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Your Online Reviews Matter — to Google!

Online ratings and reviews can make or break a sale. But did you know they also impact how you show up on Google? Learn how reviews affect ranking factor.

If pictures are worth a thousand words, then a star rating next to your brand on search says a lot.

According to MOZ’s most recent State of Local SEO Industry Report, native GMB reviews are the “second most important local ranking factor, surpassing links as of 2018.” And it’s no wonder given that over 90% of people use online reviews to make a purchasing decision, so why wouldn’t Google use online reviews to make a ranking decision?

Learn how (and why) reviews can boost your business’s SEO.

Reviews = Content

For years, SEO experts wrote headlines like “content is king!” — stressing the SEO impact of well-written and relevant content. And while that remains true today, “content” is a really wide umbrella term, which comprises everything from unique product descriptions to Frequently Asked Questions to user-generated reviews.

In other words, if content is king, reviews are one of the key members of the royal court!

A single online review can have more heart and useful info in it than twenty out-of-touch expert articles combined. Customers know this. And Google knows this, too. So, Google reads reviews, just like you and me, and then uses the information in and about them to determine which pages to rank for which keyphrases.

Let’s say a customer leaves a review of your business on Google and includes keyphrases like “kid-friendly” or “great hamburgers.” Google may add these informal attributes to your business and use them to show your business for more specific searches, like “kid-friendly restaurants near me” or “top burger places.”

Additionally, Google and searchers alike look beyond the content of your business’s reviews to make ranking and purchasing decisions respectively — taking into account review quantity, frequency, and ratings!

Reviews = Attention

It’s one thing to make it to the top of Google. Staying there is a different ball game.

Do you know how your business looks on search? If you already rank for relevant branded and non-branded keyphrases, there are actions you can take to encourage clicks and time-on-site. Incidentally, these actions mostly overlap with some of the best-known SEO practices, like optimizing title tags and meta descriptions, prioritizing PageSpeed, and adding rich and unique content.

As mentioned above, reviews are a valuable form of content! Adding a custom review module to your website (one with structured data aka. schema) can further boost your SEO efforts by:

  • Encouraging users to spend more time on your site.
  • Increasing clicks and traffic to your site.
  • Helping you own the SERP for queries including [your business] + [reviews].
  • Informing consumer’s purchase decisions during the ZMOT.
  • Enriching your GMB reviews (if Google chooses to add third-party reviews to your profile, depending on the source of the reviews, and whether they are marked up with schema).

Search engines see increased click-thru-rates and time-on-site as positive ranking signals, which “affirm” and solidify your position on the SERP. In other words, adding reviews to your site can not only help your business rank for relevant keyphrases, but it may also allow it to remain in that position longer.

One study “showed that review stars in search engine results significantly improve click-through rates, by as much as 35%.”

Reviews = Links

Google crawls the entire World Wide Web for links and mentions of your business to determine if your local business is trustworthy and authoritative. If well-known websites with good domain authority link to your site, Google will “pass” that credibility and relevancy on to you.

Ratings and reviews hosted on your properties may be quoted by third-party sites, even going viral, as illustrated by these highlights from Amazon! Additionally, linking to relevant reviews from your GMB profile and main site to press releases and your blog can further drive links! Reviews not only build trust with customers on your website, but they may also result in valuable backlinks.

Reviews matter. What’s next?

Many people are resigned to the myth that you can’t control what people say about your business online. However, you can influence it by actively monitoring reviews for actionable suggestions, managing customer expectations in-store and online, and respectfully responding to all reviews!

Additionally, if you’re looking to leverage reviews for SEO purposes, keep in mind that for Google to crawl your reviews, it must first find your GMB listing and website! That’s where GPO comes in! With our Local Pages product and Content Solutions, we can monitor, manage, and curate your listings throughout the local search ecosystem to improve accuracy, visibility, and engagement. To get started, reach out to GPO today!

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