The power of social proof has been well-documented, especially on the internet. The world wide web abounds with testimonials, star ratings and entire websites dedicated to reviewing businesses, restaurants and even employers.
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Case studies feature prominently on a large proportion of websites as businesses try their best to prove that they are trustworthy and capable. This is all very good, and studies have shown that 70% of online consumers look at a review before making a purchase.
Luckily for you though, the benefits of reviews and testimonials don’t just stop there. Online reviews, and we’re talking specifically about Google My Business reviews here, are fantastic for your search engine rankings and local SEO. Google trusts the words of your customers, so if you’ve got 5-star reviews by the boatload, you’ll appear much higher in local searches than your competitors.
Online Reviews and the Buying Decision
As we saw earlier, 70% of online consumers look at reviews before making a purchase. Social proof is staggeringly powerful. When someone tells us they’re trustworthy we tend to be quite sceptical. When they’re backed up by three or four other anonymous people all agreeing then we’re much more receptive. Modern businesses cannot afford to underestimate the power of a good review, and the danger of a poor one. Online reviews, in particular, carry an extra sense of significance, with 88% of consumers trusting them as much as a personal recommendation. If it helps, try imagining your Google reviews as a group of friends personally recommending you to people they know every time a user searches for you.
Aside from the personal and powerful nature of online reviews, there is also an aspect of making a great first impression. If you were a café, for example, appearing alongside your competitors on a local Google search you’re far more likely to entice that customer if you have more and better reviews. Don’t necessarily expect people to read every single one, if you have plenty of them and average high ratings that can be enough!
Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Bad Reviews
A very common objection raised by those not wishing to seek out online reviews is the crippling fear of having something bad written about their business online. It can be scary, especially as we have seen how powerful social proof is. But there really is no need to afraid. We like to think of bad reviews as an opportunity to impress, publicly.
Most businesses would be happy to hold their hands up and admit that they don’t always get everything right all the time. We’re all human and mistakes happen, some people won’t enjoy your business, for a variety of reasons. A bad online review gives you the chance to understand and address the issue, potentially solving any future problems, as well as impress potential customers. Your response will be visible and demonstrating how keen you are to resolve their issue can be far more impactful than the bad review ever was on its own. It’s the perfect opportunity to flex those customer service muscles.
Google Reviews and SEO
Getting Google Reviews from your customers should be a top priority if you want to boost your SEO, especially on local searches. According to a 2017 study by Local SEO Guide, Google My Business reviews that included the keyword searched for were the second-most important ranking factor for determining local search ranking. Additionally, the only factor found to be more important was ‘total amount of additional organic rankings’. Or, in other words, how SEO-friendly the website already is and how well it ranks for that keyword organically. Not only do Google My Business reviews help with your SEO, but it’s also one of the most effective methods available to you.
There are a number of reasons why reviews contribute so effectively to your SEO, local and otherwise. Firstly, Google is a service designed around its users and it, therefore, trusts their word more than it does yours. Consequently, Google takes a lot of notice of positive My Business reviews as they signify a website and business is trustworthy. It is the same principle behind link-building for SEO. Secondly, reviews are another bit of content that Google can trawl for keywords to try and understand your business. Reviewers commonly mention the product or service in their review and the more frequent appearance of those keywords contributes to you ranking more highly against them. Added on top of these two points is that businesses with higher ratings will, in general, attract more clicks. Click through rates are one of the most fundamental aspects of SEO rankings.
How to Take Advantage
Now that we’ve covered why you should be trying to get your hands on as many Google My Business reviews as possible, let’s take a look at how best to go about it. Whether you already have a store of reviews, or will be starting from scratch, we think the best place to start is by capitalising on some easy wins. If you’re a small business, try friends and family that have bought from you or used your service previously. (Please never make anything up!) Failing that, start with your most loyal customers or the ones you speak to most often. Asking them for a 30-second review isn’t a huge favour and you can always offer to reciprocate.
Once you’ve got the ball rolling, making sure you encourage clients and customers to leave you reviews should become part of your sales process. Whether you have a confirmation email, or regularly get back in touch with customers after a sale, it never hurts to ask them for a review. As a matter of course, always include the full link so they never have to go searching for anything – make it as easy as possible and you’ll end up with far more reviews.
Google My Business
To fully take advantage of all the benefits of Google Reviews you need to set up your Google My Business account. It’s very simple to do and will mean that all these reviews are linked to your website so you don’t miss out on any SEO perks. It also means that anyone searching for you will be able to instantly find the info they’re looking for. You want your customers to find you after all.
Once you’re on the My Business page, click Start Now, enter a few basic details of your business and you’re on your way. Make sure you get your website URL absolutely correct as well!
The real question isn’t why you should be interested in Google reviews, but why you aren’t already?! Having a host of positive reviews not only singles you out as a beacon of trustworthiness in a crowded marketplace, but it also does wonders for your local search visibility as well. As a web design agency, we’re obviously very keen on the SEO benefits, but it’s also a great chance to hear direct feedback from your customers, whether positive or negative and to show off some outstanding customer service.
Embrace the power of social proof, and then bask in the benefits that Google bestows upon your business!