In our ever technologically advancing world, Google Local reviews are gaining importance in a variety of ways. For the younger generations, and those tech savvy older folks, online reviews are almost as trusted as word of mouth.
For example, when was the last time you went to a new restaurant without checking Yelp first? As Paul Cunningham at SitePro News described, folks are genuinely basing their decisions upon online reviews: “I don’t reserve a hotel until I’ve scanned at least a couple of months worth of opinions on Tripadvisor.”
Let’s face it, online reviews are gaining power, and companies need to keep up. A bad review can negatively affect your business just as significantly as a good review can boost it.
With Google Local’s transition to a more review based ranking system, reviews become even more important. When a consumer
goes on the web, looking for anything from a fancy Italian dinner to some quick street food, reviews will help them weed through the many options.
Let me give you a personal example. While I was traveling in Portugal, I scheduled everything on the fly. Not knowing the language, all I had was my trusty Smartphone. Where was I going to eat that night? Which hostel would I stay at? All of my decisions were based on reviews!
If your business does not have a good web presence and good reviews, how can you expect to be looked upon favorably by that coveted first time consumer? Even if your SEO firm is the best in the world, reviews are still paramount.
And the fact of the matter is, Google knows this. Their algorithm has evolved, folks; and all business owners, especially small local ones have to understand the changes. “Google loves to see customer reviews because PEOPLE love to see customer reviews.” Google is, as always, a little bit ahead of the curve. Google+ Local now ranks businesses based on the amount of reviews, the quality of reviews, and the relevancy of reviews.
Of course, everyone could’ve guessed that simply the amount of reviews would be included in the ranking, but its not just about quantity, they want to see quality too.
Local SEO has to evolve to meet the needs and wants of the modern consumer. And if you’re not evolving as a small business owner, you can bet your competition certainly is.
In other words, you still have time as a local business. Make reviews fast and easy for your customers and you will get a great response. People will forget quickly how much they enjoyed your business, unless you catch them at the perfect time. Send out emails to remind your customers, or try and have them do the review while still in your store.2 Use some of these tips and you will see tangible changes in your online presence thanks to great reviews.
I will leave you with this. Each and every person wants to have that magical evening or that perfect hotel room, I know I do. And how do we in our modern world decide which restaurant or place to stay will yield these fantastic results? We look to our peer reviews on Google Local.