Customer interaction and feedback might be a big part of owning a business, but it’s also a key player in local SEO. Online reviews have and always will be one of the driving factors for website traffic (especially for e-commerce sites), which is why you should never overlook the power of a good Yelp or Google+ review. BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2016 found 84 percent of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 90 percent of consumers base their opinions on less than 10 reviews. These don’t have to be full-fledged reviews either. Consumers tend to base their decision on a star rating first.
In SEO, one thing typically leads to another, so think of reviews as one of the starting points to boosting conversion rates and ultimately increasing sales. It’s all about decision-making and gaining trust, which is why online reviews can boost your SEO.
Key SEO Benefits to Online Reviews
Increase Click-Through Rate
Reviews work because they provide reassurance to future customers. Think about how many times you’ve read a review for a particular product or service and how a review influenced your decision to purchase from that company. Reviews can influence a person’s decision to click through to your site or navigate to a product page or simply move on to another competitor. This is why you should look beyond getting reviews on Google My Business and make sure you’re also getting feedback on other sites like Yelp, Yahoo Local, and other niche sites like TripAdvisor or Angie’s List.
Generate Unique Content
This is especially true for sites with product pages that include reviews. User-generated reviews on product pages bring in regularly updated content, which Google loves. When users submit reviews on a website, they’re very likely to use the keyword theme associated with that page, even if it’s a negative review.
Stand Out & Improve Rankings
Google+ reviews are easily the most important in SEO. Google’s local algorithm associates verified Google My Business profiles, photos, and reviews with stronger rankings. The ranking benefits from reviews are not huge, but there’s some advantage like an increase in engagement and standing out in the 3-pack. See what I mean below.
Let’s pretend I need to find an exterminator in Grand Rapids, MI. A quick Google search brings up a 3-pack listing of exterminators in the area. Which one catches your attention first?
The first two in the 3-pack have reviews, while the third does not have any. The second result has a star rating, which also captures the users attention. This goes hand-in-hand with CTR. Reviews that appear in rich snippets and 3-packs under a product or company are much more likely to receive a click compared to companies without.
Build an Online Reputation & Increase Conversion Rates
Lastly, reviews can result in an increase in conversions. Online reviews allow users to trust your site. Users can gain confidence in buying your product and remove any doubt they previously had. As a result, you might see an increase in conversions.
How to Get Reviews
There’s a right and wrong way to ensure your website is getting online reviews. It’s important to remember that businesses should earn them. Writing fake reviews will get you nowhere. Users catch on and search engines will know what you’re up to.
It’s also not okay to discourage people from leaving negative feedback. Google recently updated their local reviews schema requiring that businesses allow positive and negative reviews. I get it, negative reviews are not fun, but negative feedback is also a way to build that trust I’ve been talking about. Nobody’s perfect, but responding to bad reviews and owning up to mistakes shows people that you’re serious about satisfying your customers and doing right by them.
So that brings me to the correct way you should be getting reviews:
Play the waiting game. This takes the longest, but simply wait for consumers to leave reviews based on their experiences.
Use the Google Review Link Generator. Asking for reviews is still in the grey area, as most review sites frown upon it. One way to naturally “ask” for Google reviews is to use the Google Review Link Generator and include the option for feedback in an email newsletter or include a feedback button on your site. The link will take the consumer directly to the review box for Google My Business so they won’t have to search for it.
According to BrightLocal’s survey, 70 percent of consumers will write a review if asked to leave one.
Offer incentives. Many businesses offer incentives to leave reviews or take surveys. Websites can do the same by including a review link in an email that offers a discount if they leave a review, for example.