You likely already crave for those 5-star reviews to land on your online ecommerce store’s product pages. After all, any product will surely sell better with some great reviews behind it, right? While that is certainly true, having your site padded out with reviews also comes with other benefits, including a big boost for SEO and traffic.
Back in 2018, it was announced at NRF Retail’s Big Show that e-commerce is expected to overtake retail in the US by 2024. With the e-commerce industry forecast to make such gains, every online store owner should be looking to maximize the benefits of having product reviews.
Research published in Hubspot has shown that 90% of internet users consult reviews before using a business. Not only do 90% read reviews, over 70% state that the reviews are the most important piece of information they consider before making a purchase.
Simply having reviews seems to be as important as having a collection of positive reviews. A Shopify study showed that customers like to read about 4-6 reviews before deciding whether or not to trust a store. This means that having only a couple of reviews for customers to read might not be enough to convince them that a product is worth their hard-earned cash.
It is also important to note that more expensive products are more reliant on reviews - there is more at stake for a customer should their choice be deemed incorrect.
Is it important for all reviews to be positive?
As touched upon, the number of reviews is an important factor when it comes to using reviews to sell more items. Naturally, the quality is crucial too - each star counts! In fact, each star counts as a 5-10% increase in revenue.
For 5-star or ‘excellent’ reviews, customers tend to part with about 30% more of their cash. However, it isn’t the end of the world if you receive some ratings which are less than excellent.
The importance of reviews for SEO
One big win you can attain from displaying plenty of reviews on your online store, is increased SEO value. Below are a few of the reasons as to why this is the case.
1. They naturally create content.
When building a site with SEO in mind, reviews are not often considered. Perhaps this is because they appear to be something out of your control (which isn’t entirely the case, as we’ll touch upon). The fact is that reviews add plenty of keyword presence to your site, and more content for search engines to trawl through when detecting your site.
Not that it is recommended to skimp on a high-quality product description, but keyword-heavy reviews can sometimes make up for a poorly organized product description, in terms of SEO.
2. They help you rank for long-tail keywords
A long tail keyword is one which contains three or more words within a phrase. Examples include “automatic robot cleaner”, or “self-cleaning mop”. The great thing about long tail keywords in the case of SEO, is that customers who search for these phrases are more likely to be after exactly the product you are offering them.
Whereas a single keyword could pertain to multiple products, a keyphrase consisting of multiple words is likely to lead users to the product they want to buy.
Recommended: How to Use Customer Reviews and Ratings for SEO
The great thing is that shoppers entering long tail keywords are naturally much closer to purchasing a product. They know exactly what they are after, and if they stumble across your site, then they stand a good chance of buying it there.
3. They generate a review snippet
As seen below, Google creates handy ‘snippets’ for sites that have generated enough reviews. They contain an average star rating, and sometimes an excerpt of a review. Listings with review snippets generate a 10-20% higher click-through rate from the search engine results page to your website.
It’s not hard to imagine why - review snippets are immensely helpful for users browsing multiple stores. If they can see your store’s average review rating without having to enter the store, that’s a big tick for time-saving.
How to obtain more natural, positive reviews
There are a number of effective, ethical ways to encourage your customers to leave a review.
- Make leaving reviews useful for the customer. If you can, sift through customer reviews in a way that you can then recommend other products to them. Find out what they particularly liked, and proceed to recommend products with similar qualities. Not only will this be a positive experience for the customer after leaving a review, but it means upsells for you too!
- Allow reviews to be posted directly on your site. As opposed to having customers email their reviews and wait for them to be curated, you will be much more likely to gain reviews if you allow customers to type their review straight on to the product page. As well as having you get more reviews, this extra unique content will give you an SEO boost.
- Be charitable. Stefan Dubois, founder of SurveyAnyplace, suggests that donating a small amount to charity for every review customers leave could be a good strategy. Debois says this could boost your number of reviews by 30% or more.
- Create an account on popular review websites. Sites like Glassdoor and Trustpilot are good places to start. If your company is present on well-known review sites, it’s an easy landing spot for users looking to share a comment on your services. Who knows how many glowing reports you could be missing out on if you don’t put yourself out there?
- Be transparent. If you are clear from the outset about the product you are offering, delivery times and charges if applicable, then your customers are less likely to encounter any unwanted surprises. Keep their journey as smooth and informed as possible, and the positive reviews should roll in!
Perhaps most importantly, send a follow-up email. After making a purchase on your site, it’s a great idea to give the customer several days to receive and enjoy your service before sending them an email asking for a review. If you thank them for using your product and offer to help them with any issues they may be having, they should be happy enough to leave you a good review should they choose to leave one.
What should you avoid when dealing with reviews?
It is important to let reviews come to you organically by simply satisfying your customers as much as possible. Forcing your customer’s hand, or worse -- faking reviews, are big no-nos.
The likes of Amazon and Yelp already have systems in place for detecting fake reviews, and your store’s reputation would take a crash if your customer base even got a scent of forged reviews.
Another place to tread carefully is the offering of incentives in exchange for reviews. While it is generally fine to offer customers a discount in return for a review, what you should avoid is offering incentives for positive reviews. This is something that can quickly turn a customer off, and make you appear desperate and untrustworthy.
Dealing with negative reviews
It’s unavoidable. At some point, a disgruntled customer is going to leave a scathing review that messes up the harmony of all your positive ones. Disaster, right? It doesn’t have to be. As long as you react and reply quickly to this review and address the customer’s problem, there is actually a chance that the whole situation could work in your favor.
Any reasonable person would understand that bad reviews are going to happen to any company, and as long as you respond to them apologetically and helpfully, 45% of people say that they would be more likely to use your business.
This is because interacting with those who leave bad reviews make your company seem more transparent, good-natured and willing to resolve issues.
Step up your review game
Research has shown that having product reviews can increase your conversion rate by up to 76%. If your conversion team is looking around for a new issue to tackle, let them know that reviews are a key part of any website.
Essentially, reviews are a symbol of trust. They communicate to potential buyers that other people have used this service, and come away pleased with the fact that they did. Trustworthiness is one of the pillars of a strong online business, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked if you want a strong conversion rate.
Peter Dulay is an expert in digital advertising, conversion rate optimization, and UX/UI planning. He has created and run several companies, the longest-standing being his digital marketing agency, Conversion Giant