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Let’s Review: How Customer Reviews Can Help SEO

by aschmidt

customer_reviews_help_SEOIt goes without saying that customer reviews are critical to the success of your company. While one or two bad reviews may not spell complete disaster for your business, they can definitely give it a gut punch. A string of bad reviews can sink your company like the Titanic. Conversely, if your company receives several rave reviews online, it can do more for your business than any hefty advertising budget ever will.

Customer reviews can also play a pivotal role in terms of how well your website ranks in search engines. According to Search Engine Land, your rankings can be influenced by more than 10 percent based on the quality, diversity and velocity of the reviews garnered by your business. In addition, research published by BrightLocal found that 88% of the consumers they surveyed use online reviews to help determine the quality of a local business. Here’s how can you leverage the power of online reviews to boost your search engine rank.

How Online Reviews Can Produce Better Search Engine Rankings

There are three main ways in which online reviews can give your website a nice boost in the search engines:

1. Online reviews provide what’s known as “user generated content” for your website, which is an excellent way to increase your SEO. The more users create reviews for your business online, the more relevant content the search engine spiders have to feed upon, which in turn reinforces the connection between certain target keywords and your business website. This essentially “informs” the search algorithm that your site is a top choice for anyone submitting a search query for this or that particular keyword.

2. You can attract highly targeted visitors by way of increased “long tail” traffic via customer reviews. For the uninitiated, long tail traffic refers to search engine users who submit certain search queries containing more specific keywords or keyphrases. For example, if you own a personal injury law firm in Phoenix, wouldn’t it be much better to receive a visit from someone who found your site by typing “personal injury attorney Phoenix” into Google? This long tail phrase is much more relevant and specific than someone who just types in “attorney.” Customer reviews help you broaden your reach by increasing your site’s relevance for long tail search queries.

3. Customer reviews can work wonders for your CTR (click-through rate) in search engine results. Chances are you’ve probably typed a certain search query into Google and discovered at least one website with a set of yellow stars underneath the title of the site listing, which is an indication that some type of customer review has been incorporated into that particular web page. This immediately attracts the eyes of most viewers, and will many times get the click even over sites that rank higher in the search results.

Customer Reviews: Does Industry Matter?

Tons of research has been conducted in order to determine whether the type of industry you’re in will have any effect on how reviews help (or hurt) your search rankings. The prevailing conclusion is that search engines–Google especially–expect your business to have customer reviews on sites that are in some way relevant to your specific niche or industry.

There’s also quite a bit of evidence out there to support the notion that the search results for local businesses in particular (e.g., hair salons, dentists, doctors, restaurants, sports clubs, etc.) can be dramatically affected by online reviews, both positive and negative.

To find out which review sites are the most important ones for you to establish a good presence on, just type “[your keyword or industry] reviews” into Google and see what type of review sites are provided in the results. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, YellowPages.com and SureCritic often rank well for these types of queries. Taking a thorough look at the search results page for reviews in your particular industry will give you a good idea of where you need to have reviews posted online. If any of those websites offer you a means to create an official profile for your business, do it; this will only help your rankings in the long run.

Where to Direct Your Customers to Leave a Review

By now you’re probably thinking “Okay, this sounds great, but where do customers leave their reviews?” As mentioned earlier, you definitely want to encourage customers to leave reviews on the sites that are the most relevant to your particular industry. Keep in mind that some websites such as Yelp frown on businesses directly asking for reviews, so make sure to check out the terms and conditions of each site, and thoroughly read their policies regarding customer reviews. Whereas it may not be okay to directly ask customers for a review, you may be able to say “Check us out on [review site]” without getting into trouble.

Word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising, and there is perhaps no better online representation of this than customer reviews. Use the ideas offered above to help you harness the power of customer reviews in order to increase your visibility and prominence in search engine results. Want more ideas for taking your SEO to the next level? Click here!

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