Proven SEO technique: Using a third party review aggregator to collect online feedback

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.

reviews-in-serps

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.

Negative feedback

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).

Any suggestions?

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.

eKomi

Feefo

Reviews.co.uk

Survey Monkey

TrustPilot

Working Feedback

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.



6 Comments

  • Simon Falton

    An interesting read. We have been looking at adding reviews as part of our clients SEO strategy for approx 2 months but it is difficult to absorb the cost of these other services into our consulting fee!! Most are not convinced there is any benefit to reviews at all. Thanks. Followed.

    • Hi Simon

      There is no need to absorb the cost of somebody else’s services in your fees unless you are taking a cut – it’ll just mean that you have to do more work for less money. The better approach would be to “advise” your client of the benefits and then recommend a particular feedback provider (after you’ve done your research). Your client can then pay for the feedback subscription themselves as a separate service to your own.

      When it works, you’ll be able to say that your recommendation has improved business for your client, which will increase their confidence in yourself. You’ll also have the added bonus of the natural SEO benefits that the feedback will offer, so you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and do slightly less work. Well we can all dream right? 😉

  • James

    Stumbled across you on LinkedIn. Pricing for some of the suggested companies is extortionate so how can we be sure that the costs can be justified without risking capital up front?

    • Hi James

      There are many more than the one’s we’ve listed, those were just the main ones that we recognised from a quick Google search. I guess the best way to prove the method is to contact one of your choice and see if they’ll set you up with a free trial. I’m pretty sure they will all offer a least a 7 or 14 day trial if not longer.

      You don’t need to spend huge amounts of money on this. Yes if you pick the higher packages you could be quoted prices of £200+ per month (which I agree is outrageous) but the lower plans are all you need. Some start from as little as £35 a month with no contract, whilst others may have a minimum term. I’m still waiting on pricing and feature comparison from each of those in the list and will be in a better position to answer your question once I have that info.

  • mike

    checkatrade basically already sorts me out on this front

    • Crayden Group

      Hi Mike

      We absolutely disagree! Checkatrade will collect reviews about your work but the process is clumbsy, and it only benefits them! The star rating only appears on your Checkatrade page – not on your own site, or anywhere else online – so the SEO benefit goes directly to them.

      It’s the same with their free van signage. Notice how 90% of the signage is all about Checkatrade and then they stick your tiny logo in the corner somewhere? Having friends in the trade I do realise that you kinda need to be a member of Checkatrade just to get seen and/or to be considered reputable, so don’t cancel that subscription, but we’re talking a different kettle of fish here.

      Give one of the recommended companies a trial for just a few days, then leave it a few weeks and see the difference. You won’t regret it 🙂

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