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Small Business

To most business owners, monitoring and managing their online reviews is mainly perceived as a way to manage their online business reputation and branding. In time, business owners may come to realize that there is significant value as far as gaining new customers that get to know about their business when searching on popular review websites.

In addition to these two factors, there is a third consideration that most businesses should take into account when managing their reviews, and specifically when posting responses: SEO, or search engine optimization.

Your Review Responses Can Help Potential Customers Find You

In addition to shoppers finding your business when they conduct a direct query on a review website such as Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook or YellowPages, your review response can also affect SERPs (search engine results pages) on leading search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

(Check out: “How to Claim Your Business on Google”)

To put it simply, your smartly crafted review response, combined with the strength and popularity of a review website, may just push your profile on said review website to number one in search when someone runs a query in Google for keywords or phrases present in your review response.

How to Learn the Keywords That Help Potential Customers Find You

A common error of business owners is to try to apply industry terminology to the way they write on their websites as well as in their review responses. If you wish for potential customers to find you, then engage in keyword research by using simple and free SEO tools like and Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

By entering the URL of your business, or that of the competition, the tools will give you ideas by showing you the most common words and phrases potential customers use on search engines when looking for your business or service.

A Secondary Method of Learning Keyword Patterns

Since your goal is to have potential shoppers find you, there is much to be learned from reading all your reviews and looking for patterns, keywords, and phrases commonly used by your reviewers to describe your goods or services.

For example, a business might say that your plumbing shop is the “best plumbing service in Boston.” Reinforcing the phrase “best plumbing service in Boston” as part of your response increases the chance your profile will be responsive for searches that include those keywords.

A Final Method to Validate and Enhance Your Keywords

Careful study of the reviews of your direct competitors and their responses, specifically those with a higher popularity or ranking than your business, both in review websites and SERP, can yield important data in the development of your review-response strategy. Go take a look at what customers are saying about the competition, and glean keywords to strengthen and amplify your responses. 

Drafting Responses That Work 

Frequency: A great way to maintain the relevance of your business profile on popular review websites is by dripping your responses. Instead of answering many reviews at once, make sure you frequently and timely engage with your reviewers. This is good for SEO, but it also shows a high level of customer commitment.

Density: Write responses with sufficient word count to add value. Make sure your response addresses every point of the review and provides viable solutions when needed.

Search-based Relevance: Using the keywords and phrases you have identified through the methods we described above, you need to be intentional in incorporating these terms in your responses. Do note, however, that keyword incorporation should never be done at the expense of quality, brand message, and clarity of your response.

Consider, for example, the search query “best fried chicken, Mckinney, Texas.” The top four listings displayed by Google include Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor and YellowPages. In each of these cases, the keywords are present either as part of a review or incorporated into the business response. This is just one example of the significant influence review content has in the way potential customers can find businesses relevant to their needs.

As you build your review response strategy, don’t forget to include a clear SEO strategy, and refine it often by reviewing your position in search, and documenting milestones in terms of ranking for your top review-website profiles.

By adding this skill to your reputation management repertoire you are well on your way to outranking the competition. Begin implementing an SEO-conducive review response strategy and you will soon reap the fruit of your efforts.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.


  1. Shion Deysarkar

    Question – are all reviews always indexed by search engines? If the commenting/review platform is separate from the site or uses a nofollow, it may not be. Thoughts?

    • Brian Sparker

      Hello Shion, thanks for the feedback! You’re right about the nofollow, sometimes there isn’t an SEO benefit in a “backlink” sense.

      However, all responses to a comment relay a humanistic “social signal” to search engine algorithms, and do carry a bit of intrinsic weight.

      Additionally, you never know who is going to be reading the comments at a later date, and your response may provide even more value to a new audience.

      For more best practices on responding to reviews, check out this article we wrote last year about responding to positive reviews:

  2. Cristina Dy

    These are some really neat tricks for SEO. But, what if we all use phrase like – the best plumber in Boston. Who will win the competition? It’s hard to be the first on the page. The easiest way is to pay google to put you there, and there you go.