The basic foundation of SEO involves solidifying client webpage quality and rankings on the search engine results. Pouring over the inner working of a site and insuring standards are met and upheld while simultaneously trying to generate organic, streamlined content, is all in a day’s work. As hard as you work to secure success for your client, overlooked factors can inhibit full website optimization.
I’m talking about one factor in particular, reviews. When you think about it, a review is one of the many features on any website the consumer relies on before making a decision. The reason is simple: they need reassurance that their money is being well spent. There are many types of reviews and a multitude of platforms that allow public opinions to flourish. Neglecting this area and letting negative reviews go unchecked, could take away from the product or service validity. This wrongful disparagement could damage the client’s reputation and prevent optimization. Effectively suppressing and neutralizing these areas can save your clients brand name and value from being wrongfully slandered and prevent loosing ranking positions on the search engine results page. According to Search Engine Land:
- A recent BrightLocal survey found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- In the same survey, 72% of respondents reported that positive reviews made them trust a business more
- A 2013 survey of the B2B Technology Marketing Community found that customer testimonials were considered the most effective content marketing tactic, with 89% of respondents considering it “effective”
As an SEO Strategist, The goals of your brand reputation campaign should ensure positive client exposure, and if that’s not possible, try to neutralize negative exposure. The five main strategies to manage your client’s online reviews and fully optimize and engage users are:
- Implement A Comment Section: Having a user friendly review or testimonial section on your website allows engagement between the customer and brand to happen. The customer feels their opinions are being heard, and the company simultaneously minimizes negativity and learns from their missteps.
- Send Follow Up Emails Post Purchase: Sending out emails with a survey attached for example, can help encourage honesty and participation regarding the brand/product. Some companies even offer rewards for participation, that’s how valuable customer feedback is!
- Monitor Customers Sharing On External Platforms: Trusted public review platforms such as BBB, yelp, Google Reviews and Facebook, naturally foster open conversation. Google alerts as well as other social media monitoring platforms helps track social media brand activity as well as marketing trends. The volume of content in these areas, paired with the ease of adding to the conversation, allows consumers to do some of your client’s marketing for you.
- Encourage Company and Employee Reviews on External Platforms: In order to properly judge the value an investment, customers often prefer to know who they’re dealing with and the popular consumer opinion regarding them. Platforms such as Glassdoor, provide company information, job offers, and ratings from previous and current employees. I suggest imploring your clients to reach out ask people to rate them honestly. I guarantee that the more exposure you have, the more frequent good reviews will be.
- Utilize Social Media: Take advantage of positive brand mentions to promote and increase client visibility. You can neutralize negative mentions by responding in a timely manner and being present on the site. Never remove a negative review, try to respond and effect change the best you can in that area instead. Go the extra mile and further suppress the negativity by incorporating the problem and the solution in the blog section of the site. This all promotes customer loyalty and engagement.
Applying these steps will help solidify that fragile trust between consumer and producer, as well improve your rankings. Google ranks websites based on the quality of the content the website provides. Reviews provide organic focused content that drive traffic and boost rankings allowing the client’s page to appear before the competition’s on Google’s search page. You could also promote old content like company news, new company initiatives or positive achievements to drive positive traffic. As a result of this content suppression, negative reviews are pushed to the 2nd-3rd page and Google views the client’s page as a more legitimate site. It is important for an SEO Strategist to recognize and take advantage of the power of reviews in order to control and enhance public opinion about your client and their brand. This ultimately results in increased profitability and advantage over the competition.