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Do Reviews Have an Impact on Website Ranking?

Managing Your Business's Online Reputation

March 24, 2017

As a business owner, manager or marketer, you may have heard that paying attention to online reviews can help you improve customer service, strengthen your brand and encourage new business. But did you know that online reviews and replies can also be a significant factor in boosting your organic SEO rankings? Well, they are! 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation – so all businesses should include review acquisition and online reputation management as part of a comprehensive internet marketing strategy.

Online Reviews = Higher Ranking?

It’s no secret that customers love reading online reviews to help them decide whether to buy a product, use a service or visit a local business. In fact, a recent survey featured on Marketingland.com showed that 90% of customers use online reviews to help them make a purchase decision. That’s where search engines like Google or Bing come in and help shape your Denver SEO strategy. These savvy search engines understand what customers are looking for and where they are looking geographically. Searchers and potential customers want to quickly get an answer about whether or not your business is worth their time or money. To quickly assist them with their decision, search engines are now beginning to rank results partly based on their online reviews. 

What is a Review Signal & Why Does it Matter?

According to Moz, “review signals” make up just about 10% of how search engines decide to rank search results. While 10% may not seem like a huge number at first, consider if you were to improve your revenue or sales 10% each month – those numbers add up quickly! Review signals can include a number of different thigs such as:
  • Number of reviews posted
  • Frequency of reviews posted
  • Number of sites on which your business reviews are featured
  • Keywords & phrases contained in the reviews
  • Credibility of reviewer
  • And more
Interestingly, review signals were ranked above social signals such as Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers - indicating reviews may play a larger role than social media in determining your organic ranking! This statistic alone gives validity to the idea that businesses should take a close look at their digital marketing priorities and put more of an emphasis on online reviews.

Which Review Sites Are Important?

Some business owners assume that Google will only pull back Google reviews when the search engine determines rankings, however that is not the case. Search engines take into account your reviews wherever they live on the web and Google and other search engines “know” which sites are credible and which are not. So, to craft a strong SEO strategy, you need to be present on as many review websites as possible. The more relevant places where you can get reviews, the better it will be for your SEO efforts.

Don’t get overwhelmed! If you’re starting from scratch, it may be difficult for you to build up your presence on multiple review websites at once. Instead, choose just a few to start – and focus on the sites that are relevant to your industry. For example, if you are a restaurant you may prefer to pay attention to review sites like Yelp, Zagat and Trip Advisor but if you are a roofing company, getting reviews on Home Advisor and Angie’s List will likely be more beneficial. Another way to determine which review sites are most important to your business is to do a little research on your competitors. Check out where your competitors are gaining their reviews and establish your own account or profiles with those companies as well.

How to Increase Online Reviews

Now that it’s clear that online reviews are important, and you’ve established accounts or profiles with a handful of relevant review sites, you need to create a strategy to gain reviews from your customers.
It would be wonderful if customers took it upon themselves to leave positive reviews after a good experience with your company, and some certainly do, but life gets busy and despite best intentions even the happiest of customers can forget to leave you a few lines of praise. It is totally okay to ask your customer’s for a review, and even to provide them with the link to do so, as long as you are not soliciting a specific type of review from the customer. It never hurts to ask people about their experience with your company, because feedback is the only way you can continue to grow and improve as a business.
Train everyone on your staff to ask for online reviews as they finish a transaction or a project with a customer. If you are a restaurant or retail store you can add it to the bottom of your receipts to make sure every customer is aware of where to find you online. If your business provides a service you can send out an email once a job or appointment is completed thanking them for their business and asking for a review. In this instance you should absolutely include a link directly to where a customer can leave their review (Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.) – because if a customer has to click on too many links, or navigate through a cumbersome process to leave you a review, they’ll probably give up. Make it as easy as possible for someone to leave you a good review!

DWD’s comprehensive suite software suite of marketing tools allows you to send review requests directly from within the system using the Email Newsletter tool. You can target specific clients or customers and send them a personalized email, with direct links to your social review pages, all with a single click.

On a different note, it is also worth mentioning that while positive reviews are extremely helpful, it’s never a smart idea to rely on fake reviews as part of your SEO strategy. Some business wonders are persuaded by agencies who post fake reviews posing as real customers, but it’s always best to avoid this deceptive strategy. Customers, and Google’s bots, are smart and if something doesn’t feel right, those glowing reviews might just end up hurting your business rather than helping. Our advice: play it straight – it takes time but it is worth it.

Reputation Management: Responding to Reviews

Most business owners, marketers and customers can agree: good reviews are helpful, and bad reviews can hurt. But regardless of the content of a review it is important to respond to it. Responding to a positive review is generally easy – thanking someone for their kind words and saying you are glad they had such a great experience with your business. Responding to negative reviews can be trickier but is just as important. In addition to speaking directly to the individual who left the review you are also showing other customers and those reading the your business reviews how you as a company handle a challenging situation. Responding to a negative review is an opportunity to own any mistakes and to try and offer the reviewer a solution to relieve the problem. You can even encourage the review to contact you personally to discuss the matter, and move the conversation offline to a more personal (and less public) setting. If you are able to resolve the problem directly with the customer they may even amend or update their bad review. One rule of thumb - never respond to negative reviews with criticism or in a defensive manner!

Regardless of the content of the original review – positive or negative – potential customers are watching and they like to see that a business cares. Additionally, by responding to online reviews in an appropriate way you can help good reviews show up in search results for your business – improving the SEO ranking for the review.
 
Looking for a team of web design and marketing experts to help you craft the perfect Denver SEO strategy? The team at Denver Website Designs can assist you with creating SEO strategies and crafting effective content for websites and blogs as well as provide you with the tools you need to acquire and manage your business reviews and online reputation/ We assist businesses of all kinds and will approach the website holistically to maximize traffic and boost your business. Learn more about our SEO process and give us a call today!
 
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