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Many businesses put a lot of time, money and effort into their digital marketing campaigns. And while there are many resources and tools to help your business, a good number of them unfortunately don’t put enough emphasis on generating customer reviews through Google. What these businesses don’t realize is that they’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity to generate more sales and build a strong presence online, If you fit the bill and haven’t been doing enough to get more Google reviews, here are some reasons why they’re important than you think.

#1: Reviews are a Strong Local Search Ranking Factor

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Your website ranking is key to your online success, which is why SEO is important to your business. Many local business owners put most of their emphasis on gaining citations and acquiring backlinks to help their website rank higher on Google. While these elements are the fundamentals of search engine optimization, building positive reviews is also essential to the success of your business campaign. They also have the added benefit of distinguishing your listing from other businesses in the search listings.

According to Search Engine Journal, it was found that businesses that had poorly optimized profiles but still had strong reviews still managed to rank reasonably well. In fact, reviews are arguably the most influential ranking factor possibly because reviews are harder to manipulate than other ranking factors in the eyes of Google. Simply put, if local SEO is a significant contributor to your digital marketing, reviews are an absolute must.

#2: Reviews Allow You to Build and Maintain Your Online Reputation

The most important thing you need to understand is that building and maintaining a positive online reputation requires you to be proactive. If somebody finds out about your business and wants to learn more about it, the first thing they do is Google your business name. Since your Google listing will show your ratings and reviews, it will be presenting your reputation in front of potential customers.

You don’t want to wait until there’s a fire to put out; this meaning that you don’t want the inevitable negative reviews to determine your reputation. You want to be aggressive about building positive reviews. When you do receive a negative review, it will be offset by all of your positive reviews rather than setting a precedent about your online reputation.

#3: Positive Reviews Drive More Conversions

In general, consumers rely on reviews to drive their purchases. This is no different for consumers that are looking for businesses in their local area. LSA Insider noted that 68% of consumers noted that they would more likely use a local business with positive reviews. This can be directly translated to the fact Google reviews influence purchase decisions.

You have to remember that your business will be pitted against others in the Google search listings. If you had a choice between a local business with 3.5 stars and 4.5 stars, you’d probably choose the one with 4.5 stars. It’s also important to note that the same article by LSA Insider notes that 40% of consumers would avoid local businesses with negative reviews. So if you’re not providing an excellent service and being proactive with collecting positive reviews from satisfied customers, this can backfire.

#4: Google Map Searches Feature Reviews

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Many users will use Google maps to find a business near their location. A typical example of a search would be finding an Italian restaurant within three miles of their home. What the search returns are a list of local businesses, the accompanying reviews, the address of each business, and a short description of the business. You can bet that users will be more likely to make a decision based on the location and reviews of the business.

But the real important thing is what happens when you click on a business listed on Google maps. When you click on a location of a business, it brings up the business profile as well as a list of written reviews from customers. This list gives the user a definite idea of what the average customer sentiment is. So if the location is nearby and has better reviews (more reviews and higher ratings) than the other options, it can quickly lead to a conversion.

#5: You Can Promote Your Google Page as Social Proof

Among other popular strategies, most don’t consider is actually using their Google page in their promotions. For example, if you’re trying to promote your business on a social media channel like Twitter, you can link to your business’ Google page. This is an indirect way to use social proof to drive more customers to your business. In comparison, many businesses simply state their promotional offer and keep consumers guessing about the quality and reliability of their business.

As you can see, Google reviews matter more than you think. You need to make it a marketing priority, especially if you’re a local business. You need to be proactive about asking your customer for Google reviews instead of waiting for reviews to accumulate over time. Reviews have a direct and indirect impact on the success of your local search campaign, branding, and other online promotions.