Who Writes the Most Reviews for Local SEO?
When you search for a restaurant, a product, or some local business, you might already have an idea of what you want to buy or who you want to work with. But what if you run to a string of reviews with a common theme—would a ton of highly positive reviews make you more confident in your decision? Would a ton of highly negative reviews make you run away, never to look back?
Online reviews have as much power today as visibility in organic searches—and to make the stakes even higher, reviews can directly influence your visibility in organic searches. Accumulate enough positive reviews and you’ll never have a traffic problem again, but with too many bad reviews, your reputation can utterly sink.
Obviously, it’s in your favor to ensure you get as many positive reviews as possible, but that’s harder to do than it seems on the surface. Third party review sites like Yelp explicitly forbid companies from buying or directly influencing user reviews, and no matter how tightly your business operates, it’s impossible to please everybody all the time. Rather than depend exclusively on general business improvements, it’s in your best interest to better understand the audience who’s actually writing them.
Why Reviews Are Important
Local reviews are more than just surface-level pieces of information that occasional users use as guides to make purchasing decisions. Even users who never explicitly read reviews can be indirectly affected by them:
- Local reviews inform users of past transactions. The first benefit here is probably the most obvious. Well-written user reviews inform others whether a given transaction was beneficial, neutral, or unfortunate. Consumers who are serious about a buying decision rely on these specific details to help them make a final call.
- Local reviews affect your search ranks. In fact, local reviews affect your search visibility in more than just one way. Google relies on data from third-party directories and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to form an aggregated judgment of a local business—more reviews and more positive reviews mean you’re more likely to rank in local searches. Plus, if you get more reviews on a specific directory, your profile page on that directory will be more likely to rank as well.
- Local reviews are aggregated to form first impressions. In Google’s new local 3-pack, you’ll see that each business’s entry is accompanied by an aggregated star rating, drawn from Google reviews specifically. Users who glance at your business and see a star rating may form an instant judgment.
- Local reviews drive direct traffic to your site. Plenty of users peruse local review sites directly, hoping to discover new businesses or find alternative suppliers. If a review is well-written and positive enough, it could attract a decent stream of direct referral traffic to your site.
- Local reviews can help you build a better business. Last but certainly not least, local reviews are raw information about how you’re doing business. The more reviews you receive, the more information you’ll have to improve your company.
The Perfect Demographic
Not everybody writes online reviews—in fact, only a small percentage of consumers ever take the time to write a positive or negative review about their experience. So who is it, exactly, that’s doing all the writing of these reviews?
According to BrightLocal’srecent survey of local review writers, the answer is more straightforward than you might have imagined. The survey broke down participants into three distinct age groups; one between 18 and 34, one between 35 and 54, and one 55 and up. Consumers under the age of 35 were far more likely to write reviews than the other two age groups. Perhaps for the same reasons, young consumers were also more likely to read online reviews before making a purchasing decision, and more likely to trust the reviews they read.
How to Use This to Your Advantage in Local SEO
Knowing that younger audiences are far more likely to write reviews gives you a critical opportunity to use this to your advantage. Young consumers are easily identifiable, and have certain key traits that you can exploit to earn more total reviews:
- Young users are more likely to use social media. Get your business involved on as many social platforms as possible, and encourage your regular consumers to share their experiences with others on their social platforms of choice. Offer special deals and coupons via social media to incentivize even more young adults to your business.
- Young users appreciate casual businesses. Young adults’ buying habits embody a “go with the flow” type of attitude, and they tend to spend more with businesses that embody a similar outlook. Work to make your brand more casual, playful, and approachable.
- Young users rely on social recommendations. Younger consumers are more likely to buy from businesses that their friends, family, and colleagues buy from.
Of course, none of this is to say that you should give better service to young adults, or if your business caters to older consumers that you should shift demographics. Instead, these small steps can help your business appear more favorable to the type of people who are most likely to write reviews.
Local reviews aren’t going away anytime soon. They’re a permanent fixture online, even if the providers of those reviews might eventually change or transform. The reputation, visibility, and traffic benefits of local reviews are unparalleled, so attracting greater volumes of positive reviews should be a top priority; the sooner you start, the more you have to gain.
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