You’ll probably find that every other website you visit nowadays has a little live chat box appearing in the bottom-right corner as soon as you land on it.
Sure, these can often feel like a nuisance, but there is a reason so many brands — from eCommerce to SaaS — are using them. In the backend, they help to streamline a business’s customer support resources, while on the front-end, users get benefitted from straightforward interaction and speedy response times.
But while live chat has many tangible benefits, is SEO one of them? Can implementing live chat boost your site’s SEO?
It’s not something that immediately springs to mind when listing all the advantages of implementing a live chat solution, but you’d be surprised at the impact it could have on your site’s search rankings.
So, how can live chat really boost your site’s SEO? Let’s find out.
The advantages of live chat for SEO
Live chat is great for many things: using a live chat solution, you’ll be able to create more meaningful brand-to-client relationships, funnel all of your communications through one central platform, and ensure that customers can get instant responses to pressing queries without excessive form-filling or time spent listening to incessant hold music. Vitally, you’ll be able to increase conversions (use of a configurable solution along the lines of Crisp can, as noted there, achieve a transaction uplift of up to 2x).
However, it’s often overlooked that implementing live chat can help significantly boost a brand’s SEO capabilities. While in theory, a live chat solution won’t have a direct impact on your search rankings, there are a number of indirect benefits that can help to drive more organic traffic through SEO best practices.
An intuitive live chat solution can aid user engagement, it can boost your brand’s reputation and it can even help with content creation, all of which play a part in SEO.
Let’s look at each of the SEO benefits in more detail.
It can help you create more relevant content
This may sound like a stretch, but consider this: with most live chat solutions, all of the interactions between your customers and your agents are recorded as transcripts.
Within those transcripts, you’ll have a complete record of your customers’ queries, questions, comments and complaints. By analyzing these, you can hone in on the most common topics your customers are discussing, which will help you tailor your content towards addressing their most pressing needs: is there a product they frequently want to know more about, for example?
Is there crucial information missing from your site? Think of live chat as an additional keyword research tool!
Using this insight, you can create content that’s highly relevant to your target audience and tailored to the type of topics they’re most likely to search for — meaning you’re more likely to rank for relevance in Google, Bing et al.
For instance: could you collate your most commonly-received queries and use them to create an FAQ page?
This is great for encouraging self-service, but it also enables you to create SEO-friendly content that addresses your users’ most relevant needs and pain points.
Do you have a blog? Great, why not plan your content around the things you know your customers care about the most?
It can increase engagement.
While the debate over what actually makes up Google’s 200 or so ranking factors and what doesn’t will rage on (Backlinko has a great guide, but Google’s algorithm is a closely-guarded and continually evolving secret), it’s generally accepted that user engagement plays a key role in determining a site’s rank. With that in mind, there are a number of engagement-related metrics that live chat can have a positive impact on, such as:
- Repeat traffic: though it’s not a confirmed ranking factor, it’s thought that returning visitors can have an impact on SEO, since this signals to search engines that your content is worth coming back for. Having a live chat option where customers can get instant answers to their queries will encourage them to keep returning to your site; conversely, if they’re left without a resolution, your users are unlikely to come back.
- Bounce rate: this one is a little contentious since many believe bounce rate (the percentage of users who immediately leave a webpage without taking a single action) is not one of Google’s ranking factors, while others insist that it is. In any case, users are more likely to “bounce” if they can’t find the answer or the support they need, which won’t be looked on favorably by search engines. Live chat can help prevent users from clicking the back button by engaging them before they exit.
- Dwell time: this metric measures the amount of time a user spends on your page, and is considered to be one of Google’s ranking factors. The logic is that the longer a user spends on your site, the more engaged they are with your content, which signals to a search engine that it’s valuable. Live chat is a great way of encouraging a restless user to stick around for longer, since getting them to interact with an agent will keep them engaged and help them find what they’re looking for.
It can improve your site’s reputation.
User reviews are paramount to the success of any online business, with 93% of users saying that online reviews impact their buying decisions. From an SEO point of view, your site’s reputation can have a significant effect on your rankings, with reviews particularly important to Google’s local search ranking factors.
If you operate the kind of business where locale is key, Google will take into account user reviews through its own platform, third-party review sites such as Trustpilot and first-party reviews on your own website, analyzing the velocity, recency and diversity of the reviews — which can all theoretically impact search ranking.
You should also consider that Google is still the top review site, with around a third of users (per ReviewTrackers) reading Google reviews directly from search results without actually bothering to click a link. If your site, product or service has poor, very few or even no reviews on Google, users are likely to bypass your search result and look for another option with more positive feedback.
That’s going to have a crippling effect on your organic traffic, and the ranking for that particular page is likely to drop off due to a lack of interaction. A poor user experience with slow or unresponsive support is likely to generate a slew of bad reviews, while an intuitive live chat solution will result in more satisfied users and more positive reviews as a result.