Businesses and consumers have started to use online review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp more and more over the past few years. Customers use these sites to learn about the experiences of other customers as well as leave their own experiences, and businesses are realizing that these sites provide them with a way to engage with their customers and learn more about their business is perceived.
But online review sites can do more for business than just teach them how their customers feel. They can also improve local search engine optimization (SEO).
Local SEO refers to increasing online visibility through search engines based on specific geographic locations. For example, your company would want to have strong local SEO for the towns or cities where your physical business or franchises lie.
If you’re interested in starting a local SEO strategy or improving on your existing one, here’s how customer reviews can help.
Welcome to Venice
In 2012, Google changed the way that they generate organic search results using the Venice Update. With this new feature, localized signals were used to determine what websites appear in a search engine results page (SERP).
Before the Venice Update, if you were looking for a car dealer in Chicago, Illinois, you would typically type “Chicago Illinois car dealerships” into a search query in order to provide you with results in your area. With the Venice Update, you no longer have to do that. Instead, by using localized signals, Google can determine exactly where a user is located and use that information to provide them with results in their specific area. So if you’re located in Chicago and want to find local car dealerships, all you have to do is type “car dealerships” into the search query and your results will generate those found in Chicago.
How do online review sites help?
When your business page is claimed on online review sites, basic information about your business, including your location, is included. Search engines crawl through these sites looking for keywords and geographic triggers, such as your location, in order to provide the best search results for web users. By using your location information and keywords from your online review sites, these pages will be the first to appear in a user’s search query for your type of business in your specific area.
Along with the basic information provided from your business, the reviews and frequency of reviews on your site also help your local SEO. The more reviews your company receives on these pages, the more often search engines will visit your page and crawl through it looking for new keywords. This can help improve your local SEO by showing that your page is visited frequently, which helps your overall SEO ranking.
Since Google is a popular search engine, it’s important that you claim your business on Google+ Local, which is the primary online review site used by Google’s search engines. But don’t overlook other review sites, as Bing and other search engines, and even Google, will also use these other sites for local SEO rankings.
If you want to focus on gaining visibility in your area and reaching local customers that are interested in your products and/or services, it’s important that you use online review sites to help.
Steven Peters is a reviews tracker from Dallas. He specializes in online review management and often gives tips to others via blogging.