How much attention does your business pay to the appearance of its listings in the search engines? This is an often overlooked aspect of SEO campaigns, however, it is one of the most crucial in maximising the number of visitors that visit your site.
In many cases, the very first interaction potential customers will have with your business, will be viewing your listings in an organic search result; it makes sense to view your listings as an extension of your site and do all you can to make your results as aesthetically pleasing and relevant to users as possible. After all, the better your results look, the more people will be inclined to click on your listing and visit your site.
The traditional way for sites to maximise the click-through rate (CTR), has been to script relevant page titles and attractive meta descriptions. Now these are both still absolutely vital however, there are now other ways businesses can improve how they look in the search engines.
Have you ever seen one of your competitors with stars and ratings information appear in the search results and wondered how they got them? Well, these are organic star ratings and here’s a handy little guide to improve your chances of getting these stars next to your listings!
Organic Star Ratings for Local Listings?
Google is now classifying more and more of its search results as local and is serving up the three “Local Pack” results above the rest of the organic search results. If you want to get local traffic to your site it is essential to optimise for these results. How you can get into these results is through local optimisation, which is another subject entirely, however, once you’re in these results, how can you make the most of your prominent position?
If we have a look at the results below for “Lawyers in London”, we can see only one of the businesses listed has organic stars which Google has taken from its own review service, “Google Reviews”. It’s kind of obvious what businesses need to do here - get Google reviews. The organic stars show your average results in Google reviews and, if you only have one or two reviews, then Google will not really be able to show an average. Now the listing below, with 18 reviews, does have an average ranking and therefore Google has determined that is useful information for browsers and shows the stars.
The business with the stars may be in third place in the local results but it is very likely they will get more clicks on their listing than the two results above it, purely because of those lovely organic stars!
So, task number one: Encourage your customers to submit Google reviews
Organic stars in the regular search results
Many people who have managed PPC campaigns in the past will be familiar with seller ratings, these are the stars that appear in paid results. They enhance CTR’s on adverts as they make your ads stand out from the crowd.
Star ratings in organic search results work in a similar fashion, they make your listing stand out from the crowd and therefore gives potential clients extra comfort surrounding the credibility of your business.
Let’s just look at the results below, there are two legal firms who have organic star ratings. The star ratings give the two listings extra real estate in the SERPs (search engine result pages), they look great and they give the firms that extra credibility to encourage clicks.
So, how have these legal firms obtained these star ratings?
Well, from our analysis there are three factors at play:
- Trusted review sites
- Schema markup
- Site authority
Trusted review sites
Each of the sites mentioned above use a review site that is trusted by Google to have legitimate reviews from real customers and clients. These review sites and the businesses who use them, have to employ certain procedures in obtaining reviews off their customers which gives Google confidence that the reviews are real and no gaming of the system takes place. For a full list of trusted partner sites see this list from Google.
Task number two: Sign up for a review site and start encouraging your customers and clients to review your services.
Once you have started to obtain reviews, you need to use schema markup to notify Google about all the great reviews you have, highlighting that they are now available for Google to display.
Task number three: Add the relevant schema to your website, above is an example of the code you will need to employ.
Once you have started getting reviews in from a trusted source and you have added the relevant schema markup code to your site, you have completed the basics to getting those organic star ratings.
From this point you are in the hands of the Google gods who decide which sites get the star rankings and which sites do not. We have, however, noticed a strong correlation between the authority of a site and the chances of organic star rankings, so…
Task number four: Get busy improving the authority of your site by creating great content, outreaching this content and making sure your site is SEO technically tip top.
Summary: Actions to getting organic stars
- Encourage your customers to submit Google reviews
- Sign up for a review site and start encouraging your customers and clients to review your services
- Add the relevant schema to your website
- Get busy improving the authority of your site by creating great content, outreaching this content and making sure your site is SEO technically tip top