How Do 5-Star Reviews Affect Your SEO?

Businesses of all sizes, from across many different industries, can benefit from turning their attention to generating and curating positive reviews, as part of a process that we call online reputation management.

Time and again, studies have highlighted the remarkable power of positive reviews. For instance, did you know that 92% of customers read online reviews, and 68% trust a local business more if it has positive reviews? Or that brands typically see a 5-9% increase in revenue by improving their Yelp rating by just one star?

And one of the most important benefits of cultivating and sharing glowing reviews is (almost) as old as the internet itself. We’re talking about our geeky bread and butter: search engine optimization, or SEO.

What do positive reviews have to do with search engine success? Where do stars and SERPs overlap? How does getting more five-star reviews equate to greater rates of organic traffic – and more conversions – for your business?

We’ve got the science and the experience to answer these questions and more. You see, as you build up your online reputation with glowing reviews, you also…

Bolster Your Knowledge Graphs

Search engine results pages – affectionately known as SERPs – are no longer just static links of lists, particularly on Google. Instead, when users search for a query or look up a brand, they are presented with a dynamic page which includes visual elements such as Featured Snippets and, most importantly, the Knowledge Graph.

You’ve seen a Knowledge Graph, even if you didn’t know what it was called. This is the box containing local information, ratings, and a map image which appears on the right side of the SERP in desktop browsers, or at the very top of the SERP on most mobile searches.

Today, many of your potential customers aren’t searching beyond the Knowledge Graph. In other words, they’ll look at the information that Google has picked and chosen for them, and then make their decision from there. So, it only follows that you’ll want to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward in this all-important hub. The more positive rankings and glowing testimonials you receive, the better you’ll look in a Knowledge Graph – and the better the chance that users will follow up with your business, rather than conducting a new search or moving on to one of your competitors.

The same goes for local searches, conducted through Google Maps. The higher your business is rated, the more likely it is that users will be willing to travel to get to you. In other words? Harboring glowing reviews may entice your potential customers to go the extra mile for you – literally.

Building Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the fundamental pieces of any successful off-page SEO strategy. You see, Google’s insightful bots – which crawl the web, looking for information to categorize and rank as search results – discover and rate new internet content by following links from spot to spot, all across the world wide web.

The end result of this? The more places – and the better the quality of the places – that links leading back to your site appear, the more credibility you will have in the eyes of the search engine, and the higher Google and its peers will rank your website.

Yelp, ZocDoc, HomeAdvisor, Google Reviews, and other local and national review sites are well-established and popular, and a great way for getting your information out there online. Generating reviews and ensuring that your information is consistent on review and listing sites across the internet is a great way to establish trustworthy backlinks, providing algorithmic fodder for search engines and handy signposts for the actual human users who are looking to digitally connect with your brand.

Enhance Your Rich Snippets

Rich snippets are the text and visual items that appear on SERPs, below link titles and headlines. The idea is that these little snippets can provide a small sample of the content that will appear on the webpage, and serve to encourage or discourage searchers from clicking through to a certain result.

One of the most effective uses for a rich snippet is to highlight five-star reviews. Seeing that high rating associated with your brand suggests that you have credibility, creates a sense of trustworthiness, and encourages clickthrough. There are a few ways that this process can work when it comes to driving visitors to your site.

For one thing, you may wish to establish a review page and ranking system on your own website; seeing that, say, 40 people rated you 5 stars could encourage a curious visitor to take the plunge and visit your landing page, clicking through directly from the SERP.

You may also rely on third party sites. The more positive reviews you get across various websites or services, the more a searcher may see your name associated with a high star ranking on a SERP. If a user sees your name plus “five stars” as a rich snippet on five or six different parts of the SERP, the more likely it is that they will become a conversion for your brand, whether by heading straight to your website, connecting with you on social media, or entering your conversion funnel by reading positive reviews on a third party platform.

Improve Your Site’s Credibility

And, finally, there’s the simple truth that, when it comes to SEO success, the key always has been, and always will be, content. The more unique content you produce, and the higher the quality of the content you produce, the better the chance that you’ll be recognized and ranked highly by search engines.

When it comes down to it, reviews can work like listicles, explainers, photo galleries, behind-the-scenes updates, and other any other type of web content you can think of. They’re a resource, ready to be packaged and put out into the world to benefit your brand as you see fit.

Repackaging existing reviews as user-generated blog content, or establishing a review page or tab on your brand’s website, can serve to increase the amount of time that users spend on your site, lower your bounce rate by encouraging users to click around to other parts of your site, and provide a steady stream of updates and new site elements – all of which search engines love!

To get started generating, managing, and sharing reviews, drop Geek Chicago a line today! We partner with an industry leader in reputation management technology to provide our clients with a surefire mechanism to

  • Encourage existing customers to write reviews or evaluate your brand
  • Promote positive reviews across a variety of channels
  • Prevent less-than-satisfied customers from writing negative reviews in public

Curious about how you can put our reputation management tool to work for your brand? Have any other questions or concerns about reviews, reputation management, SEO, or any other aspect of digital marketing? We’re here to help! Drop us a line today to get started!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).