Reviews and Local Search – The Holy Grail of Local Marketing
Local reviews alone will not affect your local search results, but you can expect a lack of reviews to break your local search rankings. What we mean is that you can’t go and gather hundreds of reviews and expect the results to skyrocket you in the SERPs, but they are absolutely essential as a part of local search SEO.
With that being said, you need to make sure you have your foundation laid. Have you optimized your Google Places on-page SEO? Make sure that you fill everything out. This includes your five videos, the hours of operation, description categories of what you do, and the five photo opportunities. It is equally important to have your images and videos optimized with your keywords and descriptions. Don’t forget to optimize the Google Maps listing along with it!
“None of My Competition has Reviews. Why Should I Bother?”
It is exactly that attitude that will get keep you in the exact same place that you are at while your competitors start to surpass you in the Google 7-pack. For those of you unfamiliar with the term Google 7-pack, that is the prime real estate for local search.
If you have your account listed with Google Places, Google will list your business as a part of local search if they deem the keyword important to the area. So let’s say you are interested in yoga and type “yoga” into the search bar. Under the first or second result will be 7 places to take a local class in the local search results with a marker by each place that will locate it in Google Maps for you.
What is the Difference Between Local Keywords and Keywords?
Let’s go back to the yoga example to illustrate the difference between local and regular keywords. If you typed in “yoga postures” , Google might not find a need to list anything in the local search results, so be very methodical about the types of keywords that you choose. Local keywords are different from universal search keywords.
If you owned a local yoga studio, you would want to check out the different keywords that display the Google 7-pack. Trying to get listed in the organic listings for the word yoga may seem like an impossible endeavor when you see that the word “yoga” turns up more than 327 million results when typed in quotes. Nevertheless, it may be quite tangible with a little local search optimization.
Local Reviews Send Your Local Search Results Over the Top
Take a look at what all of your competitors are doing with their Google Places listing. Find where their links, citations, reviews, directories, videos, photos, and other things are linking back to, and then do the same things and a little extra.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to solicit reviews from your customers. This can be as simple as asking for it on a Facebook page. If you have a physical storefront, a printed reminder doesn’t hurt-maybe even an incentive!
There is one more benefit to reviews other than beating out your competition. It’s called social proof. Your prospects trust local reviews more than almost anything else when it comes to local search.
Start your own site so locals can find you!