If you asked a group of successful business owners about their marketing, most, if not all of them would rave about search engine optimization (SEO). Consumers flock to search engines to get their questions answered and find what they need. When your content and website show up high on search engine results, it’s an opportunity to connect with more customers and get more conversions.
Various factors influence the success of an SEO strategy. One of the most significant is continuously refining your approach and finding new ways to get the results you’re seeking.
Most businesses turn to things like content to improve their SEO strategy. But there are less-traveled roads to better SEO results too, like leveraging customer reviews.
How Customer Reviews Can Boost Your SEO Strategy
Customer reviews aren’t a direct ranking factor, meaning search engines don’t consider them when deciding where a site or piece of content should rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, customer reviews can indirectly impact where you rank and how your business’s online visibility grows. Let’s look at this in more detail below.
Build Trust in Your Brand
One-time visitors to your website do contribute to the organic traffic you generate. But the real goal is to have a constant influx of visitors who return multiple times.
To get people to visit your site for the first time and return to it, you must build trust with them. One of the best ways to build trust in your brand is through customer reviews.
Research shows that customers are more inclined to trust reviews and rely on them to make purchasing decisions. 94% of people who responded to a 2020 Statista survey agreed that positive reviews made them use a business.
If you can get people to share their genuine experiences with your brand, it will show others who are on the fence that your brand is not only real but worth interacting with.
Increase Customer Engagement
The more reviews you have, the easier it is for people to get a well-rounded view of who you are, what your business has to offer and the customer experience they can expect. If it all checks out, people will engage with your business, whether by making a purchase, viewing your website or consuming your content.
Reviews can increase customer engagement. Engagement sends positive signals to search engines about your business’s offerings and trustworthiness. As a result, your rankings steadily improve. Noting reviews and measuring customer engagement effectively is also important for modifying your SEO campaigns or shaping future marketing goals. By tracking relevant metrics, you can adjust your customer-oriented content accordingly to garner better reviews and get more organic traffic to your site.
Generate More Organic Traffic
One of the core goals of any SEO strategy is to generate more organic traffic to a site or content. Ranking high in SERPs increases the chances of inducing a constant flow of visitors that come all on their own.
That said, people often need a little nudge to move forward in their interaction with a business. Customer reviews can act as that nudge.
Star Ratings Are Displayed in SERPs
Have you ever typed in a query in a search bar, and it populates with businesses at the top that have star ratings next to their names? Seeing a star rating would’ve likely influenced your decision to click on the link or not. And it’s no different for your customers.
Seeing that your business has a great rating can make potential customers want to explore more of your site and content. This increases traffic and engagement, positively impacting your SEO efforts in the process.
Organic business listings, as well as paid listings, can qualify for star review ratings. Google has its process for getting star reviews displayed in SERPs. However, you can also use schema markup to do so.
Best Practices for Using Reviews
Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of using customer reviews to boost your SEO strategy, you’re probably wondering how to best use reviews in this regard. These practices will ensure your use of customer reviews makes a difference in your SEO efforts.
Feature the Good and Bad Reviews
No business is perfect. Consumers know this. So, when companies have solely positive reviews that don’t go in-depth about their experiences, they won’t come across as genuine. Oddly enough, people are more likely to trust a company with a mix of positive and negative reviews.
Reviews represent a major aspect of reputation management, and this is because a mix of reviews is more believable. It aligns with the fact that no business is perfect. People tend to appreciate honesty in a review because it helps them make a more informed decision about their next move.
Be sure to feature all reviews, good and bad. Don’t ever delete negative reviews. Not only will it make the customer who left the review feel dismissed, but it will also make your brand seem less trustworthy.
Answer Each Review Promptly
Whether good or bad, you must answer every review promptly. You want your customers to feel seen and heard.
For this reason, it is important to commit to responding to reviews within 24 hours. You can address and resolve issues promptly, as well as let customers who leave a positive review know how much you appreciate their business and review.
When people get a glimpse of your willingness to engage with customer reviews so quickly, it can lead to a positive perception of your brand that inspires a visit to your website.
Display Reviews on Your Website
The most relevant content for a particular search query is displayed highest in SERPs. When someone types in a question or statement connected to what you offer in your business, reviews are a relevant content source in this regard.
However, search engines aren’t going to display reviews outright as a search result. But they may rank the page on your website dedicated to reviews. So, it’s worth it to exhibit customer reviews on your website. Add user-generated content and submissions from your review form to your homepage or customer reviews page.
Sign Up for Third-Party Review Sites
Customers can leave reviews on your website, but they can also leave reviews on other public platforms that your business isn’t managing. Google reviews, Yelp and social media sites are some of the most common examples of third-party review sites your customers are using.
People log on to these sites all the time to analyze reviews about businesses they’re considering engaging with. So, if your reviews are positive for the most part and you’re responding well to negative feedback, people will visit your site to learn more.
Sign up for at least a few third-party review sites. Fill in all the details each site asks for so that your listing is as professional and polished as possible. And make sure that you’re keeping your eye on these sites so that you can respond to any feedback you get.
Third-party review sites are a source of referral traffic that can lead to actual traffic to your content.
How To Encourage More Reviews
To use customer reviews to boost your SEO strategy, you first have to get them. If you haven’t gotten any reviews yet, don’t worry. Getting the first one always seems like the longest journey ever. Thankfully, there are practices you can adopt to encourage more customer reviews.
Asking for reviews at the right time, ensuring the process for leaving one is simple and incentivizing them will help you get more reviews from customers—more on each practice below.
Ask for Reviews at the Right Time
Customers don’t want to be bombarded with requests to leave a review. Doing so may turn them off to the point they never purchase from your business again.
Asking for reviews at the right time is a must if you want the best chance of customers leaving them. The right time is typically after someone has made a purchase and has had time to fully experience their purchase.
Send them a personalized email to follow up on their experience and ask for a review. You could also put your request for reviews at the bottom of receipts and on the thank you card you put in all your online purchases.
There are a handful of customers who leave a review without any prompting. But the majority of people need a reason to leave a review. They need an incentive. What can you offer them in exchange for a genuine review?
Many businesses offer discounts and coupons as review incentives. You could also consider enrolling customers in a raffle, offering early access to a new product drop or inviting them to an exclusive customer event.
Figure out what your customers want in terms of an incentive by asking them directly. You can also send out polls and surveys on social media to get incentive ideas. Then, see if it’s possible to provide what they’re asking for and put a plan in place to do so if it is.
Make Reviewing Easy
Getting reviews has a lot to do with the experience you provide customers and how you ask for reviews. But at the same time, getting a review has a lot to do with the process of leaving them.
If people have to go through 10 steps to leave a review, chances are they won’t leave one. On the other hand, if leaving a review is as simple as clicking on a link and filling out a two-question form, the chances of them leaving one skyrocket.
Ensure your process for leaving reviews is easy. Create a link that takes customers directly to your review form. Only ask for the information you need, like their name, what they purchased and their thoughts on their experience.
Customer reviews can do a lot for your business, including boosting your SEO strategy. Understand the connection between customer reviews and SEO, adopt best practices for using reviews and gather them efficiently to get favorable results.