Thought we were finished with local SEO? Luckily for you and your business, not yet! We've seen how Google My Business can affect your ranking in local search. This next step is related to that: Google reviews. What we're trying to figure out is how reviews affect SEO in general, and how Google reviews specifically make a difference. Read on to see how we'll be testing this!
Although Google's algorithms are always changing, reviews account for approximately 9.8% of all ranking factors. That's not a huge number, but it's big enough to make a difference. It is believed that Google pays special attention to Google reviews, over reviews from any other platform (like Facebook or Yelp). Reviews make your site more credible to search engines like Google, and they also provide your business with more of the keywords that you are likely trying to gain authority of.
Besides for affecting SEO directly, it can affect how likely searchers are to visit your website and become paying customers. A surprising 88% of people trust online reviews as they would trust recommendations given by a friend. Another 72% of consumers will only take action after seeing at least one positive review. Considering how common online reviews are, it's easy to assume that most people are a bit suspicious of companies with zero online reviews.
The more (positive) reviews a business has, the more likely it will be to appear in that sought-after three pack. The three-pack is the list of three businesses displayed on the results page of a local search. For example, search "Baltimore bakery", and you will see three popular Baltimore bakeries appear, under a map. Another attention-grabber that reviews generate is the star-rating. Also, searches like "best Baltimore bakery" will provide results very likely to be in order of consumer ratings.
Do you believe all this? We don't either. That is, until we prove it ourselves. We've set out to determine, once and for all, what difference Google reviews make in local SEO. We've enlisted a few local businesses who have no or few Google reviews to have five clients or customers post positive Google reviews. We'll check in at the 30-,60-, and 90- day checkpoints to see how doing so has improved their rank for a local search term related to their business. Check back here to see how it goes!