When you think about it, creating a website is much like dating online – you create a public profile in the hopes of meeting potential mates, or in this case, potential customers. When you put yourself out there, other people now have the opportunity to weigh in with their opinions – and what they say online can have a far-reaching impact on your reputation.
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84% of consumers said that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Not only do studies show that reviews are essential to a successful business, they have also been shown to affect your SEO ranking.
Google My Business (GMB) deserves your swipe yes and frequent attention. GMB is the number one site for rankings and reviews. Online reviews are perceived as an unbiased opinion of your business, which is why 64% of consumers form their own opinion about your business after reading them. Online reviews affect:
- Your rankings in local search engines
- Which search results actually get surfaced (and clicked on)
- Consumer purchasing decisions
It’s common knowledge that online reviews and SEO have been closely tied together for a long time. According to Moz, online reviews are estimated to make up 10% of the criteria for how Google displays search results.
SEO Tuners highlights 5 ways to use reviews when wooing Google into a better ranking:
Build the Trust
Online dating can be deceiving so you must use signals to see if your potential suitor is trustworthy and really who they say they are. Google also depends on signals to determine whether you are deserving of a good ranking.
If you have mutual friends on social media, a potential suitor can become more appealing and easier to trust. Likewise, when your site receives a link from another relevant site, Google sees this as a positive endorsement. Good endorsements create trust between you and Google, which results in better visibility.
Similarly, customer reviews let Google know that you’re a legitimate operation and that people interact with you.
Appeal to the Interests
If Google had a dating profile, their favorite hobby would be reading, and their perfect match would have a long, relevant bio. Google reads your site to understand your business. The more content you supply the search engine with, the more intrigued it becomes. When you leverage customer reviews on your site for SEO or generate them on Google My Business, Google has a lot of fresh content to read and more keywords to add to its understanding of your business.
Customers will unintentionally describe your products and services to Google, and those reviews add SEO value to your business without the customers even knowing that they’re helping you. Reviews can even help fill in the content gaps that may exist on your website and increase your rankings and overall visibility that way.
When meeting someone you like online, it is important to get their number so you can follow up and get the date. You should do the same with your customers so you can send review follow-up emails or texts. Timing is everything, so give it a day or two before you send out a request for a second date or business review – and it’s typically ideal to send these requests in the mornings for the best response rates.
If people don’t respond to your review request, you definitely want to give them a nudge, but be careful not to overstep. Keep your follow-ups to no more than two contacts, and space them a few days apart.
The quantity of reviews plays a big role in how the search engines rank businesses on the web. That said, you can’t rely on people to review your company on their own. Do yourself a favor and nail down a rock-solid strategy early on!
Put Your Best Foot Forward
You want to make a good impression on Google, because when deciding between a 2-star profile or a 5-star profile, who do you think they will make a higher priority? SEO rankings have been known to be influenced by click through rates. If a high percentage of searches choose your site from the search results, Google assumes you are doing something right and will reward you with more exposure.
If you are lacking in the review department, ask some loyal customers to put a good word in for you. If they seem to have trouble following through, try offering a discount in exchange for proof of a GMB review.
Appeal to Your Locals
Reviews that contain keywords, which are the second-largest SEO factor for determining where a local business shows up, can appear in the “local pack.” The “local pack” is the box at the top of the search results, under the map.
When you go online, your dating platform will show you potential-suitors in your area. Google will also show local businesses that match the term searched. Research shows that your business is more likely to show up in this local pack if it has reviews which mention:
- Keywords you’re trying to rank for
- The city/neighborhood that your business is located in
Like a dating app, Google does allow you to customize your listing by allowing pre-populated Google Q and A’s with common questions and answers. This is a feature that savvy business owners and daters should take advantage of.
People are more inclined to interact with you if their questions are answered before they even have to ask. You can fill those pre-populated questions and answers with keywords in an effort to improve your SEO rankings or your chance with someone similar to you.
Engagement is a Two-Way Street
Engagement matters when trying to get to know a new person, but engagement is equally relevant to Google My Business.
Instead of having consumers like your posts and photos, you’re hoping to see them leave reviews on GMB, and post questions on Google Q&A. By the same token, you can engage your consumers by making sure to respond to every review and answering their questions.
Google My Business has a support page titled, “How to Improve your Ranking on Google.” In that guide, Google recommends that businesses, “Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business.” This hints that responses may affect SEO rankings. If nothing else, your response could change the way a customer feels about your business and get them to change their negative review to a positive one.
The more information you provide to Google, the better chance you have at securing a top spot in their heart. Taking these steps to develop a strong relationship with Google will pay off immensely for your SEO.
If you’re interested in improving your website’s search traffic, get in touch with us today. SeoTuners can offer an affordable solution for your business to increase exposure and SERP rankings with organic SEO strategies like keywords. we’re confident we have a solution for all your marketing needs.