The Role of Reviews in Local SEO

In order for your company to perform well in the local search listings, it is important to consider how your customers feel about the products and services you deliver.

That is why letting your visitors post honest reviews of your products or services online has become of vital importance.

Getting your site ready for local SEO

Here is a quick recap of the basic actions to implement whilst undertaking a local SEO campaign:

Ensure that the registered address of your company is visible on each page of your website and can be indexed by the search engine (ideally it should be placed in either the HTML footer or header of your website so that it can be seen by both users and search engines).

  • As it is the case with the address, it is important for your business’ phone number to appear prominently. The phone number should include a local dialling code because it will send a strong location signal to the search engine.
  • Claim your Google + Local page and add as much content as possible.
  • Build links to your website and ensure you can be found on prominent citation sites such as Yelp, Scoot and Four Square.
  • Make sure you include the address in exactly the same format each time you reference your company.
  • Actively seek reviews

The importance of reviews for local SEO

Recent updates to the way Google indexes websites have resulted in an increase in the amount of local results in the organic listings.

The aim of these changes which started with the Google Venice update in early 2012 were to decrease the user’s reliance on local modifiers (terms which specify a location) and place more emphasis on geo-targeting based on IP addresses and GPS signals.

These changes to the way search engines look at websites also mean search engines now rely on a greater variety of signals to index websites. One of these signals includes the quantity and the quality of reviews that are left online by customers.

On which kind of site should customers leave reviews

First and foremost, you should consider prompting users to leave reviews on your Google + Local page. You can encourage this kind of practice by using your email database to target customers with a Gmail address to your Google + Local page, because reviews from people with a Google + account will always appear more authoritative.

It will also be of benefit for your business if your customers leave reviews on trusted business listings and citation sites such as Four Square, Yelp and Trip Advisor. These sites are at the forefront of local-social search because they are easily accessible and users have the possibility of leaving reviews on these sites through Facebook.

Last but not least you should also give your customers the opportunity to provide you with feedback directly by incorporating these reviews into your site design wherever possible (e.g. product pages).

Making the most of review data

Adding rich snippets to your website will enable you to make review data visible in the search results. Using this type of structured mark-up will make it easier for search engines and humans to determine the nature of your content.

The appearance of your review data in the search engine results will depend on the search query. Gold stars will appear beneath your search listings once the rich snippet has been implemented correctly.

Keys to a successful local search campaign

Here are the key elements to consider when launching a local SEO campaign:

  • Make it easy for customers to review your business.
  • Consider where customers leave feedback in order to reap the most benefit from reviews.
  • Use rich snippets in order to help search engines understand your review data.

Author Gyles Seward

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