Getting The Most Out Of Customer Reviews

Getting The Most Out Of Customer Reviews

You may have gone to the effort of driving customers to review your products or services, but you may well be missing out on a few untapped areas where these reviews will really shine. Lets take a look at how we can utilise the full value of your customer reviews and drive organic traffic to your site as a result.

Quality user-generated content, such as product or service reviews, can be a major factor in driving conversions and are a great way of bolstering your pages with unique, relevant content.

If you lack the resource to write quality content by yourself, customer-generated content can be particularly useful. However it is important to note that without the correct optimisation, these reviews can do more harm than good.

Page Speed

Page speed is becoming more and more important in SEO, so it is vital to take this in to consideration when utilising customer reviews on your product or service pages. For example, if you have a feed that displays hundreds of customer reviews, you can expect your page speed to take a hit. It is quite common practice to display a standard 8 – 10 customer reviews with correct HTML markup, with the option for transitioning to viewing the other remaining reviews.

There a couple of different ways to tackle this:

  • You could, for example, create a separate page that is optimised for “product + reviews” search queries, which is linked to via a “read all reviews” link on your product / service page. This is a system utilised very well by Amazon:
  • By using pagination, you can display (for example) 10 reviews on your product page initially, with ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons for users to browse through multiple lists of reviews. If your pagination is implemented correctly (rel=next / prev), this content will still be crawled by search engines.

Structured Data Markup

By utilising review schema markup, including the aggregate rating and number of reviews, you can gain rich results in the SERPs. This does wonders for your click-through rate and may well give you the edge over your competitors in the results. However, it is vital that it is implemented correctly to avoid and penalisation.

  • Mixing two different schema vocabulary encodings. You’ve decided to code in JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD), but your review provider is using Microdata. The result? Two different languages not speaking to each other. In order to achieve the rich result, all product properties must be encoded to the same vocabulary. Ask your review provider to update their feed with the same schema encoding you have on your site.
  • The reviews have been marked up outside the itemscope product. This applies to Microdata markup, not JSON-LD. Your page has a separate div the customer review content is pulled into, that lives outside of the div you’ve marked up with your Microdata product schema property. Unfortunately, this is like trying to have a conversation with someone on the other side of a door. Search engines can’t make the connection that the marked-up reviews pertain to the same product you’ve outlined in your schema and therefore does not assign the ratings and reviews to the rich result.

Syndicated Reviews

Utilising reviews from other vendor sites is quite commonplace, and often retailer websites will use the same reviews across multiple country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). This can cause duplicate content issues, dilute the value of the page and, in worst-case scenarios, result in a penalty. If you are using syndicated reviews, you may want to weigh up your options for protecting your content or your rankings.

The best way to combat this, is to block any syndicated reviews from search engine crawlers. Amazon is the perfect example of this – they used to display their Amazon.com reviews on the Amazon.ca pages by default. However, they later amended their code to still show the reviews on the .ca site, however they were blocked from crawlers and instead had links to their main Amazon.com website to read more reviews.

XML Sitemaps

With your customer review pages in place, it’s important to give Google a hint that they have been updated. By updating your sitemap to include these pages, you will incentivise the recrawl of those specific pages.

Summary

To summarise, customer-generated reviews are an excellent way to add unique content to your website and can be a powerful conversion tool. However, it’s important to audit your reviews for the following:

  • Page load times
  • Structured data markup
  • Syndicated reviews
  • XML sitemaps

With those points tackled successfully, you can increase your organic search growth significantly.