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Review counts matter more to local business revenue than star ratings, according to study

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Reviews matter; that’s well established. What’s not quite as clear is the relationship between reviews, star ratings and revenue, although there have been several academic studies on this. Now, small business SaaS provider Womply has released a large-scale study showing a strong connection between reputation management and revenue across multiple industries.  

More than 200K businesses examined. In performing its analysis, Womply looked at reviews and transactions data “for more than 200,000 U.S. small businesses in every state and across dozens of industries, including restaurants, salons, auto shops, medical and dental offices, retailers, and more.” The key difference between this study and others on reviews is local business transaction data. Womply was able to connect review and presence management best practices with revenue outcomes.

More claimed listings equals more revenue

In brief, the study found:

  • Businesses claiming their listings on multiple sites earn 58% more revenue
  • Businesses that respond to reviews average 35% more revenue
  • Businesses with ratings of 3.5 to 4.5 stars earn more than those with higher and lower ratings
  • Businesses with more reviews (than the average) across sites generate 54% more revenue

Claim and respond. Businesses that didn’t claim their listings averaged $72,000 less in annual revenue according to Womply. Claiming listings on key sites like Google My Business enables consumers to find and engage with businesses more readily. This isn’t news.

Another “no-surprise” finding is that consumers appear more inclined to buy from businesses that respond to online reviews. This may be because they assume those responding to reviews offer better service. According to the study, 75% of businesses don’t respond to their online reviews. But those that do earn considerably more revenue.

Responding to more reviews is correlated with more revenue

An interesting caveat here appears to be one of diminishing returns. Businesses responding to more than half of their reviews weren’t earning more than those responding to between 25% and 50%. The study doesn’t go segment by positive or negative review responses. There may be more nuanced findings here yet to be unpacked.

The optimal ratings range. Womply also discovered an optimal star-rating range. Businesses obviously don’t have control over this. But the company found that businesses in the 3.5 to 4.5 star range had more average revenue than those below or above, including businesses with 5-star ratings.

Womply offers two reasons to potentially explain the under-performance of 5-star businesses compared with those in the optimal range:

  • Five star businesses tend to have fewer reviews
  • Consumers may be more skeptical of 5-star businesses (assuming manipulation)

Review counts trump reviews. The study also discovered that review counts were more strongly correlated with revenue performance than average star ratings. The company said, “Businesses with more than the average number of reviews bring in 82% more in annual revenue than businesses with review counts below the average.” I suspect, however, that below a minimum star-rating threshold this observation would no longer hold up.

Review counts and revenues

Why we should care. Here’s where one injects the familiar maxim, “correlation doesn’t equal causation.” Businesses that already “get it” are going to outperform those that don’t, in part because they’re probably better run. And these businesses are more likely to pursue and execute local SEO tactics effectively: claim and populate your profile on key sites (e.g., GMB, Yelp), respond to reviews, and have a program in place that generates a steady stream of reviews in an ethical way.

One thing not revealed here is whether and what percentage of these businesses worked with agencies or third party providers. Regardless, and despite the fact that much of this is already known in the community, the revenue analysis validates the real-world impact of these best practices.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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SEO

How to increase organic traffic: 14 Practical tips

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30-second summary:

  • Organic traffic is the best shareware way to attract visitors who already want to make a deal. You should conduct a good SEO analysis and take care of the quality of your site to increase it.
  • You can get more organic visits if you develop a strategy, eliminate technical errors of your site, use its good mobile version, make correct external and internal optimization, optimize URLs, update the site content regularly, develop a blog with unique content, analyze competitors, and promote your site through social networks, press releases, newsjacking, emails, and messengers.
  • The correct implementation of the above-mentioned tasks will provide a long-lasting result for you.

Ordinary users trust SERP more than advertising and links marked as “ads”. Correctly performed optimization, troubleshooting and the use of promising channels will quickly bring a good result.

14 Practical tips to increase organic traffic

You can get organic visits using a set of working methods, tools, and recommendations. The best 14 ways are summarized in the review below. 

1. Developing a strategy to increase organic traffic

The solution to any problem begins with the development of a strategy to leave room for financial and time planning. Strategy development is carried out in stages:

  • You should set goals and objectives at first
  • Then, identify weaknesses using a comprehensive site audit and analyze the competitive environment
  • As the next step, you can eliminate identified errors and problems
  • Also, you need to select priority methods to attract organic traffic and increase the position of the site in SERP
  • Then, map the work and budget, prepare a content plan (golden rule for a content plan – 60/30/10 – third-party content 60%, unique content 30%, advertising 10%)
  • If you need, you should select specialists and form technical tasks
  • As the last step, perform tasks, analyze results using Google Analytics

Attracting organic traffic is a rather lengthy process that distinguishes it from contextual advertising. Ads start working immediately after launch. However, organic traffic will work for a long time without any additional investments. 

2. Elimination of technical errors of the site

You can identify and eliminate technical errors of the site using the following methods:

  • Surface self-check
  • Comprehensive site audit with the help of professionals
  • Usage of paid and free services. It’s an optimal solution for those who want to get a quick result with minimal financial investments. Services allow you to identify SEO errors and ones in other key positions. The best of them are Semrush, Ahrefs, and SEOptimizer

You should eliminate identified errors by yourself or with the help of professionals. It’ll make your website more attractive to users and search engines. After the site audit, you can get rid of duplicates, speed up the download of the site, identify affiliates, and solve other problems. 

3. Mobile version of the site

More than 65% of internet users prefer to select and order products from mobile devices. You can’t lose such a huge audience and should take care of your site mobile version. It allows you to increase target audience coverage several times, increase sales and subscriptions. You can create a separate mobile version or use an adaptive design of your main site. In the last case, there will be an automatic adjustment to the screens of different devices. 

4. Correct external and internal website optimization

External optimization

It’s aimed to obtain links from third-party sites. External links that aren’t protected from indexing transfer a part of a donor weight to the acceptor site. When working on building an external link mass, you should consider:

  • Donor site trust, spam level of backlinks. The first index should be high, the second one – low
  • Rules of posting links. It’s recommended to surround them with content
  • Donor site topics (should be related)
  • Frequency of placement. You should increase the link juice gradually. It’s especially important for young sites that have a low level of trust in search engines. A sharp increase can lead to the pessimization of the acceptor site

Internal optimization

It helps to make the site relevant to those queries you carry out the promotion. It consists of:

  • Keyword list collection
  • Keywords grouping
  • Preparing and publishing content optimized with LSI and SEO
  • Formation and optimization of meta tags: title and description, headings and subheadings, image tags
  • Creation of robots.txt files and sitemap.xml (if it’s not generated automatically)
  • Interlinking and other related work

It’s important to ensure that meta tags and content are supplemented with relevant keywords but are not spammed. Otherwise, you can fall under search engine filters.

5. URLs optimization

You can complement URLs with keywords. It makes them more understandable for website visitors. When optimizing URLs, it’s recommended:

  • Use from three to five relevant words, longer links will be cut off in the SERP
  • Use hyphens rather than underscores
  • Take into account spam indicators. Keywords from URLs are added to the overall frequency on the page

Optimized URLs look more attractive so visitors click on them more likely. 

6. Regular content updates

Content updates are a rather important factor which influences on ranking. We speak about updating previously posted materials as well as publishing new ones. It helps to keep pace, increase credibility, have a positive effect on indexing. 

You should carry out updates regularly following the content plan. It allows you to work with new keywords and attract organic traffic from search engines. 

7. Blogging

A blog is a valuable resource necessary for attracting organic traffic not only for commercial but also for information requests. We used to carefully choose the goods before the deal. A blog with interesting and relevant content increases chances that after reading the review, the visitor will perform the target action.

On the blog, you can publish news, information materials, as well as infographics, video reviews – everything that can attract attention and encourage visitors to make a deal. When writing articles for a blog, you can use the links to the catalog. So that the client can immediately buy the product they like without spending time searching the site.

8. Expertise and uniqueness of the content

Usage of non-unique content is a deliberately losing thing. As a result of it, you can get a claim from the copyright holder. Therefore, it’s necessary to create and optimize your content that will provide organic visits. This rule applies not only to texts but also to photos, pictures, videos. In the case of publishing someone else’s content, you must obtain the permission of the copyright holder and give a link to the source.

There is one more caveat – expertise, which plays an important role in ranking issues. Search engines don’t focus on quality optimization but on the semantic uniqueness and benefit that the content of the site can bring to the visitor. The content should answer the question that the user enters in the search bar. If the materials contain outdated, uninteresting, or knowingly untruthful data, the visitor will leave the site. An increasing number of failures will hurt ranking.

9. Promotion in social networks

Social networks are an effective tool with which you can manage opinions and drive traffic to your website. You can create a group for communication with potential customers and publish their announcements, information about promotions, discounts, updates of the assortment, and other content that encourages them to click on the link. Before starting the campaign on social networks, you need to analyze groups of your competitors, look at the situation with ordinary user’s eyes. If the posts are interesting, the subscribers will start to like and share them. This will provide additional free advertising and reach.

10. Competitive analysis

To be the first, you should know what is happening in the competition. To solve this problem, you need to use an audit which will help:

  • Define a keywords cluster
  • Keep abreast of all events, updates and new products introduced by competitors
  • Form advertising budgets and solve other strategic tasks

For audit, you can use online services, questionnaires, secret shoppers, newsletter subscription, analysis of social networks groups, and other tools. You can use the information you’ve got to improve and optimize your website.

11. Press releases on third party resources

Regular publication of press releases on popular sites will help to solve several problems. The first one is traffic attraction, the second – external optimization. News sites visitors click the links willingly. The only negative aspect is that it’s difficult to place such publications. You should make the most of your efforts to get a positive result in outreach and lead generating.

12. Using newsjacking

Newsjacking is one of the varieties of guerrilla marketing that provides unobtrusive advertising. The latter is served against the background of an important event not being a priority. The plus is that users will often visit the site using both search queries and aggregators or news portals. The main rule is to link the offer with a really interesting and important event. Otherwise, the tool will not work. 

13. Email marketing setup

From year to year, newsletters demonstrate their effectiveness. They allow you not only to communicate with customers but also to receive visits to the site. To configure the newsletter, you must have your contact base. To collect the latter, you need to place a simple registration or subscription form on the site consisting of a minimum number of lines. After that, you can establish communication with customers, notifying them of promotions, catalog updates, and other important events.

14. Mailing in messengers

Mailing in messengers is similar to emails. However, messages in Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, or WhatsApp have a higher percentage of opening. A smartphone is always near the person, such messages are more familiar and convenient. Therefore, you should not ignore the potential of this channel. Before starting such mailing, it’s necessary to ask the client whether he/she doesn’t mind receiving advertising materials. Otherwise, the sender (you) may be blocked.

To round up

Correct external and internal optimization, work in social networks and messengers, competitive analysis, technical errors eliminating, and usability improving is priority tasks to increase organic traffic. You can perform some tasks on your own. Other ones will have to be entrusted to professionals. The correct implementation of these tasks will provide a long-lasting result, an increase in organic traffic, sales, and an influx of hot customers.



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Bing Maps API, Google and YouTube ads and targeted SEO

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Digital agency survey results, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console

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