When developing your SEO strategy, you will likely focus on link-building, search-optimised copy and Google search engine results. But customer reviews are just as important and can help improve your search rankings and your overall SEO efforts.
While you can share all sorts of information about how great your business is, what your customers say is far more persuasive. People search for third-party reviews to help them make decisions about a business, product or service, and it can often be the determining factor as to whether or not to make a purchase.
Many factors are involved with search rankings but online customer reviews are a strong signal to search engines of authority and trustworthiness. When online competition among small businesses becomes heated, managing online reviews is an excellent way to differentiate your business and significantly improve your visibility in the search results.
How are SEO and reviews connected?
SEO and online reviews are closely linked, with online reviews making up 10% of the criteria Google uses to display search results. Google puts the customer first when it comes to SEO, so when Google sees your customers sharing their reviews about your business, the search engine will use that information as a signal to rank you accordingly. When a customer leaves a review about your business, it tells Google that your business is real, and whether or not it's trustworthy.
Online reviews are the fifth most significant factor that determines how a business ranks. Google looks at the quality, quantity and timeframe of online reviews to determine a business's listing. Businesses that consistently get a high number of quality reviews are likely to get more consideration from search engines and a higher ranking. As most people don't generally take the time to click past the first search results page — and some don't even bother to scroll beyond the first few results — this makes ranking as high as possible incredibly important.
Benefits of customer reviews for SEO
Not only should you take notice of online reviews about your business, you should actively encourage them. The number of people shopping online is constantly growing, but displaying images and product descriptions is not always enough to persuade customers to give you their money. As customers don't get to have that 'in-store experience' of touching and looking at a product, you need to step up your persuasive tactics. This is where customer reviews play a key role. More than 95% of customers will base their purchasing decisions on reading customer reviews.
But while customer reviews on third-party sites are crucial for your sales, they also have a huge impact on your SEO and conversion rates. There are many ways that reviews can benefit your SEO and boost your Google rankings. Here's how.
1. Customer feedback creates more keywords
While you may not have considered your customers as content creators, every review they post online is considered content by Google. Regardless of whether the review is good or bad, it will likely contain keywords and phrases relevant to your business. This enables Google to develop a clear picture of your business to better position you in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Thanks to this better user intent match, the result will be higher rankings for your target keywords and an increased click-through rate (CTR).
2. Google trusts and values customer reviews
Within the last few years, the importance of high-quality links has remained consistent. The same is true when it comes to reviews. Positive customer reviews tell Google that your website and business is high quality and, as a result, highly valuable. That's why those businesses with lots of positive reviews generally show up first in Google search listings. Continue to focus on providing a great service and products to your customers, and you will collect high-quality reviews that will help you reach the very top of the results in Google.
3. Improves your CTR and gives you a competitive edge
Collecting reviews on your website will enhance your listings in the SERPs. They will appear as rich results listings under your general information, in the form of golden stars.
Reviews boost your business's credibility and trust, which can lead to a higher CTR regardless of your position in the SERPs. In terms of SEO, a higher CTR is one of Google's crucial ranking factors. Therefore, the more people who visit your website, the more Google will see you as popular. As Google's goal is to provide users with the best online experience possible, you will likely see your listing bumped up the rankings.
4. Increases customer interaction and engagement
Google is known for being particularly vague regarding how and what determines ranking factors. However, it does encourage businesses to collect and respond to reviews, saying that they show a business values its customers and improves business visibility. The benefit of responding to customer reviews for SEO includes:
- Generating more keywords and key phrases for Google to crawl
- Giving the impression that your website is fresh and regularly updated
- Encouraging customers to amend or delete a bad review, which will improve your overall review positioning and CTR
5. Positively impact bounce rates
Bounce rate represents the number of visitors who come to a website then promptly leave without viewing other pages within the website. A high bounce rate is detrimental to your SEO rankings. However, displaying customer reviews can add credibility and trust to your website. Almost four out of five people say they trust online reviews as much as personal, word of mouth recommendations. Reviews increase brand trust and customer knowledge. As a result, people are more likely to spend time browsing different aspects of your website.
6. Boost local SEO
When customers search online for products or services, the results that appear are often tailored to their location. Local SEO is about increasing your website's visibility in relation to searches that either specify an area or location, or increasing the likelihood of registering on SERPs when people within your area search for your type of business. Reviews can help to improve local SEO ranking.
7. Social media engagement
While social media may not be a direct ranking factor for SEO, social media posts do show up in search results. They are content like everything else and can even rank for keywords.
SEO revolves around quality and authentic content. When you combine customer reviews with a social media strategy, you can encourage discussions and postings about your business to a potential audience of billions of active social media users every day. The more people you can get talking about your business, the better chance you have of appearing in search results.
8. Even negative reviews are good for SEO!
Negative reviews are inevitable, even for the most successful businesses. Most customers recognise that not everyone will like a product and accept that there will be negative reviews. But while the idea of critical feedback may seem disheartening, negative reviews aren't all bad news. In fact, there can be some upsides. Poor customer reviews can help you build a genuine search presence, rank for keywords relevant to your industry, and provide you with a valuable opportunity to interact with your customers publicly. They can also show that your review process is authentic — people tend not to trust sites that only have positive reviews.
Negative reviews should motivate your business to improve your product, service or customer experience.
Responding to reviews
Whether a review is positive or negative, it's important to respond to each one. Google urges businesses to interact with customers and react to reviews to show they value their customers and their feedback. But responding to customer feedback doesn't just build trust with your customers. It also builds trust with Google, which is imperative for improving your online visibility.
How to respond to positive reviews
- Thank them for their review.
- Make your reply personal by focusing on something they said in their feedback.
- Don't make your reply too long.
- Give them a reason to come back to your business and website.
How to respond to negative reviews
- Apologise sincerely.
- Be honest and accept responsibility for the mistake.
- Don't blame your staff.
- Don't blame the customer.
- Offer to make amends.
- Don't go into too much detail about their complaint. Invite the customer to get in touch personally.
- Sign off using your name and job title.
How to get more customer reviews
Now we've established what customer reviews can do for your SEO, how can you get more customer reviews? There's no quick way of getting customers to leave their feedback. If you want to know what your customers think and feel about your business or products, you need to ask them. There are many ways you can do this, for example:
- Customer feedback surveys
- Follow-up with emails or phone calls (depending on customer preference)
- In-app customer feedback collection
- Feature requests
- Review websites and independent review platforms
- Social media
Most companies focus their SEO attention on search terms, keyword density, coding and website navigation. However, by focusing your attention on tapping into your reviews, you'll find a huge opportunity to get your business ahead.
Get in touch with us today to find out more about what Feefo reviews can do for your business.