Ready to “Review” Your Local SEO Efforts?
So, your local business has gotten reviews. What now? Are those reviews supposed to be good? Would you need to engage with them? Are they relevant to your local SEO efforts?
Are reviews that important?
The answer to that question is yes. Reviews in Google definitely have a relation with the success of your local SEO efforts. After all, Google includes crowdsourced factors when ranking everything, and reviews are a good crowdsourced material because they are hard to spam and it is illegal for reviewers to abuse their “right” to review a business.
Your business will benefit if you have a healthy amount of reviews, a good portion of it on the positive and if the keywords and your location are included in the reviews. Also, anonymous users are not allowed to post online reviews for businesses in Google, so as a business you can be ensured of the veracity of the reviews. Finally, to prove the point that the volume of reviews is important when Google implemented its “no anonymous user reviews,” businesses that lost a significant amount of reviews because anonymous reviews were removed fell down search engine rankings.
Google Reviews can help improve search rankings and general SEO efforts. Although there are many factors involved in search rankings (over 200, in fact), online customer reviews send a strong signal to search engines that communicates expertise, authority, and trust.
How about negative reviews?
Yes and no. If a majority of a local business’ reviews are negative, then yes, Google will consider them in taking down the business’ rankings because of its negative reputation. Moreover, there is always this tendency for local business owners to remove negative reviews, so if a majority of a company’s reviews are negative and the owner decides to have all those reviews taken down, then as mentioned earlier, the business’ ranking will suffer because of the decrease in the volume of reviews.
Having said that, Google Search Quality Evaluators have guidelines that remind them to be cautious about one or a couple of negative reviews. After all, one experience of a customer with a rude cashier or a salesperson does not really prove that the company is a fraudulent one. This is also why the number of reviews for your local business is important. If you have 26 reviews for your business and 3 of them are negative, you can’t really ignore the 23 good comments. Be that as it may, these negative comments, although a very clear minority, should be professionally addressed by the company.
A business with only positive reviews is likely to appear suspicious to prospective shoppers. More specifically, prospective shoppers are concerned about the practice of “review gating” – the practice of discouraging or prohibiting negative reviews and selectively soliciting reviews from happy customers. Review gating violates Google’s Contributed Content Policy.
Furthermore, according to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, negative reviews are completely normal and expected.
So, how to deal with these negative reviews?
For local businesses, any comment or review is personal, consider the scale of their entity. As a local business owner, you may usually have to assume most, if not all the responsibilities for your company – the social media marketer, the manager, the public relations officer, the janitor, the salesperson, and the cashier. So, when a customer drops a comment that doesn’t put your efforts in the best light, you will most likely get offended. And that sucks. If the negative review is legitimate and all about your business and is not an attack on you or some sort of sabotage, the best thing to do would be to momentarily put your hurt feelings aside (just put them aside temporarily, don’t ignore and forget about them) and address the matter professionally.
If someone is upset enough to leave a negative review, they usually do it pretty soon after the negative experience takes place.
And they’re going to expect a fairly swift response back.
It’s the right thing to do and it also helps limit the damage done.
For all other local SEO matters you should know about, read here.