business page that has a terrific review profile.

By simply getting your reviews up you can experience massive lead growth. Here’s what it can look like on the backend of your Google My Business account.

Google My Business Page influences SERPs

For our own business, Directive Consulting, over 12% of our total views come from our Google My Business page. No longer can the benefits of reviews be ignored.

By winning the review war locally + getting your citations correct, you can rank in the map results and grow your leads.

Top Ways Reviews Boost Local SEO Ranking Factors:

  1. Increase CTR (which can also improve overall ranking!)
  2. Improve results from paid ads to decrease CPC
  3. Stand out in targeted Google map results

4 Ways Local Businesses Can Get More Reviews

We’ve talked about the value and importance of getting reviews for your local business, but let’s pivot to discuss practical ways that you can consistently get more reviews.

1. Call Your Customers

I understand that for all businesses this might not be practical, but the simplest way to build your review portfolio is to call your customers.

Yes, it’s time consuming, but the value of local reviews is so high that having someone follow up with customers after they purchase is a critical element to any campaign.

Besides emphasizing on how to make customers happy, it’s also a great customer engagement strategy to stay in touch with clients.

2. Ask for Reviews by Email

After customers have made a purchase or interacted with your business is the perfect time to encourage customers to write reviews.

You likely have their email address, so add a note to your post purchase emails, receipts, or invoices as an easy way to add an extra reminder to leave your business a review.

Make sure the request to leave a review is mobile friendly, so your customers (who are likely short on time) can quickly and easily jot down their thoughts.

Local SEO strategy: ask for reviews by email

3. Retarget past customers

Do people order from you online or go to a confirmation page when they fill out a form?

What better way to use retargeting than to ask for a review?

Here’s how to do it:

1) Create a list in Google Analytics of people that visit your confirmation page

2) Build a display ad asking for reviews

3) Retarget this group asking them to leave a review

You can also test your ad and see how adding a coupon impacts your conversion.

Adding an offer like “Leave a review to get 20% off your next visit!” is a great method to incentivize reviews while also boosting the chance of bringing customers back to your site.

4. Ask for Reviews In Multiple Places On Your Site

The easiest way to get more reviews is also the simplest: just ask!

Too often, businesses forget to ask for reviews on site.

For local businesses, you have a few options for where you can display and how to ask customers for reviews.

People like to know that their input is appreciated.

Showing off past customer reviews in a gallery on site achieves 2 things: it helps build customer trust among visitors/possible customers and it encourages past customers to write a review so they get the chance to have their words on your homepage.

A gallery allows you to show many different customer reviews, so all your customers who write reviews feel like they have a chance for their review to be seen and help someone.

Reviews should be displayed on the site

Additionally, you can display your reviews in a dedicated page on your site and ask for reviews on that page.

A simple CTA like “Have something to share? Join the conversation” (in the example below) encourages past customers to share their input.

Reviews placed prominently help SEO & engagement

Another creative place to ask is in the footer, where customers often go to look for additional information. Every little bit helps to build a sustainable process for gathering more reviews.

It’s also smart to use custom review links to get Google+ reviews.

How to Integrate Reviews Into Your Marketing

You have worked hard and earned reviews for your local business, now what’s next?

It’s essential to share your awesome reputation with everyone.

The following tactics will help make sure that happens.

Use Reviews to Boost Social Media Traffic

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool.

The key is harnessing it to show off the greatest parts of your business: reviews.

With Yotpo, you can now directly sync your reviews into your Facebook advertisement campaigns!

Another great option is to take a customer photo from their website or Facebook and overlay their review with Pablo, a free tool from Buffer, an awesome social media tool.

Customer photo combined with a review

Here’s a sample of what a custom image using customer testimonials can look like:

Include Reviews in Sales Material

It’s one thing to tell someone you’re the best. It’s a whole other thing to have hundreds of other people say you’re the best.

Displaying these reviews not only on your website; but also, in your sales material is a great way to increase sales and improve trust.

Testimonial page with reviews

Leverage Reviews As a Type of Fresh Content to Improve SEO

Generating new content is tough. Luckily, customer testimonials can give you a steady stream of fresh, relevant content that helps you improve your SEO.

Just take a look at the data.

Look at how much organic traffic improved for 500 businesses that added reviews to their site. Without doing anything else, their traffic naturally grew.

How reviews improve SEO

You can also add reviews onto your sales pages that rank. For example, you can add reviews to your service pages to help better convert users with social proof.

Review on a service page to push engagement

Boost Results From Adwords With Social Proof

If you are running Adwords without social proof it’s time to stop.

Adding reviews helps you seriously improve the results from rich snippets, Google Seller Ratings, Google Shopping Ads on mobile and more.

Adwords management is already hard enough.

Also, make sure you are including reviews on all your landing pages.

Include reviews on paid ad landing pages

We love to do this by adding these review badges to the footer or right next to the form submission button. The key is to prove your value via someone else. People are skeptical. Show off what what others from different sites say and you’re in business.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a core aspect of any marketing campaign has to be reviews.

Whether your are doing B2B marketing or local, it’s time to get reviews integrated into your campaigns and boost those conversion rates.

Here’s a roundup of some of the top things we covered:

  1. Reviews increase CTR on search results, which can also improve ranking
  2. Reviews help your paid ads stand out, which increases quality score and CTR (decreasing CPC!)
  3. In map results, businesses with reviews stand out and are more likely to be clicked
  4. Get more reviews by calling your customers or asking on your site
  5. Ask for reviews in an email to customers after interactions or transactions with them
  6. Use reviews to boost social traffic and improve sales collateral

Hope this article was helpful! Have any other tips to add or questions? Comment below.

Garrett Mehrguth
Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting
Directive Consulting is a Google, Bing, Moz, & Unbounce partner serving mid-enterprise level firms. Garrett has been published in Moz, Ahref, Convince and Convert, Wordstream, Raven, Marin, Acquisio, Local Search Ranking Factors, and more. He has spoken at MozCon Ignite, Big Digital, General Assembly, PeopleSpace Innovation Labs, SoCal Code Camp and others.
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