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Looking for ways to supercharge your search performance and boost your company’s SEO rankings?

While you can’t strictly control where your business appears on search engine results pages (SERPs), you can apply industry best practices in order to influence your search rankings. One such practice is actively managing your online reviews.

Impact of Online Reviews on SEO

  • 83 percent of marketers and SEO professionals believe that managing online reviews “absolutely” delivers good ROI.
  • Online review signals — quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews — are considered one of the top seven factors influencing how and where a business appears in local search results.
  • 800 words of review text can make up as much as 70 percent of fresh content for your page, which search engines will reward with higher search results. Moreover, according to Search Engine Journal, reviews can influence up to 10 percent of a business’ search ranking.

Here are some online review strategies that can help you improve your SEO performance.

Claim Your Review Profiles and Business Listings

According to Social Media Link, 83 percent of shoppers discover new products and services every month through online reviews. Research firm eMarketer adds that 7 percent of consumers need to read at least 20 reviews before they put enough trust in a business.

From this perspective, it makes sense for businesses to embrace — instead of ignore — online review sites. They help you be found, get discovered, and drive conversion.

New brands, in particular, need presence on these sites just to be discovered and considered by customers. Not only will claiming your review profiles and business listings boost your search engine performance and reputation management efforts; it will also help you be found more easily by potential customers who are using social media and local search to find great businesses.

Says Kurt Abrahamson, CEO of social sharing brand ShareThis: “There’s no question consumers are actively looking online for recommendations and content to help them decide what to buy.”

“We are seeing a fundamental shift in consumer purchasing behavior,” adds Lisa Weinstein, president of Global Digital, Data and Analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group. “The explosion of social content like reviews and recommendations is having a real impact in people’s day-to-day lives, including what we buy and how much we are willing to pay.”

Ask Customers for Feedback to Get More and Better Reviews

Your happiest, most satisfied customers can be powerful word-of-mouth catalysts for your brand (and your SEO strategy).

That’s why it’s important to develop a customer feedback survey and review generation strategy around these customers, who probably just need a little nudge before they take action and give you five stars.

This isn’t to mention the wide-ranging local SEO benefits of having new reviews: if you are getting a significant number (review quantity) of positive reviews with high ratings (review quality) across multiple high-authority review sites (review diversity), you stand a better chance of getting found in local search results. Your ranking is higher and your brand is more visible, and you have a greater ability to convert local shoppers into your customers.

So don’t passively wait for reviews to trickle in. Review generation tools (plus e-mail templates and SMS technologies) can accelerate your efforts and ask for reviews at scale.

Important note: Before developing a review request or review generation program, be sure to identify the review sites where your company is listed and read each site’s content guidelines and terms of use. Some sites discourage or even prohibit businesses from reaching out to customers and asking for reviews. So make sure that all your efforts are in compliance with each individual review site’s guidelines. You want to be rewarded, not penalized, for asking for online reviews.

For more, check out “5 Main Reasons You Should Encourage Customers to Review Your Business.”

Share Your Best Reviews on Your Website and Social Media

Online reviews are an important trust factor. In today’s multichannel world, consumers actively seek information from all types of sources to guide their purchase decisions.

Brands that are highly visible in search results and on social media enjoy a natural advantage. But just because a business ranks number one on Google or has 500 more Facebook likes and Twitter followers than a competitor does not necessarily mean it has gained the trust of consumers.

This is where online review management can work in perfect harmony with your SEO and social media marketing efforts. Reviews — both good and bad — create unique opportunities for inspiring trust in consumers who navigate multiple channels to discover and evaluate new products and services.

If you consistently receive 5-star ratings and glowing reviews on online review sites, don’t hesitate to show them off.

  • Share your best reviews on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles, or even on your company blog. Doing so drowns out negative noise, and it can also make a positive impact on your search visibility.
  • Add links to your review site profiles and listings in e-mails, newsletters, and printed literature.
  • Place review site collaterals (TripAdvisor certificates and plaques, Foursquare window clings and QR codes, Yelp stickers) in your business locations.
  • Incorporate reviews into your website. Benefits include improved on-site content density, increased triggers for search engine crawlers, and improved ranking for long-tail searches.

Respond to Online Reviews

Our research data shows that:

  • 52 percent of customers expect to hear back from you within 7 days of their online review
  • 1 in 4 are even more demanding, expecting a review response within 3 days
  • And 21 percent expect you to have a response time of 24 hours or less

Here’s the bottom line: how you respond to what customers are saying online will have a bigger impact on your operations, your SEO strategy, and your company reputation than what is being said in the first place.

Responding to reviews ASAP can also turn negative feedback into a positive experience and prevent your customers from repeating their comments on other review sites.

A TripAdvisor study establishes a clear link between management responses to reviews and business performance.

  • Listed accommodations that respond to at least one online review experience a 17 percent boost in engagement from customers. The higher the response rate or response-to-review ratio, the higher the engagement levels.
  • Responsive businesses also experience an upward trend in overall rating. Accommodations with anywhere from a 5 to 40 percent response rate, for example, have an average rating of 4.0 out of 5, compared to an average of only 3.8 for those that don’t respond at all. Accommodations with a response rate of 65 percent or above have an average overall rating of 4.15 out of 5.

Says Marc Charron, former president of TripAdvisor for Business: “Taking part in the conversation and demonstrating that the owner cares about feedback has a very real and measurable effect on converting a traveler from a casual browser into a potential guest.”

Managing online reviews on third-party sites is a lot of work. To ensure efficiency, consider investing in customer feedback software that centralizes your reviews and helps your organization stay on top of what customers are saying. You definitely don’t want to be logging in and out of every review site manually. Remember: the clock begins ticking once reviews are posted, and customers are waiting to hear back from you.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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