Reviews and ratings are a crucial component of localised search engine optimisation. Getting a good rating and good reviews is an important component of increasing the visibility of a brand in web searches for Google and other search engines.

Localised search engine optimisation (SEO) is a key trump card of many smaller enterprises. In the mobile age, where more customers seek businesses that are within their immediate area, businesses can stand to maximise impressions through optimised local rankings. After all, a business in Perth only has to worry about businesses in its local neighbourhood. Comprehensive SEO services should also incorporate review management in their location-based strategies.

Among the most effective ways to localise an SEO campaign for a small or medium-scale enterprise is to focus on reviews from local customers. Besides being the first business seen by the customer, an enterprise should also aim to be the best reviewed among its competitors.

Local searches for specific businesses in Google not only incorporates ratings and similar businesses in the area but also incorporates local reviews into the results. In addition, Google’s current algorithms currently favour well-reviewed enterprises with several reviews; getting customer engagement and accruing positive reviews is, therefore, a crucial part of staying visible in web searches.

Much Ado About Reviews

For many buyers, reviews represent the opinion of actual customers, whose influence is matched only by actual word-of-mouth. Buyers thus typically trust reviews after careful consideration; they are also frequently capable of identifying whether a review is genuine or whether a negative review is grounded in something reasonable.

The general tone of the overall reviews received can make or break an enterprise; poor reviews being more visible than good ones will tar a business in the eyes of potential customers. In addition, an especially pointed negative review can tip the balance and tarnish a business’ sterling reputation if grounded in truth.

Obscurity is no defence from the impact of reviews; a business with no reviews not only comes off as untrustworthy or untested but also may easily fall victim to slanderous reviews by irate customers and unscrupulous rivals. In addition, a lack of reviews can become a major setback for an enterprise’s SEO strategy; having no reviews or ratings at all can push a business back down in Google’s rankings.

Reviews of your enterprise should not be suppressed or discouraged. Actively antagonising negative reviewers—even if the customer happened to be wrong—or taking down their reviews altogether is ill-advised. Such actions would serve to embolden negative reviewers and lead to a blowback that will haunt the business and its reputation for years to come.

A Strategy for Reviews

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Rather than viewing reviews as the avenue of caustic critics that must be feared, businesses should embrace reviews as part of their integrated online search engine optimisation, reputation management, and quality assurance strategy. Reviews of all types should be encouraged and directed to online assets under the company’s control or influence. Businesses can then promote the best reviews they’ve received, which should give a fair assessment of the business and counteract.

As for negative reviews, irate customer reviews should be ignored; obvious trolls and frustrated individuals will often not respond to rational discourse. Customers are often smart enough to recognise a review that’s not worth trusting. Negative reviewers who have legitimate concerns should be treated with the same respect and courtesy as any other customer with concerns.

By helping customers with negative yet reasonable reviews, the business not only puts its best foot forward but also opens up the possibility of winning back the customer and having them adjust their assessment in response.

Finally, enterprises should encourage happy and extremely satisfied customers to leave reviews of their businesses. This works especially well if they’ve lacked reviews prior. Encouraging customers to leave reviews creates a buffer against negative feedback and fosters a positive brand image.