Last week we wrote about some of the key insights from a recent BrightLocal webinar on the topic of review best practices for local SEO. It was a great webinar with some great panelists (Don Campbell, Phil Rozek, and Myles Anderson), and we recommend checking them all out if you're interested in learning even more about local search and SEO.
In this post we'll cover another good insight: the need to diversify your online reviews.
In an ideal world...
In an ideal world, your business has a natural review profile that grows exponentially over time, and includes reviews on a large number of websites. While Google is still likely the most important, it's good to have a presence on other sites as well, for a few reasons:
Take Advantage of Other Customer Sources
While the vast majority of online searches are conducted on Google, large numbers of people do use other services to find things they're looking for. If someone has had a good experience on Yahoo!, they're likely to return to Yahoo to find another business (you). You want them to be able to find you there, and you want your presence there to be equally as robust and compelling as you would want it anywhere else. A few glowing reviews, accurate business information and an up-to-date phone number and you should be good.
Your Competitors Probably Aren't Doing It
When it comes to Google, there's a lot of competition. It's the search engine that businesses usually focus on optimizing for; and other sites can be neglected. If you have a strong presence on a few low traffic directories, you should be well positioned to outperform your competition there, who probably haven't put in the effort. Little trickles from each of these directories can add up over time.
If someone searches for your brand name, and on the first page they see your website at the top, followed by several directory sites with good reviews notated with the stars you see below, it's just plain old impressive. Here's a screenshot of the branded search of a favorite local restaurant here in Portland to give you the gist:
Helps with Google+ Local Rankings
In addition to the business that these other directories drive of their own accord, and the impressiveness of a branded search like the one above, there's evidence that reviews on sites other than Google actually help with your Google+ Local rankings as well. So, two birds with one stone.
Don’t keep your eggs in one basket
Google is unpredictable, Yelp is very strict about reviews, and it's hard to tell when an algorithm update or an obscure red flag may get your reviews removed from either of those sites. If you have reviews on a wide range of directories, whatever happens to your reviews on any given site becomes far less important, since your reputation is still strong elsewhere.
Places to Get Started:
Here are a few directories to get you started. Make sure you've claimed your listing, and let your customers know they can review your business on whichever of these sites they prefer.