- November 29, 2016
- Posted by: Crayden Group
- Category: Collecting Reviews
If your SEO company has not implemented a strategy that involves collecting genuine customer reviews then there’s a good chance they are behind the times.
FACT: 90% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by positive online reviews. What’s more, 87% say that their buying decisions are also heavily affected by negative online reviews.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Regardless of whether you have existing reviews or not you need to use them properly to gain the maximum benefit. The problem is that the process can be very time consuming. If you are just starting out then you may be able to do this yourself for a short period of time, but if you really want to make any impact you should enlist the help of a third party review aggregator.
What’s the deal?
It’s important that you understand the whole point of collecting and displaying reviews before you go ahead and make the plunge. Online reviews are important for a number of reasons, including:
- Your rankings in search engine results
- Which search results actually get clicked on (among all of those displayed)
- Consumer purchasing decisions
In terms of your local SEO strategy, that makes online reviews absolutely critical and potentially on par with on-site optimisations. This is huge, but don’t think it’s as easy as it sounds – writing a few reviews for yourself and publishing them once will get you nowhere.
How most people do this
Let’s say you run your own business (and for the majority of those reading this post this is likely true). Now imagine that at some point in the past you have written a glowing review for yourself in order to try to look better against a competitor, ultimately winning more business over your rival. This might actually work for a short while, and whilst this is the general idea you’ll usually only get a temporary gain from this sort of action – but you’ve probably already realised that, right?
You’ve now seen the initial benefits of your single 5 star review and want to give it a second try, so you perhaps enlist the help of friends and family to write a couple of reviews for you. Despite being ever so slightly dishonest you realise this could be a good approach and want to get genuine customer opinions, so you start asking customers if they will write you a review online when they leave your shop. They all say they will, but over the next 6 months you’ve only seen 5 genuine reviews posted, and they are all over the internet and unlikely to be easily found.
A 6th review eventually comes in, but you quickly identify it as a fake review from a competitor who claimed that your service was awful and that people should shop down the road instead. You get disheartened, forget reviews entirely, and look at other subtle ways to draw attention to your business.
So what happened here?
If this sounds like you, you may be wondering what went wrong or how you can fix it. The underlying problem is simple and very difficult to avoid:
You don’t have a system in place to collect genuine opinions, and you don’t have the time to make it work on your own
Chances are you also invested all your time and effort in to writing reviews solely for your Google My Business profile. By doing this you’re missing out on the huge potential that third party companies can provide that you would not be able to implement yourself.
How it should be done
I myself must admit that I hate paying other people to do work that I could potentially do myself, and for years I would spend days on end trying to achieve something that could have been done in a few minutes, had I just paid somebody else the whole £4.99 that I was trying to save.
Your time is worth so much more than that – especially if you can get better results elsewhere – and unfortunately this is one of those occasions. You simply will not be able to achieve any significant impact with online reviews unless you leave it to the experts.
A reputable third party review aggregator will give you huge benefits over a manual approach. Specifically, they will:
- Have a dedicated system in place that will contact your customers on your behalf, requesting feedback on an almost automatic basis
- Have a human moderation team – somebody who will look through the feedback that you’ve received and verify that it is genuine – or at a very minimum provide software detection of fake or unreliable reviews
- Be able to display your glowing feedback as a star rating in search engine results by using special markup language
- Dynamically change your star rating and review count every time a new review is published, without you have to do a thing
- Provide a system that enables you to publicly respond to negative or constructive comments, showing that you care about your customers opinions
- Show off your amazing business rating on your own website via an automatically updating widget and share your review across social media platforms like Facebook
- Give you a detailed breakdown or report of all the feedback that you’ve received, by whom, when, and by what methods
If your business is regulated by an external body (such as Financial Advisers or Care Homes) then the majority of their work would also likely cover mandatory compliance in respect of treating customers fairly and monitoring your service to clients.
The most important thing to take from this is that paying for a service to manage your online reviews will save you time whilst earning you money. Whilst your own resources are limited, a dedicated service can collect all your reviews in one place and display them across the entire internet – and that means more than just Google and Bing!
Why a third party?
Genuine reviews are powerful in that they provide an unbiased opinion that other customers respect. Yet reviews must be shown to be genuine for this to sway a purchasing decision. If you’re collecting reviews yourself then you have no way of showing others that they are genuine and unedited, and you may not necessarily get the genuine opinion of your customer.
A third party will always collect better, higher quality reviews from your customers, and that is because they know their comments are going straight to the third party and not you – they can write what they really feel. It is the impartiality that creates the exponential effect that you need to obtain, and not the mere premise that you are collecting reviews.
Even the best businesses in the world will attract some negative comments, and you may be put off by the fact that a third party feedback solution could potentially publish a whole load of negativity about your brand across the internet – the complete opposite of what you were trying to achieve to begin with!
This is actually far from reality and research has shown that almost 92% of genuinely collected reviews from passionate businesses are positive in one form or another. Yet that 8% of potentially negative comments is incredibly valuable to you for two reasons:
- Those negative reviews, when published, show that you do not censor or hide reviews which may reflect badly on you, your staff, your business or your product, and really are genuine.
- You can take those negative comments and learn from your mistakes, refining your business practices to ensure that your next customer is as happy as they can possibly be.
The majority of third parties will have procedures in place to alert you to negative feedback and allow you to investigate further or to publicly reply. We’d always recommend that you publish all negative comments and reply to each and every one – this really shows that you care.
Don’t just reply to negative comments though – you should reply to a selection of your best ones too where possible, and should take advantage of any keywords and phrases that you may wish to use for ranking purposes (just don’t go stuffing now, will you).
There are several well known companies who provide feedback solutions in the UK, as well as a couple that you may not have heard of. They all have their pros and cons but essentially do the same thing. We’ll leave a list of the ones we’ve looked at below, but you should individually investigate each one and judge which one will be the best for your particular needs.
We’ve reached out to each of those listed above for comment on pricing and features, and we’ll update this post once we have the information.