As a business, trying to crack Google’s organic ranking algorithm can be a difficult task since there are so many moving parts factored into the equation (more than 200, actually). However, as we continue moving toward an online-based world, we do know that Google is constantly adjusting their formula to better serve their primary focus: consumers.
Even though it’s an often forgotten about part of any good SEO strategy, reputation management is being weighed more heavily now than ever. In fact, online reviews have become so important that 93% of consumers report using them to influence their purchase decisions. While it’s well-known that consumers rely on the opinions of others, in this article, we’re going to be taking a look at the different ways online reviews impact your brand’s organic visibility.
Search engines like Google are incredibly good at following consumer trends, the way they search for things, and, more importantly, the way they buy. When consumer behavior starts changing, Google is never far behind with a new algorithm that better meets the evolving needs of their users, while simultaneously creating a headache for businesses.
In it’s simplest form, search engines love using online reviews as an SEO factor because consumers love using online reviews. But, you’re here for a better explanation than that, right? Continue reading as we break down the various ways online reviews impact SEO.
Quality backlinks have always been a strong factor for determining where your website should show up in search results. When your website gets links from other authoritative, relevant sites, Google sees it as a vote of trust that says “Hey, there’s good information here.”
Working in very much the same way, Google uses online reviews to gauge whether or not your brand is meeting the needs of consumers. Lots of good reviews send Google a signal that not only is your business is real, but also that consumers are having positive interactions with your brand in which their problems are resolved.
On the other hand, lots of bad or mixed reviews tell Google that you may not be offering the best solution for consumers, causing your search engine ranking to drop.
Hopefully, that is. Think about the last time you were browsing local restaurants online to find a place for a dinner. Out of the list Google gave you, which results did you click on? The 2-star restaurants, or the 5-star ones? Most likely, the ones with the best reviews.
At the end of the day, consumers trust reviews. Reviews make your website more alluring to browsing consumers, which results in higher traffic. Higher website traffic sends Google a positive signal that people believe your brand has the solution to their problem.
As an added benefit, so long as your website pages rank for what your ideal customers are searching, your conversions rates should naturally see a boost as well, sending yet another positive SEO signal to Google.
Simply put, the better search engines understand your website and what you have to offer, the better your search rankings will be. Search engines crawl your website and related content with “spiders” that read, interpret, and help connect consumers to businesses.
Generally speaking, the more keyword-rich content your website has for search engines to read, the more they have to work with in terms of building your business profile. This is the very reason search results are so accurate instead of showing you pet stores when you searched for a local pizza shop. When consumers write online reviews about your business, they’re unintentionally helping Google learn more about your products and services. Think of it as a form of free content creation that has a positive impact on your brand’s SEO strategy and search rankings.
While the idea of asking consumers to leave a review can be kind of scary, so long as you’re offering a quality experience and product, the positives will far outweigh the negatives. Modern consumers are obsessed with learning as much as they can about a product or service before they buy, which is where review sites come into play.
Online directories and review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook are all top dogs in the world of online reviews. This is why when searching for something like “best Italian restaurants near me”, the top results on Google are usually pages from review sites like Yelp. This serves as a powerful way to funnel consumers to your website without having to invest the time and resources trying to rank organically for select search terms.
Even though this can certainly backfire if your reviews on these sites are less than great, showing off review site ratings will easily win the hearts of consumers.
The consumer journey in an online setting can take all kinds of twists and turns before eventually landing them at your checkout page, credit card in hand. While everything we’ve been talking about up until this point is based around SEO for your website as a whole, reviews can also help improve the SEO of specific product and service pages you have. After all, there’s no better time to get in front of a consumer than when they’re searching for products directly.
By simply enabling your products to feature a visible review system that can show up in search engines, you’ll be reaching customers at their most vulnerable time—when they’re ready to make a purchase. Just as search engines like Google tend to favor businesses with the highest reviews, if your products reflect a high star rating, they’re more likely to show up at the top of search results.