BazaarVoice is an enterprise-level review platform that has a lot of great features and functionality – and, in my opinion it’s the best review vendor on the market.

The BazaarVoice implementation that I’ve learnt from is based on an Endeca (enterprise .net platform) website, which may be slightly different to existing modules for other platforms and features do vary dependant on your package.

Here are what I consider to be the key SEO considerations for setting up or configuring BazaarVoice.

Ensure that you’re serving review content to search engines

I’ve seen lots of websites serve UGC via an iFrame or JavaScript using BazaarVoice and I believe the standard implementation / package uses an iFrame, meaning you will lose the value of the unique content for SEO.

All user-generated content from BazaarVoice should be served as static content. You should first check that the review content is visible when you have JS disabled in your browser (as below), when you fetch as Googlebot in GWT and also in Google’s cached version of the page – if it isn’t, you need to speak to BazaarVoice about actually hosting the copy on the product page.

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BazaarVoice have tried to improve their SEO offering by introducing SmartSEO, which is an option available to their customers that prevents content from being served via an iFrame and serves static content to known search engine crawlers (based on their user-agent). I’m currently working on removing this practice from the implementation that I work on because it’s not natural and it’s ultimately cloaking.

Download your review content

BazaarVoice usually serve review content via a sub-domain on your website (which they control), which is where the content will be hosted. This will mean that the review content will be coming from another page, meaning it will need to be loaded from another server. This will not only mean a reduction in page load speed, but also that the page will initially load the front-end assets without the content, which will appear afterwards.

If you download the reviews onto your own server every on a regular basis, you can serve static content on the page, rather than having to load it from another page. This is something I’m trying to do at the moment and not something that I’ve achieved yet – I’ll update this post once I’ve managed to achieve it alongside BazaarVoice.

Prevent the subdomain from being indexed

So BazaarVoice by default houses review content on a reviews.x subdomain, meaning that all content being published on your product pages, is also published there too. This can cause a lot of problems as the sub-domain pages can be indexed first and also rank for your product names – which is annoying as they’re non-transactional and they provide a poor UX – not to mention that they prevent your actual product pages from ranking.

I would recommend asking BazaarVoice to add a noindex tag to all pages on the sub-domain (as they control this) to prevent search engines from indexing the review content on these pages.

Other considerations:

Try and build SEO into your ranking algorithm:

We use relevancy as one of our primary factors in displaying reviews – which helps to ensure that the content is rich and and includes keywords (which is part of how relevance is detected). The ranking algorithm would need to be discussed with BazaarVoice, but it’s fairly customisable, allowing for you to factor it in to SEO considerations.

Dealing with Account Managers:

BazaarVoice are a great company and I think they’re the best review vendor by quite a way – however it’s important that you stand firm on SEO, as they do advocate things like aggregate reviews for branded products and sharing review content with other websites etc.  BazaarVoice are obviously more focused on adding value from a UX / conversion perspective than from an SEO perspective so it’s important that someone represents SEO at every stage of the implementation process.

Grouped reviews:

So BazaarVoice often groups reviews based on product attributes and then displays the same reviews on different products – if you can (and if you have enough volume) I’d recommend against this as the unique content can add a lot of value to individual products.

If anyone is looking for more information on SEO considerations for review vendors – this guide by Everett Sizemore is the oracle! This implementation guide from BV is also useful.

If you have any questions about BazaarVoice and SEO – let me know.