It's no secret that customer reviews and ratings are a good thing. Social proof is a demonstrably powerful effect, with more than two-thirds of online users being influenced by customer reviews and testimonials in their purchasing decisions. They may see a review and be prompted to take immediate action, thus affecting your on-page conversion rate, or they may be indirectly influenced by the review, influencing them to refer friends and family to your business, or causing them to buy from you at a later date.

This alone should be enough for you to seek more (and better) online reviews, but what about search engine visibility? Is it possible for your online reviews to influence your position or visibility on SERPs?

Dedicated Review Pages vs. Embedded Reviews

The two main ways to feature reviews on your site are on a dedicated review page (here's a great example of one) or as embedded bits on individual product or services pages. The approach should depend on your approach to business. For example, an ecommerce provider with lots of individual products may need specific product-based reviews and have very little in terms of overall branded reviews, while a B2B service provider may have the opposite effect; if someone is specifically searching for "[your brand] reviews" or something similar, you'll want your dedicated review page to come up.

Keyword Opportunities

Online reviews are beneficial because they present more opportunities for you to have keywords and natural language content on your individual pages; this is always a boon for rankings. You won't be in full control over your customer reviews, but if they're writing them for individual products, you can bet that they'll feature some of the most important phrases associated with your products. You can nudge this in the right direction by encouraging specific types of reviews from your users, or offering prompts.

Ongoing Content Submissions

Accepting and publishing online reviews also gives you an opportunity for a free stream of regularly updated content, which Google likes to see. This won't provide much of a boost in rankings, but it will show site visitors that you're dedicated to keeping your site up-to-date, which may boost conversion rates. This effect is more pronounced for a dedicated review page, as individual product pages may take longer to cycle through new reviews.


So far, we've mostly discussed how on-site reviews can improve your rankings. This approach will help your search position become more visible and attractive to potential visitors. Through the use of microformatting, you can communicate to Google where your reviews begin and end, and if there is a rating system associated with your products. With this information, Google can create rich snippets of information to display to users immediately in the search results. If they see that your product is rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars, they'll be far more likely to click through to your specific page.

Local SEO and Off-site Reviews

Of course, on-site reviews aren't the only type of reviews that can be good for SEO. The topic's been suitably covered under the topic of local SEO, but it's important to acknowledge that the more reviews you have for your business in third-party directory and other offsite sources (and the better those reviews are), the more likely you'll be to earn a place in the local 3-pack.

The Bottom Line: Get More Reviews

Since you won't be the one doing the writing of the actual reviews, you won't have as much control over how your reviews are optimized. Even if you could, reviews play only a small part in your rankings and visibility--it's worth obtaining them, especially for local SEO visibility, but this approach won't make or break your SEO strategy. Instead, set your sights on attracting as many reviews as possible (and making sure those reviews are positive with best business practices). More reviews will build your reputation, earn you more traffic, and bolster your conversion rates--you can't go wrong.
April 12, 2016

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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Search Engine Guide > Jayson DeMers > How to Use Customer Reviews and Ratings for SEO