You’re looking for a new kennel to take care of your dog while you’re away on vacation. So you ask around for recommendations from friends, and then head online to get a little more information. After all, you don’t want to leave Fido with just anyone. After reading the reviews, you decide that your friend’s recommendation was spot on, so you make a reservation.
If that scenario sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Research shows that consumers actively seek out online reviews for products and services — 88 percent of consumers have looked up reviews for a local business, and almost 40 percent do so on a regular basis. Nearly three-quarters of customers say that online reviews increase their trust in a business, while almost 90 percent say that they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. In short, reviews are important if you’re going to entice customers to buy your stuff.
Must Include Reviews in Your SEO Strategy
However, reviews do a lot more than tell potential customers how great your product or service is. Reviews are important to your SEO efforts as well, and can actually drive traffic to your site and increase conversions.
How Reviews Affect SEO
You might be wondering exactly how reviews can influence SEO, since your customers generally aren’t privy to your keywords or your SEO strategy. There are actually a few ways:
1. Higher click through rates.
If you search for an item or service online and get a page full of results, how do you decide which to click on? Research shows that listings that show a snippet of a review or an aggregate star rating have a higher click-through rate than listings that do not.
2. Improved page rank.
Because customers are actively searching out reviews, if you encourage customers to share their opinions, when others search for “business + reviews,” your pages will see a better page ranking.
3. Improved conversions.
Not only do reviews help your site appear in search results more often, they also encourage more conversions from those visitors. Quite simply, people are more likely to buy when they see positive reviews.
4. Keyword research.
As you gain more reviews, you can begin to see which terms resonate with your customers, which are often the same words and phrases that searchers use to find your product or service. Analyze your customer reviews to discover trends and commonly occurring phrases that you can use on your site and in your content.
5. Improved local SEO.
If you own a local business, like a pet kennel or a flower shop, positive consumer reviews can actually improve your Google page rank. Again, reviews strongly influence which links users click — and the number of users who click on your site influences your page rank.
Getting the All-Important Reviews
Since reviews are so important on so many fronts, how to you get them? Resist the temptation to get your mom, your neighbour, and your second cousin to write a series of glowing reviews for you; it’s easy to spot fake testimonials, and Google has even gone so far as to delete reviews on Google+ local listings that they deem suspect. Don’t bribe customers with gift cards, freebies, or other perks for writing reviews, or manually enter the comments you collect on comment cards or surveys as reviews.
Instead, encourage your customers to leave honest feedback on your website, and make it easier for them to do so. That might mean including a review button on your site that redirects users to a review form, a follow-up email that includes a link to a review form, or posting reminders on social media. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple ask, either. If you interact with a customer in person, ask him or her to post a review on your site. When someone tells you that they are happy with your product or service, ask them to share those thoughts in a review. In short, when you make it easy for customers to share their thoughts and show your appreciation when they do so, you’ll naturally generate the positive feedback that leads to better SEO.
A solid SEO strategy requires looking at all of the angles and finding every way possible to get your links to the top of search engine results pages. While you might focus on your content and your product pages, don’t overlook the value of reviews too. You might just find that they drive more motivated buyers to your site than any other tactic.