Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want my team to just do your marketing for you, click here.

Online Reviews and SEO: What’s The Relationship?

Online reviews and SEO.

While you may already be collecting reviews for your e-commerce store, did you think about whether online reviews may have a positive impact on your site’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings?

It’s safe to say that, as a digital marketer, one of your main goals is to see SEO success. If the above is true, and online reviews are a ranking factor when it comes to SEO, then there has never been more reason to focus your efforts on collecting reviews for your products.

So, just how true is the above statement? Is there a relationship between online reviews and SEO and if so, how can it be quantified?

In this post, we’ll share our research on the topic. This will include a deep dive into twelve URLs, focusing on how many reviews each one has, how many keywords they rank for, and whether there is a correlation between the two. We’ll then share with you how you can cultivate the best reviews for your site based on the data.

Online Reviews And Reputation

We know that online reviews are absolutely crucial to building brand and product reputation. We also know that online reputation can impact your business.

Just how much of an impact?

Well, 93% of consumers have made buying decisions based on an online review. In fact, reviews – and, therefore, visible reputation – can drive conversions by up to 270%!

After all, in many instances, the only assurance we have to go on that a product is legit and of high quality are the positive reviews.

These positive product reviews will, of course, impact the brand as well. If a brand is known for high-quality products, its reputation will increase in the eyes of consumers.

So, the question becomes, does Google take this reputation into consideration when determining how to rank a Product Listing Page (PLP) on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?

While the question is one that you could approach from many angles, we hope to offer insights with the data we’ve collected below. Our data compares the number and quality of online reviews to the SERP rankings each associated product receives.

While this only touches one aspect of brand reputation, it’s a good start for understanding the connection between reputation and SEO as a whole.

Online Reviews and SEO: What Our Data Shows Us

To understand whether online reviews have a direct impact on SEO, we analyzed five product pages on MAC and five product pages on Sephora. These URLs were collected by looking at best-selling products on both sites.

We also analyzed two URLs from Ulta. These were done as a test against two of the same items sold at Sephora to further see if a higher review count would equal more total ranking keywords.

MAC: The Site With the Most Varied Number of Reviews Per Product

The first brand we’re analyzing is MAC. For reference, MAC has a domain authority of 63.

MAC makeup products comparison chart.

Product 1: M·A·CSTACK MASCARA

M.A.CStack Mascara product page.

On March 1st, 2023 there were 18,101 reviews for this product:

  • 13,233 5-star (73%)
  • 2,899 4-star (16%)
  • 1039 3-star (5.7%)
  • 476 2-star (2.6%)
  • 454 1-star (2.5%)

Overall, the product has an average rating of 4.5 stars. The page also includes product review schema. Product schema is a feature that allows you to add specific product attributes, such as ratings and reviews, to your product listings. They then appear as rich results on the search engine results page (SERP):

M.A.CStack Mascara google result.

Beyond the numbers, it also matters if and how the brand responds to reviews.

The brand does respond, under “M·A·C Artist,” to negative reviews with information on how to reach out to them to find a product that works better. They also respond to really positive reviews thanking the customer.

So how does this product perform on search engines?

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 149 organic keywords. It has 89 rankings in the top 3 results and 93 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 149 keywords, 51 are non-branded (35%).

This page looks to have been live since March 2022, which is why it will have fewer keywords compared to other URLs analyzed below.

Overall, the URL brings in 29.5K in organic search traffic.

Summary: Newest URL in our MAC analysis (March 2022), though it has the highest number of reviews (18,101) and the fourth highest number of ranked keywords (149).

Product 2: MATTE LIPSTICK

MAC Matte Lipstick product page.

On March 1st, 2023, there were 1,221 reviews for this product:

  • 855 5-star (70%)
  • 131 4-star (10.7%)
  • 68 3-star (5.5%)
  • 68 2-star (5.5%)
  • 99 1-star (8.1%)

Overall, the product has an average rating of 4 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

It does not appear the brand has responded to any reviews on this product.

What about search engine performance?

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 2,531 organic keywords. It has 638 rankings in the top 3 results and 941 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 149 keywords, 1.5K are non-branded (59%).

This page looks to have been live since December 2017, hence the larger number of keywords. Interestingly, though, it brings in only 10K more organic search traffic than the previous product which ranks for far fewer keywords.

Overall, the URL brings in 39.6K in organic search traffic.

Summary: Third oldest URL in our MAC analysis (December 2017), with the third highest number of reviews (1,221) and the highest number of ranking keywords by far (2,531).

Product 3: CREMESHEEN LIPSTICK

MAC Cremesheen lipstick product page.

On March 1st, 2023 there were 309 reviews for this product:

  • 235 5-star (76%)
  • 30 4-star (9.7%)
  • 15 3-star (4.8%)
  • 14 2-star (4.5%)
  • 13 1-star (4.2%)

Overall, the product has an average rating of 4.5 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

The brand does respond to both negative and very positive reviews. For the negative reviews, they provide information on how to reach out to them to find a product that works better. They also respond to the positive reviews thanking the customer.

So how does this product perform on search engines?

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 240 organic keywords. It has 75 rankings in the top 3 results and 172 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 240 keywords, 64 are non-branded (27%).

This page looks to have been live since October 2017 which seems to contradict the low number of reviews and ranking keywords.

Overall, the URL brings in 4.4K in organic search traffic.

Summary: One of the two oldest URLs in our MAC analysis (October 2017, tied with the fifth product), with the fourth highest number of reviews (309) and the third highest number of ranking keywords (240).

Product 4: MAGIC EXTENSION 5MM FIBRE MASCARA

Magic Extension fibre mascara product page.

On March 1st, 2023 there were 1,357 reviews for this product:

  • 720 5-star (53%)
  • 316 4-star (23.2%)
  • 165 3-star (12.1%)
  • 77 2-star (5.6%)
  • 79 1-star (5.8%)

The product has an average rating of 4.1 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

As with two of the three previous products, the brand does respond to both negative and very positive reviews. For the negative reviews, they provide information on how to reach out to them to find a product that works better.

Here’s how the search engine performance breaks down.

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 123 organic keywords. It has 14 rankings in the top 3 results and 24 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 123 keywords, 11 are non-branded (9%).

This page looks to have been live since June 2021.

Overall, the URL brings in 1.4K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The fourth oldest URL in the MAC analysis (June 2021), with the second highest number of reviews (1,357) and the lowest number of ranking keywords (123).

Product 5: FROST LIPSTICK

MAC Frost lipstick product page.

On March 1st, 2023 there were 96 reviews for this product:

  • 72 5-star (75%)
  • 10 4-star (10.4%)
  • 7 3-star (7.2%)
  • 3 2-star (3.1%)
  • 4 1-star (4.1%)

The product has an average rating of 4.5 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

As with three of the four previous products, the brand does respond to both negative and very positive reviews. For the negative reviews, they provide information on how to reach out to them to find a product that works better.

So how does this URL perform on search engines?

Despite the seemingly low number of reviews, the URL performs quite well.

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 277 organic keywords. It has 11 rankings in the top 3 results and 187 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 277 keywords, 104 are non-branded (38%).

The page looks to have been live since October 2017.

Overall, the URL brings in 6K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The second oldest URL in our MAC analysis (October 2017, tied with the third product), with the lowest number of reviews (96) and the second highest number of ranking keywords (277).

What We Learned From MAC

The first thing we learned from analyzing the five URLs above was that reviews, while incredibly important, do not always make up for the age of your URL. The URL that had the most reviews was also the youngest one analyzed. This high number of reviews did not translate to the most ranking keywords, however.

This seems to indicate that more established URLs, especially those with great content, will most likely have greater total rankings.

If we hone in a bit more, there were three URLs analyzed that were all from 2017. One had 1,221 reviews, one had 96 reviews, and the last had 309 reviews. The URL with the most reviews did have more total ranking keywords, and ultimately brought in more traffic. The other two URLs, both from 2017, when comparing them against each other do not show a correlation between the number of reviews and total ranking keywords.

If we take this one step further, we looked at the percentage of each star-rating to see if having a higher percentage of 5-stars resulted in better rankings. The number of 5-star ratings did not correlate with the total rankings or top 3 and top 10 rankings.

Overall, our greatest takeaway here is that the number of product reviews do not necessarily matter for consideration of rankings. This may indicate that the quality of the review and the user-generated content that comes from those reviews has more weight than simply the total number or even overall ranking.

Sephora: The Site With the Highest Number of Reviews Per Product

Sephora product comparison chart.

The domain authority for Sephora is 81, which is considerably higher than MAC (63).

Note: While MAC sells only MAC-branded products, Sephora sells a plethora of makeup and skincare products on its website. We will make note of this where important, for example, when excluding branded terms in our keyword analysis.

Product 1: Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Sticks by Rare Beauty by Selena

Rare beauty by Selena Gomez product page.

On March 1st, 2023, there were 4.5K reviews for this product.

Unlike the MAC website, the Sephora website does not offer a numerical breakdown of the number of reviews for each star rating.

The product has an average rating of 4.6 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Sephora.

Here’s how it performs on search engines:

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 1,436 organic keywords. It has 231 rankings in the top 3 results and 311 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 1,436 keywords, 1.1K are non-branded (77%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Sephora” as well as “Rare Beauty” and “Selena” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since September 2020.

Overall, the URL brings in 5.2K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The fourth oldest URL in our Sephora analysis (September 2020), with the third highest number of reviews (4.5K) and the highest number of ranking keywords (1.4K).

Product 2: Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation by NARS

Nars light reflecting advanced skincare foundation.

On March 1st, 2023, there were 1.4K reviews for this product.

The product has an average rating of 4 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Sephora.

Here’s how it performs on search engines:

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 135 organic keywords. It has 61 rankings in the top 3 results and 95 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 135 keywords, 31 are non-branded (23%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Sephora” as well as “NARS” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since February 2022.

Overall, the URL brings in 662 in organic search traffic.

Summary: The newest URL in our Sephora analysis (February 2022), with the lowest number of reviews (1.4K) and the lowest number of ranking keywords (135).

Product 3: Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum by The Ordinary

The ordinary hyaluronic acid product page.

On March 1st, 2023, there were 3.7K reviews for this product.

The product has an average rating of 4.2 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Sephora.

So how does it perform on search engines?

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 496 organic keywords. It has 111 rankings in the top 3 results and 187 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 496 keywords, 319 are non-branded (64%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Sephora” as well as “Ordinary” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since January 2019.

Overall, the URL brings in 4.2K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The third oldest URL in our Sephora analysis (January 2019), with the fourth highest number of reviews (3.7K) and the second highest number of ranking keywords (496).

Product 4: Radiant Creamy Concealer by NARS

Nars radiant creamy concealer product page.

On March 1st, 2023, there were 12.9K reviews for this product.

The product has an average rating of 4.3 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Sephora.

Here’s how it performs on search engines:

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 434 organic keywords. It has 152 rankings in the top 3 results and 250 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 434 keywords, 165 are non-branded (38%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Sephora” as well as “NARS” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since August 2017, hence the comparatively high number of reviews.

Overall, the URL brings in 2.1K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The oldest URL in our Sephora analysis (August 2017), with the highest number of reviews (12.9K) and the third highest number of ranking keywords (434).

Product 5: Protini™ Polypeptide Firming Refillable Moisturizer by Drunk Elephant

Drunk elephant protini polypeptide product page.

On March 1st, 2023, there were 6K reviews for this product.

The product has an average rating of 4 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Sephora.

Here’s how it performs on search engines:

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 226 organic keywords. It has 92 rankings in the top 3 results and 110 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 226 keywords, 93 are non-branded (38%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Sephora” as well as “Drunk Elephant” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since January 2018.

Overall, the URL brings in 1.3K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The second oldest URL in our Sephora analysis (January 2018), with the second highest number of reviews (6K) and the fourth lowest number of ranking keywords (226).

What We Learned From Sephora

Similar to the results from MAC, the URL that had the most reviews did not have the most ranking keywords. Unlike the results from MAC, though, the product with the most reviews was not the youngest URL analyzed.

This, yet again, goes to prove that the number of reviews on a product page does not directly correlate to the number of ranking keywords, or its placement on SERPs.

The URL that had the most reviews did not have the most ranking keywords and was not the youngest URL analyzed when comparing the five best-selling products. Once more, proving that the number of reviews on a product page does not influence the number of keywords that page will rank for.

One thing we do notice, though, is that the items with the most product reviews had more keywords that ranked in the top three positions on SERPs.

One thing to note is that Sephora is seemingly undergoing an initiative to get more online reviews. They had a large number of new reviews at the time of our analysis.

Interestingly, Sephora also did not have any information on the number of reviews for each tier. While this is something that search engines can calculate, it’s not something that users are able to see.

Ulta: The Site With the “Youngest” Product Pages

Ulta product comparison chart.

The domain authority of Ulta is 80, which is much more comparable to Sephora (81) than MAC (63).

As mentioned above, we used Ulta as a test against two of the same products on Sephora. Our goal was to see if the same product on different sites, with different reviews, would mean higher total keywords for a higher review count.

Product 1: Radiant Creamy Concealer by NARS

Nars radiant creamy concealer ulta product page.

On March 2nd, 2023, there were 1.4K reviews for this product.

The product has an average rating of 4 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Ulta.

Here’s how it performs on search engines:

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 459 organic keywords. It has 31 rankings in the top 3 results and 216 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 459 keywords, 98 are non-branded (21%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Ulta” as well as “NARS” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since May 2021.

Overall, the URL brings in 1.2K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The oldest URL in our Ulta analysis (May 2021), with the lowest number of reviews (1.4K) and the lowest number of ranking keywords (459). When compared to the same product on Sephora’s website, the Ulta product listing is almost four years younger. It has far fewer reviews (1.4K vs 12.9K) but a comparable keyword universe (459 vs 434).

Product 2: Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum by The Ordinary

The ordinary hyaluronic acid product page ulta.

On March 2nd, 2023, there were 3.2K reviews for this product.

The product has an average rating of 4 stars. The page also includes product review schema.

This product does not seem to have any responses from Ulta.

Here’s how it performs on search engines:

Based on SEMRush, as of February 28th, the product ranks for 764 organic keywords. It has 98 rankings in the top 3 results and 171 rankings in the top 10 results. Of those 764 keywords, 589 are non-branded (77%).

Note: When filtering for branded terms, we excluded “Ulta” as well as “Ordinary” to get a true sense of non-branded keywords.

The page looks to have been live since February 2022.

Overall, the URL brings in 7K in organic search traffic.

Summary: The newest URL in our Ulta analysis (February 2022), with the highest number of reviews (3.2K) and the highest number of ranking keywords (764). When compared to the same product on Sephora’s website, the Ulta product listing is three years younger. It has a both a larger number of reviews, (12.9K vs 1.4K) as well as higher number of ranking keywords (764 vs 496).

What We Learned About Online Reviews and SEO from Our Data

We know in the industry that product reviews help boost trust and authority, which will have an overall positive impact on search engine performance. However, we asked ourselves, is there a direct correlation between the number of reviews and ranking performance? The answer, as our insights will lay out, seems to be no.

When analyzing both MAC and Sephora, we noticed that the URL that had the most reviews did not have the most ranking keywords. This proves that the number of reviews on a product page does not influence the number of keywords that page will rank for. However, Sephora did see a correlation between the number of product reviews impacting the number of 1-3 ranking positions owned.

Of course, we want to take into account any outliers that may impact these results.

Fortunately for our analysis, there is no difference between the two sites in terms of content they include on their Product Listing Page (PLP). That is, both have reviews, how to use the item, ingredients, about the product, etc.

We also looked to see if each of the products had product review schema on it that would populate within the SERPs with stars. All products analyzed had this schema markup correctly implemented.

When we analyze the authority of both sites, Sephora is an 81 and MAC is a 63. So, Sephora does have a leg up in terms of rankings over MAC. Potentially, when we get to sites this large and authoritative (like Sephora), Google will use the reviews to help determine rankings. However, for smaller sites, it is not necessarily something that MUST be done to help with rankings.

Now let’s dive a little deeper into our analysis of Ulta vs Sephora, both of which have comparable authority scores.

We tested two of Ulta’s products to see if there was a correlation between the number of keywords and the number of reviews. We also used products from Ulta that were the same as those we analyzed on Sephora. The Ulta product that had the highest reviews also had the highest total keywords, as well as the greatest number of 1-3 ranking keywords.

When comparing The Ordinary’s hyaluronic acid on Ulta to Sephora, we can see that Ulta had slightly fewer reviews, yet had more total keywords owned.

With all of this information, and the irregularities between each site, the number of product reviews does not seem to correlate with the number of ranking keywords.

So the question now becomes, should business owners still proactively work to collect reviews? Our answer is ABSOLUTELY.

Just because there may not be a direct correlation between reviews and rankings, reviews can still be used as a factor when two sites are quite evenly matched. On top of that, reviews support other key marketing impact metrics, such as conversion rates. After all, we know for a fact that online reviews get you business.

So if you are looking to leverage the power of reviews (as you should be), you must focus on collecting not only positive reviews, but detailed ones at that. The best reviews for your business both give a positive impression of the product and explain why.

Cultivating The Right Reviews for SEO

As our data has shown, the number of reviews is not the only factor considered when all else is equal with a comparable website. It’s moreso important that the review is of high quality and detailed. This is what gives your product listing page the edge over a competitor website’s product listing page.

Even if you’re hesitant to believe our conclusions above, we know that more reviews won’t make search rankings decline. So you should really be doing all that you can do to collect solid, useful reviews for your website and products.

What Makes A Useful Review (Positive Or Negative)

The good news is that any review can be useful, whether it’s positive or negative.

So, what makes a useful review?

Well, the devil is in the details.

A detailed review, one that really breaks down the pros and cons of the product, is one that is more likely to convince other customers of the reviewer’s opinion.

The review that details the why and not just the what is crucial to altering a potential customer’s perception of the product.

To add to that, pictures are worth a thousand words.

In fact, 59% of consumers consider visual information more important than textual information. This means you can’t afford to not support visual reviews on your website.

Are you looking for other ways to collect reviews, other than just on your own website? Use review sites to get more ratings and reviews for your business overall. This will also have a positive impact on consumer trust and SEO.

FAQs

Do you have more questions about product reviews and SEO? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic.

What are the benefits of online reviews?

Online reviews drive brand reputation and increase consumer trust. These both help to drive conversion rate as a direct result. 

Why do reviews matter for SEO?

We know that reviews drive engagement on a product page which is a ranking factor in itself. Based on our data, a high number of quality reviews can also help a PLP (product listing page) to beat out a competitor PLP, assuming all other factors are equal.

Do reviews impact local SEO rankings?

The overall algorithm is the same whether you’re searching for an online-only product or a product stocked and sold by local businesses. As such, reviews will have the same positive impact on local SEO rankings.

Conclusion

There is a lot to be said about the benefits of reviews. From increasing brand visibility to boosting brand engagement to increasing consumer trust, and so much more, reviews are a must-have for any product on your website.

Our data has shown that reviews are unlikely to have a direct impact on SEO, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t beneficial for boosting your SERP rankings, too.

Whatever the case may be, there’s no harm in working to increase the number of quality reviews on your site. There are plenty of ways to organically collect reviews, or even paid options if organic review growth is not fast enough.

What benefits – direct or indirect – have you seen from increasing the number of reviews on your product pages? Let us know in the comments below.

Consulting with Neil Patel

See How My Agency Can Drive More Traffic to Your Website

  • SEO - unlock more SEO traffic. See real results.
  • Content Marketing - our team creates epic content that will get shared, get links, and attract traffic.
  • Paid Media - effective paid strategies with clear ROI.

Book a Call

Ubersuggest

Unlock Thousands of Keywords with Ubersuggest

Ready to Outrank Your Competitors?

  • Find long-tail keywords with High ROI
  • Find 1000s of keywords instantly
  • Turn searches into visits and conversions

Free keyword research tool

Share