Whatever industry you are in, we know that the majority of customers will read online reviews before purchasing a product or making a booking enquiry. And when we say the majority, we are referring to the 87% of people who said they read online reviews for local businesses in brightlocal’s 2020 consumer review survey.
While it’s clear that reviews are essential for converting searchers to customers, did you know that reviews can also have a powerful impact on your website’s organic search rankings? Get it right, and your website will be more easily found by customers searching for your business. However, if you don’t have a customer review strategy in place, your organic search visibility could suffer.
Here’s a quick guide to the importance of reviews, how to get more and how to respond to them.
Why Customer Reviews are Important for SEO
After the events of the past two years, a strong online presence is more important than ever. And customer reviews are an integral part of a local SEO strategy.
Because people want to deal with companies they trust, and reading online reviews is how the majority of consumers determine how trustworthy a business is. Google recognises that reviews are essential to the modern buyer journey, and those businesses that consistently receive reviews and effectively manage them are rewarded with improved organic search visibility.
Google’s Product Review Update
Google regularly updates its algorithm in order to provide the best search experiences to its users. In response to consumers’ increased reliance on product reviews, on December 1 2021, Google introduced an update that focuses on customer reviews. Google’s product reviews update is designed to promote high-quality product reviews, ones that make it easier for customers to decide what to buy.
In other words, Google will prioritise genuinely helpful reviews that contain detailed information and are written with user concerns in mind. These changes will primarily affect ecommerce businesses and content creators, but all businesses should incorporate them into their product review strategy if they want their reviews to rank higher and drive more organic traffic. Here are the key takeaways:
- Focus on the product details and your experience with it rather than just how good or bad a product is. For example, how long the product lasted, whether it broke or faded, any difficulties using it and any unexpected benefits.
- Provide original photos and videos of the product in use.
- Explain how the product is different to its competitors and explain why one is better than another in different circumstances.
- Write with the user in mind. Skip the fluff and the sales jargon and just get to the point!
Read the full list of questions Google has provided to make sure your reviews are in line with the product review update.
How to Ask Customers For Reviews
As we’ve discussed, your business’s reputation relies heavily on online customer reviews. So, the obvious next question is: how do I get more of them?
Many business owners are reluctant to ask their customers for a review. They worry that they are either harassing their clients or that they might receive a negative review. However, if you provide great service, people will appreciate it and are usually more than happy to share their positive experiences with others.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave a review. Just make sure you are asking at a strategic moment along the customer journey. Examples include:
- when your client refers another customer to you
- after a second purchase or re-order
- when they tag you in a social media post
- after they have given you positive feedback on your products or services.
One of the best ways of asking customers for reviews is to incorporate the process into your existing business procedures. For example, if you already have an email going out to clients once their booking, meeting or service is completed, you can add in a call to action and a link to your Google Business Profile down the bottom.
How to Respond to Reviews
Best practice is to respond to all your reviews, positive or negative. Read our guide to responding to online reviews and always remember the golden rule: responding to reviews is just as important as receiving them. Gaining and responding to reviews in a helpful and tactful manner will enhance your visibility in the search results and do wonders for your brand’s reputation.
If you do receive a negative review, reach out privately to see if you can resolve the issue. Customers who leave negative reviews often do so because they feel like their concerns haven’t been heard. Contacting unhappy customers privately shows them that you care, and you may be able to turn them around before you lose them forever.
Customer reviews are important to local SEO rankings and the reputation of your brand. Not just the number of reviews, but whether the reviews contain high-quality content. And don’t forget, every review, whether positive or negative, should have a response to show Google that you are engaged as a business.
Need help with your SEO? Talk to our friendly team about how we can help optimise your website, improve your local listings and get your business noticed!