More Reviews Equals More Visitors and Customers

I Love You, Man!When it comes to local SEO, there are many factors that can effect local rankings.  Setting up listings with accurate information, using your address and phone number on your website, and getting citations are among the most important.  Getting positive reviews is another important factor in local rankings, but it’s a lot more than that.  Getting reviews can lead to more visitors or customers.

Eatmetrics released a study entitled “Yelponomics” which looked the number of stars restaurants received and the number of reviews they had and compared that to the number of online reservations they received through Yelp.  If you have a business, especially a restaurant, this clearly applies to you.  But if you have a church, school, or ministry…yep.  It totally applies to you to.  Keep reading.

More Reviews Equals More Customers
What they they found was that the more reviews a restaurant has, the more online reservations they received.  There was an especially big bump when the restaurant had 500+ reviews.  The reviews help both by demonstrating trust and popularity, and they also help with rankings.  This means that the more reviews you have, the more people see the listing and a greater percentage of those people make a reservation.

Local Reviews Bring More Customers

More Categories Equals More Customers
This may seem obvious, but it’s good to see researched confirmation.  The more categories a restaurant was listed in, the more reservations they received.  This is most likely because more people saw their listing as it would be displayed in more of the results.

More Categories Brings in More Visitors

But This Is Yelp.  Why Do I Care?
You may be thinking that local SEO is all about Google, Bing and Yahoo, so who cares about Yelp metrics.  My response would be

  1. Yelp is absolutely part of local SEO.  It’s one of the largest local review sites around (if not the largest).  Millions of people use Yelp to find local businesses and organizations. If you don’t have a Yelp listing yet, go get one…as soon as you’re done reading this article.
  2. Yelp reviews directly effect Google Places rankings.
  3. It makes sense that the results that were found in this study in Yelp would also be true in other local sites, including Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Business Portals.  More reviews, more categories, and better ratings mean a more effective local listing.

I Have A Ministry/Church/School, Why Should I Care?
There may be some difference in the specifics of how impactful more reviews and categories are for ministries, churches and schools or even businesses other than restaurants, but  the general effect is still going be the same.  So, these principles apply to churches, schools, ministries and other types of businesses as well.

So, What Should I Do?

  1. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your business/organization has local listings in Google Places, Bing Business Portals, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and any other of the more popular local review sites.
  2. Next, make sure you have selected as many relevant categories for your listings as possible.  The more places people can find you, the better.
  3. Start getting more reviews!  Develop a plan to get more reviews and do it.

Some Tips For Getting Reviews:

  • For some, simply asking people to leave a review would be a good start.
  • You may also want to come up with incentives for people to post reviews. (see update)
  • Businesses can start a program where you sent out coupons exclusively to people who have posted reviews or that you you’ll select winners for prizes from those who post reviews. (see update)
  • Churches and ministries can ask their members and even provide computers after services and meetings for people to use before they leave.
  • Schools can ask parents directly or ask the PTL to encourage reviews.  They could also have contests with prizes for students based on either the specific people posting reviews or the total number of reviews.  For example, if the school gets 100 reviews in the next month, they’ll have a free ice cream day.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  Churches and ministries, especially, have a built in support group that wants to support and promote them.  Simply by encouraging your members to post reviews and possibly facilitating it, you can have a huge impact on your online presence.

So, go on now.  Setup of your listings, if you haven’t already and start getting more reviews!!

Update: Google and yelp have updated their terms of service to make it a violation of their guidelines to offer incentives for reviews.

Photo by Soulfull

What do you think?

Have you tried to get reviews for your business/organization?

What ideas for getting reviews have you found to be most effective?

What issues have you run into?

10 Responses to “More Reviews Equals More Visitors and Customers”

  1. PaulSteinbrueck October 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Nice post, Kurt. Getting online reviews is a very beneficial thing for all local organizations to do, and yet it is so overlooked. Maybe in another post you could post some ideas of ways churches, schools, local non-profits, and local businesses can get their members/volunteers/customers to post more reviews on sites like Yelp.

  2. More quality reviews and more great useful content in general is a really effective way to be respected by search engines. and, as you mentioned below, its also a nice way to attract visitors who can become your customers!

  3. Nice one sharing i am visiting your site again ..

  4. Review can make it or break it..! Customer base world and a brand can be valued by reviews..!

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