Online reviews have become a mainstay of most major retail websites; it’s increasingly rare for a site not to provide people with the opportunity to rate whatever they’re selling. From a consumer perspective, the benefits of user reviews are fairly clear; they give us an insight into how well a product works or how badly it doesn’t work, from those who have already taken the plunge and spent their money on it. And while it may seem rather crazy to trust the opinions of people we don’t know (Jayson DeMers goes so far as to label it “astounding”), there’s no doubt that, when choosing between two similar products, most of us would be inclined to choose the one that has garnered a greater number of positive reviews.
Genuine reviews by real people also offer a sense of trustworthiness to your website. Even if the reviews are not all positive (more on that later), your users will feel more comfortable buying from you if they know that real people have tried your product, and that they can draw upon the opinions of those people.
What about the SEO benefits of user reviews? There are two in particular that merit closer examination. First and foremost, allowing users to write content about your products is a free and easy way to add fresh, diverse, and keyword-rich content to your site (and as we know, Google is a big fan of fresh, diverse, and keyword-rich content).
Secondly, user review content offers a firsthand glimpse into the needs and requirements of your target demographic – as well as the ways in which the members of that demographic try to fulfill those needs. How often have you read a review that starts with the phrase, “I have been looking all over for an