Local SEO is as much about community outreach, interaction, and reputation management as it is about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. You need to cater to both Google and to the local population, many of whom are looking for you on the go. We’ve often talked about the importance of local, but a recent update to the way Google displays information on the search engine results page (SERP) has only increased the importance of doing it right.

The search giant announced recently that it would display critic reviews inside of the knowledge area on the results page (the box with all of the business’ info).

What originally was thought to apply only to certain partners is now expanding, and Google announced that anyone can now apply (meaning that reviews from large sites like Yelp! and TripAdvisor are now eligible). This multitude of voices is going to have a big effect on local businesses, since 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth ones.

What was the Google update?

Before the update, reviews were displayed inside of the box of information about a business, but these were reviews that people manually put on the company’s My Business Page. This update has changed that. Now Google’s algorithm will scour the web looking for reviews across all websites, prominently displaying the ones that it deems most relevant.

When someone searches for your local business, they will now get a box of information about you with a section at the bottom dedicated to reviews from across the web. They will be placed even more prominently on local.

Why the change?

SEO is becoming more and more complex as Google shifts toward showing the results that provide the best user experience. It makes sense to think that they would want to show as much helpful information as possible. Recent research has suggested that 67% of customers are affected by online reviews, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it were much higher.

Local SEO

This development makes local SEO that much more important on several levels:

  • First, it’s necessary to have some of the local SEO basics in place to ensure that your company’s info appears properly on the SERP.
  • Second, having dedicated professionals performing community outreach, managing your local presence, and interacting via social media ensures that you actually do get reviews.
  • And lastly, making sure that the positive reviews are pushed to the top and customers with a negative experience are catered to is now increasingly important. Any information posted about you will now be even more front-and-center than it ever has been.

Google is out to give its users (especially its local ones) the most relevant and helpful information. Now that critic reviews from massive sites such as Yelp! will be viewable right inside of your business profile box, it’s imperative to have the proper local SEO tactics to ensure that A) your customers can see them and B) that they shed as positive a light on you as possible.