Long gone are the days when you could pop a few keywords into your website META tags and copy, nip to the kitchen and make a coffee, then come back just in time to see your website on the front page of Infoseek, Alta Vista and Yahoo.
These days Google is King and it’s a long and complicated process to beat your competition to the front page. Which is why it’s important to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to help your chances.
One of the often overlooked search engine ranking factors is Review Signals. A study published by Moz shows that in local search ranking factors reviews counted for 9.8% of the score and was the 5th most important factor, making it something not to be overlooked. (You can find the report here )
Review Signals? What are they?
Review signals combine a number of factors relating to a company’s review profile online. These include:
Quantity – the amount of reviews a company has is important – the more the merrier! Don’t forget that a decent amount of reviews is not only good for SEO, but for trust too. According to a study by BrightLocal , 88% of consumers trust online reviews almost as much as a personal recommendation, and you need around 7 to 10 reviews before most people will trust you.
Diversity – how many different sites have reviews for your company. So for example a holiday company could look to have reviews on Google My Business, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Reviews.co.uk, TrustPilot, Yelp etc. HubSpot have a great list of places to look to get reviews in order to increase your review profile
Velocity – how quickly you gather reviews for your website. You might be tempted after reading an article such as this to email everyone you know and ask them to post a review RIGHT NOW, but you could be doing more harm than good. Gather reviews too fast, and you could end up with a penalty if Google thinks you’re up to something dodgy. It’s better to have a longer term review strategy and ask for reviews a few at a time.
3rd Party Reviews – It’s tempting to just concentrate on Google reviews, but other review sites are counted too. Google likes to see a wide range of reviews on different 3rd party sites. Some of these have more authority than others so try and spread your reviews wide and far.
Reviewer Authority – the more authority a person reviewing your company has, the more important they’re seen as. Some sites, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp rate their reviewers on the amount and quality of the reviews they leave, so getting reviews from people with a higher authority status could help your review signals.
It’s not just about SEO
As mentioned above, a large percentage of people trust reviews almost as much as personal word of mouth, but unless you tell them about your reviews or they’re actively looking for them, a potential client or customer may not even know that you have any.
If someone is searching in Google and comes across your listing, how do you stand out and shout about your reviews? That’s where something called ‘rich snippets’ comes into play. Back in 2009, Google introduced rich snippets in order to highlight certain listings. So alongside a listing you might see a video, an author picture and link, a music download and more.
With reviews, Google (and Yahoo & Bing as part of a collaboration with Google called ‘schema’) show your listing with gold stars underneath the title, as in the below example:
As you can see the listing for SEO company Assertive Media has a 5 gold star rating and links to reviews before a user has even visited the site. Their listing stands out amongst the normal listings and even the highlighted Ads. This means that potential clients and customers are more likely to notice this listing and click on it. So reviews can help your visibility as well as your SEO and trust.
If you’re not gathering online reviews and showing them off, you’re missing a vital part of online marketing that could really make a difference to your business. So what are you waiting for? Get started now!
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