09 Dec 3 Ways Online Reviews Impact SEO
We know online reviews are important from a reputation management perspective, but the importance has gone beyond just that. Reviews are now an integral part of search engine optimization, or SEO. Many people are still caught in an old-school mindset when it comes to SEO: keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, and the like.
SEO now goes beyond simply optimizing your website, and a big part of this is reviews. Did you know that reviews are estimated to make up about 10% of how Google and other search engines rank search results? (source) Because your website address is tied to your review site profiles, Google connects the dots and uses the number and quality of your reviews to determine your website’s ranking in search results. Read on for more on how online reviews impact SEO below.
Of course, 10% isn’t a majority, but it’s a major slice of the SEO pie. Here are 3 ways that online reviews can impact SEO:
- More keyword opportunities, especially for long tail keywords. Your site may not be specifically optimized for “dog friendly cabins with kitchens and free wifi in Jackson,” even if it’s something you offer. Optimizing your site for this would run the risk of becoming too specific for the larger population of people searching for your business, but you could potentially lose out on people that are searching these specific keywords. Where can you make up for this? Reviews. Customer reviews have all kinds of great content with long tail keywords. (Long tail keywords are long, specific keywords vs. a typical keyword like “Jackson Hole lodging.”) Review sites have become higher and higher on search results, so the people searching for specific features and amenities may be more likely to land on your TripAdvisor page, for example, instead of your website. Here, they can read your reviews and then continue the booking process on your website.
- Review sites are gaining traction on search results. As I’ve mentioned, gone are the days of optimizing your title tag for a keyword and showing up first on Google. Search engines have caught on to the importance of reviews, so they’ve been rewarding review sites in search results. What does this mean for you? Basically, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. may be more likely to show up before actual businesses, so your presence on these sites is very important!
- Google My Business. Google has been changing their products rapidly, so you may know this product under a different name (Google+ for business, Google Local.) Regardless of what it’s called, Google My Business (GMB) has had a major impact on local search results. Local searches are anything that include a city and state or location in the query. For example, check out the local search results for “lodging in Jackson, WY” below:
As you can see, the “local pack” is above the beginning of the organic search results. Notice who’s first in organic results: TripAdvisor. The star ratings in the local pack come directly from Google My Business listings. As you can see, this can have a major impact on how well you are represented in search results. Not having Google reviews can be a missed opportunity.
To recap, online reviews can play a large role in your search engine presence, and this has been steadily increasing. Your reviews can help your own website rank well in search results, but can also help your business be found elsewhere online.
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