However, many companies aren’t aware of the full extent of online reviews’ impact. Reviews can influence purchase decisions.
But they can also impact online reputation, other digital marketing campaigns, and the number of local customers you have. In particular, customer reviews can positively influence your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.
If you’re wondering, “Why are reviews important?” we have answers. Read on for insight into how online ratings can affect your Google ranking.
The Power of Online Reviews
There are scores of online review platforms available to businesses. Citations on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google itself automatically enable customers to review their experiences with your product or service.
A lot of consumers can quickly peruse business ratings on these sites–or even apps on their phones–when contemplating a purchase decision. If you have a lot of review portal citations, your business is apt to surface in such scenarios.
In many cases, review platforms rank businesses according to the total number of stars. Many will enable consumers to search for businesses that have a minimum number of stars.
So, why are reviews important?
They give consumers a highly efficient and quick overview of what your services are like. It’s possible to catch a glimpse of a business simply by checking a few search boxes and skimming some results.
Given the fact that most consumers have an eight-second attention span, this “skim” can make or break the daily leads and conversions you get.
What’s more, consumers don’t even have to navigate to a website or pick up the phone to find this information. Many even value online reviews as they would a personal recommendation from a family member or friend.
As such, even a single negative review can dissuade a potential customer from making a purchase or giving your company a call. Multiple positive reviews, however, can bolster your online reputation and influence lead generation.
Luckily, if you are struggling with the aftertaste of a negative review, we can help. A bad review isn’t likely to tank your company.
But it can influence your Google search ranking and SEO performance. Let’s take a look at what customer reviews can do to your optimization efforts.
What This Means for SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing tool that any business can use. SEO is key to boosting your visibility on multiple digital platforms.
If implemented properly, it can mean a higher Google ranking for the majority of your content. Content with high Google rankings is more likely to earn a click from users searching for specific keywords.
SEO is essential for businesses eager to take advantage of Google’s popularity. In fact, Google processes 40,000 search queries a second!
So what do online reviews have to do with SEO? Everything. Here is how an online rating can benefit your SEO campaign.
1. Online Reviews Factor into Google’s Ranking
Online reviews factor directly into Google’s ranking process. Google definitely pays attention to a lot of different factors when assigning rankings to content for certain keywords.
For example, domain authority is a fairly big influence on Google ranking.
DA refers to the integrity of your content’s link-building structure. Essentially, sites with higher domain authority have a host of backlinks that suggest its credibility in the context of the internet as a whole.
Besides domain authority, Google also looks at click-through rates, social media activity, content, and SEO efforts themselves. But it gives online ratings a hefty lookover.
The logic here is simple.
The more citations you have on review platforms, the greater your intention appears to engage with your customers. The more reviews you have–especially positive ones–the more trustworthy and credible you appear in Google’s eyes.
In this sense, Google is almost acting like a consumer, valuing your business given what other people have to say about it.
The more robust your customer reviews, and the more positive ones there are, the higher your Google ranking. It’s that simple.
2. Leverage Your Local SEO Campaign
Local optimization involves optimizing your online content with local searches in mind. What is a local search? It is a location-based keyword a user is likely to type into Google in order to find your brick-and-mortar business.
For example: “farmer supply store in Spokane” or “hair salon near the Empire State Building.”
A solid local SEO campaign is essential for businesses that depend on local customers.
When paired with citations on review platforms like Yelp and Angie’s List, it can dramatically influence the total number of community members who walk through your doors.
When a user performs a local search, however, she is likely to peruse listings much like she peruses global searches. Google will prioritize local listings based off of authority, placing the most relevant matches towards the top of its results page.
The higher you are at the top of this list, the better. What’s more, Google will display results with average review numbers visible. In general, it will give preference to local listings that have the most relevant customer response.
You guessed it: online reviews (particularly via Google My Business) directly influence where your business appears in local searches. By leveraging your local SEO efforts, they can earn a higher local ranking and drive community-based audiences up.
3. Gather Customer Data
The best SEO campaigns are constantly evolving.
After all, Google is always switching up its algorithms. Consumers are also always changing their preferences about products and services.
As such, a keyword that is popular today may not be so trendy tomorrow.
One way to effectively manage an evolving SEO campaign is to keep tabs on its performance. Luckily, tools like Google Analytics make this relatively easy.
Analytics can give you insight into which keywords are proving most valuable for individual campaigns. You can understand where your organic traffic is coming from and what that traffic is doing once it lands on your site.
Online reviews can actually function in the same way. They open a window into your customers’ minds, giving you detailed feedback about their desires and needs.
This is particularly the case if customers leave comments in addition to their one to five-star rating. These comments can actually be incredibly fruitful, giving you insight into the keywords and phrases customers are using to reference your services.
For example, let’s say that you sell women’s clothing online. A customer may leave a review citing how much she loves your company’s “hooded sweatshirts.” Hooded sweatshirts, as we know, can also be described as simply “hoodies.”
If most of your customers are referencing “hooded sweatshirts,” this could be a great keyword for optimization (rather than “hoodie”). Now, you could feasibly hone your SEO strategy further with more tailored keywords in mind.
This is the kind of data that can directly inform SEO campaigns for the better.
4. Reviews Give Google More Content
Google needs content in order to rank pages for specific keywords. The more online content you have, the better.
More online content means more opportunities for optimization. This is why a lot of businesses find great value in keeping a blog on their websites. Blogs provide virtually unlimited content that can be optimized for key searches.
Customer reviews, believe it or not, unwittingly give businesses more online content. This is particularly the case if customers leave detailed comments to explain their reasoning for assigning a particular ranking.
Google will crawl this content to assess its value and, ultimately, your page’s ranking. It will prioritize content that is diverse, relevant, and largely positive.
This gives business owners yet another means of boosting their SEO efforts–without having to do much at all.
Marketers can also respond to individual consumer comments. In these responses, they can reference SEO keywords, which gives Google even more content to assess! The possibilities are limitless.
Why Are Reviews Important? Final Thoughts
Every business owner asks at some point in their company’s trajectory, “Why are reviews important?” This is especially the case if you presently enjoy a large customer base and don’t have a lot of negative online reviews.
However, customer reviews are essential to any effective SEO campaign. They can assist in local optimization by boosting your local rankings.
They also provide automatic, effortless content that Google can continue to peruse when assigning rankings. This can be central for businesses with limited digital content seeking greater visibility.
Lastly, customer reviews can give businesses valuable insight into the way their customers think and how they perform Google searches. Customer data in this sense can help make SEO efforts even more intentional (and likely to pay off).
Don’t miss out on the amazing benefits of online reviews. Get started on those citations today!
Bourbon Interactive is your solution when it comes to digital marketing and online reputation management. If you are eager to get started on your SEO marketing strategy or clean up those negative online reviews, we are here to help.
Start a conversation with us today to learn more!