Earlier today, user reviews on Amazon saved me from losing $100+ on a low-quality product with misleading photos.
Moments from clicking “add to cart,” I scrolled down to the customer reviews just out of curiosity.
Several one-star reviews immediately caught my attention.
The photos those customers included confirmed my worst fears. I shook my head and moved on to purchase a customer approved product from a competing brand. (It’s an adorable mini-fridge you can write on with Expo markers, for those wondering!)
Organic customer feedback can help you dodge bullets like I did this morning. But more importantly, a good Google rating based on real customer reviews can drastically improve a company’s online presence and click through rate.
A Local Consumer Review Survey from 2014 showed 88% of consumers trust consumer reviews as much as a personal recommendation!
But don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see how much those little yellow stars can boost your business:
How Google Rating Stars Work
Back in 2010, Google introduced “seller ratings” (star ratings) for companies that paid Google Shopping for ad space at the top of search results pages.
Soon star ratings were expanded to organic search results as well, though certain requirements have to be met to show them. Today, Google uses something called Rich Snippets to assign these star ratings to organic results.
Put simply, Rich Snippets are a form of structured data that Google uses to extract relevant information and display it as a sort of sneak preview right under search results.
To come up with appropriate star ratings, Google takes Rich Snippets from several different “trusted” third-party review sites (that they refuse to name). The star review for any given search result is the average of all of these trusted reviews.
Why Google Rating Stars Help So Much
According to a newly updated post from Google Adwords, showing seller ratings under your text ads can boost your ad click through rate up to 10%. And that’s just data collected by companies paying for ad space from Google, not organic search data.
Amidst all the blue links and faded gray text on every Google Search Results Page, a row of bright stars jumps out at the reader.
Within seconds, your Google rating lets strangers know your site is legitimate enough to have collected honest feedback from previous customers.
If that rating is positive, you’ve just nailed your first impression before they even see your website.
All of these obvious benefits aside, increased engagement will help move your site up higher on Google Results pages. Just being higher on a Google Results page increases your traffic, as shown in this study by Chitika.
A good Google rating has the potential to snowball into significantly more exposure and engagement with new users searching for your services.
How To Get Your Stars
Google doesn’t just let any organic search results show Rich Snippets and star ratings. There are a few things you need to do earn your rating:
Display Real Customer Reviews
As of this year, Google now requires your reviews from customers to be visible on your page–not just on third-party websites–in order to show your star rating. (This is only required for stars under organic search results, not Seller Ratings given to companies paying Google Adwords and Google Shopping for ad space.)
You can accomplish this by:
- Taking screenshots of external review sites and posting them on your site (cheap, fast, and effective, though probably not the most professional looking)
- Paying for a plugin or script that makes it easy for customers to write and publish new reviews right to your site
- Setting up automated emails to ask recent customers for reviews of a product they just purchased
Label The Data You Want Google To Find
Remember our conversation about Rich Snippets earlier?
It will be a lot easier for Google to understand that the customer reviews on your site are relevant if you turn plain text on your site into structured data.
The easiest way to do this will depend on how you’ve built your website.
In WordPress, you can do this with a free Structured Data Schema plugin that lets you edit site-wide data.
Squarespace, however, already has forms you can use to enter all the info you want to show up as structured data. (You can also do this manually with some coding, but not all of us are over-achievers okay?)
If you haven’t already, set up sitewide data to let Google know your business name, logo, hours, etc.
Next, on pages containing reviews let Google know what is being reviewed, number of reviews, average rating, so on and so forth.
Once you’ve left this breadcrumb trail of structured data for Google to find, all of this business info along with your precious stars and reviews should typically start showing up under your Google Search Results within a week.*
*(Assuming, of course, you don’t go overboard with trying to work Google’s algorithms to your advantage. If Google senses you’re trying to artificially skew review results or the visibility of your reviews, the penalties are harsh!)
Get Started Now
Content marketing, building quality backlinks, and establishing site authority takes time and industry know-how.
Your company’s Google rating is just one small part of a good SEO campaign.
Good reviews build trust with the public, but trust is just one-third of the holy trinity of SEO. To really drive up site traffic, you’re also going to need authority and popularity.
Do you have enough backlinks to other quality sites? Do quality sites link back to you? You can’t collect customer reviews if customers don’t know how to find your webpage!
Get a free link building consultation today to make sure you’re getting the most out of your company site’s SEO.
You don’t have to do all of the backlink sleuthing by yourself. Talk to one of our seasoned professionals to see which of our SEO services is right for you and your unique needs.
Let’s see if your SEO and backlink strategy earns 5/5 stars!