“Reviews are the unsung heroes of SEO.” So said a speaker at BrightonSEO back in September, and the evidence is certainly mounting up in favour of reviews for a number of reasons.
Let’s start with the “why have reviews” question first. Here’s why.
• 90% of consumers read online reviews
• 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
So, does your website feature reviews? And if it does, are they accessible to search engines? Read on to discover why reviews should be be a key part of your SEO strategy…
Reviews and ranking signals
Ranking signals are those elements of your website that Google and other search engines take into consideration when deciding which website to place above another in search results. Reviews make up 10% of the signal - compare that to just 6% for mobile searches and social signals. So, search engine think reviews are important and significant.
Reviews and content
Reviews also provide your website with fresh content on a regular basis that is packed with keywords, and especially long tail keywords. You only have to look at reviews submitted to Amazon to see just how much people love to write about products.
One review for this product is entitled: “Cheap drone perfect for learning how to fly”. How good is that, one of the keywords you want to write in copy but won’t get past the marketing department - “cheap drone”!
The review goes on to mentions every key feature of a drone that buyers might be looking for: how robust it is, battery life, flying time, gyro stabilising system, camera quality, the lot. It finishes with the words “Overall this is a great starter drone, and for the price you can't really go wrong with it.” Don’t you just love keen reviewers!
Reviews and social conversation
For examples of how to engage reviewers in conversations, look no further than reviews on Trip Advisor.
The best hotels don’t just engage with those who post positive reviews, but those who don’t as well. The resulting conversations tell you as much about the hotel’s attitude as the review itself.
Here’s one picked at random to show the principle.
Note how the Manager takes time to add local information which readers of the review can also pick up on. Neat!
Reviews and star ratings
Most review systems allow people to give a star rating, and these star ratings can also appear onto the organic search results in Google too. Star ratings can either come from a respected partner review site, such as Trust Pilot, Yelp, or from your own website review system.
External Review sites
If you use an external site to collect and collate reviews, this is an easy and often highly cost effective method to manage reviews. These sites also do the hard work of connecting with Google and getting those stars in place for you. (That’s done by using microdata markup in either schema or JSON-LD - really geeky stuff.)
An external service like Trust Pilot and the newcomer GetFiveStars collates reviews for you through their website, which you add to your website via their widget. Yes, there is a cost, but the system does all the hard work for you, from emailing clients to final reviews - and you get some awesome stats.
Most smaller businesses would probably opt for the middle ground of a WordPress plug-in that creates a dedicated testimonials page for your reviews, and that automatically creates that geeky microdata stuff. This way, you have complete control over your reviews without a high monthly charge.
The good, the bad, and the geeky
If you self-manage reviews, it might be tempting to trim out the negative reviews.
Less than perfect reviews on your testimonials or product pages prove to potential customers that your reviews are real, especially if you reply to them and work to resolve their complaints or concerns.
Let your reviewers do the writing
As Miriam Ellis says in a blog for Moz.com:
“If you took all of the sentiment customers express about a vibrant, given business and put it into a book, it would end up reading something like War and Peace. The good news about this is that you don’t have to write it — you have thousands of potential volunteer Tolstoys out there to do the job for you, because reviewing businesses has become a phenomenal modern hobby.”
So, if you want to boost your website with great content on a regular basis, written for free by your customers, then a Testimonials page that collects as well as displays reviews could be just the ticket. Ask us for details!