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Search Reputation vs. Local Rankings: What's More Important?

Paul Bliss
Search Reputation vs. Local Rankings: What's More Important?

Search reputation and local rankings: if you had to pick just one of these to do as part of your online marketing strategy, which one would it be?

The best answer is that you need to worry about both, since they have an overlaying effect on each other.

Let's take a look at the public perception of each one:

Search Reputation:

  • Negative or positive reviews of your business; major sites are Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Plus.
  • Common sites where negative comments are found in Google search results are pissed-consumer and ripoffreport.
  • Negative comments about a business can severely impact the trust factor of the consumer if the brand is silent or seems to care little about the complaints.
  • For bigger brands, there are even fake reviews that need to be dealt with.
  • If a company or brand is engaged in search reputation, it's costing them enough pain in the business that they are dedicating time and resources to it.

Local Rankings:

  • Appearing in the carousel or 'map-pack' results are key for getting the most clicks as a local business.
  • Many people prefer to deal a business that is local over a franchise that is located in multiple locations in a city or around the country.
  • Many local businesses have no idea on how to get the top rankings in Google.
  • Many small businesses think they have to use paid search to get the traffic and business they need from Google.
  • Rankings are influenced by accurate business listing details (consistent name and address, phone number, etc).
  • Should have reviews from multiple sources besides Yelp (such as Angie’s List and other aggregators).

How Should You Address Both Search Reputation and Local Ranking?

Search Reputation

Address every negative comment found on any site where a verified owner can leave a reply.

We all make mistakes. A company that owns up to a mistake they made (with an explanation of what is being done to correct it) is many times better off than a company that doesn't respond at all, or acts like there is no negative content that exists online about them.

It’s a lifetime commitment to fixing a mistake. No one can be expected to have a perfect track record, but a constant reminder to do right by the customer is what will edge out the negative content in the course of time.

Local Rankings

As a local business, asking for a review of services should garner a decent amount of reviews (assuming service was worth it), and generally, people like leaving good reviews if the experience was positive.

Pay to be listed on Angie's List and the BBB.

Yes, there are some politics involved, but the general public doesn't care about that – instead they focus on the fact that the BBB trusts your company – leverage that!

You don't need to be on every social media platform. There are some that make more sense than others to be on, pick and participate wisely.

Asking for a review all the time carries the risk of getting negative feedback, so have a response plan ready.

It is time consuming to follow up and be persistent, but it’s worth it for your business.

The algorithm changes – just because a few sites today carry weight in the rankings, doesn't mean it will always be that way. Always look to be present where your audience is.

There are many potential customers that will never visit your site simply because they read some bad reviews about your company online.

How many times have you given a business a second chance?

The dedication needed to stay on top of both your search reputation and your local rankings should always be a weekly discussion for your business.

The good news is that once you make this part of your routine, it’s not that overwhelming. The bad news is that once you start, you can’t stop.

Either way, it’s the way of doing business for the times we live in. Those who recognize and embrace this will be the ones who will be left standing in the future.

Do you have additional suggestions for managing the reputation of a business online? Please comment below.

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Paul Bliss has been performing SEO and social media services for over 11 years, and shares more of his thoughts at his site, ranksurge.com. His last post for SEMrush was "Social Media for Your Business: Instagram Insanity."
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