There has been a considerable amount of controversy stirred up over the issue of user reviews on websites in the past few weeks, drawing attention to an aspect of the online community that many take for granted.
High-profile companies such as Amazon have been accused of allowing fake reviews, fraudulent opinions and bad advice to plague their sites, with some turning to artificial intelligence in order to fight back and improve the standing of personal responses from customers.
The problem is that user reviews are hugely influential and seen as very helpful by many consumers, influencing almost two-thirds of purchases while also providing an excellent SEO boost for sites that want to increase the amount of unique content published on product pages while keeping costs to a minimum.
Businesses must also take into account emerging shopping trends, focusing not only on the devices that people are using to make purchases but also the types of people who prefer m-commerce to the desktop experience because it suits their lifestyle.
Opening up user reviews to all and sundry is a bad idea, so many sites may require the membership management systems offered by agencies such as OFEC. And it is always a good idea to consult experts before making any major decisions about a website.
From a user perspective, the presence of a review function on a site gives them a right of reply that would otherwise be impossible to achieve in such a direct way. And studies have shown that people are more inclined to place trust in reviews of products and services from their peers than the descriptions and information provided by manufacturers and other businesses.
So if a site wants to stimulate engagement, boost conversions and build a relationship with customers, reviews can be a good place to start.
Building on SEO
For search engine optimisation, user reviews can have a positive impact, provided they are properly moderated and managed.
Reviews which are written by users allow product pages to be populated with content other than the aforementioned manufacturer descriptions, meaning duplicate content can be augmented or ousted altogether by something unique.
People also search for products using the term ‘review’, which can lead them to your landing pages with increased frequency. And so a well-handled reviews section can be important.