Online reviews have become an integral part of ecommerce marketing strategies. When it comes to purchasing decisions customers look for trust signals, and so do search engines like Google.
To shed some light on how reviews impact SEO we caught up with Partnership Manager, James Owen from the world’s most powerful review platform, Trustpilot….
As online shopping continues to grow, reviews will play a greater role in helping consumers research companies and make purchasing decisions.
Consumers use reviews for validation. When it comes to online shopping, consumers don’t have the luxury of social validation from for example their friends or family, so rely on other people to leave their honest opinion about a service or product. Actually, it’s been found that 89% of consumers check online reviews as part of their online buying journey, and 49% consider positive reviews one of their top 3 purchase influences.
Depending on the size of purchase, consumers will spend quite a lot of time browsing reviews, so they can get an overarching opinion about what they’re going to buy and the service they’re going to receive. However, it’s important to note that although consumers often consult reviews before they visit your store, they also search for reviews when already actively shopping for your products and services – on your site. This means engagement with reviews occurs throughout the shopping journey, so merchants must ensure that customer feedback is showcased at various touchpoints.
First and foremost, consumers are looking for an overall rating (e.g 4 out of 5 stars) as the most important factor when reading online reviews. Which is unsurprising given that the overall rating is a simple and easy-to-understand summary of a brand’s feedback.
But consumers also look at the recency of reviews and the number of reviews a brand has received. So merchants need to be continually asking their customers for feedback. In terms of specific content, online shoppers look for reviews that refer to the quality of products and great customer service: 88% of shoppers claim that phrases relating to product quality were important, and 82% of respondents placed the same amount of importance on comments relating to customer service and support.
Also, consumers place great importance on how a brand responds to a negative review. For consumers, it’s all about how a brand combats a bad experience and how they intend to rectify it. For example, if a customer’s delivery didn’t arrive on time, consumers will want to know how a brand apologised and whether it’s a common occurrence.
As you can see when it comes to the content of reviews, consumers are looking for both positive and negative feedback because it helps them gage the overall customer experience of a brand.
Reviews are a key tool for any successful online marketing strategy. Firstly, reviews improve keyword reach on your site. When customers leave reviews it creates thousands of additional content related to your site and therefore can help you appear in more organic search results.
When it comes to SEO, Google always puts the customer first. A merchant’s customer is Google’s user. What your customer wants and trusts, Google wants and trusts, it’s as simple as that! Google loves User-Generated content and uses this as a signal to rank an online store. Merchants should treat reviews a lot like backlinks. When a customer reviews your ecommerce business it tells Google two things: 1. the authenticity of your business. And 2. whether your business is trustworthy.
Here at Trustpilot, we have SEO enabled Trustboxes that allow you to house product review content on your website that can then be fed into Google’s organic search results, these appear as the yellowy/ gold stars known commonly as rich snippets. These rich snippet stars are a real head-turner and naturally draw the eye to the listing, we typically find this translates into a 35% increase in click-through-rate. Not only can product reviews drive greater traffic from search results, but they also improve on-site conversions and reduce shopping cart abandonment. For example, we actually helped our client Ann Summers increase conversions by over 255%!
Google has a very complicated algorithm which is constantly changing, but one thing that has stayed relatively static is the impact of reviews. As mentioned above, whether it’s a positive or negative review, they’re a great way to legitimise your business and boost your SEO strategy.
Having said that, positive reviews are great for business! From an SEO perspective, they increase click-through-rate. A great review means more star ratings which means more clicks. In fact, we found that review stars in search can improve click-through rates up to 35%. The more customers click on your website, the more Google will recognise that you’re the customer’s store of choice.
Positive reviews also improve a business’s ranking in search results. The pillars of SEO are authority, trust and relevance, so if Google believes that you tick all those boxes you’ll rank higher! Added to this, the better your reviews the lower your bounce rate. For example, 93% of customers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, so this means when customers are reading reviews they’re more likely to be spending longer on your site – clicking and converting.
Just like positive reviews, negative reviews can help businesses SEO efforts. Not only do bad reviews increase a brand’s credibility, but most importantly they offer a merchant the opportunity to respond and actively manage their brand’s reputation. It shows the consumer and Google that they care for your customers.
Ignoring a review is just bad for business. Consumers want to know that a brand is supportive. Here at Trustpilot, we always suggest responding to your customers within 24 hours. From an SEO perspective responding with a sense of urgency can be hugely beneficial. Google states that businesses should “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. So not only will responding build trust with your customers it will also build trust with Google itself.
Merchants should embrace positive reviews and not shy away from the negative reviews. Responding is imperative and should be considered as a number one priority.
You can always turn a negative review into a positive! By responding in a professional, but genuine way, you turn a non-lover into a loyalist! A response needs to be clear and concise, if a merchant receives a negative review it’s best practice to apologise and actually mean it, offer amends with a special offer, and always express your commitment to fixing the issue.
Again just like negative reviews, be sincere and caring in your response. Let the customer know you care! It’s been proven that it’s cheaper to get current customers to make a repeat purchase than it is to acquire a new customer, so maintaining the lifetime value of your loyal customers will go a long way. Sometimes the response can be as simple as; ‘thank you for shopping with us, we hope to see you again soon’. It just makes the customer feel appreciated and provides excellent customer service.
Timing is key. You’d be surprised how many businesses ask a customer for a review before the customer has even had a shopping experience with the brand. At Trustpilot, we suggest you invite all of your customers after their product or service experience and respond to those reviews accordingly. Merchant’s have a huge resource in Trustpilot’s customer success team, they will recommend best practice based on other companies and their successful experiences. Also, don’t forget to show-off and shout about your reviews, integrate the feedback throughout your website on key pages such as checkout, product pages and of course the homepage, on top of this, don’t forget to spread this across your social channels, we live in a world of social media and standing out on these platforms is hard at the best of times, so using some of your favourite reviews across Facebook and Instagram, for example, can help you stand out.
For me, it’s the businesses who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. For example, Trailfinders and Flight Centre have been brilliant at responding to their customers during this unprecedented time. Their responses show how much the brands’ care for the customers. Also, just the fashion industry in general in their response to the pandemic, they’ve done a brilliant job of keeping their customers in the loop with regards to late deliveries and keeping their communication channels open.
We hope this interview has given you more insight into the importance of reviews for SEO. If you like to find out more on how to improve your Shopify store’s search ranking then get in touch with our team of digital marketing experts today!
With more than 100 million reviews of over 425,000 companies, Trustpilot gives people a place to share and discover reviews of businesses, and we give every company the tools to turn consumer feedback into business results. Our mission is to bring people and businesses together to create ever-improving experiences for everyone. Trustpilot reviews are seen more than 5.5 billion times each month by consumers worldwide. With offices in Copenhagen, London, Edinburgh, New York, Denver, Berlin, Melbourne and Vilnius, Trustpilot’s 750 employees represent more than 40 different nationalities.