How Online Customer Reviews Benefit SEO And Encourage More Sales.
By Dean Andrew
03 Dec 2020
You needn’t be informed as to how significant customer reviews are; they are essential and can help shape your business. Just a single critical comment could have a detrimental impact on your business whilst a few positive reviews can do your startup business a world of good. It is not only new businesses that must avoid negative feedback but also major businesses as even they can be affected by the comments of a customer.
The importance of online reviews is evident
Perhaps you’re still not convinced, you’re probably thinking just how significant are they, and does anyone ever bother reading them or is it just hipsters and millennials?
However, you would be surprised to hear that in 2019, search marketing tool BrightLocal, discovered in their yearly Local Consumer Review Survey that a staggering 82% of patrons read the reviews of local businesses, with over half (52%) of those aged between 18 and 54 claiming to read the reviews every time, meaning that everybody completes a level of research prior to making any online purchases.
It is also the case that online reviews have a massive influence on whether or not an individual trusts a website, with 9 out of 10 people taking the online reviews into account prior to making a purchase. It means that our service is possibly more powerful in influencing one’s decision than both promotion and word of mouth.
This particular BrightLocal survey also reveals how 91% of customers are more likely to make use of a business if it boasts positive feedback from its customers.
How do customer reviews affect a business’ search rankings?
The importance of positive reviews is also emphasized by the fact that reviews also impact a business’ listing on search engine results.
This is shown by The Moz’s, “The 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors,” in which some of the top SEO experts nationwide were asked which factors, such as title tags, inbound links, etc. affect a business’ search engine listings most. The survey concluded that review singles were the 3rd most influential factor in such listings.
This article is all about Review matters for SEO rankings if you haven’t guessed it already, but that’s not all, the Moz charts incorporate numerous variations of review signals, below is a list of each and what they refer to. It is pivotal that you read them all as they will enable you to learn the best ways to gain reviews.
1. Review Quantity
According to BrightLocal’s survey, the general patron reads around 10 reviews prior to feeling confident enough in a business; therefore, it can be off putting for potential customers if there aren’t enough reviews.
2. Review Velocity
This refers to the speed at which reviews are posted for your business, meaning that if they are posted too quickly, you will get dinged.
3. Review diversity
This refers to the number of sites that contain reviews regarding your business.
4. Quantity of third-party traditional reviews
The number of business reviews which are found on independent sites does not belong to Google.
5. Authority of third-party sites allowing reviews
In regards to Google, there are some customer review sites that have more power than others.
6. Overall speed of achieving reviews (native and third party)
This relates to the speed at which your business is gaining reviews on both Google properties (native) as well as independent review sites.
7. Volume of testimonials in review
The reviews which are contained in microdata, can also be referred to as “rich snippets”, and these can be seen here:
9. Diversity of third-party sites that have reviews
The number of customer review websites which feature reviews of your organization.
10. Product or service keywords in reviews.
Incorporating keywords into reviews is useful, yet it is important to use a sensible amount.
11. Quantity of authority reviewers
User review sites such as Yelp provide some reviewers with greater authority than others, for instance, if you are a new reviewer on the site, none of your reviews are posted unless you post at least 5, therefore, to boost your search rankings it could be useful to gain a review from an “authority reviewer” on sites as such.
It’s not all about the ranking signals; the industry in which your business is based is equally as important.
Google holds business’ reviews on 3rd party sites which are related to the industry in which the business is based, however, ranking signals do not convey this concept well. In simpler terms, Google wants you to have customer reviews on websites which relate to your trade; luckily it is not difficult to determine which review sites Google ranks highest for your industry of choice.
Type in a quick search for reviews using keywords or your industry name
Check the search results–Simply by scanning through the search results, you are able to establish where you want your reviews, Yelp is, as usual, top of the list, and is closely followed by Books. As you scroll further down the page, you will come across more sites which employ the “authoritarian reviewer” method, so there you have it, the sites which will enable you to accumulate a greater number of reviews.
By scrolling to the bottom of the Google search results, beneath the map on the right side of the webpage you can access even more relevant review sites. However it is important not to get too carried away in search of every possible review site on which your business could be reviewed on, therefore, as a general rule, you should mainly concentrate your attention on 3 main sites, yet it would be beneficial to list around 15 additional sites which you may check occasionally.
The importance of customer reviews is dependent on the industry in which your business is based
Categorizing all “small” local businesses is an inefficient method; this is also true for reviews. The BrightLocal survey which is featured in this article aimed to find out which types of businesses people search for on the internet, it was uncovered that businesses such as restaurants are searched for all the time, while businesses such as accountants and attorneys are searched for less often, nevertheless, online reviews are still very important for such businesses, but more so for dentists and restaurants, whose reviews are actively checked by potentially customers and patients.
How to accumulate reviews
Having discovered how every review site functions and having distinguished which sites you intend to gain reviews on, it is time to request reviews, however, this is a process which is most effective when reviewers are provided with an instruction sheet. For the review site Yelp in particular you mustn’t explicitly request reviews rather you should encourage people to “check us out on Yelp”
How to handle critical customer reviews
Irrespective of how much effort you put into your business, despite working your socks off for hours upon end during the week, it is inevitable that a critical review will appear. Such reviews can negatively affect your morale and could potentially be the difference between a customer choosing your business or not, with a staggering 82% of customers less likely to use a business upon reading negative feedback.
A critical review needn’t be the end of your business; rather it is your response that will determine the outcome of whether or not a customer will choose your business. For instance, if you reply swiftly, remain calm and polite, whilst highlighting solutions to overcome such issues, customers are more likely to choose you, given your determination to offer the best product/service.
However, should you choose to do nothing about a critical review then you are more likely to suffer as customers are less likely to opt for your business given your blatant disregard for anyone’s complaints. Consequently, replying to negative feedback on just one site is inadequate, you must do so across all sites where your business is reviewed, and this specifically includes sites which are industry-specific to your business.
It is crucial to be aware of the fact that any customer spends time providing the most accurate detail of their experience with a business, therefore, you must do the same and show an equal amount of care and concern by responding as best as you can to any feedback, meaning that you must provide as much detail and clarity as possible.
What is your opinion?
Having been educated on how customer reviews affect search engine results, in your opinion is it wise to dedicate more of your time to dealing with customer reviews? For those of you who have already set up a review program, we would love to hear from you, so please comment your opinions in regards to whether or not you believe ratings are beneficial to your search engine listings.