Publish Date:
November 9, 2023

Does Responding to Reviews Help SEO? 3 Tips For Small Businesses

Does responding to reviews help SEO for small businesses? Learn how replying to customer comments and ratings can boost your website’s local ranking on Google.

Implementing an SEO strategy enables your business to reach a larger audience, convert more prospects into customers, and drive more traffic to your website, explaining why 14% of U.S. small businesses spend $5000 per year on SEO services.

There are numerous ways to improve your SEO strategy both on- and off-site, like increasing your site speed, publishing quality content, and putting a link-building strategy into place.

But does responding to reviews help SEO? And how can small businesses manage their reviews – and their responses to them – more successfully? 

Read on to discover how responding to reviews can improve your local rankings and encourage more customers to choose your business over its competitors

We'll also share three tips on responding to reviews more efficiently, plus answer some FAQs about SEO and review responses.

responding to reviews to help boost seo

Does responding to reviews help SEO? 

The short answer: yes! But how does it work, and why does it matter? 

You already understand the importance of maximizing your brand’s online visibility, which is the goal of SEO. After all, less than 1% of people who perform a Google search check the second page of search results. 

Google’s Map Pack, or “local pack” – the top three most relevant results for a local search – is especially crucial for small businesses. 

google map pack example

That’s because the local pack attracts 40% of clicks – more than organic search (30% of clicks), paid advertisements (10% of clicks), and listings under “More Places” (8% of clicks). 

google map pack up close

Search engine optimization can help your business break into the Map Pack on Google Maps and rank higher in local search results – especially if your SEO strategy includes responding to reviews

According to Search Engine Journal, “Reviews account for a 17% share of rank in the Map Pack,” along with “a 5% share in local organic ranking. And as Google explicitly states, “More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business' local ranking.” 

In fact, there are numerous factors that determine Google local rankings. The three most important factors in determining local ranking are: 

  1. Relevance – Relevance measures “how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for.” 
  2. Distance – Google “considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.” 
  3. Prominence – Prominence is “how well known a business is” and is partially based on links, web articles, and directories of business listings. 

So, what role do online reviews play? Types of review signals that Google’s algorithm takes into account include: 

  • Review Quantity – The combined total of positive, neutral, and negative reviews that your business has received. 
  • Review Velocity – How often your business receives new reviews, such as every few days vs. every few months. 
  • Review Diversity – Having various types of reviews (such as 5-star ratings vs. 4-star ratings). If your reviews are identical, Google and searchers will be suspicious of fake reviews.  
  • Review Responses – Whether the business owner has provided a review response. Google explicitly recommends responding to reviews to improve your local SEO, with one support page explaining, “When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.” 

Google also takes other signals into account when determining which businesses to display, such as: 

  • On page signals. These are adjustments you make to your website to improve SEO. Examples of on-page SEO include properly formatted headers, alt text, title tags, and other page elements. 
  • Citation signals. This includes references to your business name or address. For example, reviewers might naturally reference your brand name and/or location in their reviews. 
  • Social signals. Receiving “Likes” on social media is an example of social signals. 

Online reviews can help your business gain trust and establish credibility, which is crucial not just for SEO, but converting prospects into customers. 

For example, positive reviews are an excellent source of authentic user-generated content (UGC). According to Tint’s 2023 State of Social & User-Generated Content report, “consumers trust authentic, unpaid reviews from real customers more than any other type of content,” including brand-generated content (like advertising) and content created by influencers. 

3 tips for staying on top of online reviews of your business 

Google reviews are only one piece of the puzzle: you also need to track customer feedback on platforms like Facebook, Yelp, Trustpilot, and the Better Business Bureau, plus any industry-specific platforms that are relevant to your brand. 

Here are three tips to help you stay organized – and stay on top of your online reputation – when you’re dealing with positive or negative reviews: 

  1. Make sure you have notifications enabled for Google reviews and other review platforms 
  2. Use review response templates to help you build custom replies to reviewers  
  3. Automate your review responses by harnessing the power of AI 

1. Turn on automated notifications 

Positive reviews are like free advertising for your business, providing your brand with an invaluable source of social proof. If you fail to respond to positive reviews, you risk losing valuable customers – not to mention the word-of-mouth marketing they provide. 

If you fail to respond to a negative review, the consequences are no better: you risk being perceived as an untrustworthy business that doesn’t support its customers. And in both scenarios, the end result is that you lose opportunities. 

By turning on automated notifications, you can avoid these outcomes and help prevent reviews from slipping through the cracks. Since there are hundreds of platforms where customers can review your business, notifications are essential for staying organized and up-to-date.

Turning on email or mobile notifications is easy for Google reviews: simply follow Google’s step-by-step instructions, which you can read here or view in the screenshots below.

how to turn automated notifiactions on google
how to manage notifcations in google search

For other review platforms, such as Yelp, the process is more complex. You’ll need to use a third-party tool, such as Boast or Edorsla, or save time by letting a full-service solution like ResponseScribe handle it for you. 

2. Use review reply templates 

Actively responding to customer feedback helps consumers trust your business and increases the likelihood that you’ll rank in the Map Pack. The challenge is that creating custom responses completely from scratch can also be time-consuming. 

Templates allow you to accelerate the process by providing you with the outline or framework of a response. Your business can build on and personalize this framework by incorporating details from the review – or, if it’s just a rating with no comment, by varying the language you use in your replies. 

We’ve already shared some example responses, along with templates for responding to both negative and positive feedback, to help speed up the writing process for you. Explore our templates for: 

3. Automate your review responses 

Notifications ensure that you never miss a review, while response templates simplify the task of replying to your customers. But for the fastest and most efficient approach to review management, consider a full-service solution that handles responding to reviews for you. 

automate your review responses with responsescribe

ResponseScribe empowers your business to respond quickly and easily to reviews by leveraging the power of AI, plus our expert team of writers. Responding to online reviews helps you: 

  • Rank higher in local search results and potentially get on the Map Pack 
  • Reach a wider audience of potential customers
  • Attract new customers to your business
  • Establish yourself as a trustworthy brand
  • Persuade unhappy customers to give your business another chance 
  • Boost customer retention and brand loyalty 
  • Advertise your business for free  

Our service automatically monitors 50+ review platforms and generates personalized, on-brand responses to customer feedback, ensuring that every rating and comment receives a reply within 24 hours. 

Learn more about how it works and compare our flexible pricing plans.

sign up for responsescribe

A personalized review response service designed for small local businesses 

ResponseScribe makes monitoring and responding to customer reviews effortless. All your reviews are centralized in a convenient one-stop dashboard, including Yelp, Facebook and Google reviews. ResponseScribe provides a professional response in under 24 hours when customers leave you a rating or comment. 

You can approve and edit responses or take a hands-off approach with AI and full automation. And with multiple plans and pricing tiers, our scalable service is built to grow with you.  

Start your free trial today – and start delivering a better customer experience.

example of a response by the responsescribe team

FAQs

Does responding to Google reviews help?

Yes, there are multiple ways that responding to Google reviews can help your small business. Not only does responding to reviews help SEO strategies succeed, it also shows potential customers that they can trust your business. That means they’re more likely to visit and explore your website, which also leads to more conversions and a higher click-through rate.

Does liking Google reviews help SEO?

When you receive a Google review, you can “like” the comment, making it more likely to appear at the top of your business listings. Your business should take advantage of this feature to increase the likelihood of positive reviews on Google being seen by potential customers.

How important is responding to reviews?

Data shows that 49% of consumers trust online reviews of local businesses as much as personal recommendations from their friends or family. With reviews wielding so much power and influence over consumer behavior, it’s critical to respond to every review it receives, including positive reviews, negative reviews, Google reviews, and reviews on social media platforms like Facebook.

Why is SEO important for your business?

Organic and local SEO help you rank higher in Google searches. That means more people are likely to see and visit your website, enabling you to reach new customers and grow your brand faster. 

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