How to Leverage Online Reviews for Local SEO

Your online reputation sets the stage for the first impression that new prospects see. The internet is an incredibly public place, and what people say about your business online is seen by any potential customers that look for your business online. 

Online reviews are only part of your online presence, but they are incredibly important for your reputation. You have to listen to the feedback you get from customers offline and via online reviews. 

The fact of the matter is that online reviews are major sales-drivers. 93% of consumers report that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions! 

Reviews are meant to provide potential customers with the information they need to make a purchase. This is why they impact your SEO ranking. 

Google, and other top search engines, want to give internet users the most relevant, useful information based on their searches. Reviews are incredibly informative for potential customers, which is why Google gives priority to landing pages and websites with reviews. To improve your local SEO and attract more customers, you have to leverage online reviews. 

Here’s how. 


Reviews and the Local Pack 

The Local Pack shows the top 3 local businesses for a search result. For example, if you look up “hardware store” the local pack will show a map with the top 3 results before any of the other search results. As you can imagine, making it into the local pack is extremely important, but very difficult. 

MOZ found that online reviews account for a full 10% of how search engines rank results. But, they also found out that reviews make up 13% of what gets you into the “local pack” above search results! 

If you take a glance at the local pack, you’ll never find businesses with 3-star ratings or less. Google wants to share only the best on the local pack. MOZ also discovered that the frequency, diversity, and quality of online reviews play a role in whether or not your business makes the local pack. 

So yes, online reviews are vital for local SEO and the local pack. How can you use them to increase your ranking?


Optimize Your Google My Business Profile 

To even have a chance at ranking high on Google, you’ll need a complete Google My Business profile. Start by claiming your Google My Business page and filling out your profile in detail. You must include:

  • The categories your business is in. 
  • Your hours of operation. 
  • Images of your business and the experience. 
  • Your contact information (local phone number) and address. 
  • A detailed description of your business. 

You can only have a chance at the local pack if you have all of that information filled out on your Google My Business page. Once you’ve set up your profile, it’s time to start generating customer reviews to separate your business from competitors. 


Claim Your Business on Review Sites

In addition to claiming your Google My Business profile, you’ll also want to claim your business on all relevant review sites. Of course, Google reviews are the most important for ranking in local searches, but customer reviews on other top sites still give your business an SEO boost. 

Think about the top review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and any other specific to your industry. Claim your business listings on these sites. Sign up on them and fill out your business profile with accurate, detailed, up-to-date information. 

The more reviews you generate on different sites, the more credible you seem to the search engines, and the more likely it is that you’ll climb the local search rankings. 


A Dedicated Review Landing Page 

Google cares about high-quality content. It will only link to useful, relevant pages that answer the searcher’s question. That means, the more relevant your page is, the more times people will look at it, and the more Google will show it and rank it higher. 

So how do you make a page relevant….?


Customer reviews are INCREDIBLY relevant for searchers on Google. 

The messages come directly from peers, there are no hidden agendas. Reviews are very important for relevancy, so you’ll want to take advantage of them. To do this, you’ll need a dedicated landing page. Target specific keywords with the landing page that include your location. Compile high-quality content around the keywords and include relevant reviews for authenticity. 


Always Respond to Reviews 

Having a review is only part of the solution, you’ll also need to manage your reviews. Responding to reviews builds relationships with customers and shows prospects about how you treat people. 

Additionally, review responses are another factor Google relies on to determine your local search rank. You can use the response to include a few nuanced, natural keywords. 

For example, imagine that you are a New York pizza joint. A customer leaves a review that they enjoyed their delicious meal and great service. Instead of just “Thank you, we can’t wait to see you again!” you could take it up a notch and say “Thank you! We’re so glad you enjoyed your pepperoni pizza and breadsticks with us!”. 

When future customers search for somewhere to get a pepperoni pizza in New York, Google will associate your business with that food and place more emphasis on you in the search results. 


Include Online Reviews on Your Website

You should also add online reviews across your entire website to bolster its quality and relevancy. Quality content is the key to search engines, and adding reviews is a great way to include more information and relevant content. This will all help you stand out in local searches. 

Add reviews to the relevant product or service pages. Imagine you’re a dentist and one of your services is teeth whitening. Include any reviews that mention teeth whitening on that service page to give it credibility and endorsement. 

You can also add reviews to any case studies that you post on your website or blog. 


Online Reviews= Higher Local SEO

Getting into one of the 3 spots in the local pack is a holy grail for businesses. But getting there is no easy feat. you’ll need to fill out your Google My Business profile, including all pertinent information. Then, you’ll really need to buckle down and focus on generating and leveraging your online reviews. 

Reviews are gold for SEO because they are authentic and offer useful content that helps potential customers. Search engines rely on reviews to determine the relevancy of your business for local searches. 

However, dedicating the time and effort to reviews is well worth it for ranking higher in local searches. You can publish reviews on a dedicated landing page and on your website to increase its content richness. By claiming your business on several top review sites, you’ll make it easier for customers to leave reviews at their own convenience as well. 

The biggest challenge businesses face with reviews is having the time and knowledge to generate, manage, and leverage them. It’s true, doing that all manually is near impossible! That’s why you need Review Ninja, the top review management software available. Review Ninja has all the features you need to generate 5-star online reviews and leverage the reviews to increase your local SEO. Learn more about how Review Ninja can help your business by starting your free 14-day trial HERE