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How to SEO Optimize Your Review Responses

How to SEO Optimize Your Review Responses
Tobias Roelen-Blasberg
Co-Founder & Head of Product
Learn how to optimize your review responses for better SEO. With SEO-optimized reviews, you can increase your traffic and boost your business' visibility online.
How to SEO Optimize Your Review Responses

Let’s face it: As a business owner, you're bound to receive feedback from your customers. Most of us would jump at the opportunity to speak directly with our customers, but in a highly competitive industry, there's a lot more you can do with a response than just hitting that 'submit' button. If you want to extend your reach and maximize the value of customer feedback, you need to optimize your response for SEO.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. As the name implies, it’s the process of making sure that search engines can easily find, crawl, read and index your website. If you create an SEO review response very well, chances are, your website will show up at the top of search engines’ search results when someone enters keywords that are related to your business.

The good news is that optimizing review responses doesn’t require any technical knowledge or extra resources–all it takes is following some simple best practices when writing them.

But wait, do responses to Google reviews impact SEO?

Google reviews are indexed by search engines, which means that when someone searches for your business name and finds a review instead of an official page, that review is valuable in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). So, the answer is yes, Google reviews certainly can impact your local SEO rankings particularly if your business is in the hospitality industry where hotel reviews can have a huge influence on customers’ decisions. While they won't be an overnight solution to reach the top of search engine results, Google uses the information in its assessment of how relevant you are for local searches.

Therefore, if you want to maximize the value of customer feedback and increase your visibility for local searches, it’s essential that you take the time to properly optimize your responses for SEO.

Otherwise, if you are ignoring those reviews or responding poorly to them, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your search presence. And even if they’re negative, you should still respond in some way so that others can see that you care about their feedback and are willing to improve your business from the customer's perspective. The crux of SEO optimization is responding to Google reviews promptly and thoughtfully.

How do you respond to Google reviews?

Writing the best Google review responses can be a challenge. With so many tips and tricks out there, you might be wondering where to even begin. How should you respond if your goal is to increase traffic? How do you build relationships without being too promotional? And of course, how do you write a review response that gives off a positive impact on your SEO?

Here are a few pointers for optimizing your review responses:

Define your goal.

Review responses and ratings are extremely important for businesses. Unfortunately, most companies simply don’t know how to properly approach a review. The first step in creating an effective response is understanding the purpose of your response. It could be for any number of reasons including increasing traffic, generating leads, and building relationships with customers. Once you determine what you’re trying to accomplish with your response, you can use the following tips below to optimize it.

Use keywords that connect to your page.

Make sure to include keywords in Google review responses that are relevant to your business and its services or products. For example, if you own a gym or fitness studio, use words like “gym” and “fitness” in your response. For hotels and restaurants, you could use "best hotel in (your location)" or "best restaurant in (your location)".

Including such terms will help Google and other search engines to pick up on your response when someone searches for “best hotels near me” or similar search queries. This will make it easier for potential customers to find your review responses, thus helping your business increase visibility and organic traffic. Adding the name of your business in your response is also helpful in this regard. For example, if someone searches for “hotels in (your location),” your hotel will be more likely to show up at the top of the search results.

Nonetheless, beware of using keywords that are not relevant to the conversation at hand. This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away with keyword optimization and end up using keywords that don’t actually add value to your response or make sense in context.

Similarly, overusing keywords can come off as “keyword stuffing”, which can have a negative effect on your SEO. This means that if you’re not careful, your response could be penalized in search engine rankings. To avoid this, make sure that you use keywords sparingly and that they fit the conversation. Furthermore, if there is any additional information that you would like to include in the review, such as photos of the business or its location, do so at the end of the post.

How to know exactly what keywords to use?

Use a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush. These tools will show you the search volume and competition of different keywords related to your brand.

To access Google Keyword Planner,  you’ll need a Google Ads account. Once you’re logged in, simply type in your keywords to get started. Then, scroll down until you find keywords with low competition and high search volume.

Here is a screenshot of what the Google Keyword Planner looks like. With the “Keyword Ideas” feature, Google will help you generate relevant terms and phrases to incorporate in your review response. (Source: Google Ads Help)

As for SEMrush, you will need to create an account and subscribe to a plan. Their price starts at $119.95 per month, though they do offer a 7-day free trial. SEMrush will provide you with more in-depth insights into the competition and search volume of different keywords. Once you’re logged in, enter your keywords into the “Organic Research” tab and select “Overview.” Here, you can see which keywords have the most traffic and competition.

This is the Keyword Overview dashboard in SEMrush. Aside from keyword suggestions, it will show you the search volume, keyword difficulty and relevant topics you can explore. (Source: SEMrush)

You can also look at who's already ranking for your specific keywords. For example, if you want more traffic for "affordable stays in Los Angeles," you could check out the top 10 results on the search engine results page (SERP) and see what they have in common. That will give you an idea of what keywords to include in your response and what questions your customers might be asking.

SERPs will also show you the top websites ranking for your particular search term along with relevant search queries that you can use as keywords.

By optimizing your responses for the right keywords, you can help increase visibility and organic traffic to your page. A well-crafted response that is relevant to the conversation at hand and keyword optimized for search engines can do wonders for your business’s SEO rankings.

Answer questions that are important for customers/buyers.

When someone leaves a review on Google or Yelp, they're usually looking for answers. If they have a problem with their product or service, they want someone to tell them what to do next. Or if they're happy with their experience, they want someone to tell them why they should come back again in the future.

In both cases, this means that people will often be asking specific questions about your product or service. And if those questions aren't answered clearly in your response — whether it's positive or negative — then there's a good chance you're going to lose out on customers who could have been yours otherwise.

Add value by providing additional information.

If you can provide more detail about the specific situation or experience that was reviewed, this can be helpful for understanding how you can improve in the future. In addition, if there were any misunderstandings between you and the reviewer, this is an opportunity to clear things up and resolve them amicably. This shows customers that you care about their feedback. Who knows? You can turn a one-star review into a five-star rating just by showing empathy!

Need help optimizing your review responses? MARA can help!

When you're busy, it can be tempting to respond to every review with the same response. After all, you may have a pretty standard answer for questions about shipping and returns, or about your return or refund policy.

Yet, these responses are actually some of the most important parts of your reviews — you have an opportunity to show off your personality, to give your customers a memorable experience, and to build trust by demonstrating that you care.

We know how hard it can be to come up with new responses every time, and that's why we created an AI Review Reply Assistant. Our powerful tool not only generates personalized Google reviews responses for you, it also uses natural language processing and deep learning to give you human-quality responses in seconds. It even takes into account any new trends in the language of online reviews, repeat positive aspects of the review, and make sure to highlight the key points of your business.

Here’s a sample Google review:

Here’s a sample review.

Here’s a generated response by MARA AI:

Here’s MARA’s Review Reply dashboard where you can simply copy-paste the review and it will immediately generate a reply.

In the example above, you can see how MARA gave a summary of the reviewer’s experience, thanked them for their feedback, and sounded natural and conversational. You can further edit and customize it to add your keywords and links.

By keeping your responses aligned with SEO best practices at all times, your business will always stay on top of its game — and on top of the search engine results page. You don't want to fall behind and end up buried beneath other businesses who are stealing your customers away with their top-ranked reviews!

To learn how MARA works its magic on your review responses and SEO rankings, learn more about MARA here.

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