How Negative Reviews Impact Your Website’s SEO

Does a negative review mean the end of the world for your website’s organic rankings?

You work hard on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) in order to improve its organic rankings and gain more visibility online. After all, if your business doesn’t show up on the first page of the Google or Bing search results, it may as well not exist, as most people don’t look past page one for local businesses. But take heart, as bad reviews won’t necessarily undo all of the time and energy you put into building your website’s SEO; in fact, they may actually help.

Here are the top ways in which negative reviews impact your website’s SEO:

#1. They increase the overall number of reviews your business has.

When you look at a business’ profile on Google, not only does it show the average star rating of the reviews, but it also shows the number of reviews a business gets. The good news is that the more reviews you have, even if they’re not all five stars, the more visibility your website will get.

Furthermore, consumers pay attention to the number of reviews a business has when they’re doing their research. Choosing to work with a business that has a five-star average but only three reviews is a gamble for consumers. With so few reviews, consumers can’t get a real idea of the service provided. But if a business has a three or four star average with hundreds of reviews, consumers are more likely to trust them because they are able to learn about many different people’s experience with the company.

Most people aren’t going to read every review that you have in any event. They just want to gain a good understanding of the kind of service you provide for your customers, and the more reviews you have, the more trust it instills in prospective customers.

#2. They give you more credibility.

According to the Journal of Vacation Marketing, consumers believe that negative reviews are more credible than positive reviews. This may be why consumers often get suspicious when a business only has five-star reviews. In large part, customer service isn’t what it used to be, and to consumers, reviewers who are unbelievably happy aren’t all that believable.

In fact, when consumers are researching businesses and determining if they are trustworthy or not, they’ll often look for a business that has a solid mix of positive, moderate and negative reviews.

It stands to reason that the increased credibility that comes from negative reviews could actually lead to more people visiting your website, therefore increasing your websites click-through-rate, increasing the amount of time people spend on your site and improving your website’s SEO value.

#3. They give consumers an accurate picture of your business.

Negative reviews not only give your business more credibility and build trust in potential customers but they also help to give them a more accurate picture of your business, which, at the end of the day, is what all consumers are looking for when they research a business online.

Think about the following scenario to help you understand why this is important and how it can benefit your business and your website’s SEO value:

Cathy is searching for a new set of free weights and a bar online. She finds two different options in her price range to research further, both of which have around 300 reviews with an average star rating of four stars. Cathy decided to read the negative reviews for both products. The negative reviews on the first product say that there’s a strong chemical smell, and the negative reviews on the second products say that the weights fall off the bar or that the bar breaks. Obviously, most people are happy with the product and if there is a defect, a chemical smell is a much smaller risk than a breaking bar or falling weights, so Cathy is more likely to choose the first product.

Negative reviews provide prospective customers a glimpse into what kind of service you provide, and how you respond to them speaks even more to your service.

#4. Responding to them makes your business even more credible.

Responding to negative reviews is one of the smartest things you can do as a business owner. If you don’t respond to negative reviews, reviewers can say whatever they want about your business without recourse, and there’s no way for prospective customers to know if the review is accurate or not. However, when you respond, you’ll be able to correct any misunderstandings — in a professional way of course. It also gives you a chance to show off your customer service prowess.

Not only can you win back customers who have had bad experiences with your business by responding to reviews, but if you show prospective customers that you’re willing to own up to your mistakes and make them right, you’ll earn their trust as well.

Taking the feedback to heart will also give you a chance to adjust things about your business that may be hurting your customer service or the quality of the service you provide. This will help you to improve the experience you provide for your customers, which will lead to an increase in reviews and greater online visibility for your website.

#5. They help you produce better content for your customers.

Reviews, both negative and positive, give you insight into your customers’ thoughts and feelings, but this is especially true for negative reviews, as customers tend to be more honest when they are upset.

When you’re reading negative reviews, ask yourself what you could have done differently to make the customer happy, what promise your service failed to keep, what questions your customers have about your service, what your customers don’t understand about your service and what search phrases and terms could help prospective customers find your website in the future.

All of these questions could be used to guide the content in your social media posts, blog posts, Youtube videos and more. For example, if you are a restaurant owner or manager, and someone has complained in a review about how long it takes for the food to come out. Write a blog all about how you make everything from scratch and about the time and energy that goes into making artisanal meals.

Negative reviews don’t have to hurt your website’s SEO; in fact, they are probably helping it. However, that doesn’t mean that you should let negative reviews go unchecked or pretend like they don’t exist. If you have 500 reviews with an average rating of one star, it’s not going to help.

Taking a proactive approach to managing your business’ online reputation is essential, and that’s true regardless of the industry you are in or the size of your business. Luckily, Top Rated Local is here to help, and even better, it’s free to sign up! Get started today.

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