Most marketers know that user reviews can make or break a business. Review sites consistently appear at the top of search results. Google also displays reviews near the top of business search results via its Google My Business Local initiative.

Positive local Google reviews help SEO and sales, and when used wisely, they can increase conversions, improve ranking for long tail searches and increase traffic to a business’s home or landing page.

And we know online reviews impact purchasing decisions – for better or worse.

Nestled inside these reviews lie key insights about your customers. Here are 4 ways to get Google reviews and how to mine that data to make the most of the information your customers provide.

1. Make Every Word Count to Get Google Reviews

On his blog, copywriter Dustin Walker advises businesses to analyze user reviews, surveys, testimonials, thank you emails and social media posts for words and phrases that will help a company create impactful messages for its brand. Then, you have valuable data to move forward in a manner that pleases customers.

Look for words or phrases in reviews that reveal specific benefits or problems your business solved, and what customers like about your company. Watch for recurring themes. Pick the strongest three to four themes and incorporate them on your website, landing pages, headlines, and other copy.

For example, customers of a Greenwich Village wine bar consistently describe the venue as “unpretentious.” Recent reviews include such comments as “nice bartenders,” “friendly bartenders” and “laid back atmosphere.” What should you promote on your website an in your service? Your friendly bartenders and unpretentious atmosphere, of course!

By reflecting what customers think and experience, you build trust in your brand, which leads to more sales. This is Wise Technology meets Wise Content at it’s best!

2. Consider the Tone

Research published in the Journal of Marketing, which analyzed how reviews influence conversions, found that the sheer number of reviews – regardless of content – made a positive impact on sales. The report also found that linguistic style made a difference.

For example, patrons of an all-ages nightclub in Hell’s Kitchen may respond more favorably to reviews of “epic” shows, while patrons of The Four Seasons in Midtown East may respond more readily to comments about the “spacious, luxurious” accommodations.

Rather than post a review feed on your site, select editorial and customer reviews that match your businesses desired linguistic style. Use this linguistic style in product descriptions and landing pages.

Get Google Reviews

3. Remember That Reviews Build Trust

Genuine reviews by real people offer a sense of trustworthiness to your website. Even if the reviews are not all positive, 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.

4. Always Keep in Mind the SEO Benefits of Reviews

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 [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 Predict Success or Failure from User Reviews

Researchers at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business identified a method that allows software to “read” review content to predict which restaurants will survive and which will close.

Do your reviews contain the words “food,” “good,” “place,” “like,” “order,” “friend,” “time,” “great,” “nice” and “service?” If so, you’re in luck. Those words signified restaurant longevity. This data-mining method, if it comes to market, could give restaurant operators another way to use review data effectively.

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.

Will You Pay Close Attention to 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.

“Galileo clients are looking to understand the Mind Types of their NYC customers – what those customers are interested in purchasing, how they make purchasing decisions, what they like most about the brand.

Combine that persona data with the science behind SEO keyword selection, and you have a real opportunity to attract the right audience at the right time,” says Joseph McElroy, CEO of Galileo Tech Media.

Final thoughts

User reviews can help a business improve quality and customer experience, as well as provide clues to improve SEO. To analyze reviews, track keywords and other data in a simple Excel spreadsheet, or consider one of the many data mining platforms available.

Are you currently using review mining? Tell us in the comments section below. Reach out to us if you need help interpreting your user reviews for your future SEO strategy.