In the world of hyper SEO competition it takes a lot of effort to get a site to dominate the search rankings or to get on the front page. Google is getting ever more clever at filtering out the junk and stopping the so-called blackhat SEO experts from dominating the SERPS (search engine ranking positions). Google just wants to bring you the best results – ad or regular searches – for your terms entered and are happy when you get there!
Reviews are one way Google makes sure their search results fit what you are looking for by ensuring authenticity.
Reviews are basically testimonials. I hate using a larger word to help explain what a smaller word means so let me try again: reviews are what WE have to say about things. The WE is the public, the customers, our friends, basically anyone who has something to say or comment – but REAL people. The fact that anyone has taken the time to write about a topic you have a vested interest in is precious – precious time they could have spent doing anything else besides writing that review so treat it like a big favour, thank them. A review, a comment, a referral, whatever you call it, is the gold standard towards which other people judge you (so true in real life as it is on line) BEFORE they get to actually know you and become involved with you. Think about it this way, wouldn’t you want your friends to say good things about you to that certain someone before you went over and introduced yourself? Reviews are paramount to ALL relationships.
So we all want referrals. Some people will argue that reviews are cooked up and aren’t real. Which may be true but Google actually does a pretty good job of figuring out real from bot reviews, but get this, it doesn’t matter. People trust online reviews almost as much as they trust personal reviews by friends! It’s true. A recent study found that the buying decisions of 90% of consumers are influenced by positive online reviews.
Google, in it’s understanding of human nature, adds this factor to it’s search methodology and places some importance on reviews for the rankings of web pages. How much importance? That’s up for the Google gurus to know and us to guess at as they aren’t telling.
Reviews also tell Google one very important thing: your site/business is, in fact, real. A real entity with real people behind it. Other people have seen or dealt with you and have had experiences with you. How odd is it that we have to prove this? However; for new sites/businesses, proving you are real and not just a bot churning out sites to flood the digital market, is important to getting Google to notice you and rank your site.
Especially for local listings. Google loves local businesses so they are glad to move you up the search rankings if you have an established presence. And how do you quickly do that when your competitors have had years to prove they exist? Google reviews of course. A customer review proves that, you know, you have had customers! You exist!
Good vs. Bad – my thoughts on the quality of a review.
I’m not certain about this and haven’t found much writing about it, but I believe Google actually gives more weight to BAD reviews in proving your business exists offline. Think about it. If I’m going to write up a bunch of fake reviews for my business (like black hat SEO’s are want to do) they aren’t going to write BAD reviews. Good reviews can be copy pasted and churned out with little thought but a bad review? That takes time and (just a little) thinking from someone who has had experience with your company.
In the end it doesn’t matter, you can’t edit the Google reviews you get, you can only respond to them and respond you should. Take a bad review as an opportunity to connect with a customer who understands a problem with your company. Never ignore them, they don’t go away ever, and neither will the thoughtful response that you write. People will discover that conversation years from now and appreciate how you handled an irate customer.
Display Google Reviews on your WordPress site with this handy plugin! Amalgamate your reviews for even more SEO punch!
Different types of reviews online
I think it is safe to say that Google reviews are the most important review for SEO purposes. While you could argue review sites such as TripAdvisor are important for SEO purposes, you have to think that Google would look at it’s own review process first then onto other sites for collaboration of the information. I’m not saying ignore the review sites, I’m saying Google’s reviews should be the priority IF search rankings are you priority.
Even that lowly LIKE is a review of sorts, a positive one, that by itself may not mean much but if it blows up to thousands upon thousands of likes you know Google is paying attention to social shares and likes. I define likes as someone telling you they like your stuff, which is great, but a SHARE is someone telling other people they like your stuff. Of course, the latter is more desirable in terms of reviews of your page or site, so sharing should always be encouraged over likes.
Of course there’s tactics and strategies you can employ to encourage reviews. Want to grow your business? Cultivate and grow them. Ask me how!
Oh, that feature image picture of Winnipeg’s iconic Provencher Bridge? That’s from the very talented Virgil Kanne – a friend I had the good fortune to work and roll with years ago. He’s still designing strong and coding hard all these years later. Here’s his website: http://kanne.ca/ How’s that for a review?