If you’re a small business owner, reviews can sometimes feel like the bane of your existence. You’re trying to grow and achieve your full potential, but if the word isn’t getting out there, it’s hard to see the results you’ve worked so hard for. Even worse, the occasional negative review will pop up and it’s hard not to take it personally.

Since more than half of people browse reviews before spending their dollars with a local business, the power of reviews cannot be emphasized enough. Since Google wants to provide relevant local results, they’re more likely to prioritize businesses that have a higher number of reviews, particularly if those reviews are positive.

If people are having trouble finding you or your local competitors seem to be crushing you, this could be due in part to what the reviews are saying (or more importantly not saying) when someone does a Google search for a local business like yours.

How Your Reviews Are Impacting You

Reviews everywhere matter. It’s important that you emphasize your presence on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp as well as listing your business with Google. While Google does consider your reviews in other places, they’re also building their on dossier on your business. That’s where the importance in SEO comes up.

Pull out your phone and search for the local pizza place. Look at the top three results that come up. Chances are more likely than not that the top three results you’re seeing are the ones with the most reviews. When you click “more”, you’ll see the rest of your local pizza restaurants.

They might even have five star reviews, but you’ll probably notice that they have substantially less overall reviews than the top three places. While proximity also comes into account, with the closest places to your location showing first, it’s the order of establishments and the way they appear in contrast of the full page of results that is indicative of something larger in play.

The signs suggest that Google is categorizing by legitimacy in volume, rather than by rating. If one or two people think you’re outstanding, it’s not as impactful as having a dozen people believe that you’re only above average. The problem isn’t necessarily that not enough people enjoy shopping with you – it could be that they do, but they aren’t telling everyone about it.

There are always exceptions, but the prevalence of this trend is growing with time. As Google refines its algorithm, it seems to be shifting its priorities to elevate heavily reviewed establishments as more relevant to its users.

What The Impact Does To Your Search Rankings

SEO for local businesses is notoriously hard to do. It’s directly competitive, rather than broadly competitive. Your website needs to contain relevant content and links in order to rank properly, but it also needs to appear legitimate through Google in order for it to rank. If you haven’t claimed your business on Google, you need to do it now.

Obtaining more reviews than your competitors, even if their overall rating is marginally more positive, might help you outrank them in the top three local results. Since people in a hurry aren’t likely to open and browse the entire list, although Google will allow you to sort by rating when you do, people might not be exposed to you in the way you’d like them to be.

Remedying The Problem

Most local businesses will benefit from a strategy that involves both obtaining more reviews and using reputation management to handle the reviews that already exist.

Reputation management can help eliminate troll reviews on some platforms, as well as push back old stories or reviews that no longer reflect your business (like the time you ran out of the supplies you needed and had to turn customers away, or the rude employee who was mistreating customers that you wound up firing).

Obtaining more reviews is relatively easy for Google’s standards. Yelp can be very strict with reviews, especially if it isn’t disclosed that the reviewer was incentivized in some way to leave that review. They crack down hard. Google is perfectly alright with local businesses asking for reviews, as long as they’re coming by them honestly.

Implementing a strategy to obtain more reviews, such as posting signs on your walls, printing a review request on your receipt, or including a suggestion at the bottom of an email to a customer might encourage them to leave those reviews. Just make it easy for them to do it – people don’t often feel inclined to go out of their way unless the product or service was in some way life-changing.

Getting The Help You Need

Local business owners are incredibly busy people. We want to help them out. If you need assistance with reputation management or a review strategy, we’re ready to come to the rescue. All you need to do is use our contact form or give us a call. We’d love to work with you and save you from those stressful moments when you’re fretting over getting the reviews you deserve.