Google is hands down the most used search engine – nay, website – in Australia. It does a lot of things besides quenching our thirst for information.
We also use it for:
- Email hosting
- Mapping and GPS
- Cloud storage
One other feature that Google offers is Reviews.
Customers can leave reviews directly through Google for any business with a Google Business Listing. If you’re a business owner, we’re sure you already know this.
Here’s something you might not be 100% sure about, though: do Google reviews (and reviews in general) impact your SEO, and if so, how should you make reviews a part of your SEO strategy?
Do reviews impact SEO?
In a word: yes!
While they’re not the biggest ranking factor, they are significant. It’s estimated that business reviews make up between 7-13% of how Google decides to rank search results.
Google’s goal is to give searchers the best result for their queries. What better way to tell if a particular business is a good result than by looking at previous customer feedback?
When it comes to reviews, rating scores and volume of reviews are the key indicators Google uses when reading reviews. A single 5-star review might be a fluke, but 10, 20, or 50 of them is a sign that your business is something special!
It’s not just Google reviews either…
In Google’s eyes, its own reviews are the most impactful.
It makes sense – Google owns the platform, and therefore has no trouble pulling the relevant ratings and associated comments.
Of course, that’s not to say other review sites like WOMO, Yelp and Truelocal don’t have a role to play!
While not weighed as heavily as Google’s own reviews, ratings from other sites back up the information from Google reviews.
It also helps Google verify whether your Google reviews are legitimate or not. By checking for consistency with other review sites, Google will be able to tell whether the ratings it has are genuine or not.
That’s not the only way reviews impact SEO…
Reviews also impact search engine optimisation by providing additional ways for customers to find your business and site.
Big review sites like WOMO or Truelocal pop up for many keywords and searches, since Google sees those sites as highly credible.
A customer might not find your business directly through Google. However, they might find a review of your business – on one of those sites – through Google.
Not only do reviews shape what the customer thinks of your businesses, but it can also redirect visitors that wouldn’t have found you otherwise to your site!
Many review sites feature direct links to business websites. Furthermore, according to Vendesta, 48% of consumers will visit a business website after reading positive reviews!
How to encourage clients to leave you Google reviews
Why is it people are so quick to complain, but in instances when they receive great service or an outstanding product, your efforts go unnoticed?
Getting good reviews is hard – but not impossible!
Asking for reviews is a necessity in order to encourage people to take the time to leave their feedback and rating.
It could be as simple as an email after a purchase or service has been completed
- Keep the email short and sweet – but personal. Thank them for their purchase or mention something unique about the service you provided them
- Include a link to your Google Listing to make it as easy as possible for clients
- Ask them for a rating AND a comment – star-ratings on their own do not pack as hard a punch
- Send your request at the right time: wait until they have had the chance (and time) to fully enjoy the benefits of your service, but wait too long, and the initial spark may have faded
- Be clever when you ask: say something like “If you were happy with my services…” thus encouraging positive comments and reviews.
SEO isn’t the only way reviews impact your business
You don’t need us to tell you that reviews matter, but here are some astounding numbers you might not have known:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 91% of customers check online reviews before making a purchase
- Only 57% of customers trust a business with a 3-star rating
- 94% would trust a business with a 4-star rating
In addition to improving SEO and leaving good first impressions to potential new customers, online reviews also:
Build your reputation
We’re not going to sugarcoat it – not all reviews are going to be positive. While we’re sure you try your best, sometimes things just don’t go to plan or you have a truly difficult and demanding customer.
Of course, a negative review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, the way you handle criticism can help build up your image!
Instead of getting riled up and demanding negative reviews be taken down, think about what you can do to defuse the situation. Reply to the review publically to acknowledge the problem or address the miscommunication, and if necessary, follow up privately if you want to chat further.
It shows to other readers that you’re reasonable, helpful and committed to delivering great customer experiences, even in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Help you improve your business
Additionally, reviews (positive or otherwise) give you a customer’s perspective on what you’re doing right – and wrong.
Knowing how others perceive your business can do be a huge advantage when it comes to improving your product or business. Look for common themes across feedback to assess:
- What’s working
- What doesn’t work
- What needs improvement
These are great help if you need to rethink your strategies, make new ones or scrap some others that don’t work after all.
Improve your review score to boost your SEO
Reviews are a big deal for business owners. And not necessarily in the way you might imagine!
Now that you have a firmer grasp on how online reviews influences your search rankings, are you going to encourage past and current clients to leave you a review?