Positive or negative, reviews can have a major impact on your business. Not only do reviews affect your brand’s reputation, but they also impact how consumers find, interact, and purchase from you.
Understanding the importance of consumer reviews and how to take advantage of them is key for marketers. While there are lots of review platforms that deserve your attention, let’s focus on the one that should be your top priority – Google Reviews – and how you can use it to boost your reputation and SEO.
Everyone Is a Critic
Reviews were once the purview of professional critics who worked for newspapers, radio, or television. They usually had a degree of expertise or interest in the field they covered. This gave some authority to their comments. But most mainstream media outlets employed just one or two critics whose focus was typically on entertainment or dining. So businesses in general didn’t have to be concerned about reviews.
Things are different today. With the advent of social media, everyone is a critic. Whether they post comments about your product or service on their Facebook or Twitter feed or take advantage of any number of social review platforms such as Yelp!, today’s critics are average consumers. Unlike professional critics, consumers typically have limited expertise related to the topics they review. While individual consumer reviews might not mean so much on their own, when aggregated with the opinions of other consumers on a social platform, they carry the sort of weight that can make or break a business.
Why Are Consumer Reviews Important?
As many as 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews and 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Those are impressive numbers and obviously all those opinions matter. But once you get past the noise of what people are saying you will discover the hidden value of their comments – good or bad – on another set of KPIs: your SEO and how consumers find and interact with your business.
Here are 5 benefits that reviews can provide for your SEO:
1. Supply search engines with new and relevant content
Search engines reward websites that actively publish new and relevant content. But sometimes it’s difficult to post as often as you would like. That’s where consumer generated media comes into play.
Consumer generated media can power your social media channels and website with real content in the form of reviews, ratings, and comments. This content demonstrates to search engines that your site is active and valuable to customers. Plus, it helps to get your customers talking to each other, boosting engagement, page views, and time on site.
2. Naturally shape SEO attributes
Keywords, internal links, backlinks, and more are the basic attributes of optimizing your website for search engines. Reviews enable consumers to build links and keywords that will shape your SEO for you without requiring your time or effort.
3. Help your site rank for long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are phrases that don’t have too much search competition. The lack of competition allows for your site to rank higher on searches that utilize these phrases, therefore making them perfect for SEO.
Reviews are a great source for identifying the perfect long-tail phrases. Just look through the reviews and find how customers are wording their concerns. These phrases can then be used as keywords for on-site optimization.
Plus, this will also help improve your brand messaging, allowing you to use words that customers want to hear and use themselves.
4. Boost social SEO
Social media optimization (SMO) deals specifically with social sites. Reviews often come in the form of social shares, likes, commenting, or threads. These will all point back towards your brand which will then result in a boost in your SMO.
5. Optimal for automatic and manual optimization
Search engines and their rankings are largely automated. Among other things, they use algorithms that look for customer reviews and testimonials to evaluate your website’s reputation.
Once reviews are found, search quality raters manually evaluate your site’s reputation. This is done by looking for authority, truth, and expertise throughout the site. All these attributes can be found in customer reviews.
Reviews and ratings will give your ads a 17% higher CTR. That kind of increase in traffic can lead to a lot more conversations. All those conversations and reviews will help boost your SMO while providing search engines with the new content they desire.
And if those benefits weren’t enough, consider that 10% of traffic is credited to reviews!
How Google Reviews are Different
Alright, now you know why reviews are so important, but why should you focus on Google Reviews?
Well, Google Reviews will not only do everything mentioned above, but they will also provide you with benefits you might never imagine. For example:
Searches: Unlike other review sites, Google Reviews will appear directly on Google searches. This helps customers make decisions before even visiting your website.
Finding you: It is much more likely for customers, both established and potential, to find you with reviews displayed in the search results.
Customer Engagement: Keeping your customers engaged is crucial for customer retention. This is easily done with Google reviews. Plus, anytime your customers engage, you get an opportunity to interact with them as well!
Credibility: With Google reviews, remaining anonymous is difficult since you must have a Google+ account to review. This aspect allows for more reliable and trustworthy reviews for both you and your customers!
Google Maps: By utilizing Google reviews, you are putting your business and its reputation on the map, literally. Google Maps puts reviews and ratings right next to the businesses they are showing!
Consider how many people are “Googling” per day, per minute! Keep that staggering number in mind when you think of how these people will be better exposed to your business through the use of Google Reviews.
Utilizing reviews, ratings, and feedback, “Googling” introduces users with businesses who are most likely to fit their needs — and that should be you!
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
So far, we’ve explained why reviews – especially Google Reviews – are great. But what happens when you get a negative review?
Well contrary to popular belief, negative reviews will not necessarily penalize you, especially if they are Google Reviews.
Google has manual reviewers who are trained to look at the bigger picture with negative reviews. They read negative reviews and consider the positives, not just the negatives of your business.
Negative reviews can even help Google’s manual reviewers delve deeper into your business, gaining an understanding of your overall reputation which will then allow for a more appropriate and natural rating.
But if negative reviews still scare you, here are some things you can do to mitigate them:
- Don’t respond until you are calm. Take a deep breath. One bad review will not kill your business. However, it is a great opportunity for you to improve! After all, no one is perfect.
- Is there a basis for the complaint? Look into the situation. Did the customer have a legitimate reason for their complaint, or were they just in a bad mood that day?
- Contact reviewer offline: Try to contact the reviewer offline and get their side of the story. Maybe they’ll even reveal to you that it was just a bad day. Perhaps you’ll find a legitimate problem with your service that you didn’t realize before.
- Respond!!! After you have calmed down, looked into the situation mentioned, and drafted a response, RESPOND! 95% unhappy customers return if issue dealt with effectively and quickly. It would be a shame to let the unhappy customer get away simply because you’re too stubborn to try and help.
How to Get More Reviews
Now that you’ve learned how to stop worrying and love reviews, it is time to get more of them. Here’s how:
- Ask: Asking directly may be old-school, but it’s still effective! Send your customers a quick email asking for them to review your products or services. But try not to resort to bulk solicitation. It is not as reliable as you might think.
- Logo Decals: Entice your customers to review your products on other sites by providing review site decals/links on your website. Not only does it grab their attention, but it’s also a huge convenience.
- Create handout flyers: You know how receipts will have a survey for customers to answer? Same idea. Hand out some flyers that will both promote your site and entice some reviews.
- POS Poster: Another old-school trick, create a point-of-sale poster advertising your site, service/goods, and where customers can go to write reviews.
Encouraging consumers to submit reviews not only generates more content and SEO value for your website, it demonstrates your confidence in the quality and value of your products and services.
Understanding the importance of consumer reviews and how to take advantage of them is key for marketers. Contact us to learn how we can help you leverage consumer reviews to improve your brand’s reputation and boost your SEO.