Google Reviews and Your SEO: What You Need to Know

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Business owners face many challenges as they strive to connect with a steady stream of new customers. Insurance agencies experience the same challenges, which is further complicated by a highly competitive marketplace. The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) attempts to position company websites at or near the top of search results, helping a given company stand out from its competitors. The concept of local search in insurance SEO has ushered in new strategies and factors, including the importance of customer reviews on Google. Google reviews have the potential to positively influence search rankings, and agency owners need to know how to best leverage this exciting new capability. In this guide, we’ll show you how. 
 

Local Search: A Brief Overview

Many insurance agencies tend to be focused on local or regional service to customers. These businesses depend on attracting new people from the service region in order to grow. Local search is designed to facilitate that process. 

Over the past decade, search engine giant Google noticed a sharp uptick in online searches with a localized component. Queries like “affordable insurance company near me” began to dominate searches; in fact, Google reports that almost 50% of all online searches include a local component, referred to as “local intent” by the search engine company. Local SEO, then, is the strategy of positioning a company’s online presence by marketing to a local or regional audience. 

There are three primary components in local SEO, and each of them work together to produce results. These components are:

  • Google My Business (GMB) profile – this free service provided by Google allows a company to claim a business listing, then populate it with information about the business, its products and services, and its contact details. 
  • Appearance on Google Maps – filling out a GMB profile and submitting your company’s website to local business directories all but assures that your business will be featured on Google Maps, a tool customers use every day in your area. 
  • Google reviews – GMB allows customers to post reviews based on the quality of service they have received. Reviews have become a critical part of brand-building and SEO in general, but reviews posted to Google may have specific effects that help pages rank favorably. 

 

Why Are Google Reviews Important?

Think about the last time you searched online for a business near to you. In addition to the company’s products and services, chances are that online reviews had some influence on your purchasing decisions. Reviews, either directly on a given site or through a third-party review aggregator (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages, and Google, only to name a few of hundreds of choices), contribute to the success or failure of a business in the connected environment. In 2016, Google rolled out a “like” feature on its reviews, allowing others to give a thumbs-up to those reviews they appreciated. This may also positively influence rankings, provided the feature is not abused by business owners paying for a favorable response. 

Google itself is engaged in a push to keep searchers on the search platform itself by providing a wide range of information resources directly on search results pages. Here, reviews are a critical part of the overall user experience, helping potential customers to better understand what a company is and what it stands for. More importantly, many SEO professionals agree that Google reviews help to improve search rankings, including at the local search level. Google’s search algorithm sees reviews as a sign of a given website’s quality and trustworthiness, then rewards those trusted sites with higher rankings. 
 

How to Leverage the Power of Google Reviews

Now that we have a better understanding of local search and the importance of reviews in influencing search rankings, how can insurance SEO initiatives take advantage of the potential of these tools? The answer begins with review management. 

Review management is the process by which a company interacts with customers by responding to reviews, including addressing negative reviews. Feedback is important to any business organization, and it is also important to consumers. By interacting directly with customers, agencies can build trust, letting customers know that their opinions are valid and appreciated. Responding to reviews also builds trust within the Google search algorithm; according to the Google My Business support page, this can positively influence search rankings

Tips for responding to reviews include:

  • Responding quickly; SEO experts suggest responding within 24 hours.
  • Offering thanks to customers for positive reviews.
  • Being specific to add a more personalized touch to responses.
  • Apologizing for an unpleasant experience if a customer posts a negative review.
  • Inviting negative reviewers to continue discussion on another forum, such as via email or telephone.
  • Offering to resolve issues.
  • Being honest. Mistakes happen, and owning up to those mistakes differentiates quality business operations from those that simply do not care about customer perceptions. 

 
Insurance SEO is filled with many tools and strategies for maximizing search visibility. By taking advantage of the myriad features Google provides to business owners, achieving great rankings is easier than ever before. Do not overlook the power of customer reviews in your brand-building efforts; these reviews can offer surprising benefits to your operation. 
 

About Agency Tsunami

Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.

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