Do Google Reviews Help SEO? Do They Play a Role in Local Rankings?
With so many choices in services and places to eat nowadays we’ve become very picky in where we’ll go. It’s safe to assume that Google knows as well how important their reviews are to people. If you were Google would you want to rank a less than stellar business with a lot of bad reviews on your first page? Not likely.
When someone comes to Google to search for something, whatever it is, they’re literally a customer for Google and that’s how Google views its users, so they want to deliver the best experience they can to their customers.
Where’s the proof to back all of this up though?
One of Google’s main goals is to check what’s called E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trust.
When Google measures trust, Google reviews play an important role. Excellent reviews from actual local customers lets Google know that your business can be trusted with the algorithms Google is looking for.
Back in 2018 as a matter of fact, Google decided to go ahead and ban anonymous reviews that didn’t have profiles attached to them. Heck, even this new ban was applied retroactively, this meant a lot of businesses lost quite a bit of their reviews overnight.
In the end a lot of businesses who lost a bunch of their anonymous reviews also dropped in rankings with some of them getting kicked off the 1st page.
Darren Shaw’s of Whitespark findings from his annual Google Local Rankings Survey showed us that reviews accounted for about 15% or more of how Google ranks a local business.
So how do reviews help your SEO?
1. Local customer reviews build trust which is a key factor for Google when they rank a website.
2. Good customer ratings drive more traffic to Google and your website which helps your rankings because you’re helping Google.
3. Local reviews tell Google what your site is about and we know how important that is for Google. Relevancy for the user is one of their main goals. This is how Google was able to crush their competition back when they started. Google figured out to show the user exactly what they were searching for so non-relevant queries became less and less over time. If anyone remembers how Yahoo worked back in the day, when you typed in dog houses it was more like a directory and a crap shoot as to what would pop up but most of the time it wasn’t dog houses.
So the million dollar question is always: Well Then How Can I Get More Google Reviews?
As anyone in this business knows, sometimes there is no easy way without hounding people. Getting positive reviews from customers can be tough, it seems it’s easier to get negative reviews than positive reviews. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try many different ways until you find something that works for you and your business.
1. Next time you go to a business that you cater to personally check to see if they have a lot of good reviews and pay attention to what their strategy is to get those reviews. Then you can copycat what they’re doing or at the very least take some of their ideas and implement them into your own business. Since you’re their customer, chances are they’re going to use the same strategy on you to get a review so you’ll know exactly how they did it.
2. Always simply ask customers after a service has been completed and it goes without saying that you should always strive to give great service so you’ll get a positive review. Let them know that leaving a positive review would be greatly appreciated and would mean a lot to you and your business. Most people will sense your sincerity and if they are truly happy the chances of them leaving a positive review are very high.
3. Send a follow up reminder a few days or week later to the customer reminding them to leave a review.
4. Make sure to include a link in the follow up email or text for them to click on so it’s super easy to leave the review. Most people will not hunt around for the link to leave a review. If it takes more than one step or two steps or longer than 10 seconds to get to the place to leave a review they’ll give up and move on.
Positive Google reviews should be something you should always be striving for if you’re a business owner. Some businesses have employees solely dedicated to getting positive Google reviews and countering and responding to the negative reviews they receive because they are that important. Too many negative reviews and it can sink your rankings along with your business.
It’s always a good idea to play in Google’s sandbox.