Why Enterprise Companies Must Rethink Local SEO and Review Response
At SOCi, we serve over 600 multi-location brands, including four of the top eight franchises in Entrepreneur’s 2023 Franchise 500 Ranking. Because of this, we’ve gathered millions of data points on local listings, reviews, and conversions.
This blog will showcase data demonstrating the connection between local SEO, online reviews, and conversions. Understanding how these work together will help your enterprise brand improve its localized marketing strategy.
Let’s get started!
How Google Rankings Boost Visibility and Conversions
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Most enterprise companies do well with locally branded searches, such as ‘Starbucks near me.’ However, many consumers today are committed to non-branded searches. For instance, they search for ‘coffee shop’ on Google Search and Maps.
To achieve the best visibility for non-branded search, your Google Business Profiles (GBPs) need to rank in the Google 3-Pack.
How much does ranking in the 3-Pack improve sales?
Our Top Rankings and Conversion Factors for Local Search research report found that:
Companies in the 3-Pack receive 126 percent more traffic and 93 percent more conversion-oriented actions (calls, website clicks, and driving directions) than businesses ranked 4-10.
The graph below further showcases this correlation between monthly searches and rank position.
Simply put, if you’re not ranking for relevant local search queries and aren’t in the Google 3-Pack, you’re missing out on potential customers. Even worse, they’re often going to competitors that are ranking.
How do you improve your Business Profiles’ rankings? Review volume and responses are two key drivers.
How Ratings and Reviews Impact Local Pack Rankings
It’s commonly agreed upon by SEO experts that the most important Local Pack ranking factors that you can directly control are:
- Ensuring your Business Profiles have primary and secondary categories
- Including correct NAP (name, address, phone number) information
- Having a complete GBP
- Providing the correct placement of map pin(s)
The other major ranking factors that you can influence and impact Local Pack rankings are reviews and ratings, specifically:
- High numerical Google ratings (e.g., 4-5 stars)
- Keywords in native Google reviews
- Quantity of Google reviews with text
The data from our previously mentioned research report, Top Rankings and Conversion Factors for Local Search, further underscores this correlation between reviews and local search rankings.
After examining 300,000 Google Business listings, we found the average star rating for positions 1-20 (page one of the Local Finder results) on Google is around 4.1 stars. Therefore, you’re likely not competitive in local searches if you don’t have a high star rating.
The number of reviews on your Business Profile also impacts rankings. Here’s how many reviews the average top-ranking business profiles have.
- GBP ranking 1st: 404 reviews
- GBP ranking 2nd: 375 reviews
- GBP ranking 3rd: 281 reviews
- GBP ranking 4th: 280 reviews
- GBP ranking 5th: 281 reviews
It’s clear you need a high average star rating and hundreds of reviews to rank in the Local Finder and even more to rank in the 3-Pack.
Next, we’ll examine how reviews influence conversions.
How Reviews and Responses Boost Conversions
Consumers today continue to care about reviews. According to a recent study by Moz, over half of consumers read reviews daily or weekly. Furthermore, 79 percent of consumers read reviews on Google — 30 percent more than the next most popular review platform Facebook at 49 percent.
It’s apparent that Google reviews heavily influence consumers’ buying decisions. But to what extent do Google reviews and responding to reviews impact your conversion rate?
According to our 2022 State of Google Reviews study, quite a bit. Here’s what we found:
*Note, a conversion is the proportion of appearances in search results that resulted in a conversion-oriented action such as a phone call, website click, or request for directions.
We also found that the average GBP generates 7,927 search impressions each month, converting 4.2 percent of these impressions via a phone call, direction request, or website visit.
Let’s put these figures into a scenario using the traffic and conversion rates cited above.
Let’s say one of your local businesses averages $30 per transaction. Using the data above, this will generate approximately $9,988 per month (4.2% of 7,927 = 332.93. 332.93 x $30.00 = $9,988). For the purpose of this example, let’s assume all calls, clicks, and directions result in a transaction.
Below are different impacts this business can generate with proper review management:
- Earning 10 new reviews equals $280 in additional revenue.
- If you increase your star rating by 0.1 stars, revenue increases by $440.
- Responding to 75 percent more reviews (compared to none) results in an additional $1,229.
Now, consider if you were to implement these changes across hundreds of your locations. You’d have a significant increase in your ROI.
The Cyclical Nature of Reviews, Rankings, and Conversions
It’s clear that Google star ratings, review volume, and responding to reviews impact local search rankings and conversions.
It’s also evident that this is a cyclical process.
The more ratings and reviews you receive, the higher your Business Profiles rank. When your Business Profiles’ rankings jump, you receive more visibility and customers. This increases your chance of receiving more reviews — starting the process over again.
Now that you understand this correlation between reviews, conversions, and rankings, why wait to make a change?
Why Change Now?
Get Ahead of Competitors
According to our 2022 Localized Marketing Benchmark Report, on average, multi-location businesses only respond to 36 percent of reviews on Google. This is only a slight increase from 2021, which averaged 31 percent.
Note that the review response rate varies by industry.
Responding to your reviews helps your local businesses outpace competitors in local search. You’ll also improve brand loyalty and potentially influence customers to change their negative reviews. Eighty-seven percent of consumers are willing to change a negative review depending on how a business responds.
Provide Convenience to Customers
Consumers aren’t as loyal as they used to be. In 2022, 8 in 10 consumers who are loyal to a specific brand say they’d still buy from competitors if it’s cheaper or more convenient.
Consumers care about convenience. Consumers want to see a local business appear on Google Search or Maps and quickly scan reviews. Within seconds they decide if you’re a trusted business they can purchase from or visit.
Again, if you’re not ranking in local search or don’t have high-quality ratings, and aren’t responding to reviews, you’re losing potential customers.
Use SOCi To Do More With Less
With many enterprise companies trying to cut costs and become more efficient, multi-location marketers are often expected to do more with fewer resources.
SOCi can help your multi-location marketing team! We’ve built an all-in-one platform for enterprise brands.
SOCi Listings empowers enterprises to manage its GBPs and listings on other major directories. With SOCi Listings, you can ensure you have accurate business information across all locations, increasing your ability to rank in local SEO, thus getting more visibility and conversions.
As a part of SOCi Listings, there’s SOCi GeoRank, which provides a geographical view of Google search keyword rankings at the local, regional, and corporate levels. You can see how you and your competitors rank for local keywords at these different levels and make necessary adjustments.
Let’s not forget about reviews. SOCi Reviews helps you manage and respond to reviews across every location’s listing.
SOCi’s recent integration with OpenAI’s ChatGPT lets you instantly create personalized responses to online reviews on Google and other major review sites. This streamlined workflow gives your local and corporate teams more time to focus on other business areas.
SOCi Reviews also has sentiment analysis capabilities and dashboards. You can analyze shifts in your online reputation over time, allowing you to make proactive changes.
Request a demo today to learn how SOCi can help you manage local SEO and online reputation management better, and start dominating the competition.