Social proof can be very effective for your marketing strategy, but it may also impact your SEO efforts.
Social proof is the attempt to build credibility and trust towards your business by showcasing what others think of it. Instead of promoting your business on your own, you are doing it through others, whether they are experts, celebrities, or simply your customers, helping a new audience discover your product.
It relies on psychology and how people enjoy being part of a social group of like-minded people, which eventually may affect their purchasing decisions and their online behaviour.
According to a research by Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from a peer, while even 70% of them trust a consumer’s opinion that was posted online, without even knowing that person.
Social proof may be used in many different ways, depending on the industry, the audience, the goals, or the expectations of it:
Types of social proof
Many customers consult online reviews before a purchasing decision, in order to assess a product. Whether it’s Amazon, Yelp, or Booking, all popular online services offer customer reviews, in order to help users decide on their own.
Even negative reviews, when there is a balance with the positive ones, may be useful, as they offer an honest presentation of the product and how other people found it.
Many sites showcase the positive reviews as an approval of their product, which usually forms one of them most important cases of social proof.
Booking not only features its customers’ reviews about the hotels, but also about its services, building trust with its prospect customers, as it convinces them on the effectiveness of its services.
It’s a common tactic to feature a review by an expert in your product’s field to prove your worth and CoSchedule has decided to showcase the opinion of Jay Baer, in order to promote its platform in the best possible way.
This helps potential customers feel reassured that an expert approves of the product, which probably means that they’ll (have to) like it, too.
Audiense showcases reviews by professionals using its services, in order to promote its product in the most relevant way.
The use of the number of 10,000 brands and agencies along with the actual reviews by the considered experts in the industry make a strong case of social validation for the product, encouraging more companies to try it out.
Influencer marketing has been very popular lately and as social stars increase, so does their effect on product endorsement. Whether it’s a paid collaboration or simply a review, influencers have the power to affect a purchasing decision, that’s why they tend to get featured in more and more pages.
Pets make great influencers counts thousands of followers and BarkBox decided to feature two reviews from dog celebrities who tried out its products.
ASOS heavily relies on influencer marketing to promote its products, which led to a whole team of ASOS insiders who promote its products on their Instagram accounts, serving as the best ambassadors for the site.
What’s more, they are also featured in a special page, presenting them and proving that it’s not just the brand that promotes the products, but actual real people who use their social influence in the best possible way.
Whether they are logos of clients, featured apps, a badge of a popular collaboration, or a reward, they manage to use social proof in the right way for every type of site.
Our own sister site ClickZ encourages readers to sign up to its newsletter, by also mentioning the fact that more than 200k digital marketers receive it in their mailbox.
The use of the number of subscribers helps the audience understand the size of the professionals interested in the particular newsletter, which creates again a sense of belonging, making the subscription more relevant and meaningful.
Another great way to apply the tactic of social proof to a site is to showcase in a prominent place the clients your company is working with.
If it involves popular clients, that can be recognised through their logos, this increases the chances that visitors will trust the company on their own. There is the feeling of familiarity and connection that is created, which makes it easier to build a relationship with prospective clients.
As with clients, media mentions help a site build its credibility through a series of respectable sources. The more popular the publisher, the bigger the chances to increase the trust among the client and the company.
Thus, many sites feature the sources that are mentioned, especially if they are well known enough to be recognised by their logo, in order to prove that they have already earned high quality links.
Blending social proof with SEO
Social proof not only helps with a company’s marketing efforts, but it may also affect its SEO.
As with any other type of content, reviews and testimonials are always welcome for a company, as they still count as fresh content and search engines will appreciate them even more if they are coming at a frequent rate.
Moreover, social proof and fresh content may take place in other sites, where the new links can still indicate the relevance of the original place.
Thus, a company may encourage reviews and comments coming directly from users and experts, as this is another great way to help its SEO efforts.
Social proof may affect a site’s authority, whether it’s about reviews or social mentions. In fact, social media may boost your authority more than you can imagine. There may be a long discussion on whether social signals have a direct link with SEO and when it comes to authority, you cannot ignore them.
Let’s say that a software company releases a new product. You are featuring the reviews on your page and users are excited about it. Except for the sales and the reviews, people are excited enough to spread a word about it on social media.
This leads to numerous mentions, an extended reach and several links coming back to your site.
If influencers and media refer to your product in their social accounts, then you are also building trust and credibility, which means that social signals are contributing to an increased authority in your field, with search engines noticing the growing popularity of it.
As fresh content and authority increase, so do the chances of boosting your position in SERPs. Relevance, freshness, and links are appreciated by search engines, which makes it challenging for companies to use social proof on their own benefit, turning a review into an opportunity for improved SEO.
Social proof may become even more important when you consider that the content is coming directly from users, which means that it’s offering a better overview of a page, also boosting the chances of increased sales.
As more users review a product, the search of [product + review] becomes more popular and this is helping more consumers discover it.
What’s more, user reviews may also help with long tail searches, as the language is similar to the type people may be using when searching for a product, which increases the chances of targeting the right audience.
There are many ways to embrace social proof in your site and your online presence and what’s important to remember is:
- New content is always welcome
- Users talking about your product can affect sales more than any other promotional effort
- Link building, even if it comes through social media, is always welcome
- Search engines value authority and social signals cannot be ignored
- There’s always a new way to build trust and credibility
- Don’t forget to experiment with new ideas of highlighting your social proof