Reviews are crucial for any business as they indicate how customers are benefiting from the products you sell, if there are issues with the orders or service, and the steps you need to take to increase sales and keep your customers satisfied. Positive feedback is like a pat on your shoulder (and it’s not a surprise everyone loves getting it), but how can reviews help you improve your organic rankings in search engines so you can have more traffic on your site?

Reviews Including Relevant Keywords Help Show Up in the Local Pack

More reviews featuring desired keywords, increase the chance of appearing in the Local 3-Pack – a list above the pages in local search results displaying the top three businesses related to a searcher’s query. A top spot in the pack is crucial to bring more prospects to your site or to your door, as only 8% of users click to load more businesses in the section.

According to a survey, having product or service Keywords related to your business in your reviews is the 14th most significant factor to rank in the Local Pack. It’s extremely tough to appear in the Local 3-Pack, and reviews with relevant keywords will help you make your way to the list.

As part of your SEO strategy, you have deliberately researched and picked the keywords to target and include in your content, headings, subheadings, titles, URLs, etc. However, sometimes we may not realize that clients’ reviews work well for our keyword strategies and local rankings. If reviewers, for instance, write that your toner helped them get rid of the excess dirt from the environmental pollution in Los Angeles, it will help to rank well in queries for “toner for getting rid of dirt from environmental pollution” conducted from Los Angeles.

“Every time a customer leaves you a review, Google is provided with fresh content to crawl. Be it good or bad, it’s likely to contain keywords relevant to your business, product, services, or even location. This helps Google gain a clearer picture of what your business does, enabling it to better position you in the SERPS.”– REVIEWS.io

Reviews Signals Are Ranking Factor in Local Searches

Google’s primary goal is to provide searchers with relevant information. When your customers decide to review you online, it helps Google understand your business’s relevance to a searcher’s query, and your customers’ online interaction with the brand increases the trustworthiness of your company. Reviews help improve your rankings for local search queries. According to a study by MOZ in 2018, online reviews are the fifth most important factor in local search rankings.

“The number of Google reviews a local business receives, and the sentiment of those reviews, have a notable impact on their ability to rank in local results.” – MOZ Beginners Guide to SEO

More than six times out of ten, the top listing in local search is the business with the most Google reviews. The higher your business ranks in the local searches, the more people will visit your site, visit your business, or decide to call you. Statistics show 61% of smartphone users call the business after finding it in the local search, so it’s essential to target top positions in local search results to get more customers to use your services or start buying products from you. Google itself recommends acquiring more reviews from customers to increase online visibility.

“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.” – Google

Reviews Increase Interaction with Customers

The more reviews you have, the more you can interact with your customers. Responding to your reviews can help increase the trust and credibility of your business. Even the negative reviews enable you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and show how much you care about your customers.

“Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.” – Google

Interacting with customers may impact the way Google sees your business and may improve your local visibility. Additionally, when you respond to reviews, other customers will feel more encouraged to give you feedback. As already mentioned above, more reviews on Google improve your business’s online visibility.

Reviews Increase Trust Towards Your Business

With more online feedback, you increase trust in your business both in the eyes of Google and in your potential customers’ eyes. Having reviews indicates that people have tried your products, and based on the feedback you have, others build expectations for your company. Positive reviews indicate you have customers who are willing to support you, perhaps because your products are valuable and beneficial to their needs, and you provide a pleasant customer experience. If you increase your business’s trustworthiness, you will bring more potential clients to your doors and generate more traffic to your website. A rising number of customers means more people can review you online, and more reviews mean better rankings.

Reviews Work Similarly to Backlinks

In the SEO world, backlinks have a powerful impact on the way your website ranks in search queries because other websites linking to yours tell Google your website is trustworthy and has helpful content to offer. It’s almost like other websites voting for your site because of something valuable you have on your site. Similarly, you get votes from your customer, but in the form of feedback. It shouldn’t be surprising that Google looks at reviews when organizing businesses in local queries and those reviews are not any less impactful than backlinks.

Customers writing reviews signal to Google that:

  • People have used your products or services.
  • If customers write positive reviews, their experience was worth sharing with others.
  • Your business is relevant to searchers’ needs. 
  • Your responses to reviews show that you care and are available to customers.

Reviews help Google understand the relevance of your business, which is one of the most crucial ranking factors for Google Algorithm.

Negative Reviews Can Have Positive Effect on Your Rankings

Not all reviews are positive, and some of your customers may decide to share their negative experiences with your products or services online. Negative reviews can sound scary, but there are ways they can benefit your SEO. First of all, negative reviews, regardless of their content, increase the number of reviews online. The number of reviews helps your local rankings. There is no exact formula on how Google analyzes reviews to rank businesses in queries, but one or two negative reviews now and then might be not that harmful and can boost your rankings.

“Any store or website can get a few negative reviews. This is completely normal and expected. Large stores and companies have thousands of reviews, and most receive some negative ones” – Google’s Internal SEO guidelines.

Not only are negative reviews unavoidable, but they can also increase your credibility. Users looking for businesses online may get suspicious if a company has only 5-star reviews – how come? We live in the same world where nothing is perfect, so how come a business can have only positive feedback? Diversity in reviews increases the trustworthiness of the business in potential clients’ eyes – and may also work the same way for search engines.

Research from Harvard Business School found that internet users favor mixed reviews over excessively positive reviews. If negative reviews increase your business’s credibility, it means there are more chances of users coming to your site and, as the research shows, traffic improves SEO and affects Google rankings. Besides, negative reviews showcase the worst-case-scenarios, and users see what can go wrong when using your services or buying from you. Respond to negative reviews and show others that you can solve problems even when things don’t go as planned. The study by Trip Advisor in 2018 showed that hotels that responded to reviews received 12% more reviews and their ratings increased by 0.12 stars. So invest your time in interacting with your customers, regardless of their experience.

How to Get Reviews

Not only does Google want you to encourage your customers to review you online, but it provides you with a link you can share with customers from your Google My Business dashboard. Ask your customers to review you online and let them know that it’s quick and easy to leave business reviews on mobile devices or desktop computers. Respond to reviews to build your customers’ trust and encourage others to leave feedback. Don’t offer incentives in exchange for reviews, but instead provide your customers with the experience that will motivate them to leave you unbiased and honest feedback. Online reviews will boost your online rankings, build trust towards your company in the eyes of Google and your customers, help you appear in more search queries, help you rank for the Local 3-pack, and generate more traffic to your website. 76% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family, so getting more feedback should be among your top priorities. Reviews are among local ranking signals, and more diverse and high-quality reviews improve your positions in local queries.