Local search is becoming more about the community a small or midsize business creates around a brand. Local companies aren't necessarily looking to garner global recognition right off the bat, because they first need to be successful on a much smaller scale. This starts with ranking high on local search results and getting attention from the target audience. Part of building a strong community around the company is developing a quality brand image and building a group of loyal customers. Dedicated clients will spread the word and encourage others to do the same. Online reviews are a huge part of how a company gets recognized on the internet and gain respect from customers and prospects. Online reviews are also a huge factor when search engines rank business websites.
Yelp, one of the more popular customer review sites, plays a significant role in local SEO. A company with multiple reviews and customer interaction shows search engines that it is a reputable organization. Search engines want to offer users the most relevant and useful results, and a multitude of customer reviews - especially positive ones - show that a business website is a reputable and legitimate source. Here are three additional ways that customer reviews help local SEO:
1. Offer relevant insight
Reviews offer more for interested parties than website landing pages because they are from an outside perspective. This shapes the brand image and tells search engines what customers truly think of the business. Google questions how respected a website is, and the nature of the reviews can tell readers how the company and its website is perceived.
2. Provide basic contact information
Business 2 Community pointed out that a lot of review sites offer contact information for users to get in touch with the company, distributing important info and making it easier for reviewers to find the business. The more the brand name and information is spread throughout the web, the better it will appear to search engines.
3. Increase website traffic
Review sites link back to website landing pages and lead interested prospects straight to the business' page. A highly frequented website shows healthy growth and customer interaction, which can improve ranking.