Often, when you hear the three letters “SEO”, people think about Heading 1s, meta tags, and descriptions.
Online ratings and customer reviews are certainly not the first thing that comes to mind! In fact, these often don’t even make the list of things people connect to SEO.
But the fact of the matter is, online reviews are fast becoming an integral part of the list of metrics that can affect your online ranking.
In fact, according to a Moz study in 2018, online reviews already makeup 15.44% of Google ranking factors, while in 2021, Moz also made heavy recommendations regarding customer feedback.
More specifically, to improve your chances of moving up in Google, reviews were paramount in local search success.
And it certainly makes sense.
As many of you will already know, some of the main pillars of Google rankings are associated with the trust and authority of a website.
Now think about what reviews do! They are virtually crowdfunded, audience-based measurements of online trustworthiness, and they should matter just as much as the other metrics.
Google reviews as an important ranking factor
Picking back up on the logical connections made in the last paragraph, ratings, reviews and your overall online reputation in a circular, mutual manner: it is heavily tied in with traffic (if you’re trusted by users, more people come to your website, thus increasing web traffic) which in turn can lead to more conversions.
Studies from as early as 2018 show that Google My Business (GMB) reviews that included main and LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords are factors that tip the scale when it comes to Google Local Map Pack search results – results that appear on the top of search over organic results.
Additionally, people search on their phones now more than ever these days.
It is easy for them to search a product or service, read reviews and ratings of that company or business and then make the decision to go with the business with the most reviews and the highest ratings.
Don’t just take our word for it; the statistics speak for themselves:
- A 2019 study shows that 61% of U.S. online shoppers said they trust stores with more reviews than stores that have less
- Statistics from a 2020 BrightLocal study show that 87% of customers pay attention to online reviews for local businesses as a major factor of their decision making process
- Last year, 93% of customers looked at a store’s online reviews before buying a product
- In the same study, 94% of all purchases happen as a result of products with a rating of at least 4 and above
Direct integration of reviews in Google’s organic SERPS: ratings snippet
If you need even more proof about the importance of reviews in skewing your position in Google search results, look no further than aggregated star rating snippets.
It’s no coincidence that the websites with the most reviews and highest ratings populate the first page of Google.
For example, notice that in the above screenshot on a search for the term “electricians melbourne”, the websites with aggregated star ratings dominate the first page of results.
More important reasons to pay attention to your Google My Business reviews and ratings
Your competitor, who has more reviews and higher ratings than you, may be taking customers that you could have had people search “ + reviews”, which means it is becoming more and more of a habit for people to look up reviews of a business first before deciding to enlist services or buy products from them after searching, people can call businesses directly from Google’s call feature
Are you a local business or tradie?
It is even more important for you to stay on top of reviews and ratings SEO!
All kinds of businesses will no doubt benefit from more reviews and ratings.
Whether you are an e-commerce, local, or national business, it is important for you to pay attention to increasing the number of reviews and ratings your site has.
For local businesses, it is vital.
We have seen this work in real time with some of our local business clients, affecting their ranking when negative reviews pull down their GMB ratings.
On the other hand, those that have accumulated many positive reviews and high ratings as well as have their ratings displayed as aggregate star ratings enjoy top positions in the organic SERPs.
With local businesses, you have to consider even if you are ranked #1 organically, for your local area, you may not show up until the 5th to 10th position down the page.
This may be as a result of Google placing 1-3 Google Ads in the page’s top real estate, and then the local map pack, which typically consists of three businesses, and sits directly under Google Ads.
What can I do to improve my business’ reviews and ratings?
The best thing you can do is to simply start asking!
At iformat, we understand that you might be too busy to do this yourself.
Sending out emails or setting up a system to request reviews can be tedious and time consuming, which is why we are setting up a Reputation Management service to help you get more reviews from your happiest customers.
Without a prompt, customers would rarely voluntarily give you a review – even if they are thrilled with your products or services.
It takes a nudge or a reminder for them to actually go to Google, Facebook or Word Of Mouth Online (WOMO) and leave a rating or review.
Put simply, you need to be proactive with your reviews because if you don’t ask, you won’t receive!
It is also important to note to be wary of services that promise you instant reviews that might be coming from manufactured sources. Google will penalise websites of those who try to game the system with fake reviews and ratings.
With iformat’s Reputation Management solution, the goal is to align your reviews and ratings according to the primary things that push a website up in search results:
- Collect reviews and increase their number on three of the most important review sites online (Google, Facebook, WOMO)
- Collect real, legitimate reviews from real customers who have done business with you or have purchased from your store
- Help manage negative reviews in a way that addresses customer concerns, creating a useful dialogue that can help you better serve your clients
Additionally, you can talk to us about SEO related to:
- Fixing your on-page setup so that it shows aggregate ratings in the organic search results for your targeted keywords
Finally, to highlight how reviews and actively asking customers for them is important, an iformat team member shared a recent instance that resonated with this very topic:
She needed a plumber this week and had searched online for a local plumber and then hired the one that had high ratings and hundreds of reviews. When asked what his secret was for all those reviews that had boosted him to the top of Google, his reply was four simple words: “I ask for them!”