Published on Data Driven Investor June 8, 2021 (Jim Katzaman)

Not all reviews are created equal. Yet, good, bad or indifferent, Google and other search engines rely on reviews to help the algorithms understand the relationship of brands to their audience.

Marketers keen to see how well their content fares turn to search engine results pages, known as SERPs for short. From knowledge panels they can gauge what posts work and which ones need better optimization.

For expert analysis of the roles reviews play in search engine optimization and business overall, turn to Jason Barnard, the Brand SERP Guy. The digital marketer specializes in Brand SERP optimization and knowledge panel management, and owns Kalicube, a digital marketing agency.

“Reviews are increasingly important,” Barnard said. “That’s from an expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness page-quality perspective. Reviews also help Google understand you, your offers and your audience.

“In my pet strategy approach using understanding, credibility and deliverability as the three pillars, you need to serve with your SEO tactics,” Barnard said. “Reviews serve both understanding and credibility. Plus, they might actually help a person make a decision.”

Specifically for SEO, online reviews impact search rankings.

“They affect expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness,” Barnard said. “Google is getting a bit over excited about that. Assuming Google has understood your entity and can make the connection with the reviews, it is safe to assume a review helps.

Steps for Quick Fixes

Barnard listed three actionable ways to counteract negative reviews:

  • A negative becomes a positive. A negative review corrected by the client to become positive is arguably a more positive signal than a positive review to the platform, to Google and to people. It shows you sorted out the problem.
  • Time heals. Negative reviews lose importance in most algorithms as they get older. I had a chat with the people at Trustpilot about this.
  • Reply with a helpful answer or solution. Accept the lesson and change your ways — if the criticism is justified. Up your game and get 20 positive reviews for every negative one. Drown them with love.

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