Gone are the days of telephone books and newspaper testimonials. Whenever we need anything nowadays, whether it’s a quirky brunch spot or a local mechanic, Google is the first port of call. There is no way to ‘try before you buy’ when browsing products and services online. That’s where the Google Reviews plugin for Wordpress comes in. It’s natural to want a second opinion on a product before dishing out money for it, or wasting an afternoon going to a business that could potentially fail to meet your expectations. With 84% of customers trusting online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, utilising online reviews is not only a free way to boost your SEO strategy, it offers a way to instil customer trust in your company with little to no cost.
How exactly can it help businesses?
To put it simply, trust. People trust people. When a consumer sees positive testimonials from like-minded individuals who are satisfied with a product, it has a huge impact on whether they themselves will convert. There’s only a very small minority of people whose online purchase habits are not affected by reviews. A survey by The Podium found that online reviews influence 93% of customers’ purchase decisions. As we all know, the future is very much digital which is reflected in the ways younger demographics engage with reviews; 95% of users aged 18-34 will consult with online reviews when interested in a product compared with the overall average of 86%.
Now, take the human instinctive to want a second opinion and pair it with a household name like Google and you have a trust-gaining dream team. The ritual answer to any 21st century question is “Google it”. Whether it’s ‘Where have I seen that actor before?’ or ‘What time is the train?’ we all flock to the trusty search engine. Out of the majority that search for reviews before converting, 81% of users opt for Google. It makes sense to use the site that ranks as the most popular review site, over Facebook and Yelp, to showcase your reviews, right? Not to mention using Google Reviews is great for boosting Google SEO.
Choosing which reviews you showcase
Embedding your reviews with google doesn’t only give you an extra vantage on gaining customer trust – it also includes various optional features. One of which being refresh reviews. This means that customer reviews are live fed to your site as soon as they’re posted. This is great for you and your website. It takes some of the maintenance work from your shoulders whilst increasing the chance of conversion as 40% of users only consider reviews up to two weeks old when researching a product or service.
The Google Reviews plugin also offers you the ability to select which views are shown on your website. While it is tempting to showcase your best reviews, it may not be the best for your business. If customers only see positive reviews on your website, they may go searching elsewhere to verify them. If a negative comment is found off-site all that trust you’ve cultivated will be lost and your company’s reputation may be damaged in the process. As Migs Bassig so eloquently put in a post for ReviewTrackers, “consumers can’t verify the legitimacy of a review if you’re the one controlling the content”.
How is it good for SEO?
So, reviews are great for gaining consumer trust and with 68% of millennials trusting online reviews over TV ads and 58% considering themselves more likely to convert when able to engage with on-site reviews, the Google Reviews plugin is an effective and free tool businesses can use to increase CRO. But how does it improve SEO?
It’s useful content
Reviews make for useful user generated content (UGC) and allow customers access to unaltered social proof without leaving the page. Relying on the psychology that ‘people enjoy being part of a social group of like-minded people, which eventually may affect their purchasing decisions and their online behaviour’, reviews can provide consumers with the reassurance they need to convert. More than that, reviews written by previous customers will most likely exhibit the language generally used by your target audience, driving them to your site based on long-tail keyword traffic.
‘Is it worth paying for?’
The free version of the Google Reviews plugin allows only five reviews per location to be visible on-site. However, for an annual payment of 85USD the business version allows for unlimited reviews to be visible. The upgrade may be worth the investment as users engage with an average of 10 reviews before trusting a business. If only half of the average is accessible on your Wordpress site, users may leave your page in search of further social proof, get side-tracked and be lost forever. Below is a table of the different features on the free and business versions of the plugin.
Like all good quality content, reviews can increase dwell time/time spent on page. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole when you’re researching the perfect product or the best deal, to the extent that once you embed customer reviews with the Google reviews plugin, users can spend an additional 5-10 minutes on your site.
Content may also be repurposed. Tools such as Google Review Stickers allow you to create marketing materials using UGC. You can repurpose customer reviews to make posters, stickers, table tents and social media posts to further promote your business and increase brand-awareness. Additionally, you can use taglines such as “Our reviews don’t lie,” or, “See what other customers have said” to increase CTR and drive more traffic to your website.
Engage with reviews
Having Google reviews publicised on your site is just the first step, Now, it’s time to engage with your reviews. Instead of shunning negative reviews and excluding them from your site, use them instil further faith in your business. Data shows that 80% of customers feel as if businesses actually care when reviews are responded to, negative or otherwise. While 40% of users would consider a business that responds to negative reviews over those that don’t. Even Google encourages businesses to interact with their customers to drive further reviews. Google suggests creating a click through link for customers to leave reviews, an effective way to do so is through a CTA button. With the majority of users reading company responses to reviews, it becomes an open space to show appreciation to existing customers and to regain trust on negative reviews.
The star rating of a business can affect its position in SERPs as Google takes ratings into consideration and favours highly rated sites. Potential customers are able to discern whether they trust your business based on its star rating in Google search before even clicking through to your site. Meaning that a good star rating can increase both your traffic and conversion rate up to 17%.
Local search ranking
Reviews play a huge role in how high up your business lands on local SERPs. Implementing Google reviews both enhances SEO and sends a positive signal regarding websites to the Google algorithm. But who better to trust than Google itself? Clearly on their search support page it states:
“Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization”.
Consumer reliance on online reviews has grown exponentially over recent years. It is now one of the fastest growing local factors. A recent survey conducted by Moz found that reviews are one of the three top-ranking factors in local search alongside Google my business signals and link signals.
The Google Reviews Plugin offers a cost-effective way to promote your business and gain consumer trust. It boosts your SEO by implementing the language that your audience uses and in doing so increases keyword traffic. Google reviews are just as trustworthy as a recommendation from a friend and even more appealing than an ad on TV. Whether you opt for the free version or the upgrade, the Google Reviews plugin is a handy tool for your business’ marketing and SEO strategy. Now you know how to embed Google reviews, all you need to do is claim your Google my business listing to get started – and here’s how.
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