Traditionally, word of mouth reviews were a major part of many businesses’ marketing strategies. By making sure customers were happy with the products or services they received, companies could increase the likelihood that people would recommend them to friends, family, colleagues and others. Fast forward to today and word of mouth is still a crucial marketing tool for businesses; the only difference is that for many companies, this has predominantly taken the form of online reviews, including Google reviews.
Common sense tells us that positive online reviews may have a persuasive effect on consumers. After all, people are surely more likely to choose products or services that others speak favourably of over those that receive negative feedback – or no feedback at all. But what about the impact on search rankings? In other words, are Google reviews important for SEO? Keep reading to find out.
Do Google reviews affect SEO? The short answer to this question is yes. Google reviews can impact overall SEO success, including local SEO results. There are of course lots of factors involved in determining search rankings, but online customer reviews can be a key part of this. They send a strong signal to search engines about the credibility, trustworthiness and relevance of a website.
In fact, according to the industry experts at Moz, review signals – which include the quantity of online reviews, their velocity (in other words the speed at which businesses gain new reviews) and their diversity – are among the most important ranking factors in local SEO. The only signals that are more important in local search rankings are the information provided via the Google My Business tool and link signals (which include linking domain authority, inbound anchor text and so on).
This should come as no surprise when you consider the fact that the goals of search engines and users are in many ways aligned. Search engines want to sift through the vast quantity of websites out there to deliver the information, products or services most relevant to you as quickly and conveniently as possible. Given that users value online reviews, it makes sense that search engines factor them into their algorithms.
Why are Google reviews important? Below, we go into more detail about exactly why it is important to pay attention to the Google reviews your business gets – or doesn’t.
They make it easier to find your business Visibility is everything in the battle to attract customers to your website, and ultimately to persuade them to purchase your products or services. One surefire way to get noticed in the SERPs is to get yourself into the Local Pack on Google. Also known as the Map Pack, this is a SERP feature that is displayed at the top of the page when users make searches with local intent. It has a map and three local business listings that are relevant to the user’s search.
When you carry out your own local searches online, pay attention to the businesses featured in the Local Pack. You will see that, typically, they have a large number of positive recent Google reviews. So, if your company is able to attract a high velocity of positive reviews, you may stand a better chance of making it into Local Pack – and as a result, you might be much more visible to potential customers.
They give your business authority and trustworthiness Positive Google reviews can also be essential in boosting the perceived authority and trustworthiness of your business. And this applies both in the eyes of consumers and Google. Reviews are a form of social proof. In other words, they provide evidence that customers are happy with the products or services you offer – and therefore that your company is credible. For this reason, a high number of positive reviews will encourage search engines to rank you more highly and it will mean consumers are more likely to put their trust in you.
They can improve keyword rankings Most businesses are aware of the importance of including relevant keywords in the copy featured on their websites, but it is less well-known that keywords featured in online reviews can also boost companies’ SERP rankings. When customers write reviews, they often mention the specific products or services they purchased – and this means they are likely to include important keywords. Of course, this benefit only applies to reviews that feature text, as opposed to just a star rating.
They allow you to respond to unhappy customers OK, so no business actively seeks to attract negative online reviews. However, when this issue does arise, the feedback can give companies a chance to show that they take any customer complaints or concerns seriously and are prepared to learn from their mistakes. This proactive approach can not only turn a potential PR loss into a win, it can also give businesses a chance to identify weak spots in their offerings and make improvements that strengthen them going forward.
It is crucial to bear in mind however that if your business fails to manage negative reviews well, there is a real risk that your reputation will take a hit and you will see a drop in search rankings. It’s therefore essential that you actively engage with any negative feedback and take appropriate steps to respond to it.
Final thoughts It’s hard to overstate the importance of Google reviews in terms of their impact on local SEO and on consumers’ purchasing decisions. This means it is vital that you factor it into your local search strategy.
Here at Click Consult, our SEO specialists deliver a holistic approach to local SEO that encompasses everything from review signals and link signals, to on-page, citation and social signals, as well as ensuring the Google My Business tool is fully utilised.