The anatomy of online reviews
Third party online reviews
- Large element of trust (you have to sign up for an account and verify it before you can create a review, the reviews are also screened on many services).
- Anyone can see the reviews.
- The sites can help towards your local search engine optimisation efforts.
- If people check out your reviews before buying something and you have a good set then they are more likely to buy your items or services.
- Some review services offer widgets that you can add onto your website so that users can see them as they browse your information / products. This saves them leaving your website to check out your online reputation.
- Because the reviews are added onto websites that you do not own, if someone adds a bad reviews or a malicious review (e.g. other company trying to knock you down) then you cannot just remove the review. Some websites have a process where you can appeal against it or you can comment with your side of the story so the whole world can see.
- It is against many website's terms of services to bribe or entice your customers to leave a good review by providing them with presents, discounts, offers etc. This can mean that you rely on your customers to leave a good review on their own back - many people do not even think about leaving an online review. You normally find that people are more than happy to leave a bad review but not a good one.
A list of online review sites for the United Kingdom
How do you actually get online reviews?You must be careful when asking for online reviews as it is against many of the directory websites terms and services. The best option is to reach out to customers and ask them if they have had a pleasant interaction with you and if they wouldn't mind leaving a review on such and such website. Here are some ideas for different approaches;
- Send a polite follow up email asking them if they wouldn't mind leaving you a review
- Phone them up and ask them to leave a review
- If you have a shop front or office where customers can visit the premises then you could have a sign on the door or reception desk asking users to leave a review
- You can use social media posts to remind users
- It can look suspicions to websites if they get a sudden influx of reviews for your business, this could indicate that you are possibly offering "bonuses" for customers to leave reviews or something sinister.
Try to approach customers every month or so to help spread out the reviews.
- Don't badger your customers for reviews, ask once and possibly follow up after a month or so if you don't hear anything. You don't want to loose returning customers by annoying them.
- Again, Don't offer prizes, cash or other rewards for leaving reviews - they have to be genuine
- Of course you cannot choose what your customer says in their review but if they ask for some ideas or help then it can help if they mention what services you offer and your location. This all reinforces what search engines know about your company.
Reviews are for life, not for Christmas
Reviews in GoogleGoogle has a few ways of making reviews stand out and make it a more attractive "click" for users. Here are a few examples;
Google My Business / Places / PlusBelow you can see an example of what many refer to as the 'map pack'. This is the more part at the top of the Google search results (serps) that shows local results to you. The great thing about this result is that it stands out, its at the top of the search results and it gives users quick calls to action e.g. Website, Directions or if you are on a mobile they it has a quick tap to phone option.
You can see how the results with the reviews stand out. This is also a ranking factor in the local search space, meaning that Google pays attention to your reviews and score. An interesting note is that you need a certain amount of reviews to display the actual stars and rating - unfortunately this is different for each business category. As we are in the 'Web Designer' category (seen to the right of our score) we noticed that we required 5 reviews. Another interesting note is that even though we have 7, 5-star reviews our overall score is only 4.9 (not 5 like you would think). It has been noted across other websites that Google does not just have a simple average formula, it takes other things into consideration - which unfortunately nobody knows! We believe that you need 10+, 5-star reviews to get an average score of 5 (this again could vary on business category).
Reviews in the results
Note: These reviews are generally things like product reviews or votes on a certain page. They are not necessarily reviews by your customers such as the example above. The great thing with this schema is that you can choose what you use. As with anything on Google, they decide if they show the markup so even if you have the schema code in place, Google might not show it.
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