There’s no avoiding that consumer reviews are of huge importance in the buying cycle. BazaarVoice have claimed that as many of 77% of online shoppers look at a user generated review before making a purchase. As a provider of the technology to build user-generated reviews into a website they do have a vested interest, but their data is compelling.
1. It make your product descriptions more unique – This is really important if you sell similar goods to other websites cause there’s only so many different ways to describe a 23657a washing machine and how that’s different the 23657bs
2. It increases your keyword variety – One of the biggest challenges for SEO companies working with ecommerce providers is how to scale tasks like how to include keywords on every page of a website with thousands of product lines. Allowing your customers to describe your products in their own way will help with that.
3. It may help you rank for different search terms – Search for any product and add the word ‘review’, there’s a good chance Amazon will be ranking for those terms. The search traffic for these phrases is huge, if you can rank for those terms you can get significant amount of traffic.
But this doesn’t mean it’s the solution to all your SEO woes and there are some very common mistakes which you really need to make sure to avoid.
1. Hosting reviews on an external site or sub-domain Lots of the technology providers offer to host your reviews on your site or suggest you use a sub-domain for the UGC, however this mitigates most of the SEO benefits of adding reviews. Really the reviews need to be there on your product pages.
2. Duplication of comments – In looking around at various implementations of user reviews on ecommerce sites, I’ve seen all kinds of duplication of content. If you can find the same text on more than one page you’re making life harder for yourself. Make sure your reviews only have one home to see the full SEO benefit.
3. Long Reviews Dilute Keywords – Keyword density can sometimes be a distraction, but the logic that your keywords need to be mentioned fairly frequently on a page is a sound principle. If your customers are providing in-depth reviews you can quickly find your highly optimised body content is only a small proportion of the text on the page.
4. Pagination problems – If you’re lucky enough to be receiving dozens of reviews you can find yourself having to decide how to deal with pagination. Don’t duplicate the product page with a different selection of reviews,try to at least vary the title tags and meta description, and preferably try to keep all reviews for a particular product on one page. Having lots of pages of similar content is bound to confuse search engine spiders.
So I think user generated reviews are a no-brainer for ecommerce site but you’ve got to be careful to avoid these easy mistakes. I’m working on a whitepaper with our friends over at feefo at the moment on how review sites can impact on your SEO efforts, so if you’ve got any experience of working on reviews on ecommerce sites with review technology I’d love to hear from you.