Customer Reviews Matter
Do Not Underestimate The Value of Customer Reviews
Here’s the deal, it’s 2017. More than likely, anyone reading this blog post has made at least one transactional decision based on another customer’s review of a brand. What are the chances that the odds increase if the review is left by someone in your own personal network? High, right? Customers know that brands will (almost) always put their best forward, so therefore, their best bet for an authentic description of an experience, or product, is going to come in the form of a review left on sites such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Brands that recognize this behavior can also capitalize on it. The simplest way to do that is to make sure that every touchpoint a customer experiences with your brand is excellent . . . and then hope they feel so motivated as to leave a review in a space where a search engine will rank it appropriately.
Why that last bit about search engines? Because Google and Bing include customer reviews, along with other information, to determine the value of a brand in relation to a search query. When you think about it, it makes sense. The reviews your customers leave behind tell search engines two very important things: whether or not you’re currently in operation (recency) and what kind of value you generate for customers (who are also customers of the search engine). So, if you haven’t had a customer review on Google in two years, and the last one was two stars out of five, you’re not likely to appear on the first page of search results when a customer is searching for something you offer. Conversely, if you have accrued one review a month, for the last 24 months and they are all positive reviews, the likelihood of appearing as a result in a relevant search increases (to put it all simply).
No, You Cannot Game The System
Gaming the system is a no. Learning this and then deciding to aggressively solicit reviews, or reward those who leave positive ones, is a giant no. Search engines will make note of a sudden uptick in reviews and actually lower your rank-ability. Similarly, on sites such as Yelp, if they learn that your brand is offering incentives for reviews, they’ll devalue your listing. So, be casual about it. Include an ask for a review at a natural touchpoint and leave it at that.
Three Words: User Generated Content
User generated content about your brand goes a long way in generating new impressions about your business. Whether that user generated content is a review on Google, a Facebook post about your products, or an Instagram story about a visit to your brick and mortar store, those posts are viewed by the author’s friends and followers thereby creating a chance for your brand to expand its reach. Search engines pick up on that too and it helps them understand your brand’s recency and relevancy to your industry, and therefore, how to prioritize your business in search results.
Now, in case you’re reading this thinking that user generated content is the only way to improve your ranking on Google, it’s not. It just plays a highly visible, and actionable role in that process. There are a whole host of factors that go into how your brand ranks on search, the quality of your listings online being one of them.
Brands that stay on top of their digital game are the most likely to be rewarded as a search-based economy continues to grow, and consumers increasingly rely on search engines to them to new brands and experiences.