Reviews and their impact on SEO

Reviews are something that every business would want to have. Reviews have been there since businesses starting having a presence on the Internet. A lot of websites displayed and still display testimonials from their customers. The difference from testimonials and reviews is that the testimonials were mostly displayed on the websites of the businesses, and the displayed testimonials would be hand-picked by the businesses. Reviews on the other hand are provided by customers on various sites and customers are free to provide what they think in their reviews. There are some restrictions but by and large these reviews provide candid user experience. There are a number of places where customers can provide reviews, some of the popular ones are:

Google Local
Yahoo ! Local

You may want to take a look at Google’s Local review policy and Yahoo’s content policy guidelines  for information on how the review process works and what are the best practices for posting reviews. Here is how reviews are displayed in Google SERPs:

How do reviews help in SEO?

You may not see the impact directly but eventually it does impact SEO. Whenever users review your products and services, they create content for your business, and that  does translate into new activity/content for your site. This in turn impacts the popularity of your site. For instance, if you see four star rating and positive reviews about a product in comparison to a similar product that has two star rating and perhaps not so positive feedback, you will almost certainly want to check out the products that has better ratings and reviews. This is how the popularity and awareness grows and all these factors…content, ratings, and reviews impact SEO and ranking.

Customer reviews have become even more critical because of the ease with which reviews can be posted and shared across all the social networking sites. If your friend writes a positive/negative review about a product, you will most likely believe in that review. Businesses will need to respond to reviews from their customers pro actively by thanking them and by acknowledging any negative feedback.Businesses need to be actively communicating and providing timely feedback in order to ensure customers that they are committed to providing good user experience.

By providing the opportunity to review and rate sites, Google, Yahoo!, Yelp are getting as close as possible to help users get realistic product reviews. This is good for businesses as well as users. Businesses should not hesitate to ask their customers for review. I would recommend that businesses include “Reviews” in their on line marketing strategy. Almost all the websites today have links to social networking sites making it easy for customers to spread the word. In addition, it could be worthwhile having a separate section in their website called “Spread the word” with details regarding how customers can help them. It is best to be courteous and persuasive perhaps, but not forceful or aggressive when writing the content. Finally, it is up to the customers whether they wish to review your products and services.

Businesses today cannot afford to ignore reviews because reviews form an integral part of their on line presence today. I look forward to hearing about your experience with customer reviews and their impact on SEO.

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