how-customer-reviews-boost-your-seo-strategyDid you know that customer reviews are a hidden search engine optimization (SEO) gem?

For a long period of time, user reviews have been incredibly undervalued by websites, digital marketers and brands. The sudden realization as of late, however, is that customer reviews can provide significant value to your SEO efforts and overall marketing strategies, no matter how large or small they may be. You must remember that online reviews are good SEO.

Much like how small businesses back in the day lived and died by word of mouth – if your neighbor constantly complained about Joe’s Plumbing then it’s likely you wouldn’t hire that person – today’s marketplace of entrepreneurs and corporations suffer the same fate.

Today, businesses of all sizes live and die by online word of mouth. The Internet universe is indifferent to the market capitalization of your company. If you’re a billion-dollar company failing to deliver high-quality service then it won’t prevent users from complaining. Likewise for small businesses of two or three people.

Consumers look to their friends, family members, colleagues and even strangers for suggestions, feedback, reviews and recommendations on an array of products and services. This type of word of mouth marketing has not only advanced in the technology age, but it’s proving a lot more valuable than multi-million-dollar endorsements from celebrities and athletes.

A glowing review from Spencer Douglas is more powerful than one from LeBron James.

Let’s face it: we perform a ton of research before we purchase a product. One of the biggest influencers is what people are saying online. If a camera is garnering 50 negative reviews then you likely won’t buy it. However, if another camera garners 50 positive reviews then you’ll be encouraged to buy that one. At the same time, though, if you see 100 positive reviews and zero negative remarks then your suspicious nature kicks in. User reviews are a funny thing.

Websites concur that reviews are not only good for their customers, but also for their overall online presence. User reviews, whether good or bad, have a substantial impact on search engine results. Everything from higher click through rates to great placement on search engines, businesses are trying everything possible to get their customers to write a review.

A Look at the Benefits of Customer Reviews

Before we embark upon the ways to generate user reviews, let’s take a look at how customer reviews are helping businesses in more ways than one. Here are several data findings:

Some of these statistics are very important. For instance, one-third of consumers only scan the first two pages of their local search engine. This means that you have to get on the first page, and customer reviews can help you get there. Also, two-thirds of consumers don’t really go to review websites, which means that other forms of Internet word of mouth are crucial.

Local search ranking is also an imperative factor to SEO. A Google My Business listing has become essential for local search. One of the key features is customer reviews.

According to Moz, reviews account for just under nine percent of Google’s ranking factor pie. This is above social signals. Here is the pie chart you can view:


Image courtesy of Moz.

Of course, there are a few other benefits of online reviews:

  • Increased click-through rates (CTRs) on results pages.
  • A jump in conversion rates.
  • User-generated content (UGC) gives you a boost for web crawlers (see below).

How to Get Customer Reviews For Your Business

Right now, you may be salivating at the mere suggestion of honing in on customer reviews. Now that you understand just how important user reviews are to your SEO efforts, you should start to look for ways to receive those online testimonials and feature it front and center.

Here are five ways to do so:

The Power of Email Marketing

Email isn’t dead.

If you’re already have an email marketing campaign with a healthy number of subscribers then you can complement it with user reviews. You can integrate your email marketing strategy with customer testimonials.

You clamor for your customers to publish a review. You hope, wish, pray that your clients take the time to write a glowing review about your products, customer service and overall experience. Well, have you ever thought about simply asking for a review? Don’t be shy or timid.

If you ask your customers politely then they’ll more than oblige, especially if they had a positive or negative encounter with your brand. If it was a “meh” experience then it may not happen, but who knows?

This can be accomplished by doing a number of things:

  • Follow-up Email: after the customer bought a product or ordered a service, you can send them a quick follow-up the next day to request that they write a review on your website or on a review web portal. Be kind, polite, respectful and grateful!
  • Educate the Customer: most consumers don’t realize how crucial reviews are to a business. They also may not understand how to write one. You can educate the customer by providing a few tips to help them get started.
  • Offer an Incentive: remember, time is money. Not everyone is an altruistic human being. So you may have to offer an incentive for them to write a review. This can be done by offering something, like a five percent discount on their next purchase or a free ebook.
  • Email Signature: if you’re in regular communication with your customers then take advantage of the real estate in the body of your email. In your signature, place a link to the landing page to write a review.
  • AutoResponsers: Personalized and customized messaging is an important facet of email marketing campaign. The purpose is to tailor suit each and every one of your subscriber with a personal message. The most efficient do so is to use an email marketing platform that has embedded an autoresponder as one of its features.

Why stop there? In your email marketing campaign, you can incorporate user reviews into the content of the emails. You can highlight what others are saying (social proofing), showcase images people are taking of your product (UGC) and repurpose and reuse the content from the user-generated content into a series of newsletters, spotlights and case studies.

User reviews can not only help your SEO strategy but also your email marketing campaign.

A Presence on Review Sites (Online & Offline)

If you have a presence on websites like Foursquare, Yelp or TripAdvisor then be sure to promote this presence, both online and offline. Let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of the online realm and the offline world:

Online: add a Yelp widget, for example, to your website or social media page. Or, you can have a one-line link with “Tell us what you think!” or “Want to recommend us?” You have to build your awareness on these websites.

Offline: there are plenty of review websites that allow entrepreneurs to print things like stickers or window clings to advertise to the public that they’re on these review websites. You can also inform your customers on things like business cards, receipts and brochures.

Engage on Social Media

When you have an immense audience on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram then take advantage of it through the power of engagement. If you haven’t started already (and you probably should), begin to communicate with your followers, thank them for following you and contact them to ask for a review.

After they have acquiesced to your request for a review, be sure to thank them publicly on social media, showcase the review on social media and even go out of your way to reward them openly on social media. This will get people talking and prompt them to publish reviews of their own.

No matter what, good or bad, take the time to engage with your customers on social media. If they had a positive experience, thank them for shopping. If it was a negative one then ask what the matter was, respond to their concerns and assure them they’ll have a better experience next time.

What About Gamification?

This may take a lot of time, energy and resources to construct, but it’s worth it. Gamification is everywhere. Everyone and everything is incorporating gamification into their business models.

Just what is gamification? When a customer is interacting with your brand then they are rewarded with a discount or some sort of monthly giveaway. For instance, a customer can be rewarded if they write the funniest review in the month of October. Or, as another example, they can be handed a 10 percent discount for being the most socially interactive customer online.

Customers have to be offered a small incentive to take the time to pen reviews.

Promote Your Fresh, Unique Content

Search engine crawlers love fresh, unique content. They eat it up. This is why you have to utilize such UGC as much as possible. When it’s regularly updated, regularly published and regularly promoted then you can rank well on search engine result pages (SERPs). A lot of your competitors may use the regular manufacturer descriptions and product specifications, which doesn’t serve much purpose to customers. Instead, the UGC can change up a product page.

You’re Almost There…

Here are just a few final points to remember:

  • The quantity and quality of the reviews matter. How many have you received in what period of time? Do the reviews look like they were paid by someone to write them?
  • Reviews must be diverse; they can’t look the same, the ratings have to be different and the experiences should be authentic.
  • A steady velocity of reviews rather than a flood of reviews will help your SEO.
  • Try to maintain your attention on other search engines, like Bing.

Final Thoughts

In today’s world, word of mouth marketing has never been more important. In every corner of the world, at any time of day, by anyone with an Internet connection, the public can write about your company. You can gain publicity, good or bad, succeed or fail, in real-time.

But user reviews are more than just improving your online reputation. Customer reviews can boost your SEO strategy. Through the power of email marketing, social media and self-promotion, you can utilize user reviews to the best of your ability.

Your SEO campaign will appreciate it.