Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

With user trends showing a strong relationship between mobile browsing and local SEO, many business owners and SEO companies are finding that customer reviews are incredibly important. Customer reviews work twofold because your prospective customers get a good idea about the success of your company, and search engines love the authentic content it creates. Fortunately, getting started on your business/website reviews is pretty simple.

Why Online Customer Reviews Matter to Local SEO

Google loves to see customer reviews because users love to see customer reviews. SEO is all about optimizing your website for Google, but Google should be about optimizing your website for users. A few important things to keep in mind regarding customer reviews and SEO include:

  • Quantity. The number of reviews that you have on your website is important. Google likes to see a good amount of reviews, somewhere between at least ten and twenty; just make sure you don’t get too crazy and create a cluttered website.
  • Ratings. Although it may sound obvious, it’s important to remember that the actual ratings you’re given in your reviews are good. It’s certainly OK to put some less-than-perfect reviews on your page because you don’t want to appear untruthful, but do remember that Google looks at the quality as well as the quantity.
  • Keywords. If you have your product name and/or keywords in the customer reviews, Google bots will surely find your site relevant and start placing it at the top. Keywords are important for SEO in every aspect of your website, so customer reviews are just another place to make it happen.
  • Competition. Your competitors will have customer reviews on their sites, so they will have an edge when it comes to a local SERP for the reasons discussed above. However, it’s important to remember that just because they got started first doesn’t mean they’re going to finish first. You still have plenty of time to get a strategy together and outrank your competitors.
  • Mobile. Many mobile users look for reviews when searching for a local establishment to make a purchase from. Reviews in conjunction with mobile-friendly websites will drive twice the traffic to your business compared to those without.

How to Increase Your Number of Customer Reviews

Getting customer reviews in the first place as well as increasing your number isn’t difficult, but just a bit time consuming. Below are the three tips and tricks to making it happen:

  • Be quick. Waiting to ask people to send you reviews is never a good idea because people will be “over it” by then. Asking someone for a review right away gives you a better chance of success. Try and make a habit of asking customers to leave reviews right after their experience with your business. You can also add incentives, such as discounts on later purchases, in exchange for online reviews.
  • Be easy. The last thing your customers want is to be asked to review your company through some complicated form or procedure. The best way to ask for reviews is when you have the customer face to face just before they leave your business. If this isn’t possible, sending an email with a simple survey or a link to your Facebook or Google page will prompt customers to leave feedback.
  • Be persistent. If someone doesn’t review your company right away, send a follow up email three or four days later asking for feedback on their experience.

In the end, it’s important to remember that great reviews come from great service. It’s never good to force a review out of someone or try to fake it. If customers don’t want to give your reviews or you’re not getting the results you want, go back and change some things about your business, or seek feedback on how to improve your services. Not only will it help your local optimization, but it will also help your business thrive and develop the consumer base needed to be successful.