The Importance of Reviews to Local Search

Every day, the Internet becomes more and more tailored to suit you and your potential customer’s specific needs. It remembers what websites you have visited and “liked”, what your location is, and makes suggestions about the things you might be looking for. This focus on convenience means it is increasingly important for you to market your business in the most convenient place possible: locally.  Capturing local business online depends on your presence, and reviews on your site play a role in establishing this presence.

First, consider these statistics, courtesy of the freeseoguide:

90% of online commercial searches result in offline “in-store” purchases.
82% of local searchers follow up offline by a store visit or phone call.
80% of all budgets are spent within 50 miles of home.

At Out of the Box, we take great care in enhancing your website and place page so that they are optimized for organic search, building links to your site, and ensuring your business’ information is consistent across all directories so that you can be competitive in local searches. There are many factors that go into your site’s ranking in search results, and it is our job to address each of them. However, one of the most important things that you can do as a business owner that will enhance these results and make a big difference in your local search presence is getting lots and lots of reviews on your place page. There are a couple of great ways to approach this:
“Quantity over quality” – The placement of your place page in the local search listings is influenced by the number of reviews that your business receives. At this point Google search places slightly more importance on the number of reviews over the quality of the review. This will undoubtedly change over time to more accurately reflect customer “sentiment,” but we recommend that you offer every customer a chance to provide feedback to your business on your place page. If you have 5 or 6 great reviews, you are not relevant and will likely not be at the top of local searches, especially in competitive environments such as hospitality.

In the example below, we searched for “Portland restaurants.”  While there are a variety of factors involved in the search results, the relationship between rankings and review/citation count should be not be ignored:

Keyword: portland restaurant
Listing    Homepage                                   Position    Verified?    Review Count           Citations

Portland City Grill                                             1              Y                1902               190
Mothers                                                           2              Y                1699                192
Rock Bottom Brewery                                        3              Y                  998                104

” A bad review is a great opportunity” – Reviews not only help you solicit honest feedback about your customer’s experience, they give you the chance to make it up to them if something goes wrong. Responding to a negative review in a professional and friendly way on your website or place page demonstrates that you are willing to go above and beyond to make things right for your customers.

Out of the Box has a number of strategies and advice for how to increase your review count, and we will continue to work diligently to address the multitude of other factors that help to determine your search ranking. As always, we are here to help you be successful and build your business in a practical manner. Whether your online presence makes up a small part or a significant portion of your marketing campaign, we want to make sure you are getting the most out of it and providing as much synergy across all campaigns as possible!

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1 Comment »

  1. Follow the stars: guest reviews and online reputation management said,

    August 16, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    […] Sources: http://www.tripadvisor.in/help/how_does_the_popularity_index_work (for more on Popularity Index) http://www.outoftheboxonline.com/the-importance-of-reviews-to-local-search […]

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