Written by Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Table of contents
This is neither news nor a secret: search engines take into consideration what your customers say about you.
I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of times about the importance of customer reviews when it comes to online reputation of a business. Certainly, when we think of the word ‘reputation’, our mind tends to jump to its most immediate meaning: the opinion users who know us have regarding our business, service or product. However, more often than not we don’t even consider the possibility that this is something search engines also value, and that their algorithms are also capable of interpreting –based on certain criteria– whether our clients have had a positive experience, or were left unhappy in some way with our contribution. Moreover, we cannot ignore the fact that fresh and updated content provided by these reviews also favours us immensely. Thus, having a good (and verified) online reputation not only improves our conversion rate, it also plays a significant role in terms of our website’s SEO.
This factor, which is no other than the purest manifestation of user-generated content, will positively differentiate us from our competition if we know how to use it to our advantage… –it goes without saying– as long as we provide a quality service or product to our audience.
Ways in which a user can express their opinion about us that improves our SEO
This is something that we all see in online shops all the time, whether they’re e-commerce giants like Amazon, Fnac or Ikea, or smaller and more niche online retailers, like a shoe store, pet store, or a bookstore.
Some e-commerce stores use external services, providing modules created by companies specialising in gathering customer comments and reviews, namely Verified Reviews, which allows you to display reviews and ratings on each product of your shop. There are many services of this kind available nowadays, so you can choose whichever option suits you best. We will name a few more later in “Reviews on other platforms and networks”.
Other stores have opted for an internal management of reviews, custom developing these modules for their sites, or they’ve chosen to use plugins available on content management systems of their choice, just like in the example shown above, TUK shoes.
These user comments are an invaluable source of content created by users, who inadvertently infuse our pages with interesting keywords, especially long tail ones, without us having to do anything. In other words, they take care of our job for us.
Testimonials are usually more controlled reviews –or statements– which businesses specifically request to customers who’ve used their product or service. These testimonials, once obtained, are published on the website in a specially designated location, within the home page, or sometimes even on a separate page. They can include the name of the entity who’s written the testimonial, or they can be anonymous. However, it is always best for a testimonial to be linked to a real and verifiable person, as this gives us much more credibility.
If our business has a physical location, registered on Google My Business, and by extension, is appearing on Google Maps, any user can leave a review evaluating the quality of the service and treatment they received on-site, with a rating from 1 to 5 stars and a comment. If our average rating is good, and we receive a high quantity of positive opinions, both Google and our customers will bear that in mind.
Reviews on other platforms and networks
Besides Google My Business, there are other platforms that Google deems “reliable”, the so-called Google Licensed Content Partners, on which users can review or rate our business. Some of them are:
- Trust Pilot
Being present on this type of sites helps us to get links inside relevant content, places where users continuously use terms that are our business’ target keywords. All of this contributes to boosting our relevance and legitimacy in the eyes of search engines, as they represent a natural link building source, with mentions within content tightly linked to our field.
Because SMO or social SEO is still SEO, in one way or another. If we’re present on Facebook, or other social networking platforms where our customers can leave their thoughts on our business, it’s also important to earn a good reputation in social media, especially if we use Social Commerce as a conversion channel. Ratings and activity in our social profiles generate trust, transmit a positive image of a safe, reliable and solid brand, which keeps in mind the needs of its users and provides a wonderful treatment to individuals who choose to rely on their business.
Don’t forget that, aside from improving your SEO, giving your users a voice or making communication and interaction with you easier will always contribute to a positive user experience and satisfaction. In the end, there isn’t a better marketing strategy than word of mouth (or a post on a timeline ).
What if I receive a negative review?
While we do want to prevent negative reviews as much as possible, it’s inevitable that at some point an issue or a conflict is going to arise, resulting in one of our clients not having their expectations met. Here, the most important thing is to put on your best colours, and get to the bottom of the problem with elegance and good manners, solve it as fast as possible, and reward the customer in some way for their trouble if necessary. It’s impossible to meet everyone’s expectations, and even when the issue wasn’t strictly our fault (deriving, for example, from our collaborators), sometimes it’s best to take responsibility or part of the blame for what happened and provide solutions. If our prospective customers see that we’re decisive and good problem solvers, and we are always available to help them or listen to them, through thick and thin, they will remember that, too. For us, this feedback can also can come in handy, to know in which aspects we could strive to become better at what we do.
Moreover, it’s not exactly super credible when a business with some experience under its belt only has positive feedback, and this is something that could also make users somewhat suspicious. Google also knows that nobody is perfect, and in any case, negative feedback is not going to make our rankings in Google worse. So, do not rush to remove negative reviews (if the platform you use allows you to do this), and instead, try to solve the conflict in a public way, for all to see.
Rich snippets in SEO and rating extensions in SEM
To finish off this post, let’s talk about schema review markup we see many websites use, to get Google to display an average rating of products or services in the rich snippets appearing in the search results, after users enter any query in the search bar.
Google provides us with an extensive documentation for SEOs and web developers alike on how structured data of aggregateRating type must be implemented.
Besides emphasising our result, ratings in rich snippets are the perfect tool to build trust among Internet users and our prospective customers in our website. But, for it to benefit us, we must have a comment and/or review module installed and correctly set up, implement the appropriate markup, and of course, encourage users to contribute with their reviews on our products and services.
With regard to paid advertising, Google Ads has its seller ratings ads extensions, showing the grade given to a website by its users, and it is usually displayed only for businesses, which were able to get an average rating of 3.5 stars or more.
Here’s the official Google Ads documentation on how seller ratings ads extensions work, in which circumstances they appear, and what requirements you need to meet in order to get them to appear in your ads.
As you can see, customer reviews help us to improve our website in many aspects:
- They build trust in our business.
- They contribute to improving our rankings in search engines, for both organic and paid results.
- They help us to stand out in the search results.
- They give voice to users who visit us.