When you understand how to use customer reviews to boost SEO, you can get your website ranking higher in search in 2017.

Measuring Google’s search engine ranking factors are one of life’s great mysteries.  Experts specializing in analyzing search engine optimization have given us a pretty good idea of what’s important and which factors help your links rank higher.  Factors like review signals, content, mobile-friendliness, and social signals have increased in importance in recent years.

moz review signalsALSO READ: Google Local SEO Ranking Factors for Small Businesses

Customer reviews contribute to both the review signals and content factors in your SEO strategy.  Google favors fresh content that is unique, relevant, and valuable. Customer reviews feed that exact type of content to search engines. When that content is easy to consume on any device and post-worthy on social networks search engines love it even more.

The SEO Benefits of Customer Reviews

There are several ways you can start using customer reviews to boost your SEO in 2017.  When you have a plan in place that consistently gathers and promotes positive customer reviews on your website and third party review sites you are positioning your business to outrank competitors in search engine results.

Positive Content for Social Shares

It can be a lot of work finding content to feed your social media networks. No one wants to see your same old ad four times a day, and they sure aren’t going to share it without some kind of incentive.  Posting your best customer reviews to your social media profiles accomplishes a few things.

  1. Five Star Customer reviews stand out in social media and beg to be read.
  2. Customer reviews give you content that promotes your business without the hard sell.
  3. Positive customer reviews remind your followers how great your business is.
  4. A customer review post is a great way for followers to share your business with people they think could benefit from what you sell.

Higher Review Ratings and Volume Promote Website Authority

Website authority is another SEO ranking factor influenced by customer reviews.  Google recognized that sites who are able to consistently gather positive reviews are valuable search results links for search engine users.  You’ll find that the further down you go in search engine results, the fewer star ratings are visible next to links.

Relevance in Long-Tail Keyword Searches

Customer reviews often use the same words and phrases that consumers use when searching for places to make their purchases.  For example, if a dentist office gathers dozens of reviews saying, “same-day appointment,” or “free whitening,” search engines have the customer review content to pull from for search results when users are searching for a dentist with those long-tail keywords.

dentist-customer-reviews-to-boost-seoHigher Rankings for Products and Services with Reviews

Consumers using search want to see reviews for products they are searching for.  Many will start the research phase of the buying cycle by searching for reviews.  Building a positive online presence that includes five-star reviews is another way to beat out competitors in search on both search engines and third-party review sites.

Star Ratings Visible on Search Engine Results Pages

Over 90% of consumers say product and service reviews affect their buying decisions.  Proactively building a five-star rating and having that rating show up next to your links in search engine results help customers make the decision of which links to click on.  That increased traffic leads to more sales.

This is harder to accomplish since Google updated the local review schema guidelines in August.  Now only the reviews produced on your website can have local review markup.  The good thing about this change is that there has been a drastic drop in the number of links with star ratings in search results, making businesses that have them stand out more.

CHECKLIST: Using Customer Reviews to Boost SEO in 2017

Running a business is all about managing processes and executing plans.  Effective strategies are necessary for success, especially when you begin using customer reviews to boost your SEO. Be sure to make reputation management, including a customer review strategy, part of your marketing plan in 2017.  Automate your customer review management with low-cost services such as Reputation Loop to ensure positive reviews are consistently gathered and promoted across the web.

Using Customer Reviews to Boost SEO Checklist

[  ] Have a process in place that proactively gathers and promotes your best customer reviews on your website, third-party review sites, and social media.

[  ] Use rich snippets your product and services pages to get your star ratings to show up in search engine results.

[  ] Create and promote your business’ profile on the third-party review sites important to your industry as search engines pull ratings to feed their results pages.

[  ] Create and promote your business’ pages on social media networks where consumers are increasingly turning for reviews and suggestions on businesses before buying.

[  ] Respond to the best and worst reviews in a way that prospective customers reading reviews know you value the customer and place a priority on making doing business with your company a five-star experience.  Negative reviews are trusted more read thoroughly giving you an opportunity to win over customers.

ALSO READ: Handling Negative Reviews by Creating a Process

Making Customer Reviews Part of Your SEO Strategy

Search engines like Google only succeed by giving users what they want, and what they want is customer reviews. Overexposure has made in-your-face marketing less effective as customer seek out the reviews from actual customers to make buying decisions.  Adding customer reviews to your SEO strategy puts you ahead of competitors because you are feeding the consumers need for user-generated content.

You can learn more about online reputation management and steps you can take to better position your business by subscribing to the ReputationLoop.com blog.

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.