Ten years ago when you were looking for a restaurant, plumber, or business in an area you might have reached out to your friends or family for their experiences and recommendations. But in recent years, the way that people find businesses in their area has completely changed. Instead of asking your friends who the best auto mechanic in town is, you’ll ask someone else – and their name is Google. Google is now the first point of contact between consumers and businesses. We search Google for everything that we are looking for and need – but what happens when those search results appear? How will we make the next decision and take the next step in our search?
Research shows that the positioning in Google search results will affect the amount of traffic you receive. Speaking strictly to organic (not paid advertising) search, your first three positions are the most important on desktop and the first or second on mobile. This doesn’t include the maps listings which are also organic and in most cases list the top three locations for your query.
So how do reviews tie into organic listings?
The number of Google reviews a business has will directly impact its Google search rankings and maps listings. If you search local Mexican restaurants and the top three organic listings appear in the maps (which display before regular organic and are increasingly more important these days, especially on mobile), which will you choose? Let’s say that the first position has two reviews, the second has none, and the third has 43 five star reviews. Which are you more likely to click on first? Probably the one that so many people have taken the time to review online. Those reviews allow the business to gain a certain seal of approval that others have not. We blindly trust the good people of the internet, and as a matter of fact, we value their opinions to those of real people we know and love.
So by gaining those reviews they have positioned themselves above the first two listings even though their remaining online persona wasn’t quite good enough to take the first and second spot. And THAT is why reviews on Google are that much more important to small and local businesses. Small local and new businesses may not have the online clout or web presence that Google requires to take that first position, but if you can get some visibility and have many reviews you can still be the “star” of the show.
The reviews will impact overall SEO efforts over time. Receiving a steady flow of reviews, good or bad, will contribute to Google’s organic algorithm and is an important part of the puzzle in taking any first pole position in the search results.
What do I need?
If you are already on the Google Maps listings and are wondering how to get those shiny gold stars under your name, it is all about the numbers. We find, most commonly, that receiving 5 quality reviews will be enough to make your stars visible in search. Quality is defined by someone who selects stars, writes 100 words or so about the business and leaves valuable, usable feedback – not just clicking the star and leaving a blank review. Google will take into account the frequency of reviews as well, so if you were about to run out and ask all your friends to review your business, you may want to wait. It is more impactful to have a constant stream of reviews over time; one a week over an entire year for example.
How do I get more reviews?
This is the question every small business wants answered. Reviews are something that can happen without asking your customers, just by providing great service and products. But more often than not we will have to request reviews. Advantage Internet Marketing makes it easy – we use a sophisticated review funnel whereby we collect your previous months clients and send them easy to understand and complete review requests. Once customers leave a review they exit the system. If they don’t have time we remind them up to three more times and we also direct them to whichever review channels are most valuable to your industry.
If your small business is struggling to be found on Google or if you would like to stand out among your competitors, contact us today to discuss how we can help you get great quality, honest reviews from your real customers.