Could Reviews Be The New Backlink?

Google’s New Penguin 4.0 Shows That SEO Is Not Just About Links Anymore

If you’ve been following the latest updates from Google, then you are probably already aware of what Penguin 4.0 means for the future of SEO.

If, however, you’ve been living under a rock (or actually working) you probably haven’t had the time to keep up with the Penguin 4.0 that Google recently rolled out.

For those of you that have, good for you on keeping up. For those of you who haven’t, good for you for focusing on your business operations. Online marketing changes constantly, which makes it hard to stay up to date—fortunately, you’ve got us to fill you in.

What is Penguin 4.0?

Penguin is an ongoing update to Google’s search results that was created to combat spammy sites and promote sites that are legitimate and “high-quality”. In other words, Penguin 4.0 (as it has been titled) is just a continuation of this ongoing fight against spam. Specifically speaking, Google wants to have individuals and companies “focus on creating amazing, compelling websites.”

From Google themselves:

Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to surface what you might be looking for. These signals include things like the specific words that appear on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank. One specific signal of the algorithms is called Penguin, which was first launched in 2012 and today has an update.

For the average small business and home service contractor, this means that you need to make sure that your site is easy to use, full of good content, and looks like a legitimate business – ie. No spam.

What has changed?

With each update, Google is getting better and better at identifying which sites fit its criteria and which do not.

This update is just a continuation of that. From what we know so far, the update is mostly focused on backlinks. The specific focus is on those sites that have a poor backlink strategy that does not fit their idea of a “high-quality” site. In other words, Google is focusing more on the quality if backlinks than the quantity.

Sheer numbers aren’t going to cut it anymore; you’ve got to have some quality to back it up. If you take a moment to think about it, a small local business site with almost no other online marketing besides 3000 links does look a little spammy.

However, a site that is doing all of the right things and has fewer high-quality links is going to look much more appealing.

Enter Reviews

As mentioned above, Google is looking for websites and businesses that have an overall online marketing plan that includes easy-to-use sites that are SEO friendly. This includes having good content, social media presence, local listings, and PR releases—among other things. More importantly, over the past few months, Google has begun to place more emphasis on bringing reviews into the equation.

Now, savvy business owners have already known the importance of reviews; getting reviews online is one of the best and easiest ways to generate more business.

Not only do reviews help signal to Google that your site is “high-quality” but it also helps with conversion rates and provides great insights into your business.

Now, we’re not saying that reviews are the most important aspect of online marketing, but we are saying that local businesses need to be more focused on online reviews than they have been. Links are still important but with the way things are trending, reviews may soon overtake links as a positive signal to Google, improving both your site’s rank and legitimacy. If you haven’t already, you might want to take a closer look at the tools that can help get more reviews and grow your online presence.

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