Reviews – The Most Significant Local SEO Ranking Factor in 2017

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With people turning towards the internet for everything – from shopping to booking their dream vacation – reviews are the first thing people turn to when they start considering purchasing a product or service. This is why reviews appear to be the key ranking factor in local search, facilitating the way for businesses to rank well even if they happen to have low quality link profiles.

This comes as great news for anyone involved in Search Engine Optimization in Sri Lanka as small businesses can benefit largely from positive reviews, helping them to expand their business even further.

This data was revealed from the annual study of Local SEO ranking factors conducted by the Local SEO Guide. Over 200 factors from more than 100,000 locals businesses were assessed and similarities between the businesses ranking well in Google was compared. In spite of local businesses having unappealing link profiles, organic ranking factors were still very highly correlated with local ranking factors. Businesses that rank well on organic search was also found to rank well on Google’s local pack.

Having said that, it was also revealed that businesses can rank well in local packs without the traditional SEO ranking factors such as links or even a website, giving Search Engine Companies in Sri Lanka and across the world to assess this data carefully in order to enhance their approach and tactics in the coming year.

Since reviews are so closely connected with rankings, a business with a good number of reviews on its Google My Business page can actually rank pretty well in local packs. This fact doesn’t come as unexpected since its one of the ways for Google to crowdsource ranking factors. Nevertheless, it’s not simply the number of reviews that matter – what is more important is the quality of reviews and the content of it.

Google My Business pages that have reviews mentioning a keyword and the name of a city were found to rank higher in Google’s local pack. At a higher level, having a keyword that you’re trying to rank for and mentioning the name of the city you want to rank in in the reviews have a better chance at ranking higher on Google results.

This brings up the question – Do links still matter?

Websites that have no high quality link profiles don’t appear to have an issue with ranking in locals searches but this doesn’t necessarily mean than links have become any less important. What is interesting to note in this data is that websites that rank usually tend to have low quality links.

This means that businesses are able to rank in local searches even without a lot of quality links but those businesses that put in that extra effort into building their link profile are always positioned very well in search results. So while all of this points out to a correlation, Google continues to reward some level of optimized anchor text around the keyword and city.

Do not forget the importance of a website

According to the study, small businesses are often bad at websites and in many cases, they don’t even have a website. As any SEO company in Sri Lanka would undoubtedly understand, not having a website can prove to be detrimental to any business, particularly in this age were people are turning more and more towards the digital arena.

Having a well optimized website is crucial for higher ranking on organic searches and ranking well there means that a business is naturally more likely to rank in local packs too. The study points out that investing time and money into valuable assets such as a website should be any business’s top priority.

The Takeaway

Search Engine companies in Sri Lanka have a lot to deduce from this study and it basically comes down to the following conclusions:

1- Ranking in organic searches are closely linked to ranking better in local packs.

2- Take greater effort towards gaining good reviews on your Google My Business page.

3- Make sure that you have a well constructed website and optimize it.

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