While online retailers have risen in recent years, up to 94% of purchases are still done in person, often with the help of online searches in maps and listings directories to find locations. Searches that specify a location (city, neighborhood, county, etc.), are known as local searches, and are increasingly common. Google listings for local searches display results with a map of the given location along with star ratings and easily accessible reviews. Smart business owners know the value of monitoring and responding to these reviews. Answering reviews, both good and bad, is an excellent way to improve a business’ ranking and engage customers in a way that entices new business and encourages repeat customers.
Why It’s Important to Respond to Reviews
The simplest reason is because it’s the courteous and professional thing to do. You wouldn’t ignore a customer’s praise or criticism in person, so why do it online? The Internet is all about communication; it works best as a two-way street. Building a relationship and rapport with customers is vital in this age of ever-expanding choices. Attentive businesses stand out from the crowd and often win over customers.
Negative and Positive
There are compelling reasons to respond to both negative and positive reviews that show up in Google listings. Negative reviews can badly affect a company’s rating, and studies show that two out of three consumers will avoid a business that has bad reviews online. Addressing complaints shows that you’re responsive to correcting problems, encouraging future customers to disregard negative comments as no longer an issue. Responding to positive reviews gives you that important connection with customers, and also gives you an opportunity to promote other products.
How Does this Affect Search Engine Ranking?
Reviews and responses impact rankings in a few ways. For map searches, reviews are especially important in Google listings. Searches in Google Maps will automatically return the most authoritative results near the searcher, and positive review ratings strongly influence the authority of a Google Maps listing. With Google listings, reviews are like bonus SEO points, responding to them and optimizing them with keywords the same way you would other content, can also influence ranking and help move your business up in these rankings.
Local search is a highly dynamic and cutting edge field. Navigating it with expertise can return huge dividends for every type of business. Monitoring and responding to reviews is a smart strategy for improving local search rankings.