Three Ways Online Reviews Could Improve Your SEO

By Noha Abou-Hashima

Did you know that online reviews can help boost your SEO? Search engines understand that consumers rely on other consumers' experiences to help them make purchasing decisions. 90% of consumers base their purchasing decisions on positive online reviews, while 86% said their decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. If you want your patients to choose your practice over your competitors’ you should be utilizing the tools your patients use - one of which is online reviews.

Andrey Lipattsev, the Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, Ireland, revealed two of the top three signals that Google uses to rank search results: content, and links. But search engines rely on hundreds of factors for ranking search results, and online reviews rank pretty high on that list. In fact, review signals rank as high as fifth on local search engine ranking factors. That's right - fifth! You might be thinking: "but reviews are just people's opinions about a business, why do they matter so much to search engines?" Three words: User-Generated Content.

More than just a bunch of people praising (or cursing) your practice, online reviewers are a valuable asset to search engines when it comes to evaluating websites. Search engines look at reviews as original, organic content created by users. This content lends legitimacy to your website, as search engines look for honest testimonials about your practice.

Okay, so you know how valuable online reviews are to search engines. How exactly do they impact SEO? Simply put, reviews and ratings can help distinguish your practice from the competition in search engine results. Other than reviews being organic, user-generated content, search engines also look at the quantity, diversity, and velocity of reviews. In fact, factors related to reviews were among the top 50 factors that influence search results rankings. Some of these include: product/service keywords in reviews, positive sentiment in reviews, and authority of third-party sites on which reviews are present.

Related Article: Online Reputation Management for Practices

Now that you understand how important online reviews are to search engines, let’s talk about how you can use them to boost your SEO.

  1. User-generated Content

  2. An active site makes for a happy search engine. Sites stay active by generating content. However, this can be a tedious and expensive job. So how can a website keep generating content without expending effort and money? The answer: rely on user-generated content.

    Share the work of keeping your site active by delegating some of the content-creation to your patients. By leaving reviews, your patients will be providing information about your practice, sharing their experience with other existing or prospective patients, and effortlessly (and at no cost to you) create new and relevant content that keeps both you and search engines happy.

  3. Long-tail keywords

  4. Long-tail keywords are search queries of 4 terms or more terms. They encounter less competition from other SEO keywords, and are more specific and relevant to a targeted audience. For example, a generic keyword that would be highly competitive is “dentist”. If you want to be more specific, you might add a location; for example “toronto dentist”, and so on. However, this is not news. Any good SEO analyst would know these as the basics of search engine optimization. What you want for your practice is a step beyond that: to integrate long-tail keywords typically used by your patients into your SEO. You can either use online tools such as Google Keyword Planner to get ideas for long-tail keywords, or you can recycle popular or repeated words that your patients used in their reviews. Some examples of long-tail keywords that are related to dentistry include: “zoom teeth whitening richmond hill” or “how much does invisalign cost in toronto”. 70% of searches are based on long-tail keywords, so by reading what your patients are saying about you (what words they’re using) you can utilize these terms to help patients search for your practice using familiar terminology.

    Helpful tip: You can also link customer reviews on your website to make it more relevant in terms of content, and to encourage your patients to read and leave more reviews.

  5. Social Media

  6. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter rarely, if ever, generate their own content. Instead, their content is created almost entirely by site users. When it comes to your practice, user-generated content such as reviews help your SEO through SMO (Social Media Optimization - a form of optimization that deals with social sites. Reviews that are shared, or talked about on common threads such as hashtags help boost your SEO by integrating your practice into conversations on different parts of the Internet. This in turn creates backlinks to your website or practice. The good thing about SMO is that you want people to talk about your practice - the more your practice is included in online social conversations, the more popular it becomes and more search engines pay attention to your site.

    So now that you know how beneficial online reviews are to your SEO, how can you get more of them? Usually, customers will leave reviews about a business without being asked. However, 70% of customers said they will write a review about a business when asked to do so. To improve your SEO, and increase your rank in search engine results, consider offering incentives for your customers to leave reviews such as discounts and coupons. If you need help with managing your online reviews, contact us to learn more about our services.