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Optimizing Local SEO with Google Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 7 min read
Optimizing Local SEO with Google Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide


In today’s online world where every business is competing for Google real estate, mastering local SEO is no longer an option, but a necessity. When most think of SEO, they think of keywords, website optimization, and backlinks. But at the heart of this SEO puzzle lies an often-underestimated tool: Google reviews. In this guide, we'll cover why and how to use Google reviews to improve your search ranking and boost your online reputation. These are proven strategies, whether you're a marketer for a large franchise or a single location local business.

The Impact of Google Reviews on Local SEO

Google reviews are a key indicator of a local business’ reputation and standing in the community. They give future customers guidance on what they can expect from a business, allowing them to make more informed decisions. With 71% of online reviews being written in google, they have become a core component of the search process for customers.

Google’s Search Ranking Considerations

Google’s Search Ranking Considerations (Source)

But potential customers are not the only ones who look to Google reviews when selecting a business. They also play a vital role in Google’s search ranking considerations. Reviews play a part in the complex algorithm Google uses to rank businesses in search results. Google determines local ranking using three main factors. Here is how Google breaks them down:

  • Relevance: Relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for. Add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches.
  • Distance: Distance considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, we’ll calculate distance based on what we do know about their location.
  • Prominence: Prominence refers to how well known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands are also likely to be prominent in local search results.

Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business' local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.

Customer Review Factors for Google Ranking

Customer Review Factors for Google Ranking (Source)

Now that we understand Google's ranking factors, let's dig a little deeper into factors that customer reviews contribute to. Google keeps the specifics under wraps, but we do know that the search engine examines a few different factors of Google reviews when determining where to rank a business. They are:

  • Quantity: A high number of reviews indicate that a business is popular and relevant.
  • Quality: A high-quality review has two key characteristics. The first is a high star rating, which tells Google that people like your business. The second is a detailed account of the customer’s experience with the business. These positive reviews include valuable keywords that Google picks up on. For example, “This place is great! They have the best cheeseburger in Austin.”
  • Velocity: A steady stream of new reviews tells Google that customers are currently and consistently engaging with your business.
  • Diversity: Reviews across various platforms (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.) can signal that a business has a wide customer base.

Businesses that consistently bring in a high number of high-quality reviews from multiple online platforms often rank higher in search results. This results in increased web traffic and revenue and it’s something that businesses should prioiritize in their growth strategy. Now, we’ll show you how to use Google reviews to boost your SEO efforts.

Step 1: Fully build out your Google Business Profile (GBP)

A fully built-out GBP is a source of valuable information for both potential customers and Google. Google aims to provide users with the most relevant results for their search. Providing accurate, detailed information helps Google trust your business. In fact, this is the first thing Google encourages businesses to do if they want to improve their local search rankings.

In addition to text-based information, Google recommends including high-quality photos in your GBP. Accurate photos of your business, products, or services gives a visual representation of what customers can expect, making your business more appealing.

If you have a physical location, include photos of the interior and exterior. If you sell products, provide clear, well-lit photos of these products. You could also consider including photos of your team to add a personal touch. Remember, people are often drawn to visuals, and compelling images can significantly influence their decision to engage with your business.

Step 2: ​​Ensure your business info is accurate on all other listing sites

​​Ensure your business info is accurate on all other listing sites (Source)

With your Google Business Profile fully built out, it's important to ensure that your information is accurate across all other websites where your business is listed. Remember, Google doesn't solely rely on your website and Google Business Profile to evaluate your business.

The search engine crawls the entire web for information and uses other websites to verify your business information. For example, if your GBP says you’re located at 123 Main Street, but the Chamber of Commerce website says you’re located at 122 1st Street, then Google won’t be able to trust that you’re address is accurate and place you in the search results.

Step 3: Ask your customers to leave you Google review

As we covered earlier in this guide, the quantity, quality, velocity, and diversity of reviews are all factors that Google considers when ranking a business. But requesting customers for a review has additional benefits as well. A negative Google review can severely impact your average ranking if you only have a few rating on your business profile. Having a high quantity of Google reviews minimizes that impact.

Requesting more Google reviews also increases the likelihood that you receive more positive ones. That’s because a customer who’s had a negative experience is more emotionally charged and is more likely to leave a review to voice their opinions and feelings unprompted. In contrast, someone who’s had a pleasant experience with your business may be satisfied but not as driven to go out of their way to leave a review. By asking them for a review, you’re giving satisfied customers a better opportunity to leave you one.

Step 4: Craft your Google review request to encourage customers to describe their experience

A personalized customer experience not only strengthens customer engagement and satisfaction but also increases loyalty by making the customer feel valued and understood. You should take a similar approach when asking customers for Google reviews. That means avoiding the run-of-the-mill, "Thank you for your business! Please leave us a review." Instead, get specific with your request. Mention the product or service they used and ask for feedback about that. For example, if they bought a custom cowboy hat, your request could say, "Thank you so much for coming into our shop today, we hope you enjoyed your custom cowboy hat. Could you share a review of your experience with our staff and tell us what you thought about the quality and fit of your hat? We'd really appreciate it!"

This not only makes the customer feel valued but it also boosts your SEO. Google picks up keywords in online reviews to help users find what they're looking for. So when a customer reviews your business and uses keywords like 'custom cowboy hat' or 'quality', they're actually giving Google more reasons to consider you a top result for those searches.

Step 5: Respond to your Google reviews

Respond to your Google reviews (Source)

In the same way that personalizing your Google review request makes the customer feel valued, responding to them is just as important. It's your way of saying, "Hey, we see you. We appreciate and value your feedback." And that goes a long way in building trust and strong customer relationships.

This applies to negative Google reviews as well. Responding to negative feedback gives you a chance to set things right. It's your opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy one. And if handled properly, it could lead to them updating their review and rating of your business.

Ultimately, this shows that you're an open book. You're not hiding from criticism or shying away from problems. Instead, you're facing them head-on and making things right. This openness can impress other potential customers who come across the review. Plus, it ensures that a negative Google review isn’t floating around on the internet without your side of the story. It's a win-win for you and your customers. Keep in mind that Google does NOT examine the keywords in your responses when ranking. So be sure not to keyword stuff your response; just focus on providing a personalized response and address any issues promptly and professionally.

Step 6: Post Google reviews to your website and social media

Having Google reviews on your website, social media, and Google Business Profile allows you to utilize customer feedback in multiple ways, so you can consider to hire a software development team to make a well-optimized website and design review section for your customers. While reviews are essential for your online reputation and visibility, displaying them on your website and social media adds even more value. This enhances your website's content with relevant text data, giving Google more context about your business and its relevance to customer search queries. This can improve your website's overall visibility and organic rankings.

Additionally, featuring Google reviews directly on your website helps establish trust and credibility with your visitors, as they can see the feedback associated with your products or services firsthand. You can maximize your SEO efforts if you align with Google's goal of providing the most relevant search results by optimizing your website with helpful review content.

Taking the next step

Although the steps outlined above provide a comprehensive guide to leveraging Google reviews for SEO, it's essential to note that implementation can be complex and time-consuming, especially for businesses with limited resources. This is where a reputation management platform that utilizes automation comes into play.

There are platforms today that allow businesses to automate many of the processes involved in managing and optimizing Google reviews. These tools automate the entire process of managing your business information across the web and social media, sending review requests, responding to reviews, and analyzing data all from one platform, regardless of how many business locations you may have.

The world of SEO is complex and ever-changing, but one aspect remains clear: the power of Google reviews can’t be ignored. They not only influence potential customers' decision-making but also play a crucial role in improving local search rankings. For businesses, leveraging Google reviews is a strategic move that can result in increased web traffic, better customer engagement, and ultimately higher revenue.

The steps outlined in this guide provide a comprehensive roadmap for you to harness the power of Google reviews for SEO. Whether you're a marketer for a large franchise or a single-location local business, following these steps and utilizing automation technology can help you improve your online visibility, build a strong reputation, and drive growth.

Felix Rose-Collins

Felix Rose-Collins

is the Co-founder of Ranktracker, With over 10 years SEO Experience. He's in charge of all content on the SEO Guide & Blog, you will also find him managing the support chat on the Ranktracker App.

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