How Customer Reviews Can Improve Your SEO Efforts

Customer ratings are not just trust signals for your customers – they can also provide potential SEO ranking improvements when used effectively.

“that they [reviews] “Build trust in your brand,” said Kira Samis, Director of Customer Success at Trustpilot, during her session at SMX Next. “Feedback is an opportunity for anyone familiar with your brand to share what they love about your products, services, and overall customer experience. Having reviews available to the public shows that you are safe to do business.”

Providing ratings – even if they are poor ratings – is vital for brands that want to build customer trust in today’s competitive SEO landscape. And with 53% of all trackable website traffic coming from organic search, marketers would be wise to get some of that engagement through customer reviews.

“Feedback is a powerful marketing driver in and of itself — it’s a way to build trust in your brand,” she said. “You can turn this brand trust into a measurable ROI by increasing web traffic sales and profits.”

Here are five ways Sammis says marketers can help boost their rankings by taking advantage of customer reviews.

Emphasis on off-site search engine optimization

“Offsite SEO describes any actions you take to create a digital footprint outside of a physical website,” Sammis said. “Whether it is about building authoritative backlinks to your page, staying active on social media platforms or even creating a profile on a third-party review platform.”

“Most companies have an on-page SEO strategy in place to help with organic search, but few spend significant energy on off-page opportunities,” she added.

Graphic showing how to create SEO using third-party sites
Source: Kira Samis

Google and other search engines use off-site signals to measure the relevance, authority, and reliability of your brand. Reviews are some of the more consistent channels marketers can use to improve these signals.

“Google is changing, but the reviews are likely to still be there,” Samis said. “According to research from Moz.com, SEO-related external factors such as third-party ratings carry more than 50% of the weight of the ranking factor. Factors such as relevance, trustworthiness, and authority will likely always play a role in a page’s ability to rank, and it can help Build your online presence through corporate reviews in overcoming these three criteria.”

Don’t neglect referral traffic

“On top of the off-page SEO benefits for your actual site, creating a profile on a third-party site can also drive a significant spike in referral traffic,” Sammis said. “This is because when someone searches for reviews of a brand, many of these third-party sites can end up right at the top of the search results.”

Many third-party review sites have high levels of authority and trust, allowing brands to share their high ratings. Focusing on referral traffic can boost your SEO efforts by creating a strong flow of visitors along with organic traffic.

“This could be your competitive advantage since referral traffic is often overlooked, despite being a free source of qualified leads and can also improve organic search performance,” she said.

View reviews on your website

“It’s easy to get customer feedback on the main landing pages with review tools, and this little addition to your website can improve the number of times your pages appear in organic search results,” Sammis said.

Example of displaying customer review via a site widget
Source: Kira Samis

Customer reviews are potential content sources for your websites. By displaying them on your website, you can diversify your content while adding relevant text to your pages, both of which can contribute to improving your organic page rank.

“Reviews increase the volume of text on every page,” Simis said. “This extra text makes your page more valuable in Google’s eyes because you give them more context for what the page is about and whether it should appear for that user’s search query.”

“At the end of the day, Google wants to display the most popular search results in hopes of providing the best experience for its users,” she added.

Pay attention to the star ratings

“When marketers think of star ratings and search results, paid listings usually come to mind,” Sams said. “But most marketers don’t realize that they can also earn star ratings on their organic search listings and attract smart customers who might be less inclined to click on an ad.”

Review snippets in Google search results
Source: Kira Samis

Star review ratings – the icons displayed in SERPs – help build a researcher’s confidence by giving them visual representations of their average ratings. This feature used to be less common, but Google now allows site owners to view it more using schema markup.

“Collecting product reviews can help you qualify for the organic search review snippet,” Sammis said. “Those shining gold stars in your listings can help drive more attention to your product pages and even improve click-through rates by up to 35% in organic search.”

Take advantage of long search queries

Reviewing the highly specific, long-tail keywords your customers use when searching for your products, services, or brand is key to attracting your niche audience. But marketers can also benefit from the queries used in company reviews, which are very relevant and amplify customer voices.

“Long-tail keywords get less search traffic, but they usually have a higher conversion value because they are more specific,” Sams said. “Thinking about each descriptor, use case, or problem your product solves can be tricky, to say the least. Fortunately, product reviews allow your customers to become copywriters, enabling them to share their unique experience with your products in their own words.”

“The big cake here is that it all happens automatically – there’s no additional scripting or content creation for you,” she added.

Watch the full SMX Next presentation here (registration required).


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About the author

Cory Patterson is an editor at MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC industry news to help marketers improve their campaigns.

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