Do reviews affect your SEO rankings? How do they affect your SEO rankings? What can your business do to benefit from more and better reviews? You already know that local SEO is the name of the game. It’s essential to send Google signals – through keyword use and other SEO techniques – that your business is local, as well as who it serves and where it is located.
What you might not know is this:
Your online reviews play a direct role in your business making the cut to appear in the Google local three-pack.
In case you don’t know, that’s the collection of businesses that appear at the top of Google’s SERP (search engine results page) when someone searches a keyword. It turns out that one of the keys to landing a coveted spot in the three-pack is getting good reviews. And over the past year, Google has continued to put greater emphasis on reviews. Here’s what you need to know.
How can we tell that reviews make a difference in SEO? Google’s algorithm is proprietary and the known ranking factors (keywords, links, and Google Rankbrain, to name a few) definitely include reviews.
Local SEO experts have been saying this for years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that reviews are important. Google any local business category and you will get a list of results with a three-pack at the top. When you look at the businesses that made it into the three-pack, you’ll most likely see the following:
For example, if you searched for the keyword “Spokane hair salon,” you would see reviews that related to that keyword. That’s all the proof we need to know that reviews make a difference in determining which businesses appear at the top of the SERP.
It’s also worth noting that the Local SEO Guide found that local reviews were the second most influential factor in determining search rank in their 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study. The influence in this study did appear to be limited to reviews that specifically included the keywords searched, but customers are likely to use the most commonly searched terms naturally.
In addition, LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing – are keywords semantically related to your main keyword) that are related to the search term may also play a role. Try Googling your top keyword and looking at what’s highlighted in the reviews in the three-pack. You may notice that reviews that use semantically-related words show up even if they don’t use the precise term you searched. This is just one of the ways that the Google search engine has evolved to continue to produce the most relevant search results.
There are some concrete reasons that Google thinks reviews matter. They’re directly related to the ways that Google’s algorithm has evolved. In the early days of the internet, it was possible to get a page to rank highly on any search engine by simply stuffing it with keywords.
That changed because search engines realized this didn’t show any concern for the experience of the user who clicked through to these sites. After all, if you could click on a site because it ranked for a keyword only to find that it was useless to your needs, you wouldn’t revisit it – and you might resent the search engine that directed you to it in the first place.
With that in mind, here are…
These three things explain why reviews matter to Google. The key takeaways here is that Google takes outside resources into account to help it determine the authenticity and usefulness of your website. Users “vote” for your site by writing reviews and describing your site. Just as web users trust peer reviews to help them make buying decisions, Google trusts them to help it make recommendations of which sites are most likely to be useful for the keyword searched.
Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your reviews:
These things will help you dial up the impact of your reviews and help you get into the coveted local three-pack for your most important keywords.
You know that, and now you can do something about it. Organic traffic is increasingly difficult to come by but encouraging and highlighting your reviews can help you get the biggest possible bang for your marketing bucks. If you’re too busy and want some expert help converting your satisfied customers into great online reviews check out our Review Funnel System.
Ian Cantle is the President and Marketing Strategist at Outsourced Marketing. His 20+ years in marketing and communications in a variety of industries has provided him with a unique perspective on what works and what doesn't in Marketing. Ian founded Outsourced Marketing to fill a gap in the marketplace between businesses and sound marketing strategies and marketing systems. His goal is to take the mystery out of marketing and show business owners how a systematic approach to their marketing can provide exceptional results while easing the burden on them. Want to discover the Outsourced Marketing difference, book a free discovery call or call us at 905-251-8178.