88% of your customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and the majority of local customers read several reviews before making a purchasing decision. A new Google update has changed the game, increasing the importance of reputation management and local SEO as we know it. Find out how your business could be affected.

As a local business, your goal is to rank in the results that appear on the map on the very first page of Google. This “map pack” is directly in front of the customer’s eyes and is where the vast majority of clicks and calls to local businesses go. The rewards are astronomical, but the stakes are high. Google has rolled out a new update with a brand-new user experience for the searcher. Now, the potential customer will have instant access to your reviews as well as an overview of your entire operation.

Here’s what we know so far and how it will affect your business:

The Update

Now, when a user makes a local query, they will have a tab-based user experience. What that means is they’ll have access to everything they would want to know about your business in two separate tabs:

  • Overview: This tab shows your business information: Location, Hours, Website, etc.
  • Reviews: The customer will have access to a tab dedicated solely to reviews, allowing them to make a more-informed decision and making it easier to compare two businesses .

How Reviews Affect Your Business

There’s nothing more powerful in advertising than word of mouth, and that’s true even on the web. Here’s how online reviews can affect your bottom line:

  • 86% of customers are willing to pay more if the company has good reviews
  • 85% of customers use the Internet to research before buying
  • 80% of web users said negative reviews made them change their minds about purchasing decisions
  • 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations


What does this mean for local SEO?

If there’s anything that is clear about these changes and user behaviour Online, it’s that local SEO matters. Reviews are key to local purchasing decisions, but what good are they if they aren’t where customers are searching? The same logic applies to your website. What good is a website if nobody can find it?

Ranking in the map pack gives your company an advantage over everyone ranking below you, and if your reviews are there to match, customers will choose you directly over a competitor. Google’s new algorithm update has only increased the importance of local SEO.