Reviews are an ever-growing part of every business’ online presence and those reviews certainly improve the level of trust conveyed for your business, but do Google reviews help SEO? We understand that higher search rankings translates into more traffic for your website, but will more Google reviews improve your organic search rankings in Google, Bing, and other popular search engines?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer for this. Below, we’ll dive into the importance of Google reviews, how reviews can improve your SEO rankings, and why this answer isn’t as clear-cut as you would expect.
How important are Google reviews?
Firstly, for the purpose of this blog post, we are going to focus specifically on Google reviews. Google reviews are not particularly unique when compared to Facebook or Yelp reviews (we’ll touch on both of those in this post), but since Google has begun incorporating external reviews into its listings, we can cover more ground quicker by focusing primarily on a single source.
A recent study by BrightLocal found that over 70% of users trust reviews just as much, or more than they trust a close family member! This statistic is incredible, but it’s also easy to believe.
Think about the last time you purchased an item from Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or any other online retailer. Chances are, you looked at the reviews. Actually, I’m willing to bet that you absolutely looked at the reviews. Why? Because, why wouldn’t you?
You are no different than the customers that buy from you. You (and those customers) want to know that you’re spending your money wisely and are getting a great product. Why would you intentionally choose a 1-star item over a 4.5-star item? Plain and simple, reviews make a huge difference in how a potential customer perceives a product, service, or company.
Are Facebook and Yelp reviews just as important?
YES! Facebook and Yelp are often trusted more than Google just because they are socially-focused. There are over 300 local citation directories in which you can submit your site to and establish a presence for generating reviews and getting in front of potential customers.
Since Google has started aggregating a few of the popular review sites and showing the results in its Google Business Listings (pictured on the right), it has certainly become worth the effort to not only gain Google reviews but also Facebook reviews and customer reviews from Yelp.
So yes, I would recommend getting established on Yelp, Facebook, and other relevant directories as this will not only improve your local SEO by establishing a stronger presence for your business but will also allow your business to be in front of customers no matter where they search.
Do Google reviews help SEO directly?
This is where it gets a little tricky. The answer is: not directly.
I’ve worked with businesses who came to us because their organic and map rankings were low even though their business had over 50 positive user reviews! Even worse, their competitors had less than ten reviews, poor reviews, and in some cases, not even a website!
The #3 ranked laundromat from above has a better rating, more reviews, and a website. But look at those results! This is hard to believe but it proves our theory that Google reviews do not play a huge role in the direct ranking of your business in maps or organic search.
Proximity does play a role in how local listings are ranks. However, the results from above are sourced from searching from a non-disclosed location–so proximity is not factored into the results shown above.
Indirectly, though, do Google reviews help SEO? Let’s find out.
If Google reviews do not directly improve SEO, should I still try to get them?
YES. Why? Because of the indirect effect that Google reviews have on your SEO.
In 2017, 68% of US consumers said that positive reviews made them more likely to use a business.
Indirectly, reviews are a goldmine of SEO value. Having many positive reviews does a few things that can indirectly increase your website’s SEO and even your local business SEO.
Increased Click-through Rate
Going back to what we discussed at the beginning of this post, shoppers love reviews. When faced with the scenario above, even though The Dutchman is ranked #3 in the map pack, users are far more likely to click on them based on reviews alone.
This increase in clicks to your business website can directly influence your search rankings as long as you provide value once the user is there. If your business is ranking for laundromats but your business is actually a car wash (I’ve seen this happen), then you’re not going to rank well for very long. Why? Because Google will see that you clicked through to the website, then returned to the search results to find another site.
However, if your website is able to provide what the user is looking for, then your website will receive a boost based on their actions. Not the action of a single user, but the actions of many users will help determine where you rank.
To recap: Better reviews equal higher click-through rates. If your website provides value, you’ll see an increase in SEO. This is how reviews indirectly affect your SEO rankings.
Increased Trust and Potential to Convert
People buy when they feel comfortable. And there is nothing more uncomfortable than shopping around a business that is rated 1-star. Right? Of course!
When your Google reviews, or any other reviews for that matter, are high in rating and volume, it tells your potential customers a few things:
- Your business has had success in the past with a handful of real people (social proof is a huge influencer!)
- Your business makes customer satisfaction a priority.
- Your business does good work.
The more that you can make your potential customers feel comfortable, and the more trust you can generate, the chances of that customer purchasing your product or service increases exponentially.
To recap: Google reviews help SEO indirectly by increasing user trust and engagement. They also increase the trust and authority of your domain by further establishing yourself as a tried-and-true business.
Conclusion: Do Google Reviews Help SEO?
YES, indirectly. Conveying trust and positive influence is a much better value in place of the SEO ranking factor, in my opinion. In order for Google reviews to help SEO, however, your website and local listing both need to be optimized to provide value to the users that come your way!
How can I get more Google reviews?
Just give your customers the opportunity to. More often than not, a customer will only leave a review when something has gone awry. To get positive reviews, you need to be proactive.
The first step in generating reviews and monitoring your reputation is to perform a scan of your website’s listings online. Like I mentioned earlier, there are over 300 sources where your website can appear and gain reviews, and most of those sources will publish your website automatically without you ever knowing about it!
You can scan your business’ local SEO listings using the form below (if the form fails to load on AMP, it is also available on our local SEO page):
Have you had any positive ranking experiences from your local listing? Let us know in the comments below!