Will I rank higher on Google with online reviews?

This is usually one of the first questions that clients want answering when they partner with us. Our verdict? Hell yes.

Actually, there’s no question about it; you rank much higher in Google search results when you have online reviews to your name. Definitely. For Sure. Basta. We have our trusty data to back us up as well. This 10-minute read will take you through the ins and outs of SEO, and how online reviews drastically affect it. Prepare to become an expert.

1. Reviews don’t talk fancy

A typical online review will be written in a voice completely different to your marketing team’s, and with words you’d think too ordinary to describe your business/product/service. As marketers, we can’t help but get funky with the way we advertise our products and services. In our eternal quest to diversify from competitors, we conjure up out-of-the-box ways to describe our product and make our brand pop. Here’s an example of a kitchen machine: the H1 title for the product is 4.8 L MIXER/KITCHENROBOT LIMITED EDITION HERITAGE – ARTISAN 5KSM180RC. Let us assure you, people don’t search for “MIXER/KITCHENROBOT”, so the manufacturer of this product (Kitchen Aid), won’t ever rank high for the word Kitchen Robot, which is probably what they want.

Unfortunately for you, the blood, sweat and tears spilt by your marketing team over the creation of that one-of-a-kind tagline is a sad sad waste when it comes to SEO. Innovative lingo is just lost on your audience. Why? Because the average consumer won’t be searching for your fancy words. It may come as a shock, but the keywords they will search are the words closest to the purest function of your product.

For instance:

A Bluetooth headset is called True Wireless by JBL, Free by Bose and Cord Free by Sony. When we analysed 1,000 Bluetooth headset reviews collected across major European retailers, the top 3 words used were Best Wireless, Cordless and ‘Blutooth’ …. Here, the majority of reviews consisted of the words other people were punching into the search bar. All of a sudden, True Wireless, Free and Cord Free start to sound a bit abstract…

The beauty of online reviews is their stylistic simplicity; they both contain and cater to this normal consumer speech. If you don’t have online reviews about your products on your page, you won’t be ranked for the words people are searching.

2. The more people love you, the more Google loves you

Most marketers know that Google ranks the most clicked pages higher, especially if these pages are linked to external websites. Here’s a lesser known fact: the combined rating score of the product has an influence on your search engine results too. So, assuming you have a review section on your landing page, the higher the total rating score is, the better you will rank. Here’s why: Google’s algorithm considers a higher rating as proof of a good service. With Google’s trust comes a boost for the page, up to the glorious heights of the top-ranked.

3. Online reviews help Google understand you

When you strike up a conversation with a stranger at a networking event, we presume you’ll introduce yourself, then ask them the basics – their name, what they do for a living, and so forth. You may even scan their clothes, watch, shoes and hair to find a common point of interest, and establish further conversation points before you talk business. Subconsciously, you are categorising the person standing before you, piecing together a picture based on the morsels of information you extract from this first encounter. It just can’t be helped – it’s how we make sense of the world around us. This is also Google’s methodology. The search engine is quite the flatterer actually, wanting to know every last detail about you, scraping your landing pages with an insatiable hunger for ever more information. Meanwhile, you – as a marketer – are hell-bent on keeping your landing page simple and accessible. How can you resolve this conflict – the need to offer as much information to Google as possible, whilst still remaining user-friendly and attractive? The peacemaker is online reviews. Thanks to customer reviews, you can keep your landing page short and sweet and your UI crisp. The online reviews will satisfy Google’s hunger for knowledge about you, and voila: quirky marketing concepts and correct SEO categorisation are compatible.

4. Google looks at third-party reviews

Google looks more and more human when you then consider their holistic approach to ranking. Sure, it looks at the technical side of things (correct meta tags, use of H1 to H5 tags, correct sitemaps, etc.), but also your external popularity. This is why having online reviews on third-party websites is so important. If you have glowing reviews on your own landing page, but not on the most popular online retailers (where your products also sell), Google will get suspicious, and rank you lower because of this lack of trust. Having 5 star, beaming ratings on both your own website and on other third-party websites, will verify your product so much more, and give Google the confidence to rank you higher. The general consensus with review marketers is that approximately 20 reviews of your product across all of your third-party sellers will help your own landing page rank higher.