As competition grows and the need to attract loyal clients becomes increasingly important, businesses must focus on their online presence to meet the demands of a tech-driven economy. Having your website place among the top search engine results is one of the most important factors you can control in enticing new customers to learn more about your services.
With search engine optimization (SEO) requiring greater and greater specialization, business owners of all technological abilities are looking for ways to increase their organic traffic without hiring a marketing specialist. They are finding great success in leveraging their online reviews to bolster SEO.
Is SEO Important?
Search engine optimization remains a vital piece of the puzzle to reach new clients through online marketing. Users trust search engines to provide them with the most relevant results, and optimizing your position in those results will become even more important as organic search outperforms other types of traffic.
The raw numbers drive home the importance of SEO. Would you be surprised to know that people perform 3.5 billion searches on Google every day. People are looking for whatever you’re selling, and the difference between acquiring great customers or existing in obscurity on the second page of search results is effective SEO.
How Online Reviews Impact SEO
We all know that Google utilizes incredibly complex algorithms that determine the perceived quality of a site. That determination considers numerous factors, and another factor has been added to the list – online reviews.
Google cares about how you represent your site through its content, but Google is now also considering what others are saying about you and your services. What is the best source of that type of information? User reviews.
There are two areas in particular where user reviews play a significant role in Google search results. First, Google tells us that map searches will display the “highest-rated” shops closest to you. In practice, that means if you are a mechanic and a nearby competitor has a higher Google rating than you, then users will see that shop instead of yours. It doesn’t get more important than that.
Second, Google considers average rating and review count when delivering mobile search results. The most important factor to recognize is that more than half of all searches originate on a mobile device. Put differently, over fifty percent of the people looking for your services may not find you if you have a lower online rating or fewer user reviews than your competitors.
Make no mistake about it: Online reviews can have a significant impact your SEO outcomes.
Improving Your Online Rating
Given its strong effect on search engine optimization, it’s important to develop a strong strategy to strengthen your online rating. Ultimately, online reviews reflect customer relationships, and strong relationships are built through positive interactions. With that foundation in place, you can take important steps to increase review retention rates by educating your clients about leaving reviews, asking for reviews from happy customers, and even offering incentives for those who post a kind word about you.
Still, one of the most effective tools to improving your online rating is also one of the most overlooked – responding to your online reviews. Experts often cite review responses as an important tool to enhancing your online reputation, but most businesses are still not utilizing this important method. A record survey found that 63% of businesses have never responded to an online review.
But do review responses really matter? Research conducted at the University of Southern California and Boston University show that they do. There are two important findings that matter to your business.
- The number of reviews a business receives increases by 12% when they respond to their online reviews
- 27% of businesses that responded to reviews saw their rounded ratings increase by at least half a star within 6 months of their first management response
Remember, we said review count determines whether Google will display your business before another business on their mobile platform which consists of more than half of all searches. Having 12% more reviews than your competitor could play a significant role in attracting new customers.
Likewise, Google rewards businesses with a higher online rating. A half-star increase could substantially increase a business’s visibility to a highly-valuable demographic of consumers searching for your service.
Responding to online reviews gives businesses substantial control over their online rating as well as their SEO performance. It is an investment that will enhance a business’s online reputation and generate additional sustained revenue. Set your business apart by implementing this strategy today.