Getting Noticed in the Digital World of Online Search Results is Getting Harder…
Google is increasingly focused on optimizing its local search results and to that end they’ve introduced changes to their algorithm specifically targeted at reducing duplicate content. Penguin 4.0, the most recent upgrade, is a real-time filtering signal processing data from within the primary algorithm. It identifies spam by crawling web site pages and text for duplicate content and suspicious backlinks at a much faster rate with more granular results. Rather than penalize an entire site, Google’s Penguin will devalue the specific page or section in its rankings. This may or may not affect the overall ranking of the website but the real-time capability means search results provided are refreshed in real time. You can read a more detailed account.
The development of Penguin signals a new direction in local SERP. The Google three-pack is a feature you may have noticed recently in local search results, which prominently display the top three businesses located within geo-proximity to the user. Businesses displayed are selected by Google based on several factors, particularly reviews.
There are several good reasons why many SEO experts agree on the importance of generating online reviews for your website. Whether you operate exclusively online or your website serves as your digital storefront, the ability to generate positive reviews and testimonials expands your online profile, making you more visible to web crawlers browsing for relevant content to index.
Why Online Reviews Are Important
For a search engine, be it Google, Yahoo, or Yelp, reviews of your business are a key indicator of your website’s legitimacy. If people are leaving reviews about your restaurant, Google can safely assume that your location is legitimate. It crawls the internet for citations of your business as well as reviews to build a detailed profile of your business, storing the most relevant pages of your site in its enormous index.
While more reviews doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be at the top of the search results there are two important reasons you should keep in mind:
a) Users tend to respond to business listings with at least 5 – 10 reviews.
b) Google maps integrates search results with positive reviews (four-star ratings) to display the top businesses by geo-proximity.
If your business or restaurant is located within proximity to the user, there’s a very good chance that your listing will appear in the search results, but the top three spots are reserved for listings with the best ratings. Why? Simple. If users are reporting a positive experience, Google wants to make sure other users find the best options available while they’re searching on their mobile phone for Thai on the way home from work.
Generating reviews for your online business doesn’t have to be a dreaded task. SEO experts have many helpful suggestions and articles online, including this one by Forbes Magazine, but you’ll find 3 tips below that offer a great starting point.
Shopify also offers some very valuable information about the impact of positive reviews.
3 Tips For Generating Online Reviews
1. Register your Business with Google My Business: Google is the world’s most powerful search engine. The integration of Google Maps, Google Reviews, and Google My Business means that businesses registered in their search directory can significantly raise their visibility in local SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Business listings are free and you may already have an existing citation for your business that you were unaware of. If so, you can either claim the old listing, update it, or create a new profile. If you are a business with multiple physical locations, be sure to register both businesses with Google under their respective address. This will make it easier for locals to find you wherever you do business.
2. Use an Attractive Template or Landing Page to Encourage Reviews: Asking for reviews can be awkward, particularly if you’re a new business short on clientele. A click-through page is both a marketing strategy and an SEO tool designed to ‘warm’ prospects before a proposition. Users are typically greeted with an attractive page when they visit your site, (or leaving) which politely invites them to share their experience online as either a review or a testimonial. Users can either ‘click-through’ to the offer (leave a review) or close the page and proceed to the content of interest. SEO services offer expertise in effective click-through design to maximize your conversion rate, but there are online tools that offer easy-to-use templates.
3. Encourage Reviews from Multiple Review Sites: Google and other search engines base their rankings of reviews on a number of recognized consumer review sites. You can join these groups yourself, post reviews and invite others to review your business. The list below is brief but a good introduction.
• Better Business Bureau (BBB)
• Bing Places
• Consumer Reports
• Demand Force
• Google Places