Yesterday I recapped a great Webmaster Radio interview John Carcutt and Ross Dunn did with Google Places expert Mike Blumenthal, where he specifically talked about his philosophy about reviews. It’s worth calling out one specific point he made during that interview that’s significant:
To me, a review is effective when a customer see’s it- and the impact on the algorithm is secondary. The value of a review is in the credibility it provides and the call to action on the part of somebody seeing your listing.
The key idea is that you shouldn’t be chasing reviews to increase your rank in the search engines, or have a knee-jerk reaction to every change in Google’s algorithm.
Reviews are a key factor in how people make buying decisions, and that’s why you want to have a long-term, consistent and diversified review management policy in place for your business now. I wrote about this concept in a previous post where I talked about “going on offense with customer reviews“, and just this morning Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing wrote an excellent piece at Search Engine Journal about his “3 Pillars of Local Search Reviews” which included some great, actionable tips that you can put in place today for your business– as part of this plan– without a huge investment in time or money. I’ll let you read his full article to understand the thinking behind his philosophy, but here are just a few of his tips:
- Incorporate “Leave Us A Review” links on your web site to your targeted review sources (Mike recommends 4). These should obviously be the most influential review sources for your industry (like Trip Advisor for hotels or Yelp for restaurants).
- You probably have some kind of customer email list- make it easy for people to respond to a review request from you by targeting (for example) all the people with a gmail account to leave a review on Google, and all the people with a Yahoo account to leave a review on Yahoo. If they have an email address, they already have a log-in and it makes it an easy, one-step process for them to click a link you provide and go to the site to write a review.
- Create a simple sell-sheet asking for reviews that can be handed out where-ever you do business with customers (it could even be sent out with invoices).
- In every email you send to customers, include links to review portals with the request to leave a review.
- Prominintly highlight in your place of business a review a month. This could be a collateral piece or poster that notes a postive review, and sends a signal to customers reinforcing your reputation and subtly encouraging them to participate in the review process as well.
These are just a few quick ideas that you can start on today. The bigger concept is that you need to start pro-actively thinking review management so you can confidently avoid reacting to short term algorithm changes or worry about one negative review taking you down.