Trying to implement an effect SEO strategy can sometimes feel like putting together a flat-pack when all the instructions are in Klingon. In all the technical jargon, reviews can get sidelined. But ask yourself, when was the last time you made a purchase without checking a review?
Just as consumers trust reviews, so search engines use them to demonstrate trust. All reviews are trust signals and search engines use them to verify the authenticity and reliability of your business. Understanding how reviews affect your SEO is crucial if you want to sit pretty at the top of the SERPs.
So let’s have a look at how reviews currently affect your rankings.
Localized search ranking and reviews
The chart above shows the results of Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey. Reviews currently represent 15.44% of rank driving factors. They’re more important to a business’s local rank than citations and on-page optimization.
These numbers demonstrate the ongoing trend of reviews being crucially important to local SEO. Between 2015 to 2018, review signals have increased in importance by a combined 42.96%.
Since 93% of consumers say reviews impact their purchasing decisions and search engines build their algorithms to guess what is important to their users, we can confidently assume this trend will continue.
Generalized search ranking and reviews
But reviews aren’t just important to local search. Generalized SERPs also take them into account. Although the correlation between the two is a little less clear.
In generalized SERPs, reviews come under “Off-site SEO”, which is basically any activity a site undertakes outside of their own web pages that affect their SEO.
A recent study by Moz suggests that over 50% of a site’s rankings are influenced by off-site SEO. Although “reviews” is not a specific category, they contribute heavily to your DLKAF, SM, DLBF, and PLLF ranking factors (jargon key below).
Top tips for using reviews to boost your SEO
We could have ended the article here, but what good is new knowledge if you can’t put it into action? So, here are three tried and tested ways to boost your SEO using reviews.
Dominate Google Reviews for Local SEO
When it comes to Local Search SEO, Google is King. As of 2018, 63.6% of consumers say they are likely to check Google before visiting a business and this includes reviews.
When a local search is conducted, the results are categorized into the Local Pack, Local Finder, and Local Organic Results, as shown below.
To have a chance of making the top in any section, you need to claim your Google My Business account.
As you saw in Moz’s chart, Google My Business (GMB) now accounts for an astonishing 25% of all ranking factors and Google Reviews play a big role in that percentage.
But, although Google has shifted from aggregating reviews to hosting their own, they still scour the internet for reviews on other sites. So, don’t neglect them. The top nine non-GMB review sites are:
- Trip Advisor
- Angie’s List
Respond to Your Reviews – Especially the Bad Ones
No one wants to expose their brand to potential criticism but, luckily, they are becoming more positive overall. Even so, whether you do everything right or not, you’re still going to get negative reviews at some point. When you do, the best remedy is to respond.
Research by Review Trackers shows that customers are 44.6% more likely to use your business if you respond to negative reviews.
How you respond demonstrates to potential customers that your company takes user’s views seriously. By adopting a positive approach, you’re more likely to inspire customer loyalty, build goodwill and extend customer lifetime value.
When you have a heap of positive reviews, they can generate high CTR (click-through rate). Considering that, on Google, CTR accounts for 9.56% in the local pack/finder rankings and 11.5% in localized organic search, any boost to these stats will benefit your SEO. You can monitor your success by setting up Google Analytics from your website builder.
To help you manage and respond to your reviews, use a social mentions tool. There are plenty out there including Hootsuite, Mention and Maybe.
To sum things up
Reviews are an important aspect of both localized and generalized SEO. They generate trust signals, boost traffic to your site and overall engagement with your brand. And their importance is set to grow. To make reviews a key part of your SEO strategy now and get ahead of your competition online. Remember to:
- Claim your My Google Business account.
- Respond to all reviews.
- Make use of social mention tools.
- Build reviews across multiple sites.
Have you noticed a boost in your SEO after investing in building reviews? Let us in on your secrets in the comments below.
Author bio: “Hannah Vicarage is a budding entrepreneur who runs a small cosmetic business. When she isn’t out whipping up a buying frenzy at the local markets or selling online, she lends her hand guest writing for ukwebhostingreview.com”