Third-party reviews offer invaluable insight from an unbiased perspective on your business. They also inspire confidence in potential customers, which can help guide their decision to purchase your product or service.
In fact, nearly half (42%) of internet users in the United States cite reviews from other customers as a feature that would most increase their likelihood of buying a product.
Compared to first-party reviews, third-party reviews may also seem more believable to a researcher. After all, a business is unlikely to post negative reviews on its website.
Whether you’re looking to convert searches into sales or improve your search rankings, focusing on improving your reviews’ search engine optimization (SEO) efforts can achieve both. Reviews are a heavily weighted local search ranking factor, representing 16% of the Local Pack ranking.
How can your business better present the sentiment found in your reviews to people searching for your product or service?
And what are some proven strategies to surface that valuable content through SEO?
You’ll learn both in this article as we discuss five surefire tactics to boost your SEO with third-party reviews and stand out from your competition.
1. Improve your review score
The GMB help guide states that local search results “are primarily based on relevance, distance, and prominence.”
Awareness refers to how well-known a business is, which is directly correlated to the number of reviews a business has as well as what customers think of the business.
The help guide also notes:
“The number of Google reviews and the review score factor in local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking.”
There are several approaches you can take to improve your establishments’ overall review score.
First, ask customers who have had a positive experience with your business to leave a review. Not only are they already motivated by a positive experience with your business, but they’re also likely to leave positive reviews to help boost your rating.
We also recommend that you respond to all your reviews, positive or negative.
When a reviewer sees that you took the time to respond to their praise or complaint, they are more likely to have a favorable opinion of your business. This may lead the reviewer to recommend your business to family or friends.
It also allows you to control the narrative and target your searched keywords in your response.
Not only will your overall star rating help improve your SEO, but also your sales. According to a recent study, 52% of consumers would not consider using a business with less than four stars and cite star rating as the most important review factor.
2. Consider exam speed
Review velocity refers to how often your business receives new reviews.
According to Moz, review quantity, review speed, and review diversity matter 15% of the Local Pack ranking. A frequent stream of new reviews also provides your business with fresh content.
In addition to its SEO value, consumers prefer to read new reviews to learn more about your business.
Forty percent of consumers say they only read local business reviews written in the past two weeks. Additionally, 85% say reviews older than three months are no longer relevant.
Encourage happy customers to leave reviews often and make them part of your buying process to maintain a constant stream of up-to-date reviews.
All of these tactics may solicit new reviews and follow Google’s review guidelines:
- Email your customers
- Print a QR code on each receipt.
- Send a follow-up SMS after an appointment.
- Simply ask for a review during the transaction process.
3. Focus on review volume
Consider this: you’re out of town visiting a new town where you want to find a nearby restaurant for dinner. Would you rather go to a restaurant with 10 reviews or a restaurant with 100, both with a similar overall rating?
More than likely, you will choose to dine at the restaurant with more reviews because that restaurant seems to be more believable. A solid review collection strategy can help bridge the gap of having too few reviews to encourage new business.
It can also help legitimize your business with search engines.
The GMB help page states that:
“High quality positive reviews from your customers will improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your establishment.”
The best way to get customers to leave a review is to ask them to. If your customers have opted in to your email or SMS marketing campaigns, it’s ideal to ask them to leave a review as soon as possible while your business is in the lead.
For service companies that use online booking systems for their services, once the customer completes their appointment, they should receive an automated message (text, email, etc.) asking them to leave a honest comment regarding his experience with direct contact. link to leave a Google review.
Physical stores can also benefit from a QR code on receipts that prompts customers to leave a Google review.
While all review platforms encourage businesses to request reviews from customers, it’s important not to violate policies. For example, Google states that businesses cannot “selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
In addition, Google also prohibits:
- Reviews left by employees.
- Solicit reviews en masse.
- Pay customers in exchange for reviews.
- Discourage or prohibit negative reviews.
- Post fake reviews for your business.
You can learn more about Google’s official guidelines here. Keep in mind that each platform will have different rules and regulations and it’s important to check what each allows.
4. Respond to positive and negative reviews
Responding to positive and negative reviews not only shows consumers that you care about their reviews, but has also been confirmed by Google to play a role in SEO.
“Respond to reviews people leave about your business… Responding to reviews shows you value your customers and the reviews they leave about your business.”
Responding to every review can seem like a daunting task for a company that has many sites. However, a good workaround to eliminate the work is to create company-approved templates.
These templates can be based on your brand guidelines and should adhere to your brand voice.
Your business should also have a process for escalating reviews that require a more in-depth response, as well as a contact person who can quickly respond to those reviews.
If your business is just beginning its review response efforts, focus on responding to negative reviews first, especially those left in the last few months.
Recent reviews will be more visible to Internet users. Once you’ve worked through all of your negative reviews, you can then respond to your positive reviews.
5. Consider the content of your reviews
Google is constantly evolving to meet the needs of Internet users. Their goal is to deliver accurate and timely results to end users to create an optimal user experience.
Yet to deliver top-notch results, they rely on business intelligence.
Some of this information may come from your review content, such as a customer mentioning the city your store is located in or the street name where your business is located.
These words send powerful signals to Google to help your business improve its relevance.
Additionally, a positive review from a local customer signals to Google that your business is trustworthy. This not only applies to reviews left directly on your GMB listing, but also on other third-party platforms.
Reviews left on third-party review sites increase your visibility, drive traffic to your website, and build legitimacy for your business.
Your business cannot dictate what a consumer writes about their business, however, you can ask consumers to mention where they did business in their review.
These mentions can continue to help your brand achieve the authority that Google seeks in its search algorithm.
Conclusion: why implement a third-party review SEO strategy?
Consumer expectations continue to evolve along with business operations in an ever-changing and unpredictable climate.
These expectations appear more frequently in reviews. If your business follows current trends and maintains a strong reputation management strategy, your path to SEO success becomes clearer.
Following the tactics above will help you improve your SEO efforts for third-party reviews and, in turn, provide an exceptional experience for your customers.