Today's consumers have an important voice that echoes across the Web in the form of online reviews and feedback on various social media channels. Brands that ignore this trend do so at their own risk, as more than half of consumers now read at least four reviews before buying a product.
"By proving your value to potential customers, 'online reviews' help boost your position in search results and keep your Web traffic on an upward curve."
Using 'online reviews' obviously means that companies need to offer a quality product at a competitive price along with an excellent customer experience. What many do not yet realize is that 'online reviews' are also a great boost for search engine optimization (SEO). In other words, by using reviews to prove your value to customers, you are also providing direct value to search engine crawlers.
How can online reviews improve SEO?
If you want more conversions, you need more traffic. However, that's only the first part of the equation. What you really need is quality traffic, which consists of visitors who are interested in what you have to offer. If people are already reading positive "online reviews" about the products you sell, then it is logical that they will also be interested in your brand's offerings. As such, having a consistently high number of positive 'online reviews' means more trust from Google, which again means... more consumer trust and more relevant organic traffic to your website.
Almost every online business now understands the value of content marketing, but not everyone considers their customers to be among the most important content creators. Instead of viewing online reviews purely as feedback, brands should also view them as user "generated content". After all, that's exactly how Google's search algorithms see them. Reviews give the search engines a constant stream of fresh content to crawl - content that is likely to contain relevant keywords and phrases that have been included organically, as opposed to artificially included in Web page text. This helps Google get a clearer picture of what your website and business are about, giving you better visibility in search results.
Legitimate online reviews, whether good or bad, also have a positive impact on bounce rates. When reviews are present, especially on your website, potential customers have more content to engage with, so they will stay longer on the page. This, in turn, increases trust and helps people make more informed purchasing decisions that they are likely to be satisfied with.
While online reviews can have a positive impact on any business, they are even more crucial for local businesses. For example, reviews improve your "Google My Business" profile by giving you exposure before people visit your website itself.
How can you benefit from online reviews?
The greatest strength of online reviews is that they generate trust by giving potential customers an unbiased view of your company. However, this does not have to mean that you no longer have direct control over your brand's reputation.
Although Google has always been ambiguous about the exact nature of its ranking factors, it actively encourages businesses to collect and respond to reviews. In many cases, even a bad review can be turned around if you respond to it and publicly acknowledge that you have fallen short. By actively encouraging and responding to reviews - both good and bad - you show your customers that you value their opinion. There are few better ways to build trust and deliver the experience today's customers demand.
CNIP is a Gold HubSpot partner and digital marketing agency whose mission is to help businesses grow, expand and evolve their brands. Contact our results-driven marketing team today.