If Google does not know who you are and what service you are providing in Canada, no one will. For Canadian small business owners or businesses around the world, staying relevant means making your Brand known and having a strong online presence. Even if you know that search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization are vital to the growth of your brand, what about your online reviews?
Statistics point to some eye-opening consumer behaviors, like how 88% of all consumers read reviews before visiting the physical location of a local business. Or, that 72% of consumers use positive reviews to increase their trust in the services of said local business. The quality of the reviews is also important, because 90% of consumers will read up to 10 reviews to gauge how they feel.
How Online Reviews Impact Consumers and Searches
As more and more consumers are getting into the habit of reading and publishing reviews online, search engine algorithms are developing a taste for using this to influence SERPs. Google has also made an effort to detect review spam and fake reviews to make sure every review read is as honest as possible.
Even without the online element, reputation is a big deal. Positive reviews both from word of mouth or online have a huge influence on the buying choices potential customers make as they scan through search results and decide which business to contact.
Research and Analysis of Online Reviews
BrightLocal did some research on how reviews affect websites that yielded thought-provoking results. When measuring how many click-throughs websites received on Google based on the number of stars awarded by reviews, a positive star rating of 3+ stars had a generally good impact on CTR. In fact, the higher the stars, the more clicks a business received. Businesses that had a 5-star rating received 25% more clicks than those with a 3-star rating.
Further, it was found that 4- or 5-star ratings drove consumers to that business. Negative reviews, on the other hand, were highly damaged to both CTR and SERPs. BrightLocal concluded that having a 1-star rating reduced clicks a business gets by 11% versus having no ratings at all. Therefore, if your business receives a 1-star rating or negative review, you need to do everything in your power to amend that rating. Otherwise, your business may never recover.
In short, users put a lot of faith in reviews from other users.
You could have a superbly optimized site with engaging content and worthwhile services, but no one is going to buy into it if they read several negative reviews.
Focusing on Seller Ratings for CTR and SERPs
Whether you have been utilizing the internet for your business for years or are just breaking into the world of online marketing, there is something you need to know about organic click-through ratings and how they play into search engine results. If you want to increase your CTR, you do the following:
Identify the lowest ranked CTR content: that means anything that has below 10% click-throughs on the website needs attention;
- Forget “keyword cramming” and heavy templates. Opt for emotional hooks and authentic website content;
- Format for readability – headers, sub headers, bullets, numbers, and some media content goes a long way in boosting CTR.
Now, here is how you make all of the above work towards you advantage: Focus on the customer experience, from the moment they come to your site to the second they leave your eCommerce store or physical storefront.
Seller Ratings, also known as Google Seller Ratings, is considered an “automated extension” of Google Adwords and is thus a focus of the Google search engine algorithms and RankBrain.
Seller Ratings will automatically engage when your website meets the following criteria:
- At least 30 unique reviews written in the last 12 months;
- A composite rating of at least 3.5 stars;
- At least 10 of those reviews must be in the user’s Google interface language.
Reviews are tallied up from two Google sources: Google Trusted Stores and Google Consumer Surveys. But reviews do not just come from these two things, because that would severely limit the scope. Google also pulls from third-party review sites, like TrustPilot, Bazaarvoice, Yotpo, and SiteJabber.
Psychologically, those golden stars next to your website’s search results are going to resonate with potential consumers more than your meta description and website name. Of course, if your page does not have authority or a high enough rank in Google, you are not going to receive your stars.
You see where this is going, right?
In order to get authority and a high enough Google rank, you need seriously powerful web content and honest business practices. Therefore, websites that have a consistently updated blog with proactive customer service and engagement are going to be more favored over less active websites. Google’s algorithms will pay more attention to websites that continue to update their content and bring in views.
But remember, Seller Ratings is a component of Adwords, so if you are not using this service, you should be.
In spite of technological advancements and the growing dependence of smartphones to help us make our decisions, the bottom line for businesses about having decent customer service and providing winning experiences is integral to growth and success. Through the studies done by BrightLocal and other digital marketing firms, you can see that there is something to be said for the power of star rating and consumer reviews.
The ultimate takeaway from this is that negative reviews reduce your website’s click-through rate and positive ratings increase clicks. In turn, your SERP will go or down depending on that organic traffic to your site. Negative reviews make your website unfavorable, while positive reviews, as well search engine optimized content, will attract buyers to your site, generate higher conversions, and bring more business to you, whether locally or internationally.
In short, reputation is always going to outdo faulty business practices and poor customer service. Strive to build a solid reputation among the user base of your site, establish decent reviews, and use all channels for digital marketing available to you. Your visibility will receive a major boost if you take advantage of the trust-building, CTR, and SERP cycle.
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