Unique customer reviews are the best way to the top of positive search results.
No one wants to display a review from the jerk who says your water sucks. But Google’s new review guidelines are asking you to do just that: display both positive and negative reviews. And that’s not the worst thing. There’s also an entirely new set of review guidelines restaurants need to follow if they want to maintain their rankings.
By now restaurant industry experts understand the importance of reviews. They increase traffic, online orders and overall loyalty to a brand. It’s no surprise review aggregators – scrapers that collect reviews across the web – are a desirable solution to add reviews to your website.
That’s why nearly half of Fortune 500 companies work with partners like BazaarVoice who, in part, help curate customer reviews for businesses. But until recently, the way reviews affect Google rankings haven’t been clear (outside of the mantra of “reviews + website = good”). But that’s changed.
Here’s the best way to utilize reviews without compromising rankings, according to Google’s updated review guidelines. All of these steps should be understood through the “Google lens,” the basic SEO philosophy that everything an SEO expert does should provide a better experience for users.
Consider what you’re about to read Google’s three commandments (for reviews). Do it or therefore spend eternity in page-two SERP ranking hell.
1. Thou shalt not use third party reviews. Reviews drive sales because users think they’re getting content that’s unique and truthful, not something cherry-picked from another website by your marketing intern. Google recommends only using reviews that come directly from your site. That means you can’t scrape other sites like Yelp or OpenTable for reviews. They need to come directly from your site.
2. This one’s tough, but Google says it’s important to facilitate an environment where positive and negative reviews are possible. And it makes sense, right? There’s something untrustworthy about anything with unanimous approval.
3. If a local franchise has great service, that service doesn’t apply to every restaurant this company owns. As a result, reviews from multiple-location restaurants only count for the specific location they were written about. So in my case, thank you Chick-fil-A of Longmont, CO for always having chicken sandwiches that are unstoppable.
These new rules from Google are key to their philosophy and my philosophy.
When it comes to restaurant marketing and SEO, always operate under the Google lens: what’s good for the user brings positive search results.
Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.