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Your Google reviews create a strong foundation for the rest of your business’ Google profile to build upon and are a majorly contributing factor to your local SEO.

Whilst they’re important for most businesses, if you’re looking to sell to local customers then you simply can’t afford to ignore them. 

Customers rely on online reviews to determine how reputable/trustworthy your business really is. A whopping 81% of consumers use reviews to evaluate local businesses, and 93% of consumers agree that reviews impact their buying decisions.

But, it’s not just customers who like the look of reviews. Search engines care too, which is what we’re going to explore in this blog post.

What Are Google Reviews?

Pretend you’re interested in getting a new website.

Whilst talking to a friend of yours, you happen to mention your interest, and during the following discussion, it turns out that your friend has just had a website created with Company X.

They tell you that their experience with Company X was nothing short of spectacular and that they’d recommend them wholeheartedly.

The chances are, you’ll probably get in touch with that company – such is the power of word-of-mouth marketing. 

Nearly 70% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing, and that’s where Google Reviews come into play.

Obviously, word-of-mouth is at its most powerful when coming from a close family member or friend, but that doesn’t mean the opinions of strangers aren’t taken seriously. 

90% of people are much more likely to trust a brand that is recommended, even if that recommendation comes from strangers. 

You can think of Google reviews as digital word-of-mouth marketing. Google knows that a business with a good quantity of good quality reviews is more likely to meet your needs than one without…

How Do Google Reviews Impact SEO?

Google reviews matter when it comes to local search terms. 

Local search terms are searches that aim to discover something, or someone, within a constrained geographic area – a common example would be searching for restaurants or cafes near to you.

When such a search is conducted, Google determines the rank of the sites it chooses to display based on a few key factors:

  1. Relevance
  2. Distance
  3. Prominence

The combination of these factors helps determine the best matches for the search at hand, and has been written about and confirmed by Google themselves.

So, let’s break each of these points down:

Relevance

This refers to how well your listing matches the exact search query; you can help your business seem more relevant by optimising your business profile to give more information for Google to work with.

Distance

This doesn’t require too much explanation… Google uses the location information (either a specified location within the search, such as “Restaurants near Abbeydale Road Sheffield” or the location of the search user themselves) to ensure results are local to them.

Prominence

This is where your Google reviews come into the picture. 

Google works out prominence based on information and data drawn from across the web – taking into account backlinks and mentions in blogs/press/articles, as well as online directories. 

Google also takes into account…Google reviews!

How many reviews you have, and the quality of these reviews, factors into this local search ranking and can help boost you in local results/map packs on Google.

More reviews and greater quality ratings will lead to improved performance, but only if other holistic SEO practices are followed. 

Be warned – having great reviews doesn’t mean you can get away with poor SEO and avoiding best UX/SEO practices on your website…

How Much Do Reviews Influence SEO?

A 2017 study conducted by SEO industry experts Moz revealed that reviews were the 5th most significant factor determining your search rankings!

The importance of reviews is also trending upwards in a serious way – the significance of Google reviews on search engine performance has increased by 20% or more year-on-year since Moz’s study was released, with over 80% of consumers using them to evaluate local businesses.

To see this in action, SterlingSky recently conducted a test to determine how much reviews can boost rankings. 

They used a client’s listing that had very few reviews and tracked performance as they encouraged clients to leave reviews.

The results speak for themselves.

Interestingly enough, these results also highlight that although there was a great impact going from 3-16 reviews, the percentage ranking increase was not replicated at all when the listing jumped from 16-31.

This shows that there are significant diminishing returns above a baseline level of reviews gained.

What Sort Of Reviews Help Rankings?

In 2021, Whitespark produced an industry report on local ranking factors. They found that there were 3 review factors that contributed to performance:

  1. Ratings 4.5 and above
  2. Prominence of keywords in the review
  3. Quantity of Google reviews

Achieving a higher rating indicates that there is consumer trust in that business, something which Google can recognise and value. 

In regards to keywords, this helps with relevancy. If reviews frequently mention keywords that are related to the search query itself, then this establishes a more significant relationship between that keyword and your business.

For example, some of our reviews feature keywords that we would want associated with our agency:

“Their work on our website has been innovative, clear and of excellent quality.”

“Wilkes Wood built my new website and I couldn’t be more pleased. They were excellent to work with. We had 3-5 meetings to talk about every aspect of the website and a very thorough design plan. I was very informed throughout the entire process and they helped me learn the website so now if I want to make any changes I can do it myself.”

As discussed earlier, the quantity of Google reviews matters – but the difference in impact between larger amounts of reviews slowly diminishes. 

Having said that, frequent reviews also indicate that you are an active business regularly dealing with customers and clients and there’s no downside to having more reviews, so keep pushing for them even if you think you’re over the threshold!

Can You Help Optimise My Google Business Profile & Get More Reviews?

Yes. We can help you set up your Google business profile from scratch or optimise an existing profile to help boost performance across prominence and relevancy. 

We can also help establish processes to encourage more customers/clients to leave reviews for your business. Get in touch today for an obligation-free chat and we’ll see how we can add value to your business.

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