Beginner's SEO

How to ask for reviews to boost your rank

Written by

Haley Carroll

Say you’re looking for an air fryer on Amazon. You’ve read the product description, you’ve watched the product videos, but you’re still unsure about whether to buy it or not. You may still have some lingering questions: Is this product really useful? Does it live up to its advertising and description?

Where do you look in order to answer these questions? There’s one place that people often rely on to help them gauge what a product will actually be like; if it’s worth the price; and if they should buy it: the customer review section.

Customer reviews are important because they are a third party source to back up your products’ claims and give credibility to your company. People trust other consumers more than they trust the companies selling to them, so people speaking highly about your products will go a long way to build your overall company reputation and your brand.

The more positive customer reviews you acquire, the more trustworthy and dependable your company will be perceived.

Acquiring customer reviews has become essential in today’s world. With so much business being conducted solely online instead of in-person, combined with the sheer amount of products and services available online, customer reviews help you stand out from the crowd and help potential buyers get to know your company through the words of their peers.

Reviews are not just for brand building or selling more products, though. They can help immensely with SEO. Today we’ll be going through how customer reviews help your website, and strategies to start getting more reviews for your business.

The benefits of having reviews

87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. Their significance to your website and to consumers’ perceptions of your company cannot be understated,

Broken down, here are the benefits of reviews:

Social proof builds trust

What is social proof? The theory goes that people copy the actions of others in an attempt to emulate behavior in certain situations. This means people in unfamiliar circumstances will look to what others have already done and follow those actions.

In marketing terms, this means that while people shop, they read reviews, look for recommendations, and observe ways others have used a product before they make their purchasing decision.  

If you are looking to acquire new customers, reviews are critical to pay attention to. Before a new customer commits to choosing your company, they want reassurance that they’re making the right choice. And due to social proof, they will look to other people for that confirmation.

Reviews help your customers make decisions

Oftentimes, online shopping can feel like a guessing game to people. Since you can’t see or touch the product in person, there’s a certain level of uncertainty built into internet browsing.

However, as we discussed earlier, reviews help to eliminate some of that uncertainty. Hearing about other people’s experiences will help potential buyers become more assured of what their product experience will be like as well. And once someone sees that other people are enjoying a product, they will want a piece of the action, too.

Positive reviews will often be the final, convincing push that customers need to go ahead and hit the “order” button on a product or service. On the flip side, negative reviews can make someone completely disregard a product they were once considering.

Reviews have the power to convert leads into customers, as long as you’re getting the right kind of review.

Reviews influence search engine rankings

This is a benefit we haven’t touched on very much yet: customer reviews can affect where your website ends up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). In other words, what people are saying about you helps Google determine where to place your site in its ranks.

This opens up a world of possibility for your website. New queries you can rank for, and customers you can reach - let’s unpack this in more depth together.

Why reviews matter for SEO

Reviews are incredibly influential when it comes to SEO. There are multiple ways that positive reviews can help your website show up for the right keywords, and get ranked higher on those SERPs.

Reviews tell Google what your site is about

Just like it’s important to have detailed descriptions on your website to describe your business so search engines know what it’s about, reviews inform search engines in the same way. Your customers may even fill in gaps that your website content doesn’t hit.

As marketers, we are always guessing what terminology our customers use, and views can help us demystify this. Reviews give you the exact terminology that people who bought from you are using, and it is likely the same terminology that other potential customers will search with as well.

Reviews show Google your website is trusted

We’ve talked a lot about how reviews make people trust your company, but did you know that Google picks up on this trust as well? The endorsements from outside sources are monitored by Google and can influence your site’s visibility.

Positive reviews drive more traffic

It’s been established that reviews help convince people to click on your site and choose your company over another’s, but this increased traffic also helps your SEO. Google sees this high volume of users spending time on your site, and will recognize your site as an authoritative source and adjust rankings accordingly.

Reviews influence local ranking factors

To understand how reviews can affect local ranking factors, we first need to define what local ranking factors are. They are the online components that Google takes into account when indexing and ranking your website to appear in local searches. To give some context, here is a list of the top local ranking factors in 2021:

  1. Google My Business: You need to have a strong and thoroughly completed Google My Business profile. It’s important to update this profile often to maintain accuracy.
  1. On page signals: Using relevant keywords, providing as many sources of contact information as possible, and having a mobile-friendly website are all on-page SEO tactics that can help improve local rankings.
  1. Reviews: Here is where the subject of our article fits into local ranking factors. The total number, frequency, diversity, and quality of reviews produced for a business will be taken into account.

It all comes back to Google putting the user first, and if other users are very pleased with their experiences with a business, that business will be rewarded with a high local ranking in an effort for Google to create more happy customers in the future.

If you’d like to learn even more about ranking for local searches, read our article How can I rank for near me searches?

The different types of reviews

So what do we mean by ‘reviews’ anyway?

These days it feels like your customers can leave reviews pretty much anywhere - and they can.

There are many ways that people can leave reviews for your product or service, and it’s important that you be familiar with all of them in order to leverage them best.

Depending on the nature of your business, and the online locations where your customers are researching and making buying decisions, one type of review in particular may be more beneficial than another.

Google My Business

Like we mentioned before, a Google My Business profile is a crucial (and free) tool for your business to take advantage of. It allows your business to show up on Google Maps and local search results, and it’s a one-stop-shop for users to get a lot of useful information about your business, such as hours of operation, location, contact information, a description of the business, images/videos, and reviews from past customers.

Customers are able to write a review right from the business listing on Google Maps as long as they have a Google profile. It’s recommended to respond to every review you receive, but be aware that only verified businesses can respond to reviews-so be sure to verify your business ASAP!

On your website

You can house customer reviews right on your website! Powerful customer testimonials are great to have in an easy-to-access spot on your site. These would be especially important to have if your goods/services are placed directly on your website, or if it is the largest source of information about your company and its offerings and thus where your potential customers are spending the most time doing their research and consideration for your company.

Social profiles (Yelp, Facebook)

By now, it’s widely accepted that companies need to have a presence on social media. It’s where people spend hours every day: scrolling, engaging, and discovering. Having social media platforms on all the major platforms that your target audience uses is well-known as a best practice for exposure, customer communication, and building stronger relationships with your customers.

Some social platforms have the option to leave reviews, too. The most significant sites are Yelp and Facebook. Both of these sites get major traffic every day, so you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity they present.

Yelp

To start getting reviews on Yelp, you need to set up a profile and claim your business. You’ll receive a sticker in the mail to prominently display at your physical location, if you have one.

Yelp displays customer reviews in order from “most helpful.” What does this mean? To weigh the reviews it receives, Yelp considers the reviewer’s history, the “like”/feedback left on a review, and the quality of reviews a company already has in order to index new reviews.

You aren’t allowed to ask a customer for a review on Yelp as it breaks their rules of agreement, but it is fair game to tell people to “check you out on Yelp.”

Facebook

A Facebook Page is beneficial, no matter what kind of business you have. To start getting reviews, you’ll need to set up a Review Tab on your page if it isn’t already there. Here’s how it works: Navigate to the Settings tab, find the Edit Page section, and turn on Reviews.

However, not all kinds of Facebook Pages have the option for a Review Tab. If this is the case for your page, you’ll need to select a Template that allows them. You can choose the general “Business” template, or find your specific type of business among the templates.

Once you’re set up, Facebook users will be able to leave reviews as they please.  

How to ask customers for reviews

We’ve gone through the different kinds of reviews and how they can help your business. Now the question is: how can you get customers to leave reviews?

Depending on your business and how you sell, there are a variety of ways you can ask customers for reviews. From asking in person to following up via email, here are several ways to ask for reviews and improve your chances at getting one.

Ask in person

If you are interacting with customers directly, either at purchase or in a service capacity, there is no better substitute than asking in person for a review. This works especially well because you can explain how to leave a review, gauge their response, and follow up with further instructions. In-person also works well because you can ask this for customers who appear to be having an especially great service experience, rather than someone who may feel indifferent or displeased.

Ask over the phone (or via text)

Similarly to asking in person, asking over the phone works well because you can explain how to leave a review, gauge their response, and follow up with further instructions.

Texting is a great way to communicate with customers in a way that’s less demanding and more on their terms. Though it may be less convincing than a phone conversation, linking a spot to review right in an SMS message makes it extremely easy for people to follow through. And the easier it is to review, the more likely people are to do it!

Ask via email

Asking for reviews via email is an excellent strategy that works well across many types of businesses. From service based to e-commerce, it’s incredibly easy to set up a simple follow up email post-purchase, or even an email drip campaign to remind customers to leave a review.

Other ways to ask for reviews

You can post on social media asking for reviews, print it onto receipts, or on a thank-you page after a customer has placed an order on your website. Think of all the points right at post-purchase and beyond where you can get in touch with customers and ask for just a few seconds of their time.

Selling products online? So much of e-commerce has become sterilized thanks to the super slick shipping processes we’ve gotten used to. Adding a bit of a personal touch with a hand written thank you note will go a long way in this day and age to resonate with customers, and remind them there are humans behind the products they’re receiving in the mail.

How to get more reviews

Here are just a few more pieces of advice on getting reviews, once you’ve established all the avenues for customers to leave them.

Keep it simple

The easier you make it for people to leave a review, the higher your chances are at actually getting one. Provide clear, succinct instructions on how to create a review, and remove as much friction as possible.

Provide an incentive

People are rarely motivated to leave reviews on their own unless an experience was extraordinarily good or bad. Sometimes a little push is needed. For e-commerce shops with repeat buyers, an incentive like a discount on a next purchase may be a great incentive to encourage customers to leave a review.

Wrapping up

Reviews are crucial to proving to Google and potential customers that your company is worth buying from/working with/ranking highly. There are many places where you should be collecting customer reviews, and there are many strategies and tactics you can employ to get them.

We hope you found this overview of customer reviews helpful, and you have some new ideas to start acquiring more customer reviews for your own site. Let us know what you thought of the article, and feel free to share with anyone else that may be interested!

Updated on:

September 20, 2021

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