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July 23, 2021

How Reviews Impact Local SEO

Watch Widewail CEO Matt Murray explain in detail how reviews and reputation management impact local SEO rankings for local businesses in 2021.

Reputation impacts on SEO Widescreen

Transcript:

You don't have to believe anything that I say, right? Let's go see what the really smart people have to say.

When we started Widewail, as I was saying, we wouldn't have done it in the days of ego-based reputation sales. Here we are, November 13th, 2017. Widewail has submitted its articles of incorporation, but is not actually an entity yet, but we knew that this was the direction that we wanted to go.

So as a marketer, my gut instinct has always been, and everybody on this call probably had this gut instinct, even if it was 2012, 15 - that reviews had something to do with SEO, but it wasn't like easy to prove that there was no direct data. Right. Search Engine Journal drops this article. Here's what I, I love most about this article as you, as you kind of get into it, there's this great chart down here from Local SEO Guide.

And they said, okay, here's what we're going to do. We're going to break apart the different facets of the GMB, and we're going to rank them by impact on visibility. And as you read this, right: keyword, city as a keyword, got to get reviews, more stuff about keywords, got to respond to take care of your negatives.

This is the intersection of SEO and reputation management, right in front of us. Right. And this was 2017. So. What does Widewail do with that, by the way, this is where conversational SEO was born for us. This is when we made that decision to always use, you know product or geographical terms in our responses.

Moving 2017 though, Moz in 2018 was like, wait a second. We've actually been tracking this longer than we'd let on. There's been a 43% increase in review signals as part of local SEO since 2015. At the expense, by the way, for my marketers, at the expense of citation signals. So the idea that, you know, your listings data has to be correct across 80 local business websites is not, that it's not important-

it's just not, it's just not going to have the impact. It would have been maybe 2012. So this was 18. Last year, for the first time in history, it's still my favorite piece of data. Google reviews out ranked proximity of the searcher in local search. Wow. Yeah. So let's play that out. We go to a conference together.

We're in Manhattan. It's lunchtime got to go to a deli we're in New York, right? So we grab our phones, give me the best deli near me. Let's say. What we assume that we're going to see, in the past what we assumed, was that the closest deli would be number one in the Map Pack. Just not the case anymore.

Like think about Google's position here. They've got 90% search market share across desktop and mobile for everything in the world. Search fundamentally is the ATM that funds everything else that Google wants to do. So by maintaining or growing that search market share, they're securing their own financial future.

How do they do that? How do they make sure people love to use Google? They try to ensure that if you ask for something near you: deli, dentists, jewelry store, whatever. That when you go there, you have an exceptional customer experience. And they, they do that by taking a look at every business volume, frequency, quality and response strategy to determine whether past transactions have resulted in a great experience.

In fact, one of the best ways to see this stuff in action is to ask Google for the "best of" stuff. Let's take that best dentist search look immediately. Google eliminated any dentists that's below a 4.0.

Wow. That's a visual version of what we're seeing just in normal Map Pack rankings, that the number one business is not the closest, it's the closest with the best experience. And you know, you should always see what Google thinks.

So if you want to improve your local ranking on Google, You should manage and respond to reviews and to make sure your GMB is prominent and listings and rankings, your score and volume are going to factor into local search ranking. So when Widewail we all started in 2018, did this page look like this? Were these the recommendations that we're giving.

The prominence section is definitely a little newer. The thing that changed the most, I think for us is here. So Google has been pretty forward about the fact that you should not discourage or prohibit negative reviews. Hm. In 2018, a competitor of ours. Let's say this, the customers of a competitor of ours lost a combined 20,000 reviews from their GMBs because this company was engaged in that practice of selectively soliciting positive reviews.

Yeah. So Google's not messing around. Right? They want to make sure that what they're putting out there is valuable. Right. And the narrative is authentic and genuine.

Tag(s): Video

Matt Murray

I’m a father, husband and hockey coach as well as founder and CEO of Widewail. I spent a decade with Dealer.com, Dealertrack and Cox Automotive as the VP of Enterprise Strategic Growth and Retail Solutions prior to spending a year at Podium as the GM of Automotive and SVP of Strategic Accounts. I’m also a highly committed, yet extraordinarily average, guitar player.

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