Customer reviews have become increasingly important over recent years. These days, when people want to research a product, service or business, they seek out third-party reviews as part of their research.
This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, millions of shoppers across the world no doubt used reviews to help them make decisions about which products to buy.
After all, you can say what you like about your company and tell the world how great it is, but what your customers say is far more compelling for your prospects.
Getting lots of positive reviews is not only good for your ego: it’s also important for your sales. Because reviews on third-party sites can also have a big impact on your SEO and your conversion rates.
How Reviews Help Your SEO
There are many third-party review sites that you can use to get reviews from your customers, and some of the biggest include:
The idea is that you pay them a fee in order to set up a profile and start collecting customer reviews on the sites.
One of the things they allow you to do is display the reviews on your own website using a snippet. So you don’t need your prospects to visit the actual review sites (although many of them will) – you can show the independent reviews directly on your own website.
So how does this help your SEO?
More Visibility in the Search Results
One way that reviews help to improve your SEO is through that same snippet that you use to display your reviews on your website.
This snippet sends information to Google, and this allows you to display your star ratings directly in the search results (and your AdWords ads, if you are running a PPC campaign).
This is a big help when it comes to getting noticed in the search results. The star ratings in the search results can help your web pages to stand out and catch the eye of searchers, leading to more clicks.
Think about it: if someone is searching for a product you sell and they are confronted with your site and your competitor’s site, they are usually more likely to click on the site that has the review stars because of the extra trust this provides.
Extra clicks compared to other listings is something that Google notices. If you meet the expectations of the visitors and they don’t immediately bounce, this could see a boost in your rankings.
These yellow review stars, or ‘rich snippet stars’, are easy to get from third-party review sites. As long as you have some great reviews, you can easily get them to show up.
Of course, you don’t want to show off your reviews if you are averaging three stars or less – this could have the opposite effect.
If you want more information on using reviews to boost SEO, this Trustpilot blog discusses using its Product Reviews SEO TrustBox. Simply add the code to the product page on your website, and product reviews will then be displayed in the TrustBox. The idea is that Google then notices the new content on the site and starts to index it.
Reviews Give You More Credibility
On top of that, there is the credibility factor for Google. Third-party sites are recognised by Google as a good indicator that the reviews are genuine.
If you simply added reviews to your own site, there is no guarantee that they are reliable, so it’s important to ensure you also get off-site reviews.
Google’s aim, as always, is to provide the best results it can for its users. Positive third-party reviews suggest that you provide the solution searchers are looking for. So if Google is convinced of the credibility of the review site, this helps increase the credibility of your reviews.
Of course, what that means is that you should choose your review sites with care.
Which Are the Best Review Sites for SEO?
This SEMrush article looks at the best review sites from an SEO perspective, focusing on the four sites listed above (Trustpilot, eKomi, Feefo and Trusted Shops).
It found that, while all offer rich snippet stars, Trustpilot was the most credible. While Feefo also scored highly, Trustpilot was the clear winner. The article also notes how it has a good SEO strategy in place as well as a presence in the Knowledge Graph.
All of this means that it’s a great option when you are choosing which review sites to use.
How Do Reviews Help Your Conversion Rates?
As well as improving your SEO, third-party reviews can also help with your conversion rates.
The primary reason for this comes down to social proof, which is the reason why people trust personal recommendations from their friends and family more than they trust claims made by your business (you can read all about this here).
Third-party reviews are not the same as recommendations from friends, but they have the same effect. People trust them in a way that they don’t trust your own claims.
Positive reviews are – unsurprisingly – even more powerful. And the more reviews you have, the better. One person leaving a great review doesn’t mean a lot. But 1,000 people leaving positive reviews is a big selling point.
Of course, not everyone is going to leave a review. Most of the people who will leave reviews are either those who are very happy or very disappointed with your service. You’ve therefore got to make sure the positives outdo the negatives.
In short, if a large majority of previous customers have great things to say about your products or services, that’s a pretty good indicator that you are worth doing business with.
Importantly, reviews provide the customer with greater certainty. Online shopping is filled with uncertainty, and people want to know as much as they can about a product or service before they click the ‘Buy’ button.
Reviews provide your business with credibility, which translates into less doubt and hesitation on the part of your prospects when they make a decision to buy – which means more chance they are going to convert and become customers.
Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews
So now that you know reviews are a great thing to have, how do you get more? How is it that some companies seem to get thousands of reviews while you get none? Is it because they are that much better than you?
It’s probably because they have a review programme in place and they are actively encouraging their customers to leave reviews.
Bribing customers for positive reviews is not a good idea. But reminding customers how much you appreciate their feedback is something you should be doing.
For example, once a customer has made a purchase, send them an email a week later asking them if they are happy with your service. Send a link to your Trustpilot page and ask them to leave feedback to share their experience. Remind them that you use your feedback to improve your service.
If you have a restaurant, remind customers in the restaurant when they pay their bill. Say how important it is for your business – especially when the customers are clearly happy with the service.
Simply having a presence on multiple sites will also make it easier for customers to leave reviews. They may have a preferred site they go to, and if you are on that site already, there’s more chance they will leave a review for you there.
If a customer compliments you for your service, use the opportunity to say how much you would appreciate it if they said the same thing on a review site.
In addition, you can link to your review profile in transactional emails, on your website and in newsletters – anything that can encourage customers to leave a review is a good thing.
Incentives can work too. Obviously, you don’t want to provide incentives for positive reviews, but providing a small discount to hear your customers’ opinions can be persuasive.
Start Building More Reviews Today
Building a large number of positive reviews should be considered essential practice for any business that operates online.
Online reviews provide you with credibility, visibility and social proof, helping to improve your SEO at the same time as boosting your conversion rates. So if you have not yet set up a specific programme to generate more reviews, now is the time to start.
And if you’re unsure where to begin, check out Trustpilot. As one of the largest and most respected third-party review sites, it’s a great place to start building your reviews.
As a specialist digital marketing agency consisting of a number of highly experienced digital consultants, Web Results Direct is expertly placed to support its clients with advanced, and strategic, digital marketing consulting services. To learn more contact us – call us now on 01483 429222.