If you’ve come into contact with any digital agency that does SEO, you’ve probably been endlessly reminded to get MORE Google Reviews for your business. While on the one hand, it may seem obvious why you’d want as many positive reviews for your business as possible from a consumer psychology perspective; you may not be aware that reviews are actually great for your SEO as well.
Now, there is a caveat here – not every industry is equally affected by Google Reviews at this moment. An enterprise-level SAAS company, for example, is unlikely to have many Google reviews, and it’s unlikely that its competitors will either. So in that kind of industry more reviews aren’t exactly necessary.
However, for businesses competing in a local niche or a service-based industry, Google Reviews can have a big impact on SEO rankings and therefore subsequent traffic. Essentially, Google knows that despite its place as a titan in the marketing industry, even it can’t beat good old word-of-mouth marketing.
So they did the next best thing – they created a platform within their digital ecosystem where people could share their experiences of businesses and continue to pass on word-of-mouth marketing.
How do Google reviews actually affect SEO rankings?
The basic answer to this is that Google has spent years developing an algorithm that looks for reasons to trust your site for any given keyword. In its evaluation process, it’s added as many markers as it could find – including your Google Reviews.
Google’s goal is to go through all the available websites and give users the best result they can find. This leads to Google separating potential search results according to three main factors:
- How relevant your website is to the search term.
- The distance of your business from the person searching (in context for local businesses).
- How prominent is your business compared to other results that came up based on the previous two factors.
Once Google understands what you are searching for and where you are, it looks for reasons to pick a winner for the top spot. And this is where your standard SEO things come into play like domain authority, backlinks, and in cases like this – who has more positive Google Reviews.
How important are reviews comparatively?
In 2017, a study found Google Reviews to be the fifth most significant factor in determining the rank of a business. Now admittedly 2017 is a long time ago in terms of how fast things evolve in the digital space. However, there is reason to believe that Google Reviews have stayed as prominent (if not become more prominent), as they have since Google improved their Search engine by integrating it with their Maps platform and made reviews more visible in search results.
What this means is that consistently getting 4 and 5-star reviews are going to improve your site’s search ranking performance.
How many reviews should I have?
In general, the rule of thumb is the more the merrier. There is no downside to racking up thousands of reviews for your business. In fact, because Google Reviews are considered User Generated Content, they become an excellent way to consistently create new content for Google search bots to crawl. They are also very likely to include important keywords for your site and services that Google also takes into account.
What about bad reviews?
So far we’ve sung the praises of 4 and 5-star reviews, but what happens when someone dislikes your service or product and decides to voice that opinion on Google?
Well, in general, the good news is that a small portion of negative reviews will not cause a loss of position. Google is aware of the fact that bad reviews are inevitable, and generally doesn’t penalize businesses for authentic reviews. However, receiving many bad reviews can and will negatively affect your business, both by deterring potential customers and affecting the search algorithm.
It is always best to respond to negative reviews to show Google that you are actively involved and let future customers know that you take customer service seriously.
When your digital marketing agency lovingly reminds you for the 657th time that you should be asking your customers to leave a Google Review, please forgive their insistence and stubbornness. They‘re just thinking of you and your business.
If you want to learn more about our Google SEO services, or how we can help you get your business on Google, feel free to reach out for a free consultation!