You probably know that customers rely on reviews to make purchase decisions. But did you those same reviews will help get more search traffic from Google?
Just how important are online reviews for your business? Well, according to BrightLocal's 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey, they are extremely important. The survey highlights several mind-blowing stats, but three of them stand out:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Consumers are turning to the internet for answers to all of their questions, including what to buy and where to buy it from.
- 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. Nobody has time to read hundreds of reviews, and while large numbers are impressive, most consumers make a purchase decision after reading just a handful.
- 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant. This makes constantly attracting fresh reviews so important.
These statistics are more than enough reason to make online customer reviews a priority, but I'm going to give you one more reason: search engine optimization (SEO).
"Customer reviews have always been a priority, but now it's something that our SEO team spearheads, simply because they have such a high impact on local search,â€ explained Alex Chen, owner of Greenshine New Energy.
Chen is spot-on. Just how much of an impact do customer reviews have on SEO?
In Moz's 2017 study, they concluded that review signals could contribute as much as 13% to the local pack ranking and 7% to localized organic rankings. Here are five ways customer reviews can have a positive impact on your website's SEO.
1. Star Ratings in Search Results Get More Clicks
Having star ratings show up next to your website listing in the search results can help pull a much higher click-through rate, simply because they help attract more eyes to your listing, compared to those that don't have reviews showing.
"A local business that sits in the number five to 10 position on the first page of Google can potentially pull in more clicks than the higher listings if they have review stars showing, with a high average rating and a significant number,â€ said Troy Fawkes, founder of Delta Growth.
"A consumer is going to naturally be interested in that listing simply because of the reviewsâ€”it's solid real-world proof of satisfied customers in the past.â€
Little things like sending off customer surveys to every customer via email with the option to leave a review at the bottom can help to naturally attract them. You never want to force your customers to review your business or incentivize the processâ€”attract them naturally.
2. Attract More Organic Search Traffic
Every time a customer writes a review they are dropping natural long-tail keywords that you might not have though about, from a marketing standpoint.
"There isn't a better way to find out what keywords your customers are using to search for the products or services that you sell,â€ said Bob Jenson, CEO of Small Business Loans Simplified.
"When they write reviews for a product or service, they will tend to use their own language, which creates content that isn't written for the search engines.â€
Over time, this can help attract more of long-tail search traffic, because Google starts to associate your website with those search terms and phrases. It's not going to happen after just a handful of reviews, but long-term, it can really have a solid impact on your organic traffic.
3. Improved Product Page Rankings
If you are running an ecommerce website with hundreds, if not thousands of products, reviews can help to rank your individual product pages higher in search engine results pages.
"When your product pages start to receive reviews, this will help to improve your click-through rate, which can contribute to stronger rankings,â€ explained Ariel Chiu, principal planner at Wonderstruck Weddings. "Also, when a customer sees reviews, they are more inclined to buy from you, which reduces your bounce rate and improves your average time per visit, all which Google loves to reward.â€
Most review plugins and add-ons have a settings feature that allows you to dictate what pages and/or products you can enable reviews on. Make sure you have it set to allow reviews for every productâ€”the more opportunity you provide your customers, the more reviews you will start to naturally secure.
4. Unbiased User-Generated Content
When a website publishes a blog post, it's always going to be biased in nature, painting the products and or services being sold in a positive light. That's expected, but with customer reviews, it's always going to be unbiased content.
"You aren't going to please everyone, so expecting to receive perfect five-star ratings every time is a highly unrealistic expectation,â€ said Hunter Payne, owner of Home Link Cincinnati. "Customer reviews fills your website with unbiased content, which presents your business is a very raw and real manner, which consumers like. Intelligent consumers know that you can't please everyone, so don't assume it's the ned of the world if you receive a review that isn't perfect.â€
The level of customer service you provide will have a direct impact on your customer reviews. If your support staff goes above and beyond, you will see that effort rewarded.
5. Google Loves Well-Reviewed Websites
It's no secret that Google loves reviews. If they didn't, they wouldn't display them in the search results. If you search local terms for any service or local business, you will see a trendâ€”websites with a lot of reviews (and positive ones) will naturally rank on top.
"The local pack is impacted the most, and those are the local listings that tend to get the most attention, especially when it comes to mobile users. You have to be proactive and make secure customer reviews a priority if you want to dominate the local pack results,â€ explained Adam Steele, founder of Loganix.
Now that Google has reduced the local pack results from seven to three, it's even more important to accumulate as many reviews as possible. Try to find a top local pack listing that doesn't feature an impressive number of strong reviewsâ€”it's almost impossible.