The power of customer reviews is well documented with 95% of consumers reading reviews before they make a purchase. Less well known but equally important is the impact of product reviews on SEO. Read on to discover what this means and how you can harness this power to supercharge your digital footprint, customer acquisition and sales.
What is SEO?
SEO – search engine optimisation – is the process of making your website as visible as possible on Google and other search engines when people search for terms related to your business. These could be linked to your product or service, your brand, or other related topics related to your industry and company type. We know that 68% of online experiences start with a search engine, so being as visible as possible can have a huge impact on your business. Unlike search ads, which are paid for, SEO relies on several key factors which can naturally lift (or diminish) a website's presence on the search engine results pages. Some of these factors include the quality of external websites linking to your website, how website content is structured and which keywords are used, and how good the site's user experience is.
What are product reviews?
Product reviews are exactly what the name suggests: reviews of the products you sell from the people closest to them – your customers. Product reviews can cover a broad array of topics including value for money, quality, size or colour, taste or smell, life span… the list goes on and on. Customers usually leave product reviews when they've had a particularly great or especially terrible experience. Products with five reviews are 270% more likely to be purchased.
Collecting product reviews
Product reviews usually happen organically, but you should make sure that you do everything in your power as a business to enable your customers to be able to leave their reviews easily and quickly. Ensure that your website is set up to collect customer feedback, which you can incentivise with prize draws or other initiatives. It is also a good idea to be proactive - don't just want around for organic reviews to take place. Reach out to your customers to encourage reviews and have a skilled customer service team on hand to manage the replies. They should also be aware of any third-party review websites or social media platforms that you use so that no reviews get missed. It is crucial that you respond to all reviews, good and bad, to reassure potential customers that you are a trustworthy, fair and professional company.
As your product reviews start to stack up, analyse them for any trends or themes that indicate common problems or issue with your products. Insights like this are vital to spotting product issues early on, so that you can resolve them and make your products even better. If you want better control over who is leaving you reviews (so that you can prevent fake reviews), use a closed review tool that only accepts feedback from authenticated customers. This will stop any disgruntled customers from leaving lots of fake complaints, or from competitors using any underhand tactics against you.
How do product reviews impact SEO?
Here are the 5 biggest ways that product reviews can boost your SEO:
Reviews help Google to better understand your business
When your customers leave product reviews, they usually serve up content that is bursting with keywords relevant to your business. Google is constantly on the lookout for fresh, relevant content, which is what your customers are creating with every new review! It doesn't matter whether you get a glowing review or a poor one – every review is another opportunity for Google to better understand what your business sells, what industry you operate in, where you are based. Then, with a clearer picture of who you are and what you sell, Google can better position you when searches relevant to your business are made.
Reviews keep website visitors on your website for longer
Google is always on the lookout for great website experiences, which can be linked to low bounce rates, high session durations and lots of time spent on individual pages. These all indicate that your visitors are in the right place, are happy on your website and are engaging with your content. And 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has product reviews, which means they will also be more likely to browse your website and spend time on there before converting to a sale. These positive metrics feed back to Google that your website is a hit and deserves to be well ranked.
More reviews = more website traffic
The more product reviews you have online, the more opportunities you have to convince potential customers that you are trustworthy and that your products are worth investing in. Positive reviews serve as fantastic social proof, which can often be enough to persuade people to click through to your website and commit to a purchase. Negative reviews can also have this power when you use them as an opportunity to be friendly, helpful and fair. Always respond to negative reviews and show that you are a business that welcomes feedback, can admit to mistakes (if they've been made), and is committed to delivering a great experience – even to unhappy customers.
Boost your click-through rate
A good click-through rate is a key signal to Google that your website is relevant to their search term and answers their search query. One way to really boost this is by using review snippets to transform how you appear on the search engine results pages. Review snippets can appear as rich results or Google Knowledge Panels, and can feature stars and other summary information from the reviews collected on your website. Not only do these review snippets look extra enticing and clickable, but they are another opportunity to show the searcher how great your brand and products are. This, in turn, will lead to more clicks to your website and a higher click-through rate, which proves to Google that your website is click-worthy and popular, which will bump up your page rankings.
Refine your keyword strategy
When your customers leave reviews, they are likely to use long-tail keywords to describe their experience with your products and business. The language and phrases that they use, and how they word their feedback and concerns, can be used to shape your keyword strategy going forward. Look for common phrases and integrate them as keywords for your on-page website optimization. You can also use their language to refine your brand and marketing messages, to better connect with them using the words and phrases they like to use and hear.
When a potential customer turns to a search engine to look for the products you sell, your website needs to be present on the search results pages. If you're not, you run the huge risk of losing them and their business to a competitor. Good SEO practice is something that every business should be aiming for, and collecting product reviews is a great starting point for this.
The more product reviews you collect, the SEO benefit you will see for your business. They are a great way of generating keyword-rich content quickly, and can also inspire new ideas for long-tail phrases that can boost your SEO and shape your brand messaging and communications. They can highlight to Google what your business is about, what you sell and what kind of customer you serve, which is all crucial information that helps Google to rank you higher when relevant searches are made. Product reviews can capture your website visitors' attention, increasing their engagement with your website and signalling to Google that your website provides a great experience that makes people want to stick around and go on to convert. These metrics tell Google to rank you higher in the search results.
Product reviews can also help your SEO by increasing the click-through rate and associated traffic to your website. The great social proof that positive reviews provide and the confidence in your business that professional, helpful and fair replies to your negative reviews can build can persuade searchers to take the next step and visit your website. More traffic and a higher click-through rate show Google that your website is popular, and is, therefore, more deserving of higher rankings. You can then boost your click-through rate even higher using review snippets, which return additional product review information from your website into the search results (as rich results or Google Knowledge Panels).
Don't wait around for product reviews to happen naturally. Reach out to your customers for their feedback, and be poised and ready to reply to every review you receive be it good or bad. Enable simple and quick review collection on your website, and incentivise responses using competitions or other initiatives. The power of product reviews and their ability to really boost your SEO efforts is undeniable, so get ready to harness this power for your own business and watch your search engine rankings soar.