Why Third-Party Reviews Are Important For SEO and Your Business
Getting (good) customer reviews and ratings on Google and other third-party review platforms is an important part of off-page SEO and a way to attract pre-sold customers to your website, thereby helping to deliver both traffic and conversions.
Search Engines Looking For Relevance and Trustworthiness and Authority
Google, for example, has always needed to secure its place as the go-to search engine by delivering pages in its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) that have maximum relevance to search queries, and have trustworthiness and authority. To do this, Google has to take into account a mix of factors to arrive at a ranking result for any web page. The quality of incoming links has long been a contributor to search engine ranking, and review sites (review signals) are an important off-page source of information for Google’s algorithms as regards the popularity, trustworthiness, and authority (and domain authority) of a web page. For example, in addition to Google and Facebook reviews, review websites that Google is thought to use to help establish trust and authority scores for UK web pages include bazaarvoice.uk, bizrate.co.uk, feefo.com, reviews.co.uk, reevoo.com/en/, trustedshops.eu, trustpilot.com, and verified-reviews.co.uk.
Reviews Help Influence Attitudes, Opinions, and Purchase Decisions
In buyer behaviour terms, in the buying cycle, potential customers seek information about products and services and their suppliers as part of the information search stage where they whittle down their ‘set’ of likely suppliers to preferred ones in an attempt to maximise satisfaction and positive reinforcement, reduce risk and minimise the possibility of negative reinforcement and post purchase dissonance.
In other words, buyers are looking not just for the product or service, but for a number of signals that will give them the confidence to make a decision to act in favour of one supplier over another. In addition to their SEO value, that’s where your positive reviews come in.
Customer Confidence From Social Proof Provided By Reviews
Influencing this ‘conversion’ behaviour e.g., calling, filling in a contact form, or purchasing online can be influenced by the ‘social proof’ that reviews offer. It is known that many purchase decisions, particularly among younger people, are influenced by recommendations and reviews from others, particularly friends or those perceived to be like us. Also, there are now many known and trusted review platforms that customers actively visit before deciding on a purchase, particularly those purchases that are involving (high prices, higher potential risks), and for services which, of course, can’t be sampled until used/consumed. Reviews on platforms such as Trustpilot, therefore can have a big influence (positive and negative) on online purchase decisions for services and experiences.
Locally – Google My Business
Reviews linked to a ‘Google My Business’ account, and the visual star rating and ranking position in that portion of the SERPs can be a very valuable influencer in local purchasing decisions, particularly for services. Lots of good reviews over time can means more stars and higher positions, which can act as a competitive advantage by helping consumers to make a quick decision in your favour, and by stopping them from engaging in any further search behaviour (excluding your competitors).
The Value of Reviews – In Summary
In summary then, reviews can help your SEO, online rankings, and your business by:
Providing Google with indicators to help rank your web pages higher, which brings more clicks, which again feeds into higher rankings.
Providing potential customers with positive signals and valued reasons to choose your company over competitors.