If you are active in the SEO world at all, lately you have been hearing about something called E-E-A-T.
This is an expansion on Google's E-A-T paradigm for evaluating the rankability of web pages - those with a high "score" in the areas of EXPERTISE, AUTHORITATIVENESS, and TRUSTWORTHINESS are considered more valuable to search engines, as they are almost certainly correlated with human searchers placing a high valuation on those pages as well.
But there is now an extra "E" in the acronym. That extra E stands for EXPERIENCE. This officially became a component of EAT when Google released the revised edition of their Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) in December of 2022. You can get a copy of this document here and you should review it in depth if you have not already done so.
Did you know that replying to your customer reviews can help with E-E-A-T? Let's briefly break it out:
EXPERIENCE: Suppose you get a comment in a review, "This company did a very nice job installing our new bathroom tub, etc." When you reply, you could say something like, "You're very welcome! We've been doing tub installs in homes like yours for over 25 years now, so we've learned how to do the job right, the first time." Just a little side comment, but you are providing additional details about your experience in this field.
EXPERTISE: What's the difference between expertise and experience? While expertise can be demonstrated by the knowledge you have, experience is gained only in the real world, by owning and using a product, or actually doing something. When you reply to reviews and use the proper industry jargon (tub surround, mold mitigation, ADA compliant, etc.) you are demonstrating expertise.
AUTHORITY/AUTHORITATIVENESS: Are you the go-to person in your industry and location (if you do business locally)? This will raise your authority component. Make sure that your customer review replies ooze out that authoritativeness everywhere. Your interactions should create the impression: This is THE source.
TRUSTWORTHINESS: Always be honest when replying to customer reviews. If you have messed up, and a customer has called you out on it, admit that mistakes were made and detail how you will (or have already) remedied the situation. And keep in mind that replies to customer reviews that show high authority, expertise and experience add to the trust component for your site, overall.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that you reply to your online customer reviews - not just the ones that are negative - the "content" that you build there, over time, will give you the edge over the competition.
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