Online reviews and customer testimonials are the digital marketing industry's best kept secret.
Digital reviews help build a brand's reputation, increase sales and impact your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Let's face it: brands need to emphasize more on online reviews.
User Reviews is 21st Century Word of Mouth
Word of mouth has been around since the time of commerce. Businesses, both large and small, survive and thrive based on the word of customers. Years ago, small businesses would garner customers based on the recommendation of a friend, who praised the company over a cup of coffee. The same thing can be said about negative opinions regarding the enterprise's products.
That type of word of mouth marketing has gone online, mobile and on social media.
Just how effective are consumer reviews? It's reported that about two-thirds of consumers perform online searches for reviews before making the decision to purchase an item or a service. It's been proven time and time again that user reviews drive sales, and it's something most customers want when they're perusing a website. Digital reviews have become essential.
Heck, you can even integrate digital reviews in the offline world by showcasing them at trade shows, conferences, in-person events and advertising schemes (you see emoticons/emojis everywhere).
Here are a few statistics presented in a 2014 survey conducted by Bright Local:
- 88 percent of customers have read reviews to determine the quality of a business.
- 39 percent of consumers read reviews on a regular basis.
- 85 percent of shoppers read up to 10 reviews during the online shopping experience.
- 72 percent of buyers say positive reviews make them trust a local business.
- 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations.
Image courtesy of BrightLocal.
You see? No wonder why brands and digital marketers promote user reviews so much.
But what about online reviews' impact on SEO campaigns? There are benefits, too.
SEO Strategies See Gains From Digital Reviews
You may think that user reviews only influence people. But you'd be amazed at just how much of an effect customer testimonials and online reviews can influence your rankings in the pages of search engines.
A study conducted by Moz a couple of years ago suggests that reviews are ranked as the fifth most important search engine factor. Reviews rank behind things like external local signals, one-page signals and link signals. Reviews, according to the data compiled by Moz, are also more important than social media and behavioral and mobile signals.
Image courtesy of Moz.
Within the realm of reviews, search engines also take a look at an array of reviews signals. Some of the signals consist of the following:
- Review Quantity: How many reviews do you have?
- Review Velocity: How fast are reviews published?
- Review Diversity: How many websites have reviewed your business?
- Quantity of Third-party Reviews: How many reviews have your business received on non-Google properties?
- Authority of Third-party Reviews: How much authority do these non-Google websites have?
- Keywords in Reviews: How many and what product or service keywords are used?
- Quantity of Authority Reviewers: Are reviews on websites like Yelp published by authority users?
When honing in on online reviews, you also have to realize just how imperative they are to your local SEO initiatives. User reviews can impact rankings in local search engines, clicked on search results and consumers' purchase decisions. Things like citations and on-site optimization are crucial to succeeding in local SEO.
As you concentrate on the SEO-Review correlation, you'll notice an increase in click-through rates (CTRs) on search engines and improved rankings for the product name and review.
Yotpo recently recorded a video that takes a peek into online reviews' affect on seller ratings, rich snippets and Google SEO. Here is what the video states:
“You can use your reviews to rise to the top of search results and improve your SEO. Our in-line SEO technology opens you up to thousands of new keywords by loading reviews as a part of your site’s content. Rich snippets lets you put star ratings right alongside your organic product search results. With Google Seller Ratings you can display your site review ratings alongside you google ads, increasing CTRs by up to 17%. And with Google Product Listing Ads you can display your product reviews on your ads and across google shopping, so your products stand out from the pack.”
Rich snippets lets you put star ratings right alongside your organic product search results. With Google Seller Ratings you can display your site review ratings alongside you google ads, increasing CTRs by up to 17%. And with Google Product Listing Ads you can display your product reviews on your ads and across google shopping, so your products stand out from the pack.”
Now that you see the benefits of online reviews, you may be wondering: just how can I integrate my digital reviews with my SEO endeavors? Here are three important tricks to implement now:
Fresh & Unique Content
If there's one thing that web crawlers crave it's fresh, unique and regular content. User reviews are an effective way to generate more businesses as well as content.
A lot of websites just utilize standard product descriptions from the manufacturer, which makes it difficult for the crawler to differentiate.
However, user-generated content (UGC) can help crawlers make that differentiation.
Looking for Bad Reviews
There is no doubt that bad reviews make small business owners and merchants petrified, enraged and sad. However, you should take advantage of bad reviews. It's more of an opportunity than anything else. Here are a few things to consider when embracing the concept of bad reviews:
- A healthy mix of good and bad reviews improves consumers' trust in the brand.
- Too many bad reviews are bad for business; if you have 18 bad reviews and two good reviews then it'll hurt the reputation of your business and dissuade people from buying.
- Contact the person who wrote a bad review and find out what you did wrong or why they're dissatisfied. Rectifying the problem helps your brand look good.
Focus on Long Tail Targeting
Let's be honest: people simply don't type in anymore “plumbing in a house;” instead, they type in “plumbing in a house when it's cold outside.” And when your website has extra content completed by user reviews then it can lead to a higher ranking. Also, a lot of people tend to use the same type of words and phrases as those who go out and search for them on Google or Bing.
The next question that you may have is: how can I get my customers to post reviews? We have you covered in this quandary:
- Ask for Reviews on Product Pages: On the product pages, simply ask for your shoppers to post reviews on the products or services.
- Email Customers After the Purchase: Once the purchase is complete, inquire with your customers by email to publish reviews (good or bad) or provide feedback about the product on your website.
- Social Media Reviews: Since everyone is on social media nowadays, it can make it simpler to recommend your business on LinkedIn, review your company on Facebook or compose a tweet on Twitter.
- Reward Those Who Review: Incentives can do a whole world of good. By rewarding those who review your business, you will get more people to do it. The reward doesn't have to be immense, but a simple thank you, small discount or future promotions can help push them in the right direction.
- Ratings: When you buy something, you'll often receive a rating score or a question “was this helpful?” You can install this on your website, too. Of course, the higher the rating score the better!
If someone publishes a comment on social media or a niche review website then always be sure to thank them for the kind words. You don't have to track your customers or do a rigorous search on Google. Instead, you can take advantage of applications like Google Alerts or Social Mentions. Knowing that their reviews are appreciated can make them feel appreciated, too.
Online reviews (positive and negative) can have an impact on your overall business. Everything from brand awareness to brand reputation, from search engine optimization to the sales sheets, user reviews, akin to the antiquated days of word of mouth, can be beneficial to the firm.
If you're missing out on the rich experience of online reviews then it only makes sense to begin managing your reviews, whether it's on Google or Yelp. A 25-word or a 250-word review about your company's offerings can advance your company's main objective of acquiring customers and getting your name out there for the whole Internet marketplace to know.
There is a strong correlation between SEO and reviews. It's time to use it for your business.