How online reviews can impact your SEO

Written on 31 October, 2016 by Ben Pearce
Categories: General Wholesale, Online Marketing

When consumers are looking to spend their money at local businesses, one of the first things they do is research them online. In 2014, 39% of consumers regularly checked online reviews of local businesses:

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But far from just coming into play when people are actively searching for reviews, what consumers write about your business online also has a big impact on your local SEO.

10% of local SEO is based on reviews

According to Moz, 10.3% of a business's local online search presence is based upon online reviews:

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Of the 10.3%, search engines are looking for:

Review quality - did the consumer leave a positive or negative review?

Review velocity - how many reviews are being uploaded by consumers?

Review diversity - are reviews coming from a single source or a variety of platforms (Facebook, Yelp, Google Plus, Trip Adviser, etc)?

Reviews that come from a range of sources provide more legitimacy for your business.

Positive reviews rank higher

Most review platforms score your business on a scale system (usually 1-5 stars). Businesses who receive reviews on Google Plus are typically ranked in order of their review rating on Google.

For example, after searching for gyms in Melbourne, Google returns search results in which Doherty's Gym is listed above Anytime Fitness because of its review rating (4.6) and review quantity (13):

The same ranking system is shown when I search for gyms in Sydney:

When deciding which businesses to rank where, Google takes into account a number of factors including the location of the searcher, review score, review quantity and review velocity.

Online reviews help you stand out

Businesses who have enough online reviews tend to be given a star rating underneath their business listing:

The star rating acts as a magnet attracting the consumer's eye straight to your business.  This will result in your search listings receiving higher click-through rates which in turn helps to increase its rank.

You don't get anything other than text to differentiate yourself in search listings. Having an aggregated review score under your business's URL is huge for SEO and conversions.

Should you write fake business reviews?

Once business owners understand the power online reviews can have on their business, they often either get people to write fake 5-star reviews of their business, or hire an agency offering review SEO services or reputation management to do it on their behalf.

Writing fake reviews or getting others to do it for you will negatively impact your SEO presence and fake reviews will be removed. It can even see your business suspended from platforms for breaking its terms of service.

Summary

As consumers are given unlimited choice to spend their hard earned cash, they in turn spend more time researching online, with the average consumer visiting at least 3 websites before making their purchase (38 if they are booking a holiday):

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Many rely on the reviews left by others when making their final decision. What impression are they giving of your business?