What You Don’t Know About SEO is Hurting Your Online Reputation

June 20, 2016

People turn to Google 3 billion times a day for answers —  that’s over 1 trillion queries a year.

It’s a reliable, trusted source of information for consumers. So why aren’t more businesses taking full advantage of a tool so many use?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sounds like confusing marketing-speak to many businesses. However, when done correctly, good SEO ensures that your business shows up high in search results pages (aka “SERPs”). Of course, having a high placement in search makes your business look more attractive to potential customers. And now, online reputation — as defined through reviews, social media, blogs and more —  is the engine fueling location-based SEO.

In short: Local SEO matters.

As a business, you must capture one of those first five search results —  at a minimum —  to help customers easily find you online.

Our research shows that the first 10 reviews can move a business from the second page of search results to the bottom of the first. What’s more, just 50 reviews result in a nearly 266 percent increase in click-through rate.

Other research shows that nearly 68 percent of people clicked on one of the first five results on that first page. (In contrast, just under 4 percent of people checked out the remaining five links in the top 10). The data is compelling: Keep moving up in search results or risk becoming invisible to the people you’re trying to reach.

As Google describes it here, more positive reviews and a better search rank improve local search visibility. As a result, businesses show more prominently on Google Maps. This is significant given that millennials are three times more likely to use Google Maps to research local businesses than boomers, and this trend is accelerating.

How Can Your Online Reputation Improve Your SEO?

We all know that search engines, such as Google, frequently change their algorithms and keep most of the intel on how they rank sites close to the vest. Even the greenest entry-level marketer understands that popular websites which receive lots of clicks, and are connected via numerous links from other reputable sites, are accorded better positions in search results.

Reputation.com’s own data science team recently went much deeper, taking a closer look at how review sites impact the SEO of businesses.

We were specifically interested in determining the relationship between the ranking of review sites on a business’s local SERPs and the number of reviews that a business has on those sites.

We found that recency and volume of reviews helped businesses with a page on various review sites move up in SERPs and maintain a higher rank. If a site acquired more than 50 reviews, it kept moving up in search results by one position every five weeks. So it’s imperative that your company reach out to current and past customers and ask for reviews to build your review volume. Not all review sites were found equal, with major difference across the various industries in the scope of our analysis.

Some review sites would rank high with little or no reviews, while others would gain significant visibility with more reviews, and others would remain stuck on the second or third page of search results, even with a large volume of reviews.

These new positive reviews will not only drive up your company’s search ranking, but also help prospective customers decide to do business with you and not your competitor.  

If You Build It, Good SEO Will Come

In order to build review volume, take the following steps:

Step 1) Get over your fear. Sometimes enterprises are reluctant to ask for public customer feedback out of concern that it will be negative. In actuality, you’ll see some negative feedback, but your neutral and positive reviews will typically far outweigh it.

Step 2)  Make it very easy. Mobile surveys, tablets and kiosks at the point of sale can capture review feedback at its freshest. You can also send emails asking for review feedback and include links to the review sites that are the most relevant to your business. Invite customers to leave a review with careful language and a flow that is optimized for mobile users.

If you don’t get a response on your first try, it’s encouraged to follow up twice (but no more).

Step 3) Ask in person. After your company has delivered a service, ask the customer to please consider leaving feedback on key review sites and explain why it matters. Most satisfied and neutral customers won’t proactively review you —  so they need a nudge to get going.

Remember, online reviews serve a dual purpose. First, authentic feedback from others helps prospective customers decide if they’d like to do business with you. Second, the more reviews you get, the more you’ll rise in search and local map results, which enables more customers to find you.

Want to learn more? Read our blog post that offers more tips on how to increase your company’s discoverability in search.

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