Lately, there has been an ongoing debate about whether or not Google reviews make a difference in Google’s map ranking. While some marketing experts believe that reviews do influence map results, others are adamant that reviews have nothing to do with better map rankings.
Do reviews make a difference in rankings?
As per a recent study, reviews increased rankings 50% of the time. Although that sounds inconclusive, several other sources have noted that reviews do improve local search rankings and SEO efforts. In May 2018, many businesses lost a chunk of Google reviews because Google no longer accepted anonymous reviews and removed all of the legacy anonymous reviews. In a case study on business rankings, there was a significant impact on the rankings after anonymous reviews were removed. There was a drop in the rankings after removing the anonymous reviews compared to rankings with those anonymous reviews.
Google reviews and SEO
The general consensus is that, for rankings, it never hurts to have good reviews. In fact, reviews matter for SEO for three reasons:
- Google trusts customers’ opinions of businesses
- Google is able to find keywords to add to its understanding of your business
- Excellent reviews mean more stars which lead to higher click-through rate (CTRs).
Google trusts customers’ opinions
Google looks for signals to figure out if a site is worthy of high rankings or not. When a customer reviews your business, it signals to Google that your business is a legitimate establishment that real people have interacted with enough to help potential customers make decisions about it.
Google can find keywords
When it comes to reviews, customers are unintentionally telling Google about your products and services. In turn, those reviews bring keyword SEO value to your business without customers even being aware of assisting you. Reviews can also help you fill content gaps on your website.
Excellent reviews equal higher CTRs
If someone comes across two businesses where one business has a 2-star rating and the other has a 5-star rating, they will most likely click the 5-star rated business. We all know that SEO rankings are influenced by click-through rates. If you have excellent reviews with high ratings, you are more likely to get more clicks, which will boost your rankings.
4 easy and quick ways to improve rankings with reviews
1. Invite customers to write a Google review at the right time
You should invite your customer to leave a review right after they make a purchase. The most successful businesses are the ones that send invites while the customers are still on site.
2. Establish expectations for reviews
It is vital that you let the customer know when to expect a review invitation. Before the customer leaves you should let them know: when they will receive the invitation, how they will receive the information (email or text), and why they need to respond. If you want, you can also provide incentives for writing reviews like discounts or draws.
3. Remove barriers to leaving a review
Research shows that over 70% of consumers would be willing to leave a review if asked. Many customers do not write a review because you make the process too difficult for them to leave a review. Businesses with the best response rates make it very easy for their customers to leave a review.
4. Text Google review invites
A way that you can eliminate barriers is by sending your invitations through text messages. Texts are often the most preferred method of communication and have an open rate of 99%.