Post by Sami Dilaveri, Media Director & Paul Stephani, SEO Specialist Ratings and reviews on a website or search engine results page (SERP), play a crucial role in brands’ online marketing performance and are a form of user generated content (UGC). Customer reviews are closely correlated with purchasing patterns, and 78% of online searchers between the ages of 18-64 claim online reviews influence their purchasing decision (Local Results, 2013). UGC, or earned media, is so influential that it has evolved how search engines deliver results: Google’s Product listing ads (PLAs) support UGC and prove to drive higher click-through rates at lower costs than traditional paid search campaigns. Search engines like Amazon allow users to search by customer reviews alone. Brands that do not have an earned media strategy for ratings and reviews are losing visibility and sale opportunities. RATINGS AND REVIEWS BENEFITS for BRANDS Ratings and reviews, are known to provide benefits in the following 3 ways: Higher rank on the search engine results pages (SERP) The fact that UGC is frequently updated, indexable and engaging to users, provides positive signals to search engines in terms of ranking factors, potentially increasing position on the SERP. Increased click-through rates (CTR) The implementation of micro-formatting, or rich snippets, is perhaps the most visible benefit that reviews have to search engine optimization (SEO). According to Search Engine Land, rich snippets of product reviews can produce a substantial increase in click-through rates (Search Engine Land, 2011). In fact, the MOZ blog cites cases where increased click-through rates of 20-30% of frequently rated products even out rank those items reviewed less (MOZ, 2012). Increased conversions rates From a conversion standpoint, reviews can help with search engine rankings, but ultimately increase users’ trust in the site, and can help answer questions and remove doubts about products. Visitors have more information and a broader range of opinion to ponder as they evaluate a possible purchase. Recommendation At Performics, we understand the importance of a holistic marketing strategy across paid, owned and earned channels. We recommend that brands create a ratings and reviews strategy to drive visibility and sales, with an improved user experience. For more info regarding implementing ratings and reviews, please contact your performance account team today.