The buying process for local businesses now entails a research component that too often gets overlooked. Researching online to buy offline, or ROBO, has been written about a lot in the past couple of years, but the role customer reviews play in organic search results remains under-emphasized.
Local business owners I speak with commit a large percentage of their online advertising budget to search rank, but leveraging for consumer behavior in this new context means it is not enough to get found. Just because a prospective customer lands on your website does not mean they are done shopping.
After poring over the analytics from a random sampling of Customer Lobby members, we found that more than half of the reviews pages received the majority of their referral traffic from Google organic. That corroborates what should seem like common sense: Consumers seek out reviews on Google.
When a prospective customer searches a company name in Google, they are already pretty far along in their buying process and they are typically looking for reviews, particularly bad reviews. Consider this a reference check. Google has empowered consumers to dig into a business’s reputation, and they will often do so by merely googling the company name.
With branded searches, it is important to be mindful of the fact that the company name is often just the start. Consumers have learned how to narrow down search results to find the information they need. They do so by augmenting their searches with keywords related to location and the word “reviews.”
Local business owners should google their company names regularly to see what comes up. They would also be wise to add location keywords and just the word “reviews.”
What does your business look like at a glance? When you search for any local business online, inevitably you will see reviews scores and ratings presented on the results page. Virtually every directory with your business listing includes either reviews or ratings. Google often privileges these search results because they bear user-generated content.
Even before drilling down into the review content, a quick visual impression of your business exists because search results of sites with reviews stand out from the back. Most reviews sites now index in Google with rich snippets — usually stars and some sort of rating score.
These search results yield a 2.5 times higher click-through rate because they stand out, and combined together on a Google search engine results page, they provide a visual representation of a business’s reputation.