Local search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of optimizing online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. People may use a variety of different search engines, but Google has a market share that is almost 90 percent.
Local SEO hinges on managed location data and reviews, but the two categories should not require the same amount of your time. When basic business data distribution is automated, it can free you up to focus on the other elements requiring your interaction, such as reviews and other content.
Your basic Google listing will supply a business name and possibly an address and phone number. When Google also lists reviews, you could be supplied with additional text that greatly impacts your local SEO listing.
If Google is listing reviews, you will want to focus on making these factors a priority. Make sure that these reviews correspond to your location data.
Google has a multitude of filters, including Google Possum, an unconfirmed but documented update that most significantly impacts Google’s local pack and local finder results. Perhaps the most powerful filter, however, is the human-driven filter of ratings that helps people sort local brands by perceived quality.
Many ratings are based on a five-star of point scale, and people will automatically be inclined to click on the links with the highest ratings. Time after time, people choose the listings that have the highest ratings.
Whereas Google star ratings were once believed to be of minimal impact to local pack rankings, they have become far more important in recent years. Google ratings are now seen as being one of the top 10 metrics to be concerned about with local SEO.
Keep in mind that Google allows users to see results that include only listings that have four stars or higher, and some searches could lead to Google only listing the businesses with four stars or more. Both of these elements call attention to the importance of maintaining high ratings.
The bottom line is that low ratings can be a huge impediment to achieving desired local SEO results.
When you search Google for a term related to your business, you will generally be given a three-pack of local results. These results may be organized in from top to bottom according to star ratings.
When you look at the reviews of the lowest-rated listing, you may see certain commonalities in the reviews that create a general impression about its quality. For companies with lower ratings, there may be complaints about long waits, slow service, or failure to address customer concerns.
In other words, repeated reviews mentioning the same concern will lead to a visitor concluding that a company has a problem fulfilling that area of expertise. While a small number of visitors could still be susceptible to do business despite negative reviews, an overwhelming majority will be inclined to do nothing.
The bottom line is that people place a lot of trust in these reviews, so you should not underestimate the effect that negative reviews will have on your success. There is increasing evidence that Google is placing more of an emphasis on the themes emerging from your reviews, so you will want to be sure that the positives are outweighing the negatives.
You will need to really embrace review management and making sure your customers are inclined to have positive stories to share about their experiences with your company. By doing this, you will be able to help boost your ratings and increase your chances of being chosen by new customers.
Timing can be everything
You certainly need a lot of reviews, but you do not want to get them all at the same time. Multiple reviews on a single date will typically be a red flag to many consumers and could also lead to platform filters being activated that remove the reviews.
Reviews need to be added on a regular basis to be believable, not mass quantities all at once. Similarly, listings that do not have any recent reviews will often lead people to wonder whether a company is still in business.
A company needs to be sure that reviews are being added regularly instead of occasionally. A constant stream of reviews will be most beneficial to local SEO listings.
How many reviews you will need to rank highly will depend on how many reviews your competitors are earning. Simply put, you must have enough reviews to surpass the competitors to top local SEO searches.
It is not uncommon for a younger business to attempt to flood search engines with reviews of their own business. Even when the intention is just to compel others to write authentic reviews, the creation of bogus reviews can be incredibly problematic.
Keep in mind that reviewing your own business on Yelp violates the company’s own policy, but these kinds of actions could lead to public shaming or even a lawsuit in some cases. You need to focus on creating trust with your local community as part of best local SEO practices.
Some companies offer spam review services, and these kinds of developments can be incredibly problematic for businesses. When a company has hundreds of reviews and there are multiple spam entries, it becomes impossible for a visitor to determine which reviews are authentic and which are bogus, leading to them dismissing the business entirely.
Some platforms such as Google might make it easy for a company to get away with fake reviews, but that does not make them a good idea. With a phone review, you are not developing anything that will be beneficial for the growth of your company.
You need to focus on generating authentic reviews from your actual customers, and always avoid any form of review incentives or spam. You should also review gating that filters consumers so that only satisfied ones leave reviews as well as violations of review guidelines specific to each review platform.
Do not underestimate the value of owner responses
One of the great developments in reviews has been the ability of owners to respond to reviews. You should take the time to read the Moz article “How to Respond to the 5 Types of Google Reviews.”
The way that an owner responds to a review can be enormously important to the impression a business creates, as a bad response to a customer review could negatively impact a business in considerable ways. When handled properly, however, an owner could be able to even get a customer to edit their negative review and turn it into something positive.
You need to keep in mind that many people writing reviews are hoping for responses. Many companies have zero responses to their reviews, which creates the immediate impression of a business that is totally unconcerned with the thoughts and feelings of their customers.
You need to remember that there is a high number of consumers who are willing to give companies a second chance when they attempt to resolve issues that were encountered in the original interaction. Not all reviews are negative, and companies should also respond to positive reviews to encourage repeat business.
You should always consider how your response sounds to the consumer, as the standard company apology of only a couple sentences that can be copied and pasted in every response is not going to be as effective as a longer, more elaborate response to all issues raised by a consumer. The idea should be on attempting to create a conversation in your reviews.
SERP Matrix handles every element related to your local SEO listing and we can improve your standing in every category. Our services include search engine submission, social media marketing, and content writing.
Our local SEO services involve NAP citations, and we also perform business listings scans. We also offer a local SEO services guarantee.
You can request a quote and also view some of our testimonials. We serve a diverse range of clients, including legal professionals, financial services, and retail as well as e-commerce.
Did you need help with your local SEO rankings? You will want to get in touch with SERP Matrix as soon as possible.
We are dedicated to helping individuals and companies of all sizes get the results they deserve. Let us see what we can do for you when you call (713) 287-1134 or contact us online for a free consultation.