How Does Responding to Reviews Help SEO?
How Does Responding to Reviews Help SEO?
Posted By
March 28, 2022

In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever for customers to make their voices heard. For better or worse, customers are going to share their dining experiences with your restaurant to the public. Do you let these reviews be, or do you respond? If you go with the latter, does responding to reviews help SEO? In other words, does it benefit your company from a search ranking perspective?

Does responding to reviews help SEO?

Yes, it does!

The Google algorithm undergoes regular updates. The latest changes now take into greater account social engagement through sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and even local review sites. Speaking of Google My Business, the business page accounts for 25% of the top-ranking factors in the Google local 3-pack, according to a 2018 MOZ report. This is a 19% increase from the prior year.

Even Google itself has confirmed that review responses are a strong form of social proof. According to Google’s support page, “When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.”

The human element of reviews

Online content, including responses to reviews, should cater to your human audience just as much as they cater to the search engine. Why? 88% of customers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from a relative or friend. On top of that, 90% of people also read online reviews before even visiting the company’s website or brick-and-mortar business.

Do Google reviews help SEO? Absolutely—the idea of responding to reviews is that it gets picked up by the Google crawl bots, in turn boosting your search engine placement. However, don’t forget about the human customers who will be reading your responses. This is why it’s important to express gratitude, concern, or whatever reply that’s appropriate for the context.

While your search engine ranking drives traffic to your company, it’s the human customers that make the final decision whether to dine at your establishment.

How does the Google algorithm assess responses?

Google reviews and SEO share a strong correlation. However, how do reviews help Google ranking? More specifically, what are the specific parameters the algorithm takes into consideration? Consider these three variables:

1. Review recency

Are there new reviews and responses every time the web crawlers perform a check? Review recency is why it’s important that you encourage customers to leave a review, and that you promptly respond.

2. Review diversity

Having 100 reviews from 100 reviewers is better than 100 reviews from 10 reviewers. In addition, diversity also means varying feedback as opposed to a cluster of similar views. It’s for this reason that some negative feedback is actually beneficial—more on this later.

3. Review quantity

More reviews mean more social proof in the eyes of the Google algorithm. Your responses count as part of that quantity.

How to respond to reviews

Does responding to Google reviews help SEO? Yes, that’s been established. The next part is determining how to respond. This will differ depending on whether you’re replying to a positive or a negative review. Here are some best practices for responding to reviews.

Tips for responding to positive reviews

Acknowledge positive reviews with a reply of gratitude. But be sure to keep it specific. Let’s say a customer gives a positive review of your restaurant’s house special clam chowder. Don’t just reply with a generic thank you or smiley face emoji. Your response should acknowledge that you’ve read the review. Here’s a sample response:

Hi [reviewer’s name], we’re happy to hear that you liked our house special clam chowder. It’s one of our signature specialties. Have you tried our veggie omelet? It goes great with the chowder and makes for a hearty and complete meal. Please come by again and try the combo!

The reply doesn’t have to be this lengthy, but do you see how it mentions the clam chowder as an acknowledgment that you actually read the review? The response also includes a gentle nudge for the reviewer to come by again.

Tips for responding to negative reviews

First of all, don’t be discouraged by negative reviews. Besides being inevitable, they can also be beneficial. An HBR study revealed that consumers actually prefer to see a blend of positive, neutral, and negative reviews. It gives them more of a bird’s eye view of the company. Nevertheless, you should respond to negative reviews promptly. Here’s how you approach it:

  • Respond within 24 hours.
  • Apologize for the dissatisfaction.
  • If possible, provide an explanation of what and why things went wrong.
  • Provide personal contact information where you can move the conversation offline and provide a customized remediation plan.

In one study, 34% of negative reviewers deleted their original review upon receiving a response from the company. Another 33% followed up with a positive review.

Simplify the response process

Reviews and SEO go hand-in-hand. Staying on top of reviews and writing responses, though, can be a whole job in and of itself. Having reviews across Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, and others is a good sign of customer engagement. However, it can also be strenuous to keep up and provide a personalized response for each review.

Simplify the way you respond with Localyser. Manage reviews from different sites through a single dashboard. The task of writing responses is made simpler by having all the reviews organized into one distinct and easy-to-access location.

Try Localyser today to improve customer engagement and improve your search engine rankings.

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