Do Search Engines Use Online Reviews as a Ranking Factor?
If you are like the majority of bloggers and website owners who are out there, you are probably seized with the process of giving your site greater Search Engine visibility. That is hardly surprising, considering the fact that Search Engines, including Google, Yahoo and Bing, play important roles in the consumption of web content.
The way that you are ranked by these Search Engines ultimately determines how well your online foray is going to turn out. Search Engine Optimization, the many steps that are taken to give a website greater Search Engine visibility, is, perhaps not surprisingly, something of a buzzword within the Digital Marketing arena.
The best known steps that you can take to give your site a boost, as far as SEO is concerned, include cleaning up your site’s structure, getting optimized for mobile search, getting backlinks and much more. But, and this is the question that this post seeks to answer, do Search Engines view reviews as a factor when assigning ranks to a web page? First, though, we need to briefly talk about online reviews.
Why Online Reviews are Important
Online reviews are something that we have been talking about a lot in our blog posts. Their importance in Digital Marketing is, surprisingly enough, not greatly appreciated. That is despite the fact that they are at the very core of a large chunk of the commerce that takes place across the globe on a daily basis.
90% Read an online review before visiting a business
Just consider the fact that 90% of all consumers who are out there will first look up online reviews before visiting a business, and you will understand what we are talking about here. There is also the fact that 88% of these people trust online reviews.
Online Reviews are Important
Clearly, getting positive online reviews for your business is of great importance. If you are a local business, its one of the ways through which you can to attract the kind of clientele that ensures that your business continues to thrive.
Are Reviews a Ranking Fact?
One of the things that you need to understand is the fact that Search Engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, are always looking to enhance their user experiences. Although there is debate over their SEO value, online reviews are, without doubt, one way through which you can increase traffic to your online store, website or blog. But, how, really, does it work?
- Having Star Ratings Increases your Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
Star Ratings are another of the topics on which we have been focusing on this blog over the past few weeks. If you wish to know how you can get Star Rating in Google AdWords and in Organic Traffic, then you need to read the article in the provided link. Needless to say here that star ratings mainly come in three forms; Merchant/Seller Ratings, Product Ratings and Organic Search Traffic Ratings.
The five star system that you sometimes see in Google Shopping and in AdWords ads can, according to Google, boost the CTR on your ads by up to 17%. This, therefore, represents a significant potential boost to your bottom-line that you cannot afford to ignore.
- Reviews as a Ranking Factor in Local Search
For local businesses, the flow of traffic comes from only a certain distance around the business. If you are the owner of a restaurant, as an example, you are only going to get traffic from so many miles around your establishment.
It is important, therefore, for you to understand all the factors that come into play as far as attracting local traffic is concerned. Online reviews are, in this regard, one of the major factors that come into play as far as getting greater visibility on Search Engines is concerned.
A study into Local Search Ranking Factors, which was carried out by Darren Shaw, indicated that review signals are an important factor for Search Engines on Local Search. In fact, they have an impact of around 13% on how your business is going to be placed on Search Rankings. Clearly, Reviews are an important factor that can significantly boost your business’s online visibility.
How to get Online Reviews
This is another topic on which we have dealt in previous postings. All that we can say here is that there are hundreds of online review platforms out there. The following are but a few of them;
- Shopper Approved
- Google My Business
The great thing about Shopper Approved is that it is one of the few companies that are licensed to syndicate reviews into Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Remember those star ratings that we mentioned earlier? Well, Shopper Approved is one of the easiest ways through which you can get Seller/Merchant and Product Ratings in Google PLAs and in Google Shopping.
Shopper Approved is also great since it gives you ability to collect and upload local reviews. With this company, you get a raft of tools that you can use when gathering reviews from, say, your restaurant. You can, as an example, collect video reviews and upload them to Shopper Approved. You can also collect reviews using phone surveys, print media, receipts, QR Codes and Email. They will then be syndicated to a wide range of platforms, including the following;
- Google Plus
Google My Business
Google My Business is another way through which you can gather online reviews for you business. This is particularly useful for local search. Google My Business provides an easy way through which your prospects can look you up, both in Google Search and in Google Maps. The latter part is largely due to the fact that once your business has been listed and verified on Google My Business, it becomes visible in Google Maps, which is a must for restaurants, Cafes and other local concerns.