Angie’s List and Yelp are household “names.” They have become huge review sites for customers to express their opinions of products and services. And businesses know that one of the biggest benefits of having online reviews is the influence they have on potential customers who are looking for recommendations in specific product and service niches.
Millennials, the largest e-commerce shopping group, in fact, rely heavily on reviews as they make purchasing decisions.
What many business owners may not know, however, is the impact of customer reviews on SEO.
Here is a list of the SEO benefits of having online user reviews of your product,service, and of your customer service.
1. Unique Content
Any time a user writes a review, it is unique content, whether it is published on your site pages or on review sites.
Search engines like unique content, and when your site is associated with that unique content, your ranking will increase.
2. Good Organic Search Results Rankings
If you are able to have user reviews in many places on the web – your site, your business’ social media platforms, and review sites for your niche, those reviews will have keywords and keyword phrases that will relate to your niche.
Thus, when organic searches are conducted (e.g., [“Product/Service Name] Review”), you are likely to show up. This is especially true for local organic searches. And, in any cases, Google will also show a “star rating” based upon the average number of stars you have received on review sites.
So, the more reviews you have, the more authoritative you would be and likely for you to appear in organic search results.
If user reviews on review sites and social media include a link to your site, then your click-through rate increases, sometimes as much as 10-20%. This is obviously a big factor in your SEO ranking, particularly if those click-throughs come from many different sources.
The importance of reviews and click-throughs to SEO is summarized in the following pie chart of all SEO factors, created by MOZ.
Note that when reviews are combined with click-through rates (dark orange and medium blue, the total can be as high as 10%+.
How to Get Reviews that Search Engines Will Find
Here’s how you can leverage customer reviews for SEO benefit.
- Use HTML: Search engines cannot read your reviews if you use other technologies to publish reviews on your site.
- Watch for duplicates: Don’t simply copy customer reviews onto your website. Sometimes, it can be marked as duplicate content. Instead, you can modify user reviews by using short quote snippets and quote snippets often will include keywords too.
- No fake reviews: These become quite obvious, not just to users but to search engines as well.
- Always answer negative reviews: Instead of removing the reviews, which sometimes may not be possible, you should always respond to negative reviews. Often times, there’s a high chance of you turning the reviewer around and make them an advocate.
- Encourage reviews on niche sites: If you want reviews that will generate click-throughs, then you want those reviews to be on niche review sites. This is where potential customers will look for reviews on you or on the product/service you offer in general.
- Offer incentives: If possible, you can encourage user reviews by providing an incentive to users to write reviews either on your site or on niche review sites. Ask for the reviews and offer a discount, a coupon, a freebie, etc.
- Use reviews on your product pages or print: If you have a catalogue or print of the services and products you offer, you can quote from testimonials and reviews you’ve received online.
While user reviews may make up only a small percentage of total SEO factors, those small percentages add up.
Encourage users to write a review for publication on your site, ask them to write reviews and share them on your social media platforms, request reviews on niche review sites and, of course, respond to any negative reviews you find. Your competitors are leverage online reviews, both to entice customers and for SEO rankings. You need to be using them too.
Click-throughs are definitely an overlooked factor when websites look to improve their ranking with SEO, the same goes with unique content which I’ve seen big sites struggle with.
I think it’s a good suggestion to respond to negative reviews as well, after all it’s feedback that you can use to make your site better. You probably won’t make everyone happy ever but at least you improved.