Local SEO Is A Waste Of Money

Focusing all of your internet marketing efforts on Local SEO is a huge oversight.

Marketers who say “You have to be the first on Google Local listings if you want to survive” are full of it!

Do you know why this is horrible advice?

Because it’s not true! Not one word of it!

I think it’s time to peel back the lid on this whole thing and find out once and for all what exactly is the most important element of a local businesses online marketing campaign.


It’s Really In The Research

3 out of 4 U.S. internet users will research your product and/or service on a review site.

When they get there 72% will trust every review they see even though they have never met the person who wrote it!

People make split second decisions to purchase from you no matter if you rank #1 or #1000 in the local places results.

Still don’t believe me?


How Negative Reviews Kill Sales

A recent Harvard study by Professor Micahel Luca shows just how important reviews are to your local business. He found, over a 6 year period of analysis, that local businesses with higher star ratings actually made more money.

Throwing Money Away

CC Image courtesy of Images_Of_Money on Flickr

In fact…

Businesses that increased one star in rating saw a gain of 5-9 percent in revenue!

Can you believe that?!?

So even if you do rank number one on Google Local but you have negative reviews or worse yet, no reviews, you are essentially tanking any efforts from your Local SEO campaign…

And you are making less money because of it!

But this is an easy problem to fix and you should jump on it now.


7 Ways To Get More Reviews For Your Local Business

1. Be on popular review sites

(12 review sites you should have claimed)


2. Ask for them

(Make sure you and your staff know everything about reviews and how to get them)


3. Create collateral for “In House” marketing.

(Create simple word documents that you show you are reviewable)


4. Add links to your email newsletter

(You are building an email database and not focusing all your attention on social media, right?)


5. Optimize your website

(Make sure your contact page has review links)


6. Ask on your social networks

(Don’t be afraid to ask on communities that already love you)


7. Get loved ones involved

(Let friends and family know they can give you an honest, non-spammy review on Yelp if they want)


It’s your turn.

Get out there and start generating some reviews for your local business.

Heck, your livelihood depends on it!


Now share this on one of your favorite social media sites so you help not only yourself but also another local business owner that needs it.

Or if you disagree with me leave a comment below.


Read the Harvard study here: Study Finds Positive Yelp Reviews Boost Business


  1. Andrew says

    Soliciting reviews is against Yelp’s TOS. Mikel. :)

    That said, I think local seo and reviews are both integral parts of a comprehensive marketing strategy for brick and mortar businesses. One could say shared emphasis on both will beget more of both.

    • says

      True, updated. 😉

      I found it interesting that reviews could actually increase a business’s revenue, however.
      The next step is to see if a bump in rankings will produce the same results.

      Thanks for stopping by Andrew.

  2. says


    Good post. Many buy local and most ask for rec’s before buying local. Put the 2 together and the odds are stacked in your favour (we get enough of them!). A lone entry online without reviews shows an absolute lack of foresight..

  3. says

    Thank-you for the article, very timely for me.

    I am currently trying to work out how or why Google is penalizing my Local Listing. It seems like a manual penalty.

    As for soliciting reviews Google will punish you if suddenly a whole lot of reviews appear. We moved location, our reviews disappeared after 5 months of waiting we started a FB like, Twitter Follow and Google review.

    Within 1 day Google did move our reviews, one bad one and the 12 old ones did not follow. Manual Penalty.

    So please be careful of manual penalties.

  4. says

    Nice work, Mike. As you know, I relentlessly harp on reviews, so it’s nice to see this sort of piece. One way I think about it is: let’s say, hypothetically, that everyone ranks pretty well in local search. Then how do customers choose one business over another? Exactly.

    • says

      Thanks, Phil!

      I like your example of winning the local seo battle with reviews. Essentially the cream will rise to the top.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. says


    Good post and even better link-bait-esque blog post title :)

    I’ll bite.

    Reviews are paramount, especially for local searches.

    However, the huge value most local seo’s & business owners miss is the secret sauce which is the LONG TAIL. Many long tail terms don’t trigger local maps results and therefore review strength can be negated.

    Here are some real life terms that resulted in a lead for a dental client. These do DO NOT trigger a map (for me at least):

    broken tooth dentist wants to extract
    cheapeast tooth extraction in (city)
    cost of teeth extract (city)
    affordable adult orthodontics (city)
    (city + state) dental clinics that takes medicaid

    That said, I think the best local seo’s will drive leads in the form of emails and phone calls and PROVE value to their clients, to an undeniable degree. If a local seo isn’t proving phone calls then yes, it can be a waste of money.

    • says

      Hey Jacob – thanks for stopping by and adding a great point of view on the long-tail side. Agreed that the long-tail can easily be overlooked at the local level.

      What about when the user does do a long term search, they find a local business and THEN they do a search for reviews?
      This is where you can “leak” money on a marketing campaign.

      Thanks for the great input!

      P.S. What kind of tools do you use for tracking phone calls?

  6. says

    I don’t disagree with you, but I’m leaving a comment anyway :). I thought I was going to disagree and have to defend local seo (clever post title). The last line of your post sums up the purpose of what a real local seo NEEDS to do. Provide phone calls, orders, leads, new patients, etc.

    There are, in my opinion, a ton of local seo company’s out there (telemarketers, bleh) that solely go after ranking, and ranking alone. Ranking for 15 keywords is great and all, but if it isn’t driving any calls or revenue, then it’s pointless.

    Reviews are clutch, I don’t need to expand anymore on that.



    • says

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Blake.

      Yes the telemarketers pushing the ranking only angle are a huge pain.


      See ya around!

  7. jamie s says

    72% believe every review they read? Bull. How can you prove that. I think in terms of businesses on Yelp – as a for instance – people weigh heavily the overall star rating (hence the harvard study). BUT they take reviews w/ a grain of salt and read them with a pretty heavy foot on earth, not just willy nilly believing everything they read as that statement would infer. Also, suggesting not being page 1 on Google when someone searches for “pizza delivery city” at 10pm is not being real. That page 1 listing is critical at that point and in most points when someone is looking and searching for a local service online. Is it EVERYTHING? No. Does it matter? It does. Pure and simple. It makes a difference. Inferring it doesn’t just isn’t being real.

    • says

      Hey Jamie – Great points!

      Here is the link I used for some of my stats: http://searchengineland.com/study-72-of-consumers-trust-online-reviews-as-much-as-personal-recommendations-114152

      I have yet to run across a study that shows what kind of effect having a higher local ranking has on a business.
      But if you search for pizza (like your example) and out of the top 3 only one has a 4 star rating and the other have 2-3 star ratings, which would you choose?

      A real world example I could use is when I was out of town 2 months ago in LA. I wanted Chinese food and every business close to me had horrible reviews. I actually ended up driving 15 minutes to spot that had a decent rating.

      I do like your angle and think it’s always great to have well rounded, knowledgeable thoughts on this stuff.

      Thanks for commenting!

  8. says

    The title is a misnomer! :p

    To me, reviews are part of local SEO, so local SEO is actually very important. I know, it’s actually a GREAT title to get interest!

    Great point about people taking the time to read reviews and do research before selecting a product or service. I think too often we forget that the average searcher is getting more and more intelligent, more and more used to the tools we have online.

    SEO is not just about getting them to your site, it’s not just about about being ranked high – it’s about the whole package; great content, great reviews, great customer service, etc.


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