Online reviews and social media can have a powerful effect on local SEO for your business. Although the effect of organic SEO generally does not necessarily have a connection to your company’s physical location, local SEO has a strong geographical component. Good local SEO is dependent on establishing strong signals of major relevance focused on your specific locale as a “brick-and-mortar” business. The online marketing techniques of organic SEO are basically centred on and around your business website and brand.

How Reviews Can Affect Local SEO Significantly

Web developers and SEO experts reveal that approximately 68 percent of today’s consumers will put their trust in a business only after reading at least four reviews of the company. This fact has definite effects on your website customer traffic and sales conversion rates. It also indicates that consumers who access positive reviews of your business are very likely to call, email or visit your store or showroom in person. According to Google, responding to reviews will significantly improve your company’s local SEO.

Google also reveals that reviews provide 15.44 percent of the criteria used by Google for ranking a local business. This percentage has increased nearly 5 percent since 2015, when it equaled just 10.8 percent. Google reviews are viewed as a star rating on Google Business profiles and will increase your click-through rates. Other online venues that rate highly as excellent places for obtaining more reviews are Yelp, Google, Facebook TripAdvisor, Trivago and sites that are focused on your specific sales niche or area of industry.

Ways in Which Social Media Can Affect Local SEO

Although it is true that social media signals do not generate direct impact on your business search rankings, they do have definite effects on your search engine optimization endeavours in major ways such as the following:

• Greater online visibility and business credibility;
• Increased web traffic for your company website;
• Greater brand recognition, popularity and authority;
• Enhanced effects of local SEO.

Posted customer reviews on social media and other industry, brand and product related websites often identify the geographical location of your business by giving the city or town and even the neighbourhood or street location of your store, boutique or showroom. Also, local customers check for company addresses, store hours, current product discounts or seasonal sales online so that they can drive or walk to your store quickly to shop and purchase your products.

Customer review trackers report that nearly 50 percent of consumers today almost always, or frequently, read online reviews before shopping for products, and that approximately 72 percent of these consumers consider these reviews to be as valid as recommendations from family members and friends. Online consumer reviews have also influenced search engine algorithms and strongly impacted Google ranking criteria. For this reason, Internet marketers and local SEO experts now design specific methods for examining and evaluating reviews for the purpose of improving the performance and value of local SEO.

Winning Your Spot in the Google Search Local Pack

One of the most visible and prized spots in Google’s local search results is the “local pack,” which is a series of three highlighted results that are Maps-based and feature the highest rated companies that qualify for local rankings. In 2017, search engine ranking factors reports by Web authorities revealed that the quantity, quality, frequency and variety of your consumer reviews are among the top criteria for determining the likelihood of your business being listed in the local pack.

Google My Business signals (19 percent), link signals (17 percent), review signals (15.44 percent) on-Page signals (14 percent) proved to rank higher than both behavioural and personalization signals for the inclusion of your business in the desirable local pack. Currently, review signals are rapidly gaining percentage points for helping you make the neighbourhood pack.