Unsurprisingly, the short answer is yes, Google Reviews will help you to improve search rankings and your SEO efforts. While there are a large number of factors that affect search rankings, reviews from customers can be a strong signal to search engines and communicates trust and authority for your brand. This is particularly helpful since the competition for small businesses online is very tough. Managing the online reviews that are shown on your website can differentiate your business and increase your visibility in your search results.
How Do We Know That Reviews Matter?
When it comes to SEO, customer reviews are not going to be the first thing that you think of. There are many SEO focus areas to sort through, from content creation to link building, then reviews don’t get a lot of attention. However, they definitely should and particularly with local businesses.
According to a study conducted in 2017 that looked into the ranking factors for local SEO, Google My Business reviews were included as the second most influential factor when the performance of local businesses in their communities and the “local pack” that appears on the map at the top of search results.
If you search for a local service like “asbestos surveys leeds”, you will see a pack of local businesses with review snippets below where Google would’ve highlighted words that are relevant to your search. This is indicative of Google’s determination to provide you with the most accurate and relevant results for your search.
In fact, the most influential ranking factor was found to be the amount of additional organic rankings. This basically means that the more SEO-friendly your website is and the more organic rankings you have for a variety of terms, the more likely you are to show up in the “local pack”.
Why Do Customer Reviews Matter for SEO?
- Google trusts the customers/users more than it trusts the business.
That may be a slight exaggeration but Google does rely on signals to determine how well your website should be ranked. This is why the core of any SEO work is based on links, as Google sees links as an endorsement of trust from another website and rewards you with better visibility. In a similar way, if a customer reviews your business, it tells Google that your business is legitimate and people have interacted with your website and yourself and can help future customers make decisions. In short, Google loves to see interaction with your business, whether it’s links or customer reviews.
- Google loves to read.
Like a bookworm, you may know, Google loves to “read” your website in order to understand the world or rather, the internet. This means that the more content that is available for it to read, the more it can learn about your business. When you start to leverage customer reviews on your website for the purposes of SEO or generate them through your Google My Business account, Google has lots more fresh content to read and more keywords to add to its knowledge of your business.
Remember, when searching for a keyword, Google highlights other relevant keywords in the reviews. This is because your customers will unintentionally describe your business to Google when they post a review. These reviews then increase the SEO value of your business without your customers even knowing that they are helping you. Reviews can also help to fill in content gaps on your websites and increase its rankings and visibility quickly.
- Great Reviews = Better Star Rating = More Clicks for Your Website.
Whether you like it or not, people place a lot of trust in reviews, as you probably know from your own shopping experiences. For example, if you’re faced with two identical businesses and one has a 2-star rating and the other has a 5-star rating, which one are you more likely to go with?
Additionally, SEO rankings have long been known to influence the click through rates of search results. If a higher number of searchers choose to click on your website, then Google assumes that your business is doing something right and decides to reward you with better rankings. It’s no wonder then that reviews are important for this, as a site with better reviews is going to get more clicks. So, by having your customers review your products/service, you are enticing more people to click your website and boost your rankings.