Online reviews have, over the last decade or so, grown significantly in terms of importance online.

Any Birmingham SEO company or digital marketing agency can attest to this. Going from something that was only done by jaded consumers who had a complaint to something that many of us do daily, this growth has been spurred on by the fact that more and more of us are now shopping online and turn to reviews during the research process. Today, they are essential for all companies, from huge retailers to smaller local businesses.

With 86% of consumers reading reviews for local businesses, including 95% of people aged 18 to 34, they are something you need to pay particular attention to and get help with from SEO Companies in Birmingham.

Reviews Really Work

…but why?

It all boils down to social proof—a social phenomenon where people mimic the actions of other people to reflect correct behaviour or achieve the desired outcome.

Consumers increasingly want, if not need, reassurance that their actions, in this case making a purchase, is the right thing to do and that it will deliver an optimum result. When people are thinking about making a purchase or decision, they can turn to reviews and (hopefully) instantly see an average review of X stars accompanied by pages of glowing comments. It is these comments that matter most, with 73% of customers valuing them over the star rating.

It is these reviews that can push a consumer over the fence and result in a conversion or a visit. If you are a local café, for example, a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 from 397 Google reviews is going to reassure anybody who comes across you through Google that you are a safe choice.

Getting Your Business on Google

Today, having your business on Google is essential. Not only does having your business listed help engaged customers find you when they search for you directly, but they help potential customers find out you exist through SEO.

Using Google My Business, you can put all your information on Google in a matter of minutes. It is free to set up and it is by far one of the best things you can do to improve local SEO and whilst you don’t need to be an SEO expert yourself to get it done right, having a Birmingham SEO Agency on your side who knows the local area inside-out will always help.

You should set up your Google My Business properly and include all information possible, such as…

• An accurate name and description,

• Opening times and specific trading information,

• Phone number, website, email address, and

• Categories related to your business

…amongst other things.

Getting Your First Reviews

Whatever you do, don’t write a fake review—they stick out and are painfully obvious. This can not only put off potential customers but harm your local SEO.

You should find that, over time, reviews will start to come through themselves as engaged customers go out of their way to leave them. It never hurts to be a little more proactive, though. There are a lot of things you can do to persuade customers to leave you an honest review.

Firstly, providing a good quality product or service and providing it well is the best thing you can do to encourage positive reviews—good customer experiences are the biggest driver of Google reviews.

Secondly, why not directly ask your customers to leave you a review? There are lots of ways you can do this depending on what you do and which industry you are in. Restaurants, for example, commonly print a request for reviews at the end of bills.

Third, why not use social media? Leverage your following my sending out the occasional post or Tweet that asks your followers to write a review.

Don’t Expect Results Overnight

Google reviews can work wonders for your local SEO, but this takes time. Simply being patient and providing the best customer service you can is your best bet of securing glowing reviews that will help you rank higher in local search results.

When you are trying to rank within and appeal to a local market, it always helps to source local talent to help with SEO. We are a leading SEO Company in Birmingham and are waiting to hear from you.