Obtaining online reviews should play a critical role in your SEO strategy. Not only do online reviews give your business creditability with consumers, they also uncover new ways to reach your target audience.
In this article we are going to take a look at how consumers are using online reviews to make a purchasing decision, how online reviews impact search engine optimization and ways your business can structure a strategy to obtain more online reviews.
How Consumers Use Online Reviews
Before we start looking into the data on how consumers use online reviews, we first must understand where they are in the purchasing decision.
Typically, by the time a consumer is reading online reviews they have already decided they are in the market for a product or service. Therefore, no reviews or bad reviews could lead the consumer to seek another business who has good reviews.
Since it only takes a matter of seconds to run a Google search, it only takes seconds for a consumer to make a purchasing decision based on online reviews about your business.
If you still doubt the importance of online reviews, here is some data that may make you want to reconsider. According to a survey from BrightLocal, about 85% of consumers reported reading online reviews.
Furthermore, about 67% of consumers will read 6 reviews or less before they form an opinion about your business based on reviews alone.
Finally, another survey from Dimensional Research found that 90% of consumers claim positive reviews influence their buying decision. Additionally, 86% of consumers say negative reviews make them think twice about making a purchase from a business.
Based on the data above, you can see just how important it is to manage online reviews.
Six ways reviews can help SEO
Now that we know how consumers use online reviews, we need to understand how online reviews impact your SEO efforts. Here we will take a look at just 6 (of many) ways an effective online review strategy can land your business new customers.
Reviews Are 13% Of Local Search Ranking Factors
If your business relies on nearby consumers, pay close attention. Local search engines love online reviews so much that 13% of SEO weight is attributed to how well your business ranks on search results.
Creates Fresh User-Generated Content
Content is king when it comes to search engine rankings and what better way to produce content then having your consumers create the content for you?
User generated content (UGC) is considered more influential because, well, it’s created by users for users. Consumers researching your product or service know that UGC isn’t a sales pitch but rather an honest review of the pros and cons of not only your product or service but also your sales cycle and customer service.
Boosts Long-Tail Keyword Traffic
Since consumers aren’t experts in your line of work, the content they generate for you will uncover long-tail keywords consumers are using to describe your product or service. This content allows a business to incorporate the language their consumers are using to create new content and rank high on search results for the exact phrases their consumers are searching.
Boosts Social Conversation
Obtaining reviews on social networks like Facebook, helps your business reach new audiences. For example, Joe leaves you a raving review on Facebook and it shows up on Jill’s timeline. Now Jill wants to know more about your product so she asks Joe about it. Before you know it, Joe and Jill are having a conversation on Facebook where all of their followers can chime in with their thoughts and questions.
Google Favors Highly-Rated Sites
We touched above on the weight online ratings have in search results but did you also know that better reviews mean better rankings? A business with better rankings is more likely to receive a click-through to their website which means a higher click-through rate.
Receive Visible Star Ratings
When star ratings are displayed in Google search results, prospective customers can instantly judge whether they can trust your product enough to visit your site. This helps increase the traffic and sales.
Improve Ranking for Products
A well optimized online review strategy will not only ask consumers to rank the business but to rank the product as well. This will provide for more keywords in which the consumer can find your business when doing a search online.
Developing a Review Acquisition Strategy
The first step to developing a review acquisition strategy is to determine which online review sites you want to focus on. Obviously getting reviews on Google and Facebook is a no-brainer but there are other review sites you may want to consider.
To find other review sites you may want to consider head over to Google and do a search for “[industry reviews” to see which sites pop-up. The review sites that pop-up first are most likely going to give your website the biggest boost when it comes to SEO.
Once you have determined 3 or more review sites you want to obtain reviews on, a system needs to be put into place to request reviews on a consistent basis.
At Concrete Internet Marketing, we developed an online review system that helps you obtain reviews for your product or services. The way the system works is pretty straight forward.
On a monthly basis an email is sent out to all of your new customers asking them to review your business online. When they click through to your website they are directed to a landing page that has 5 clickable stars so they can leave you a rating.
If the consumer clicks on a 1, 2, or 3 stars, a pop-up with a form shows up on their screen. This pop-up asks the consumer to fill out the form so their review can be emailed directly to you. This process eliminates bad reviews and gives you the opportunity to respond to them directly to resolve any issues.
If the consumer clicks on a 4 or 5 star, a pop-up with your pre determined online review platforms shows up on their screen. From there they are asked to click on a logo to one of the review sites to leave a public review for you.
Online Reputation Management
Having an online review system in place is great but you still need to have an online reputation management system in place as well. An online reputation management system will help your business respond to positive and negative reviews in a timely manner as well as keep you updated about what people are saying about your business online.
The key components to an online reputation management system are to engage, listen, publish, measure and understanding your audience.
When a consumer leaves a review or mentions your brand on social media, it is important to engage with them. A great way to track mentions on social media is to monitor your hash tags and your business name. This way you can step into the conversation when consumers are talking about you.
Listening is just as important as engaging. Listening to what your audience is saying can help your business create content around your audiences most important needs. Listening will also help you locate ambassadors for your business and stop trolls from spreading negative comments about your business.
Publishing content on social media can be time consuming. Thankfully, tools like HootSuite make it easy for you to schedule your content weeks or months in advance. Be sure to understand you audience so you can schedule your content to be published when they are online.
Measuring your success on social media can be tricky. Just because a post receives a million likes doesn’t meant that it is producing income for your business. Make a list of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and monitor them over time. Doing this will show you the evolution of your social media efforts and help direct you to publish relevant content at the right time.
Finally, know who your audience is and know who your most passionate fans and followers are. Make an attempt to connect with your advocates as much as possible and they will return the love in the form of online reach.
Businesses who take the time to develop and maintain an online review system will surely move up the rankings on search results. When developing an online review system make sure you are consistently asking and receiving reviews to keep your UGC fresh. Additionally, pay close attention to UGC as it provides the secrets to how your audience is describing your business and your products or services.
Furthermore, take good care of your online reputation. Make sure the content consumers are finding about your business are positive. Even if consumers do find negative remarks about your business make sure they also see that you responded to the negative comment and truly care about your consumers.