Yes, Google Reviews do help SEO. While Google does use many ranking factors within their algorithm, user reviews work by helping Google to establish trust and authority, while also creating a powerful, relevant signal that improves search engine rankings.
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 are 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 [x] that does [y]”? The chances are good that that particular person typed a similar phrase into Google as part of his or her quest to find said product. With user reviews, you allow your audience to define what they’re searching for, in their own words; you can then tailor your content accordingly, so that your site ranks more successfully.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Maybe you’re dragging your feet on including user reviews because you’re worried about negative feedback. If that’s the case, consider this: negative feedback has been shown to aid in conversions as well. This is, in part, because users who are serious about buying something want to educate themselves fully about a product – and that means learning and understanding the bad as well as the good. (Some sites, including TripAdvisor, give retailers the opportunity to respond to reviews; the TripAdvisor model differs from that of the standard retail site, however.) And if nothing else, negative reviews provide you with suggestions for improvement – which in turn can be spun into your ever-evolving SEO strategy.
“Web content has come a long way. Fast forward to 2016, and quality content is king. Wise Content serves as a customer service engine, answering the questions and concerns your audience shares via user reviews,” says Joseph McElroy, CEO of GalileoTechMedia.com.
“Wise Content serves social media by being research rich, opinion forming, and most of all – SHARABLE. Content must understand the mind of the reader and change dynamically to meet expectations and answer questions.”