According to research collected by Statista, online reviews are a major deciding factor when determining what brands to support or what products to purchase. In the U.S., for instance, 62 percent of respondents indicated that online reviews were very helpful to them, with 36 percent of users aged 25-34 using them for research. Reviews are, in other words, a powerful marketing tool.
They’re also quite valuable for search engine optimization. Although Google is famously tight-lipped about its algorithms, it has offered a few details about the relationship between reviews and a website’s position on the search engine results page. On the Google My Business Support Page, for instance, the company makes the following statement:
“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. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.”
There it is, more or less in black-and-white. Reviews have an impact not just on traffic, but on visibility. The more positive reviews your business has, and the more you interact with customers in the reviews section, the better you’ll come off.
This applies to both positive and negative reviews.
In the case of the former, you’re taking a customer that’s already engaged and engaging with them even further. They’ll remember that you took the time to thank them for their feedback, and likely reward you with further loyalty. In the case of the latter, it not only indicates that you take your brand seriously but can also potentially bring a dissatisfied customer back into the fold.
For positive reviews, thank the customer in a way that makes it clear you’ve read what they have to say. Personalize your response as much as it is feasible to do so. Demonstrate to them that you value them as a customer, and appreciate their support.
For genuine negative reviews, start with an apology. Acknowledge that your brand was not up to their standards, and invite them to contact you if they want to solve their issue. Thank them for their feedback, and remain professional throughout.
Some negative reviews aren’t genuine, mind you. Some are fraudulent attempts by unscrupulous competitors to undercut your business. Don’t engage with them.
Instead, report them to Google, as detailed in this piece from business publication Entrepreneur.
Online reviews may not have much to do with keywords, topics, or on-page SEO. But they’re nevertheless an important part of placing your website on Google. By learning how to properly balance and respond to customer feedback, you can not only make your site more visible but better engage with your audience, as well.