I read a great and very thorough article today in Search Engine Watch, about the growing importance and value of having published reviews in top review sites.  The author, Graham Charlton, really goes deep into the How’s and Why’s of customer reviews and their impact of search engine visibility and trust.  Below is the first part of the article.  The rest will follow over the next few days.

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The importance of user reviews for local SEO

Reviews are a massive part of the web now, and an absolute essential for online retailers.

They’re also vital for local businesses, whether or not they sell online, thanks to their sheer prominence in local search results.

Just look at this mobile search for restaurants in Chicago. The best organic listings are taken by the restaurants with good reviews:


After this the next organic listings are mainly from review sites – Yelp, TripAdvisor, Time Out, Zagat, and so on. Only a couple of actual restaurant sites make it onto the first SERP.

While not every local search is exactly like this, the trend is clear. Indeed, the Google My Business listings are so dominant that many users will not even look at the other organic results.

In summary, if you want a prominent position in the local SERPs, you need user reviews.

If you want to encourage clickthroughs, or physical visits, you need good reviews.

Why reviews work

In a nutshell, it’s the power of social proof. People need reassurance and confirmation that their actions are the right ones.

So, when people are thinking about buying a particular camera, seeing an average review rating of 4 stars, or reading positive reviews may provide the extra push they need.

For local searches, if you see a restaurant with an average score of 4.6 from 465 reviews, like the Girl & the Goat above, then it looks like a safe choice.

There are so many stats around reviews that I could pluck almost any number out to show how many read them before buying, how they are trusted more than other sources, and so on.

The bottom line is that they are used a lot and relied upon by many web users.

This, from BrightLocal’s local consumer review survey, is relevant to this article. 88% read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. 


Tomorrow, we will talk about the importance of different review sources and sites.

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