Yes, they do! Very much, in fact! Online reviews often get overlooked among the slew of factors that affect SEO, but they remain important, especially if you run a local business.
According to the 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study carried out by Local SEO Guide, Google My Business reviews that sported the searched-for keyword or query were the second most important factor for determining how prominently a business performed in the “Local Park”—which is the box of local search and map results that appear at the top of relevant Google searches.
Even businesses without a physical location can benefit from online reviews. Yotpo, the review management platform, studied the impact of adding customer reviews to the websites of online business. Over the course of the 9 month study, Google organic page views jumped from about 5,500 a month to 8,000.
Why Online Reviews Matter for SEO?
Google Benefits from the Insight Reviews Offer
Google loves to read! The more content Google has to work with on your website, the better they can understand what your business is about. And the better Google understands your website, the better your rankings will be.
This aspect of SEO is important and lies at the core of how Google works: the more keyword-rich your content is, the better Google crawlers can understand, interpret, and help connect consumers who need your services and products. This is the reason why search results pages don’t show you grocery stores when you are searching for restaurants near you.
Cue customer reviews. By leaving customer reviews about your business, your customers are unintentionally helping Google better understand what your business is all about. Think of it as free keyword-dense content creation which has the potential to significantly affect your website’s SEO.
Google Trusts Your Customer’s Opinion, Not Yours
People tend to trust what others say about more than what you say about yourself, and so does Google. The very important factor of backlinks works in the same manner—if people are linking to your site then there must be some very valuable information on it, right?
In much the same way, Google learns how trustworthy your business is by listening (or in this case, reading) what customers are saying about it. When a customer talks about your business, whether favorably or otherwise, it tells Google a few important things like: the business is a real or a legit operation; it has real customers who have interacted with it; and these customers’ reviews can help other users make purchasing decisions, among other things.
Great Reviews Lead to Better CTR
Everybody loves reviews! They help take much of the guesswork out of the purchasing decision. Given a choice between 2 or more businesses offering the same services or products, we are likely to click on the one with the better reviews.
In other words, the better your reviews the better your click through rate or CTR. And the fact that click through rate has a positive impact on SEO is no longer news. If a huge majority of searchers are clicking on your site, Google assumes you must be offering something valuable and will feature your website more prominently on the results page.
Reviews are your friend—whether good or bad. Handling them after being proactive about getting them will do a world of good for your SEO and your business in general.