Reviews, comments, and other forms of UGC (user generated content) frequently become a focus of social media marketing and brand management – but did you know that they are also important for ecommerce SEO?
Yes, reviewing or commenting on products and posts can indeed give you a better page ranking, provided you use the right tools and make commenting options easy to find and use.
Read on to find out why you should be encouraging all your customers to go ahead and type what they are thinking.
Why User Reviews Matter to SEO
Reviews and comments are some of the most valuable UGC; they have numbers on their side, and require minimal maintenance on your end. The problem is that too few business owners see comments as content, when that is exactly what they are. As ecommerce SEO trends progress, the crowded review and comment sections are becoming powerful enablers for page rankings.
The process goes a little like this: A customer goes onto your site and posts a comment about a product. This comment becomes a new piece of content on your website. Search engine spiders note this, and count the comment not only as new activity on your site, but also as new criteria for website evaluation.
Because each user comment and review tends to be filled with unique wording and phrases, multiple reviews help search engines look at your site more favorably than they would if all you had were dozens of pages with similar product descriptions.
Ultimately, the comments help your page ranking. The effect is more noticeable when it comes to product reviews (those beyond the typical star rating), but any type of site-based UGC can make a difference.
Google Loves User Activity
According to the latest ecommerce SEO trends, the more your brand, products or links are discussed by commenters across the Internet (including your own site), the better your page ranking will be. Google has increased its focus on these conversational searches because, as hinted above, comments and reviews are much harder to fake or manufacture in high numbers than other types of content.
In a best-case scenario, you would have a strong community of customers (fans, brandbuilders, visitors, whatever your favorite term may be) making regular contributions to your site in the form of brief, unique posts. This counts as both high activity and conversational content.
Making a Difference
Now that we’ve established how important reviews and comments can be to a total SEO strategy, let’s take a look at some actions you can take in response.
Include Review Options
As a general rule, include review and comment options where you can throughout your site. Obviously this will vary depending on the type of business you have.
If you maintain a collection of product pages, use them wisely and include review tools for each product. If you have a blog section, open your posts to comments. If your business is more service oriented, develop a feedback or review page for customers to comment and provide links to a Google review tool as well as your social profiles.
Power Tip: Use a system like Yotpo to help generate unique and trusted user reviews for your site.
Create Conversational Content
It may seem obvious, but people need a reason to comment or review. If you have a review tool, send out customer emails asking for a quick review. If you are creating blogs, make posts that encourage speculation and comments; ask for opinions, provide news updates, take a position, and so on.
Power Tip: Keep an eye on websites like Epinions, that boasts trustworthy user reviews to help fellow consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
Respond, Respond, Respond
The best comment sections have great response times and feedback. Whether it’s on social media or your own website, make it a policy to respond directly to customer questions, concerns, anger, and satisfaction. You do not have to respond to every single comment and you should avoid getting drawn into arguments, but regular, concise, and informative comments are encouraged.
Power Tip: Check out the (free!) Disqus blog commenting platform.
Filter, Filter, Filter
The best comment sections also have great filters. Comments and sometimes review tools are hounded by spambots and other annoyances that discourage real comments and can actually hurt SEO instead of helping it out. There are many spam and profanity filters to choose from; so no matter what platform you choose you can probably find a few plugins to do the job. Just remember to update and replace them as necessary!
Most website workers know schema.org primarily for its cookie-cutter approach to tagging and markup designed to increase page ranking. One of those markup options that go overlooked far too often is the review schema, which allows search engines to pick up on reviews, comments and so forth.
If you do not already have this type of markup in place, do so soon as it can make a huge difference in page rankings for active, product-oriented websites. Start here if you are not sure how to build commenting sections so that they will have the best SEO effect. The review schema is a valuable tool for small businesses and similar organizations looking for SEO solutions.
Include Advanced Upload Options
Depending on your brand and business model, you may be able to take another step in user generated content and encourage more complex media. Beyond comments and reviews, customers can also upload photos, videos, and longer testimonies. Using these appropriately will depend on your marketing strategy and what form of UGC you prefer, but tagging these items appropriately can also help improve SEO.
Eye on Improvement
Ultimately, reviews and comments have multiple uses. If you are not using them to fuel SEO, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.
However, comments and UGC also serve as invaluable feedback. Pay attention to what your customers say, not only about products or businesses, but also about the review process itself. The easier it is for them to contribute their own content, the easier your own job will be. Reviewing UGC will help generate ideas about new keywords to use in future SEO.
Remember – your customers are one of the best resources you can find.