Type the term ‘SEO’ into your nearest search engine and no fewer than 456,000,000 results pop up in less than 0.6 seconds; the do’s and don’ts, the many thousands of comprehensive guides from individuals and agencies all claiming to be top experts in the field; the whys and wherefores, and how to get it right. But, all too often, the value of online reviews and their impact on SEO is underrated or all together missed.
According to the almighty SEO deities, Moz, search engines understand and rank your website using several different factors. Although we won’t bore you with all the details, it’s important to note that 10.3% of Google ranking decisions are based on review signals (i.e. online customer reviews).
Whilst this may not seem much to write home about, when you consider that social signals make up only 6.3%, and behavioural/mobile signals make up a surprisingly small 6.1%, we can start to understand the importance of reviews in relation to SEO.
Now, we can’t really talk about the importance of online reviews without mentioning local SEO.
With the evolution of mobile technology putting the wonders of the World Wide Web truly at our [ever roaming] fingertips, and the invention of those digital assistants we all know, love, and couldn’t possibly function without now sitting in the hands of every smartphone user on the planet, local SEO is a must for any registered business out there.
Where SEO typically takes specific keywords and phrases, appealing to industry or product-centric searches, local SEO focuses efforts on a geographical location; ensuring you appear for searches made by users near you. And, of all ‘on-the-go’ searches made via Google, a whopping 56% have local intent.
In conjunction with this, if we look at the physical placement of reviews on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page), we can see how prominent they are.
Type a restaurant, service or product you require into Google, ending your search term with ‘near me’ – i.e. ‘roast dinners near me’ – and the second thing you’ll see on the SERP is a list of reviews, rating the restaurant’s displayed out of 5 stars, and listed in order of their geographical location to you.
Not only are reviews the first thing they see when they search for something near them under a map of their location, but these reviews aren’t necessarily linked to your website; instead, they’re linked to external review sites like Google Reviews, Trustpilot, and Trip Advisor.
It’s only until you get 3/4 of the way down a SERP, that you start to see relevant company websites appear. And we all know that the higher up you appear, the higher your traffic, and the better your conversion rate.
Although this may not be directly related to SEO, social proof is incredibly powerful for many reasons.
Social proof is essentially the digital equivalent of ‘word of mouth’ or personal recommendations, and is a wonderful phenomenon in which existing customers convince potential customers to invest in your product or service by telling them how great their experience was.
Reviews are a form of social proof; customers who have used your product or service and have had such a positive (or negative) experience of your business, they feel compelled to tell others about it.
Now, whilst social proof doesn’t directly relate to SEO, what it does do is convince users to make a decision as to whether they want to visit your website or not; they tell a compelling story and inadvertently call the user to action.
The more positive reviews that are associated with your business, the more convinced users – those potential customers – will be to buy your product or service, and the higher your traffic and conversion rates will be, which will not only contribute to an increase in sales & enquiries through your website, but also show search engines like Google how useful and valuable your website (the more users visit your website, and the longer they stay, the better!), and the higher you’ll appear on SERPs.
Also, let’s not forget that the more people who are talking about you online, the higher your profile, and the more prominent your brand becomes. It’s the point of your PR department, your Customer Service department and, to some degree, your Marketing department; to get the public talking about you – not only to increase your sales, but the visibility of your brand as a whole.
When existing customers leave online reviews, even if they’re bad ones!, they’re effectively acting as Brand Ambassadors; pushing your brand out there and convincing other internet users to make a decision about whether to buy your product or service.
Reviews are incredibly valuable – to SEO, to brand visibility, to social proof, and therefore to increasing your sales & enquiries. The more people talking about you online, the better!
If you’d like to unleash the power of the online reviews, SEO or local SEO, but aren’t sure where to start, talk to us today.
Get in touch now - it could be the start of something special.