Can Online Reviews Help My Website’s Search Ranking?

Kristina Cappetta
Last updated: Digital Marketing 6 min read
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Before you try a new restaurant or service, what is one of the first things you do? If you’re like many people, you check out the online reviews. What are previous customers saying? Were they satisfied? Did they get bad service? The answers to these questions can help you determine whether you want to try them out or scroll down to the next option. This is why online reviews are so important. They can make or break your business without the customer ever getting to know you. Good reviews can help to catapult your business while bad reviews can leave you in the dust.

The Importance of Online Reviews

If you were wondering how important online reviews are, consider this. Statistics show 79% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Google is the most popular when it comes to online reviews with 59% of consumers using it to read reviews. More than half read at least four reviews before buying a product. Four reviews aren’t a lot to base a decision on, so you need to make the most of them!

leave a review

Search Result Rankings and Reviews

Many different factors contribute to a website’s search engine rankings. Google has over 200 ranking factors that make up its algorithm, reviews are included. While there isn’t a specific list of how ranking factors are weighted, we do know they provide a major impact. So don’t overlook this crucial element of your brand marketing.

You should be focusing your efforts on:

  • Number of reviews for your business
  • How often a review is submitted
  • Number of websites where your business has reviews
  • Quality of the person leaving a review – do they review other businesses regularly or are they a one-time reviewer?

Keeping these factors in mind can help you make the most of your online reviews.

Stay Positive!

It’s obvious that you want as many positive reviews as possible. But, what may not be as apparent is that you also want your company to be featured on as many sites as possible. The more review sites your company is featured on, the more backlinks your website attracts. Of course, you want all of these to be positive reviews. 

How do you get those positive reviews? Many times, it’s as simple as asking.

Overcoming the Challenge

Let me share a previous experience that shows how easy it is to ask for a review. I was out to dinner at a new restaurant and the food was fabulous. The server knew that we were enjoying the food and asked us to leave a review. He automatically offered free beverages if we left a review on Google before we left. While that certainly sweetened the deal, we would have left a positive review regardless. All it took was for him to simply ask for the review. The fact that he added an incentive only made us want to do it more.

What Does All This Mean?

Basically, it means that if you know you are offering good service and you have happy customers, ask them to leave a review. If you want to offer an incentive, even better. That one review can lead to similar ones. In my case, we told our friends about our great experience as well as the review and free beverages. The business owner obviously knew that he has good food and knew the importance of good reviews. Offering an incentive was just a bonus.

Making Google Work For You

In the example above, the review went on Google which will only help to strengthen that business’ reputation. Google My Business can work for you with reviews that are left there. You’ve probably noticed reviews on the right side of Google’s search results. One of Google’s algorithms uses location and distance ranking criteria to improve local search results. As a business owner, you should make sure that your website is optimized correctly for Google My Business. A verified Google + page can let you respond to reviews. Since Google Maps uses the information and reviews, the more content and positive reviews you have, the more reputable your business will appear.

How You Can Take Advantage of Positive Online Reviews

Keep track of satisfied customers who you think will leave positive reviews. Besides Google, ask customers to leave reviews on different sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, or any others that people would seek. You can make it easy for them and send out a link in a follow-up email. All they have to do is click on it and post their review. 

Keep a list of satisfied customers who you think will leave a positive review. While you can never be too sure of their actual review response, you shouldn’t actively seek reviews from unhappy customers.

What Can I Do If No One Wants to Leave a Review?

If you’ve asked nicely and no one wants to leave a review, it’s time to get creative. You may want to consider an incentive for leaving a review. A contest generally works because it not only gives an incentive but also allows your customers to engage with you. When customers feel connected they are more likely to choose your business over another.

Overcoming the Negative

It’s no secret that people love to tell their horror stories of bad service. They feel as though they are getting back at the business they feel wronged them. Chances are you’ve told a friend or two when you’ve had bad service. But, what about the last time you had great service? Did you rave about it? Better yet, did you leave a positive review? You may not have because we often expect great service. 

The main way to overcome negative reviews is to not give people a reason to leave one. This means focusing on the best customer service every time.

taken down by bad reviews

Don’t Get Taken Down by Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, there aren’t many options to help when you receive negative reviews. Google will not remove reviews from your business listing unless you submit the review to their quality assurance department. If they deem the review as malicious, they’ll flag it and you may get lucky and they’ll remove it. Your best option is to get more good reviews to overpower the bad ones. You want to show that your one or two bad reviews are the exceptions to your service, not the norm.

Respond to Your Reviews

Whether your reviews are positive or negative, you want to respond to all of them. Remember, people like to feel a connection. When you respond, they feel like they know you better. Of course, the way you respond to a positive review versus the way you respond to a negative one will differ.

Suggestions for Responding to Negative Reviews

When you get a negative review, you want to apologize and thank them for their review. If you want to try to fix the problem by offering them some sort of compensation, you can ask them to contact you so you can talk about the issue more. If you can come to a positive resolution, the client may even be willing to update their negative review with a favorable one.

negative review response

If not, then you have tried and any potential client that comes across the negative review will see your response and recognize that you made the effort.

Responding to a Positive Online Review

This is an easy one! Thank your client and let them know you value their business. Tell them that you hope they are enjoying your services (don’t go into detail here for privacy reasons), and remind them to touch base with your company if they need your services again. You may also want to ask them to share their experience with friends and family. This is a great way to combine that positive review with a word-of-mouth reference.

positive review response








Do You Need Help Improving the Reviews for Your Website?

Now you should have a better understanding of why your business needs online reviews and how it can help improve your overall search engine ranking. Remember that the opinions of your customers and website visitors provide value to Google and other search engines. Take advantage of these valuable resources and see how they help to improve your website ranking.

If you are in need of reputation management, TheeDigital can provide that solution. Contact the internet marketing professionals at TheeDigital in Raleigh, NC at 919-341-8901 or schedule a consultation to find out how your business can benefit from strategic social media marketing.

Tags: Digital MarketingOnline Reputation ManagementSearch Engine Optimization

Kristina Cappetta

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