If you’ve been with us for some time, you’ll know that the Resknow team attends Brighton SEO every spring. There’s no better place to top up on industry insights and rub shoulders with the UK’s leading Digital Marketers – it’s a seaside sensation attracting over 4000 people from all across the nation.

We choose Brighton SEO over other conferences and training events because it prides itself on providing practical points that you can actually implement when you get back into the office. The organisers say, “the idea was to share ideas and chat about all the interesting stuff we can’t really talk about with anyone outside of the industry for fear of them falling asleep”, and we think it’s safe to say that they’ve achieved this.

As web designers, developers and online marketing specialists, we know better than most what it is like to explain technical aspects of a job to someone who doesn’t have a Scooby. We take great pride in simplifying the complexities of our job(s), so that clients are able to follow, but admittedly it is a real nice change to be able to use proper terminology without being looked at like an alien!

That being said, the conference is over and our clients are calling – it’s time to get back to what we do best, and that is helping you market your website online. Many of the talks at Brighton SEO were targeted towards this, with reviews a reoccurring theme of focus. Today we wanted to share our learnings, exploring the importance of online reviews for small, local businesses. Ready? Let’s go!

They have the ability to increase local search rankings

If you’ve connected your social media accounts and embedded links into your website, which you should have done a long time ago, you may have noticed that your local search rankings have gone up. This is because reviews contribute to your local SEO, not only due to unique content and keywords but also the way in which Google can retrieve information like the reviewers location, following and influence.

Activity from real people is viewed as authentic by search engines. This means that each review factors into your organic reach, so the more you can receive, the better you’ll be perceived. Interestingly, microformats are said to put you above the fold of normal search results, as they provide “rich answers” for popular search terms.

It’ll improve your off-site ranking

Having reviews on external websites or platforms is a great way to add credibility and improve off-site rankings, as Google’s local search algorithm includes data from all approved third-party directories, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and CrowdReviews. Copying reviews from an email and pasting them onto your site isn’t going to cut it anymore – after all, who’s to say you didn’t just make it up?

Internet users are savvy and they don’t trust reviews unless they’re listed elsewhere, on an authoritative site. There’s no downside to using an array of different digital platforms to obtain reviews – most are transferrable anyway! Just like you are more likely to be noticed by your target audience if you’re in more places, Google is more likely to rank you if you’re fully integrated and cohesive across the board.

You’ll see more conversions

No one likes to be the first. The more people you are seen to supply a successful service or quality product to, the more traction you will get in terms of generating new leads. Reviews don’t just increase SEO and attract traffic – they actually convert! You may think no one can sell your business better than you but think again, because a happy customer who takes the time to acknowledge your work is the most powerful marketing tool you’ll ever find!

People are increasingly using reviews as a way to make a decision about whether or not a product or service is worth buying into. They want real information, from real people and it must be unbiased to make an impact.

They act as micro-marketing campaigns

Reviews are the new word-of-mouth, and therefore do what no other online marketing campaign can really do – connect with audiences on a consumer-to-consumer level. They stick in people’s minds, encouraging others to voice their opinion and increasing the crowd behaviours of your business.

In addition, reviews hardly ever go out of date. They can be used in your marketing mix for years to come. Tweet them, plaster them on your TV ads, share them on your Facebook Page… the options are endless!

 You’ll learn how to serve customers better

Of course, it’s not just sales that should drive your mission to obtain real reviews. Feedback is an integral part in the growth of any business, and bettering your offerings is something you should never stop looking to do.

Getting to know both the good and bad sides of your business helps you learn how to better serve your customers in the future. Take note of suggestions and frequently asked questions, and don’t make promises to change if you don’t plan to upkeep them.

Are you using Google reviews as a way to improve SEO, enhance off-site ranking and increase sales? How do you go about getting your customers to make time for a written review? Join the conversation by tweeting to @Resknow!