In today’s digital world, online reviews play a significant role in determining the success of businesses. With the rise of search engine optimisation (SEO) and the increasing importance of online presence, it’s crucial for businesses to understand the impact that Google reviews can have on their SEO efforts.
What are Google reviews?
Google reviews are a feature provided by Google, where users can write and publish their experiences and opinions about a particular business or service. These reviews can be seen by anyone who searches for that business or service on Google, often displayed at the top of the SERPs next to the standard listings. They serve as a valuable source of information for potential customers, as they provide insights into the quality, reputation and overall customer experience with the business straight from the horse’s mouth. Google reviews have become increasingly important for businesses as they can significantly impact their online reputation and influence customers’ decision-making process. Positive reviews can help attract more customers and improve the business’s visibility, while negative reviews can have the opposite effect. Knowing how to use Google reviews to propel your SEO strategy is another kettle of fish. You need to know Google inside out to beat and dominate the SERPs.
Why are Google reviews important?
Because Google said so.
It goes without saying that Google reviews provide valuable feedback and insights from customers who have used your products or services that help potential customers make informed decisions about whether to choose your business. Harnessing a community of positive reviews can really enhance your reputation and credibility leading to increased customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. It is essential to actively manage and respond to reviews to maintain a positive online presence though. The work never stops. It’s not just about brand reputation though.
Are Google reviews an SEO ranking factor?
Getting a straight answer out of Google on whether their reviews are an SEO ranking factor is harder than beating any of the Contra games. In lieu of their digital marketing gatekeeping, many SEO experts have concluded that Google reviews can impact your SEO performance, such as organic visibility, rankings and traffic. Leading SEO sources have found that Google does take into account the quantity and quality of reviews when determining where to rank your business in search results. It has also become widely accepted that Google reviews are an integral part of local SEO, which focuses on improving a business’s visibility in local search results. When a user searches for a business, Google takes into account various factors, including the number of reviews, the average star rating, the recency of reviews and the overall sentiment to deliver the most relevant and trustworthy results to users. In Google’s beady eyes, a steady flow of recent reviews indicates ongoing customer engagement whereas, a sudden influx of reviews can be seen as suspicious or fabricated. Black-hat and spammy, is what we call that. Downright dirty.
Businesses that receive a mix of positive and negative reviews may actually have an advantage over those with only positive reviews. Google values authenticity and considers the overall sentiment of reviews rather than just the number of positive ones. This means that businesses who are transparent and address negative feedback can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction.
While accumulating positive reviews and managing negative ones can contribute to your organic performance, it is essential to remember that Google reviews alone do not determine rankings. Google considers numerous other ranking factors, including website quality, relevance of content, backlinks and user experience. Therefore, it is crucial to have a comprehensive SEO strategy that includes optimising all aspects of your website covering Technical SEO, Content Marketing and Digital PR.
7 ways Google reviews impact SEO
1. Improved search rankings
Positive reviews can significantly impact a business’s search rankings. When a business has a higher number of positive reviews, Google perceives it as a trusted source of information, thereby boosting its visibility in search results. Studies have shown that the quantity and quality of reviews have a positive correlation with search rankings.
2. Increased click-through rates
Potential customers are more likely to click on a business that has a high number of positive reviews. Positive reviews act as social proof, assuring potential customers that the business provides excellent products or services. This increased click-through rate can lead to higher organic traffic and, ultimately, improved SEO.
3. Enhanced local pack rankings
With Google reviews making up 12% of local ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm, you cannot underestimate the importance of managing your reviews properly if you are a local or bricks and mortar business. The local pack is the section of Google’s search results page that showcases local businesses related to the user’s search query. Google reviews heavily influence the rankings in this section and businesses with a high number of positive reviews are more likely to appear in the local pack, attracting more local customers and boosting visibility in the local market.
4. Rich snippets and review schema
When a business has a substantial number of reviews, Google may display rich snippets in search results. These snippets provide users with a summary of the reviews, including star ratings and review excerpts. Having this visual representation can increase visibility and credibility, attracting more clicks from potential customers.
5. Boost in visibility
When potential customers search for a specific product or service in their area, Google considers the number and quality of reviews as an important ranking factor. Businesses with a higher average rating and a larger number of positive reviews are more likely to appear at the top of the search results, giving them greater exposure and increasing the chances of attracting new customers.
6. Creates UGC
Furthermore, Google reviews provide valuable user-generated content that search engines love. Each review is considered fresh and unique content, which signals to search engines that the business is active and engaging with its customers.
7. Build brand authority
Moreover, Google reviews contribute to building trust and credibility for a business. Positive reviews act as testimonials showcasing the quality of your products or service. With 49% of customers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, positive reviews and properly managed negative reviews can lead to higher conversion rates and customer loyalty.
To maximise the benefits of Google reviews for SEO, it’s crucial for businesses to actively encourage customers to leave reviews. Implementing strategies such as sending follow-up emails, creating a dedicated review section on the website, or incentivising customers can help drive more reviews and work alongside your overarching SEO plans.
However, Google is not the be all and end all. While positive reviews can have a significant impact on SEO, businesses should always prioritise providing excellent products or services. Google’s algorithm aims to reward businesses that genuinely deserve higher rankings, so focusing on delivering quality experiences and an SEO strategy that incorporates frequent SEO audits across all aspects of on-page and off-page SEO will see you dominating the SERPs in no time.