Why Reviews Are Key to SEO Success

If you’re like most people, the first thing you do when canvassing a potential purchase on Amazon is to check the user reviews. Effective SEO that makes a difference is increasingly dependent on social media and content provided by real people in the real world. While keyword optimization and links from authoritative sources are still very important, user feedback is becoming a bigger part of the equation. Knowing how to incorporate reviews into your websites can significantly boost the impact of your SEO strategies. Here’s a quick introduction to the appropriate use of reviews in today’s post-Panda SEO environment. There are many factors that are key to SEO success and one of them is User Reviews.

How Reviews Help SEO Efforts?

To begin with, user-generated content or UGC is a fairly painless way to beef up your website’s content complement quickly. It certainly saves quite a bit of effort on the part of webmasters and assists customers in making better buying decisions. As we’re all hopefully aware by now, Google values websites that place a priority on improving the quality of the end-user experience. In addition, user-generated reviews are a convenient way to create RDF data and use Rich Snippets to help Googlebot better index your pages. For optimal SEO results, on-page reviews are the best route to take.

On-Site Reviews & SEO

It’s important to encourage on-site reviews of products and services that can be embedded within target pages for a couple of reasons. For one, they increase click-through rates, conversions and sales like no other marketing effort. Placing actual feedback and reviews where potential customers can see them fosters an environment of trust that promotes increased revenue. Second, it drives engagement and helps to establish your site as an authority. Third, the SEO benefits of UGC reviews help your site to rank highly for your desired keywords. The Rich Snippets that can be compiled from user feedback allow search engines to create a clearer picture of your site for indexing and ranking purposes.

User-generated reviews can help to differentiate your site from thousands of similar, competing pages that may carry identical or similar product descriptions. Directly and indirectly encouraging your users to leave reviews is the best way to increase interaction and improve overall site SEO simultaneously. One immensely successful tactic in this regard is the use of gamification techniques to attract reviews from visitors. For instance, you can enter users who leave reviews into a raffle or lottery to receive a prize. While free giveaways are always popular, there are many other simple, effective ways to get your customers involved.

Third-Party Review Sites

While on-site reviews are clearly effective as far as improving SERPs rankings is concerned, off-site reviews can be just as powerful. On-site reviews help with the content side of the equation, while off-site reviews throw some weighty link juice into the mix. A platform like TrustPilot can allow website administrators to jump-start the process via its "open, review-driven community" of users who grade services based on their own experiences. TrustPilot offers an add-on browser toolbar that enables users to rank sites and provide feedback.

The Google+ Connection

Google Local
The most noticeable recent development in the world of social media SEO is the rise of Google+ Local and its popularity with consumers performing market research. Prior to the launch of Google+ Local, Google Places was all the rage with local businesses looking to raise their profiles online. Now that Google Places has officially integrated with Google+, SMBs have a unified platform for collecting reviews into one location. Unlike Facebook ads, which have had a rough ride of late, Google+ reviews are actually an effective way for small businesses to attract customers by boosting their search rankings and building a solid reputation.

User Reviews and Online Trust

Above and beyond the benefits of user-generated content, your willingness to display both positive and negative feedback demonstrates a level of trust. The concept of a web of trust underpins the entire Internet, from security to decentralized interactions between vendors, consumers and businesses online. Web 2.0 kicked off the conversational web as we know it, and the increasing reliance on peer-generated reviews extends the idea even further. Moving forward, the combination of advanced search engine algorithms and human reviews will deliver a better online experience for everybody.

The Future of Reviews and eCommerce

The integration of Google+ and Google Places is a preview of where we’re headed in the coming years vis-à-vis user reviews and digital window shopping. The ability of consumers to post quick written reviews is just the beginning. Exploding bandwidth and mobile device penetration into eCommerce make posting video reviews online more and more convenient every day. The increasingly sophisticated machine learning algorithms of Google, Bing and the search engines of tomorrow will only improve as time marches onward. In the not too distant future, Google will be able to compare your personal preferences with available user-generated reviews to serve up near-perfect results for products and services instantaneously.

Matt Beswick is a UK based SEO consultant and co-founder of Pet365, an online pet retailer. Find him on Twitter – @mattbeswick.

Matt Beswick – who has written posts on Artatm – Creative Art Magazine.

One Response to “Why Reviews Are Key to SEO Success”
  1. Jake

    Great article, I am thinking about adding some sort of review page to my blog now to get some on site reviews.. thanks for the tips.

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