Why Online Reviews are Vital for Better Search Rankings

We discuss the findings from LocalSEOGuide’s latest report, which confirm that online reviews are now heavily contributing to better search results.

LocalSEO Guide released its 2017 Local Ranking Factors study earlier this month. Working closely with the University of Carolina, PlacesScout and Irvine, its aim was to review over 200 ranking factors in conjunction with 100,000 local businesses to find out which approaches really contribute the most to great organic rankings in local search.

For years now, SEOs have suspected that online customer reviews can help boost visibility. Now, however, we’ve received concrete proof that this is the case. The LocalSEOGuide report explicitly says that:

“At a high level, having a keyword you are trying to rank for, and a mention of a city you are working to rank in, in reviews has a high correlation with high ranking Google My Business results.”

It’s not enough to simply have the reviews present, though. Optimising them with relevant service keywords and mentions of a particular region is crucial, too.

The latest ranking factors survey from Moz backs up this opinion, too – albeit to a lesser degree. It states that review signals, ie the quantity, velocity and diversity of the reviews your website receives, make up 13% of the active ranking factors that lead to success in the Local Maps Pack. In Moz’s opinion, review signals sits above click-through rates, personalisation and social signals in terms of what’s really going to generate great local visibility for a brand. We already knew that 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business, but now there are extra benefits to be had from curating this user-generated content.

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And as Search Engine Land has mentioned, citations and reviews on third party sites are also listed as bringing value to your domain. This is great news for companies that are regularly mentioned elsewhere on the web (as long as their details are correct and consistent, of course).

So if you needed more convincing that reviews are a great online marketing tool for your business, you’ve just found an extra reason to take the plunge and open up feedback for your organisation.

Which reviews platform should you use?

There are plenty of platforms that will help you collect and share online reviews, but it’s important that you choose one that has lots of authority in the online community, otherwise your reviews may fall under the radar in terms of SEO. You also want to work with a reviews engine that will feed your star rating through to the Google listings by collecting seller ratings from across the web.

Reviews.co.uk is highly rated for ease of use, and it’s our platform of choice. You could of course collate native Google reviews via Google + Local or others such as Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare (and, of course, industry-specific sites).

Reviews are important… but don’t neglect other vital ranking factors

Other ranking factors are still very important, of course. Links, citations, onsite optimisation and UX improvements will still go a long way to ensuring your website is ranked well. If you need advice on how to set up online reviews, or want to learn how you can tie reviews management into a broader search engine optimisation or reputation management strategy, contact the SEO consultants at Freelance SEO Essex today.

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