Do Online Reviews Help Gain Local Business and Search Engine Rankings?

Marketing locally is important for any small business with the desire to grow. Local online marketing has set the standard in small business marketing with a cost effective method that yields targeted clients. Many companies focus on search engine optimization (SEO) to be found locally on the top of Google and other search engines. Being found locally helps many companies flourish but receiving high search engine rankings relies on many other factors.

Word of mouth has always great review brand one of the most powerful parts of marketing. It comes in many forms and recently has taken a place in online reviews. Potential clients use local business reviews to find out what others are saying about a company online. Online reviews not only have a powerful impact on local business, they can also help a company gain search engine rankings. As search engines continue to change their algorithm, especially locally, local business reviews made online could have more of an impact on SEO.

1) Be listed on as many local business review websites as possible. If your company is not already placed on local business listing websites then you have more work to do than others. You should create them or have them created by a local online marketing company if you have not already done so. Websites like Google+ Local, Yelp, Bing Local and Yahoo Local should all have local business listings for your company. There are plenty more other websites but these are some of the most prominent for any industry. Not only should you have a listing on these websites, it should be optimized to encourage participation from visitors.

Reviews made on these local business listings will be seen by many potential clients. They will also make an impact on your companies search engine rankings. The reviews on these websites count as citations of your company, the more the better for your web presence. Also, with local search changing almost monthly, online reviews could become more important to the search engines at any time. A notable example of this could be the new acquisition of Zagat.com by Google.

Small businesses should also be placed on specific industry related business listing websites. Many industries have their own specific business listings websites. Restaurants have Urban Spoon and many others, while hotels have Trip Advisor and more. There are plenty available for each industry, be sure to take advantage of this option. Having your company placed on newly created local business listing websites is also a good way to stay ahead of the competition and be found by customers.

2) Promote online reviews with your customers. Once you have your web presence set up on local business listing websites that offers reviews, it is a good idea to encourage customers to post reviews to them. A small business can promote reviews through social networking, printed materials, emails, word of mouth and special offers. Focus on building reviews on websites like Google+ Local and Yelp which already have an impact on local rankings and are displayed publicly in search results.

Encourage customers on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to post online reviews on local business listings. By simply creating a post, which encourages customer interaction while providing a link, a small business can gain plenty of feedback. These customers have already found you on social networks, so they have shown interest in your business and they are computer savvy.

Print is not completely dead. Companies still print up pamphlets, stickers, magnets and other promotional materials. However, many companies do not utilize this advertising real estate to promote online reviews. At the very least, a small business should be using printed materials for the promotion of their social profiles while aiming to acquire customer reviews on social networks.

Email can be a powerful tool that is cost effective and takes almost no time at all. However, if you plan to use email to promote customer reviews, focus on the customer experience. By asking customers about their previous experience with your company, you open the door to feedback. Once you have piqued interest, it is possible to ask them to perform an action such as posting an online review.

As I said earlier, word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools. Promote local business reviews online by asking customers in person. A personal approach can often be the most effective method. Appealing to your customers in many different forms (printed, online, in person) will yield the most and possibly the most positive responses.