Managing your brand’s SEO is often like trying to catch cats in the dark. You know what success looks like, but achieving it is chaotic and difficult. Everyone has their own strategies, but no one can give you a game plan with a 100% success rate.
Of all the moving parts involved in SEO, reviews are one piece that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about because you have no direct control over what people are saying about your business. Despite our lack of control over reviews, they are a SEO factor. It’s worth considering the relationship between negative reviews and SEO.
The role of reviews in SEO
SEO is based on a diverse collection of information from a wide variety of sources. While the secrecy of search engines isn’t exactly what determines their ranking, we do know the basics of the equation. We know that reviews affect SEO, and we’ve learned over the years that their impact keeps growing.
According to a 2018 survey by Darren Shaw, online reviews represent about 15% of the factors that enter local rankings on Google. Keep in mind that this applies to local search only, not broad search. However, local search can be a big part of your SEO strategy, and much of what we know about local SEO factors and techniques has useful application in broad search as well.
Whether positive, negative, or somewhere in the middle, reviews can boost your SEO by adding to the combination of your engagement and brand interest.
Positive effects of negative reviews on SEO
Negative reviews about your business aren’t always a force in evil against your SEO efforts. There are several different ways that bad reviews can benefit you at the end of the day. Here are some of the things reviews do for you that can positively impact your SEO:
1. Increase your total number of reviews
The more opinions you have, the better for your business. Negative reviews are added to the total number of reviews listed for your business. Google tends to place companies with more reviews closer to the top of the list, assuming the average rating is high enough.
If your negative reviews outweigh your positive or neutral reviews, this can of course start to be a problem. However, a few negative reviews mixed with your others won’t be the end for you.
2. Give you more authenticity in the eyes of consumers
People don’t trust companies that only have five-star reviews. In the eyes of many, this is too good to be true. It’s better to have a mix of reviews because it makes you appear more genuine and authentic to people, and it shows that you’re not using shady practices like buying good reviews and finding ways to hide the bad ones. reviews. This can generate more clicks and interest for your business, which in turn improves your rankings.
3. Increase your engagement figures
It’s better for people to interact with your business with negative feedback than to have no engagement at all. Reviews give customers a way to engage with your brand and give you a way to respond. Engagement plays a role in SEO, so the more engagement you have, the better for you in the future.
By engaging with negative reviews, you also have the ability to show potential consumers how you are dealing with a bad experience. Are you trying to work things out for the consumer? Do you promise to take action to rectify the situation? People interested in your product or service will see your response, and this can reassure them that you are taking care of your customers.
4. Connect keywords related to your brand
Reviews, even negative ones, tend to contain keywords that are relevant to your business. Keywords in reviews are great for your overall SEO because they indicate what your business is doing and support your own SEO efforts by nudging industry specific keywords. As long as the reviews are on the sites and software of Google’s verified review partners, the keywords in those reviews will be useful to you.
5. Give you personal information
No one will tell you what they think about your brand more honestly than customers who write reviews online. Customer surveys and anonymous reviews will not necessarily provide the same level of honest feedback. Reviews give you insight into some of the honest issues and frustrations people have encountered in their interactions with your business.
Imagine if a company like McDonald’s would read all the reviews people put on them. While some reviews are bitter and angry with little leeway for resolution, others might present legitimate issues the business should be aware of. This is a great source of information for you to learn more about what people like and dislike without having a filter affecting their responses.
Should I delete or respond to negative reviews?
The only negative reviews you should remove, if possible, are spam reviews or fake negative reviews. You can try to have them removed or challenged, if you can identify them. However, responding to reviews is never a bad idea. You can gain a lot of engagement with your customers on third party review sites. You don’t have to, but responding to all types of reviews from your customers can be beneficial. [Read related article: Why Responding to All Your Online Reviews Is Critical]
Google My Business is another story. Google has confirmed that responding to reviews left on your Google My Business account will help your page. Responding to reviews, both negative and positive, is a sign of your company’s credibility and your engagement with your customers. If your goal is to outperform other businesses in your specific section, you should respond to every review about your business, whether negative, positive, or neutral. Never delete reviews.
Another indirect benefit of responding to negative reviews is the ability to get the person to change or modify their review in response to you. If you apologize and offer to rectify the situation, that person may change their mind to something more positive, remove their negative comment, or leave a separate positive comment.
Reviews undoubtedly affect SEO. If you aren’t already paying attention to reviews and working to manage them, take this as your wake-up call and start today. No matter where you are with managing or monitoring reviews, don’t be afraid of a few swear words. Negative SEO reviews aren’t the end of the world, and they could even benefit you if you play your cards right. [Looking for help managing your online reviews? Check out our review of Podium, our best pick among online reputation management services for review management.]
Having negative reviews can help your business or product appear more authentic and believable. It also gives you the opportunity to share your brand’s voice by responding to reviews, showing that you care about your customers and are dedicated to improving your products or services. By allowing negative reviews to stay connected with your business and taking action to address them, you can turn them into an overall positive outcome for your business.