Why Your Business Can’t Ignore Google Reviews
Today, customer reviews are the new seal of approval for businesses. And it makes sense if you think about it. We’re trained to distrust companies because, at the end of the day, they have their own best interest in mind. They’ll highlight only the very best about themselves. Therefore, customers are beginning to naturally trust peer reviews or 3rd party social media endorsements way more than what the brand would say about itself.
For local businesses, the power of reviews is exponentially more important. Online reviews are the best way to prove to the curious customer that your business is worth their time and money. And the major player that cannot be ignored when it comes to review platforms, is probably not a hard one to guess…Google. But why, exactly, is it so important? And how can you use Google reviews to your advantage to rank higher overall in search? Let’s dive in and see.
Google Is the Most Recognized Place for Reviews
Did you know there are now hundreds of sites where you can leave reviews? Your business can appear on platforms that are ‘all-encompassing’ in terms of business type, such as Yelp. You could niche down to sites like Angie’s List or TripAdvisor. These are geared towards home service professionals or all-things-travel, respectively. And if you are a doctor, for example, there are several different review sites dedicated solely to your profession, where you should strongly consider having a presence.
And while these other niche platforms are important, Google reviews simply cannot be ignored. More than likely, a prospect would search on Google just to discover or get to a certain niche review platform, because Google commands over 90% of all Internet searches. That’s more than any other search engine or review site.
Google is the way consumers are finding you online! Their first impression of you will start there as well.
They’ll find your website, reviews, and even your competitors in your space or your local area. This makes Google reviews extremely important because they’re not just contained within a particular website, they show up in search results, maps, and more, and have a major effect on Google rankings overall.
3 Key Factors of Google’s Rankings
Now that we’ve established just how vital a tool Google is for all businesses, especially local businesses, let’s look into how Google actually ranks businesses. There are a number of factors Google uses. The three main ones are distance, relevance, and prominence (which will be largely impacted by Google Reviews).
Distance is pretty self-explanatory. For instance, if you search “sushi” Google won’t give you directions to a sushi restaurant an hour away (hopefully). Distance is out of your control. But you can, however, influence relevance.
To remain relevant in Google Ranking you should use a Google My Business page to maximize the control of your online presence. (Check out our recent blog post on how to claim or set up your business, and then optimize your Google My Business profile.) Then, be sure you are keeping your listing up to date, with information such as accurate hours of operation and your correct address.
In fact, you may have had either a positive or negative experience with Google My Business listings recently. Think back to the beginning of business shutdowns for COVID-19. Businesses that kept their listings up to date with adjusted hours, take-out-only notifications, and more probably earned business over ones who did not.
Finally, proper keyword use influences relevance. Keywords and Google rankings work together to push certain websites higher in Google search. If you want your own site to remain relevant, you should check which keywords in your field get the highest hits and which ones rank the lowest.
The third factor, prominence, is a little more complicated, but it is the most significant for local businesses. Prominence has to do with being well-known, so places that are popular tourist locations are already a step ahead. The same goes for big-name brands, who are more likely to rank higher in this category. Google also compiles all available information about a business from across the web to gauge prominence. This means that if your local business was referenced in an article or linked somewhere else, the website’s prominence improves. Businesses can’t pay to increase their prominence so there isn’t too much a business can control to increase it…. save for one critical thing. That being reviews, of course!
How Google Uses Online Reviews and Star Ratings
Google examines online reviews, taking into consideration things like frequency, quality, and quantity. Businesses with higher star ratings and lots of reviews are going to get ranked higher than their competitors with lower star ratings and fewer reviews.
Google wants to deliver the best search results for its users, and third-party validation from customers helps to tell Google exactly which businesses are the best choice. That way, users are getting the most optimal choices available within their local area, incentivizing them to continue to use Google’s search features again and again. This is great news for local businesses that take their reviews and reputation strategy seriously!
Don’t Wait, Start Increasing Your Google Reviews Now!
To recap what we discussed in this post, reviews are critical to winning over customers and Google is one of the most important platforms to focus on when asking for and collecting reviews, especially if you are a local business. You can (and should!) claim your business listings on all review sites relevant to you, but you cannot afford to ignore Google as a premier place for showcasing your good reputation. Reviews are a fundamental component to competing with all the other local businesses out there. They’re also key to improving your Google rankings and helping customers find your business in the first place!
Don’t be discouraged if businesses around you seem to have a higher quantity of reviews right now. Google rewards those who concentrate on the key factors that increase rankings, so just start today! You’ll see the quantity and frequency of your Google reviews start to increase. And in turn, you’ll see more love from Google themselves.