Google Confirms Responding to Reviews Improves your Local SEO

Google Confirms Responding to Reviews Improves Local SEO

 

We often get asked, does responding to google reviews actually help local SEO? And what is the importance of responding to reviews? It’s about time we settle the debate of how reviews help local SEO and rankings once and for all. These days, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Think about it, when was the last time you didn’t read the reviews about a business before visiting for the first time? Reviews impact the success of a business more than most brands realize. When 97% of consumers say reviews influence their buying decision, review management has to be a top priority for every consumer-facing business.

At the end of last year, Darren Shaw of Whitespark released the findings from his annual Google Local Rankings Survey. The results of the survey found that reviews accounted for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business. This is up almost 5% from 2015 when Google only valued reviews at 10.8% of how they rank a business.

Google’s Official Stance on Responding to Reviews

According to the Google My Business support page, businesses should “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”  This statement is then followed by “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.

Not only does responding to reviews build trust with your customers, but it builds trust with the search engine itself. Google only wants to recommend the most credible businesses to their customers. What better credibility indicator than a business that goes above and beyond by publicly responding to complaints, as well as, thanking their praises. Google is encouraging businesses to respond to reviews in order to improve their local SEO.

Respond to Every Review

Responding to Reviews Builds a Trusting Relationship with your Customers

Whether you receive a positive or negative review, it’s important to respond to that review in an effort to show your customers and search engines your commitment to customer satisfaction. You’ve spent a great deal of time and effort attracting customers, and retaining them is just as important. By not responding to reviews, you run the risk of increasing your customer churn by 15%. Online reviews should no longer be seen as a static or one-way flow of information. Brands need to be interacting and engaging with customers in order to create an open channel for communication.

Responding to negative reviews can create positive results. Statistics show that of the customers who received a response from a company after posting a negative comment, 33% turned around and posted a positive review, while 34% deleted the original negative review.

 

Building a Review Response Strategy

According to a 2018 study by Trip Advisor, hotels that responded to reviews received 12% more reviews and their ratings increased by 0.12 stars. This study reaffirms how responding to reviews can increase customer retention and increase your rankings. However simply responding to reviews isn’t enough. The Local Search Association recently reported on a 2018 consumer loyalty survey by Yotpo that found most consumers expect a brand to respond within 24 hours. In order to be able to do that you have to have both a review response strategy and a review responding tool.

 

Chatmeter’s review response tool

 

How to Respond to Positive Reviews

Thank the customer If a person complimented someone else in real life, they would say thank you; it is no different on the internet. Show them gratitude for their business and the time they took to write a review.

Get specificGeneric responses are alright, but touching on something specific to their review adds a more personal touch that customers will appreciate.

Entice them to come back –  Whether the business tempts them with a new product or just lets the customer know can’t wait to see them again. Give them a reason to come back and bring their friends!

Improve your Review Response Strategy

How to Respond to Negative Reviews:

Apologize and thank them for their feedback – Negative reviews help corporations make changes to improve current business practices. Apologize for the unsatisfactory experience and thank them for giving honest feedback.

Respond appropriately – Remember that the conversation is public. Never blame the customer or attempt to argue with them.

Invite the conversation offline –  Don’t go back and forth with an unhappy customer on a public review site. Ask them for more details to ensure it doesn’t happen again and provide them with contact information so they can get in touch with customer service.

Short and Sweet – Don’t say more than absolutely needed. The idea is to handle the review as quickly and politely as possible.

Building and maintaining a review response strategy is a great way for brands to improve their local SEO and climb the rankings. Google’s confirmation that responding to reviews improves local SEO means that businesses need to have both the tools and strategy in place to do so. Chatmeter has been helping multi-location brands and agencies to both monitor and manage their reviews all from within an easy to use dashboard. Ready to take control of your reviews? Click here to schedule a free brand audit.