How Customer Reviews Can Influence SEO

by Paul Slack
  |  January 30, 2017  |  
January 30, 2017

The small business owner used to rely on the good word of his neighbors for most of his advertising.  

Getting badmouthed at the barbershop could spell disaster. Today, online reputation has taken the place of the local telephone line and even though your customers may not know who left an Internet review, they listen.  Online reviews are more than just “comment cards” though, customer reviews can influence your SEO.

Importance of Reviews

The world is a bigger place than it used to be but people still rely on their “neighbors” to tell them if a business is good – they just don’t know the neighbor anymore.  One of the biggest factors that consumers use in purchasing decisions is online reviews.  It isn’t just the millennials either, 9 out of 10 consumers use reviews to evaluate online purchases at least some of the time.  The influence of reviews reaches beyond the Internet too.  About 8 out of 10 Internet users have said that reviews have an effect on their decision to frequent a local business.

Reviews and SEO

Reviews are important even before a customer starts the buying decision.  Without online reviews, it may be difficult for people to find your website. As part of the big and sometimes confusing “move to mobile” revamp of Google’s ranking algorithm, in addition to making your site look good on a mobile device, you need customer reviews to improve your SEO performance.

Google local search

Over one-third of Internet users access the web only from a mobile device – another third at least occasionally, so chances are good that a search for a business will be done on a mobile device about half of the time.  In addition to information about where your business is located, Google looks for reviews done by your customers.  The more you have, the better Google likes you.

Google also likes “fresh content” which is one reason many businesses use blogs.  Google sees customer reviews as providing fresh content about your site and also provides a link back to your site which is important for Google indexing.  Customer reviews have become important enough that when considering local search, reviews rank 5th in terms of “most important things” for Google.

To make sure that your reviews have the most impact, you need to manage those reviews.  

Some factors to consider:

  • Number of reviews – You need at least 7 to 10 reviews for them to be considered “trustworthy.’  In general, more is better but they have to be “real.”
  • History – It doesn’t look good to suddenly get a slew of reviews within a few days.  A few reviews posted over the course of a few months is better than a whole bunch posted all at once.  You wouldn’t believe it and neither will Google.
  • Quality – This doesn’t mean “good” reviews (that is important too) but it means they have to be “real.”  If reviews that look too similar are posted, Google may see them as duplicate content.  
  • What sites – There are a number of places where businesses can be reviewed.  Google looks at reviews listed on itself first but if you have Yelp, Yellow Pages or other sites – they add up.
  • Response – Even a poor review can be an asset if managed correctly.  Make sure that you keep up with what people are saying and address any issues quickly.  

You can make it easy for your customers to post reviews by including icons or links to “Let us know how we are doing” on your website but don’t ask people to post more than one.  Real reviews from real customers are what provide real value.

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