Understanding Citations and Online Reviews

September 14, 2017

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Citations are an important part of any local business’ ability to market themselves in an organic and effective way.

They’re definitely your best friend if you’re trying to improve your visibility on local search engine results pages (SERPs), or when you’re looking to protect and strengthen your online reputation across multiple digital properties.

There are many different ways to build and manage local citations, but the best citations offer more than just the traditional combination of name, address, and phone number (NAP).

They also offer detailed information, such as email address, hours of operation, driving directions, geo-coordinates, payment forms, links to social media profiles, images and videos, and online reviews and ratings (plus the business’ responses to those reviews and ratings).

Understanding the Impact of Reviews

Reviews and ratings in particular have played an increasingly important role in success citation building work.

Why? Because search rankings, online reputation, and customer experience are of foremost importance to local businesses, regardless of size or category or industry.

Online reviews factor into all these areas, making them an essential component of marketers’ citation building efforts.

Reviews and Search Rankings

  • Google has explicitly indicated that reviews play a role in its primary local search factors. “Review count and score are factored into local search ranking,” it has stated. “More reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.”
  • According to a report by Moz, online review signals quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews are considered one of the top seven factors influencing how and where a business appears in local search results.
  • Search Engine Journal has also suggested that reviews can influence up to 10 percent of a business’ search ranking.

Takeaway: More and better reviews bolster citation building work by making a positive impact on a local business’ search rankings.

Reviews and Online Reputation

Takeaway: Citations that feature positive online reviews and higher ratings help build credibility, improve online reputation, and boost a local business’ powers of persuasion.

Reviews and customer experience

  • Businesses that stay engaged on online review sites attract consumers that have 30 to 40 percent more interaction with revenue-driving products, based on a report by Atmosphere Research Group and TripAdvisor.
  • According to Goodsnitch, 9 in 10 Americans believe that businesses should leverage both negative and positive customer feedback – in the form of online reviews – in order to improve products and services. 86 percent of US consumers also agree that managing reviews and customer feedback is a great way for businesses to publicly recognize individual employees for their good work.

Takeaway: Reviews are a popular, engaging, and reliable information source that serves to offer your business — as well as consumers — valuable insight into the customer experience.

Integrating Online Reviews with Your Citation Building Strategy

An active approach to local citation management includes a commitment to managing online reviews and ratings the right way. Here are some tactics to help get you started:

Claim your business listing on online review sites. Your business presence on review platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, and Citysearch (among many others) all count as citations.

Plant your flags on these digital properties by claiming your listing. That way, you can more effectively manage your local information (including your NAP and reviews), gain more control over how you’re being represented across the Web, and help people more easily discover your business.

Monitor your ratings and respond to customer feedback. Low ratings can destroy your online reputation, especially if most of your citations also happen to be pulling in rating scores from multiple data sources. While you can’t stop critics from leaving negative feedback online, you can respond to them in ways that minimize the reputational impact of bad reviews and low ratings.

Request customers for reviews. Sometimes, the easiest way to build reviews is to simply ask your customers. To make the process easy for them, download and print out this free review handout generator (for building reviews on Google). The more reviews you get, the more likely it is that you’ll have those eye-catching yellow stars displayed next to your local listings and citations.

Successful citation building requires an effective strategy for managing online reviews and ratings. Not only can reviews be leveraged to improve local search performance and visibility; they can also serve as a powerful tool for fostering consumer trust, building brand reputation, understanding customer experience, and helping marketers adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape.

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