REVIEWS AND LOCAL SEO

Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.

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Building better search rankings isn’t just a case of impressing the automated bots. Google also relies on its human quality control team. This makes strong reviews an even more valuable SEO tool, as Yotpo explains;

“Be skeptical of both positive and negative user reviews. Anyone can write them, including the creator of the website or someone the store or business hires for this purpose… “When interpreting customer reviews, try to find as many as possible. Any store or website can get a few negative reviews. This is completely normal and expected. Large stores and companies have thousands of reviews and most receive some negative ones. It is also important to read the reviews because the content of the reviews matter, not just the number. “Credible, convincing reports of fraud and financial wrongdoing is evidence of extremely negative reputation. A single encounter with a rude clerk or the delayed receipt of a single package should not be considered negative reputation information.”

You can see from the graph above that introducing reviews had a huge impact in organic page visits.

Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines specifically states that raters should not be swayed by one or two poor reviews:

Research has also shown that around 86% of potential customers will not purchase products or services from a business with negative reviews. In the unfortunate case that these negative reviews pop up in Google searches, a business can potentially lose around 70% of its future customers.

Reviews can also tick the quality box for good SEO.

When we bring all of this detail together, there’s a very clear case to implement a review strategy for SEO purposes, it should be equally clear that reviews are crucial to achieving other business goals such as building credibility, establishing trust and making sales.

Yes, search engines will factor in your review profile (including quality and quantity) when calculating your search position. We have established that consumers love reviews and in many cases, use a good or bad review to validate their decision to do business with you or look elsewhere. Search engines also take a similar stance.

It should come as no surprise that reviews and SEO are closely linked because they have much the same objective. A search engine wants to help its users to find the right product, service or information in the timeliest manner possible. Reviews serve to separate the good from the bad and help consumers find the best local business for their need.

Here at BrightLocal we recognize the need for local businesses to have stellar review profiles in order to continue to compete. Online reviews and feedback are becoming much more prominent in search and other areas, so building a trustworthy reputation and keeping that customer love is more important than ever.

But there’s more to it than that: as reviews have grown in importance, they have also started to infiltrate search engine algorithms and impact on search positions for both local rankings and general results. In fact, the importance of reviews for SEO can’t be underestimated.

In an era where the internet has taken over the world, online reviews are bound to drive customers either towards or away from your business. Making customer satisfaction an essential part of your business can only help your company’s sales and profitability.

A number of studies have confirmed a definitive link between the volume and quality Google reviews and local SEO rankings. Local SEO Guide’s study of local SEO ranking factors concluded that reviews were the single most important factor, with the research stating,

Many studies suggest that click-through rate also affects search position and reviews can be said to score a direct hit here, too. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “do online reviews matter?” Yotpo studied 30,000 businesses who just started to factor reviews into their marketing strategy for a period of nine months to answer that very question:

Think of reviews as crowd-sourced recommendations—a four or five-star review tells a search engine that they can confidently show that business in a premium, high-visibility location.

Reviews work in a similar way. When you acquire them regularly, they provide a constant influx of fresh content for the search engine spiders to digest. If those reviews are being posted on authoritative platforms, such as Yelp, Google My Business and TrustPilot, all the better.

How do negative reviews impact your SEO?

The data shows that if you’re trying to rank well in local search, your business is likely to achieve higher positions if you have plenty of reviews, with both the city and keyword you wish to rank for included.

If your online reputation strategy is on point, you’ll be acquiring fresh reviews on a regular basis. If you’ve ever spoken with an SEO consultant or worked with a local SEO agency, you’ll know that fresh content is the lifeblood of SEO fuel—that’s why you’re constantly being encouraged to write blog posts, create new landing pages, and invest in content marketing.

Over the last few years, online reviews have become a non-negotiable part of every local business owner and marketer’s arsenal. The volume of review sites has grown significantly and the rate at which consumers are writing and referencing reviews is also growing exponentially.

Having reviews on a number of review platforms, lots of positive sentiment within the reviews, and having product and service keywords within the text of obtained reviews were also identified as being competitive difference-makers by a panel of local search experts.

Reviews help people decide which products or services they should buy, where they should travel and even where they should eat. Reviews have slowly become an integral part of business on the internet, meaning that online reputation management is more important than ever.

“Automatized search engine algorithms use spiders that look for customer content product reviews and testimonials to evaluate a website. Additionally, human teams known as search quality raters manually evaluate a site’s reputation, looking for aspects like expertise, authority, and truth, all of which are gained through excellent customer content. Content written by customers gives sites legitimacy and it earns SEO juice both from manual and automatic rating systems.”

According to the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, review signals make up 16% of the search engine decision-making process when it comes to local pack rankings. When factoring reviews into algorithms, experts say that metrics such as the number of reviews a business has, the velocity of reviews, and the diversity of reviews received are all taken into account. And reviews are only growing in importance, having gone up from 13% to 16% since 2018.

Are Google reviews important for SEO?

Google will no longer allow anonymous users to leave online reviews for businesses. When it took steps to enact this ban, research by Joy Hawkins revealed that those businesses with reviews removed fell down the rankings a few days later. This suggests that the number of reviews you have directly influences where you rank.

That’s why we’ve developed online reputation management tools that allow you or your clients to generate, monitor, and showcase online reviews in a smooth, seamless, and successful way.

Numerous studies have been carried out to help determine the exact impact that both positive and negative reviews have on the popularity, number of sales, product awareness, conversion rate and profitability of businesses selling products or services.

Become a Local SEO Superstar ⭐

Given all of the emphasis placed on obtaining as many good reviews as possible, and the certain knowledge that reviews contribute to your search position, it would be easy to assume that negative reviews would cause a tumble in rankings and should be removed. This actually isn’t the case, and the odd negative review on its own will not lead to a loss of position.

“The prominence of reviews isn’t particularly shocking, as it’s a way for Google to crowd-source ranking factors, it’s hard to spam, and the most problematic type of abuse is illegal.”

Before we delve into the link between online reviews and local SEO, let’s quickly recap how reviews can directly impact your bottom line:

Reputation Manager is competitively priced, full-featured and easy to use. Learn how to revolutionize your online reviews with Reputation Manager today.

Review diversity: the number of reviews on multiple, high-authority review platforms.

Local organic search consists of the normal search listings below the Map Pack. Although the Map Pack should be your focus for local SEO, don’t ignore traditional organic SEO best practices. The good news is that most local SEO optimization tactics will boost both your map pack ranking and organic SEO ranking at the same time.

Simple: it’s how local customers find local businesses.

In this guide we cover:

If you’re looking to increase your review volume, start by asking your current customers. Next, make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review. Also consider our recent review response case study to see how these efforts can pay off.

How Reviews Impact Local Search Rank.

Do Google Reviews help your search ranking? In short, yes.

Let’s get started.

Volume.

Simply put, if your business is getting a significant number of excellent reviews and positive sentiment data across multiple high-authority review platforms, it stands a good chance of getting found and clicked on in local search results.

One, they provide a high volume of current information about the business. As an alternative to content marketing, reviews are inexpensive and high-value user-generated content.

Local Falcon is a good tool to learn more about how your rank is displayed on a map of your city or town.

The Map Pack (synonymous with “Local Pack”) consists of a short list of local business listings placed at or very near the top of a search results page.

How many reviews should your business be getting? After analyzing our data, we discovered that proficient businesses receive around 30 reviews a month. This can vary of course, depending on your monthly foot traffic.

These customers are looking for businesses with specific attributes, such as location or time-sensitive services like a meal or an oil change, and this is reflected in their search intent. Google’s algorithm works to pair the customer with a business or choice of businesses that meets their unique needs.

What is Local SEO?

Here’s what Google has to say.

A great way to minimize the impact of a few negative reviews is to dilute their influence with a large collection of positive reviews.

Why is local SEO important?

“Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.”

Increasing the number of reviews posted to your GMB is a great place to start.

A boost in volume will give future customers (and Google) more content to evaluate. Additionally, customers tend to value recent content more than old content. People evolve over time, and customers assume businesses do too.

Reviews as a Ranking Factor.

Reviews help search engines achieve this in a couple of ways:

In 2019, negative reviews accounted for only 12% of the reviews processed in Widewail’s technology platform. Although negative reviews are a normal part of doing business, in high quantities they will negatively impact your star rating.

Local organic search for “best auto shops near me”:

The Map Pack has its own algorithm and its own set of rules which we will cover in the next section. What you need to know right now is: the Map Pack is where you want your local business to show up.

Moz, the SEO juggernaut, determined that review signals (review quantity, review diversity, and review velocity) account for 15% of local pack rank.

Customers are usually looking at a minimum of 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a business. To us, this says customers are looking for trends across a group of reviews, not isolated positive or negative experiences.

Two, reviews serve to separate the good from the bad – helping consumers find the best local business for their needs.

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