The Google Reviews Plugin for WordPress allows you to embed customer reviews from Google directly to your website. SEO Melbourne post.

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, for the majority, the first port of call. When browsing products and services online, there is no way to ‘try before you buy’ and 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 so when a consumer sees positive testimonials from like-minded individuals being satisfied with a product or service, 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, as 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 by 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%.

Infographic presenting data collected by The Drum to show the effectiveness of implementing Google Reviews to your site.
Infographic sourced from The Drum

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. It’s become ritual for whenever someone has a question whether it be ‘Where have I seen that actor before?’ or ‘Do you know anywhere that sells good bedding?’ to respond with the words ‘google it’. Out of the majority of us that search for reviews before buying a product or service, 81% of users opt for Google which ranks in as the most popular review site, trumping Facebook and Yelp.

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, meaning 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.

Chart displaying the statistics of what users do after reading reviews on Google

The Google Reviews plugin also offers you the ability to select which views are shown on your website, which while tempting, may not be the best for your business. If customers have access to 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?’

While the free version of the Google Reviews plugin offers only five reviews per location to be on-site at one time, 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.

This table lays out the features of both the free version and the business version of the Google Reviews plugin for WordPress.
Table showing the features of the free version and the business version of the Google Reviews 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 just by embedding customer reviews with the Google reviews plugin, users can spend an additional 5-10 minutes on your site.

Content can also be repurposed. Tools such as Google Review Stickers allow you to create marketing materials using UGC, repurposing 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.

This image shows the different ways the Google Reviews widget can generate UGC to create marketing materials
Image sourced from ReviewTrackers

Engage with reviews

Having Google reviews publicised on your site is just the first step, now it’s time to engage with them. 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 and suggest creating a link, through which customers will be able to leave reviews, an effective way to do so could be through a CTA button. With the majority of users reading company responses to customer reviews, it becomes an open space to show appreciation to previous customers and to regain trust on negative reviews.

This chart shows the percentage of consumers that read business' responses to customer reviews.
Infographic sourced from Bright Local

Star rating

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, to the point that 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 amongst Google my business signals and link signals.

This pie chart shows that on-page signals account for 13% of local pack/finder ranking factors.
Infographic sourced from Moz

Final Thoughts

The Google Reviews Plugin offers a cost-effective means by which to both promote your business and gain trust within your target audience. 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 all you need to do is claim your Google my business listing to get started – and here’s how.

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