How To Grow Real Customer Reviews
Reviews are both the bane and boon of online business, when they are good it can push a real growth in the business as more people patronise your company off the back of the good reviews. This is the internet’s equivalent of the kind of word of mouth marketing that used to only apply within the very local business market. Google and portals like Yahoo Local is actively seeking reviews pages on your site and when found it can display the ratings (where ratings are provided) against you listing in a local or high relevancy search. Ecommerce businesses will already be familiar with this from the display of reviews and ratings against their products.
The importance of reviews is undeniable, when they are good they are as effective an advert for the company as any banner add or paid listing. In fact they are better because a genuine positive review carries far more emotional weight than any created advertising push can do. Search Engines algorithms are written in recognition of this fact and so a relevant site, with good reviews, will always place higher in the SERPs than a site with poor or no obvious reviews.
The first step to getting reviewed is to give your customers the ability to review your site. As many reviews will be emailed in to you it is wise to have a page where these reviews can be published, but the most effective measure is to allow provide a method where customers can enter reviews themselves and rate your site directly.
The important factor of gaining local reviews is to submit your site to as many local listings portals as possible, not only is this and extremely effective way to market you business to a local audience it allows those listings to gain rating and reviews that Google and other search engines trust. These will actually be used as a baseline when reviews on your own site are checked and from this a full picture will emerge.
There is the temptation, especially if you do not feel that you are getting enough reviews, to add in false reviews or edit the reviews you do have to create a favourable impression. This is a big no no, for a number of reasons, not just because it is dishonest. Firstly, to falsify a review you will need to provide the review in a variety of places and some of those work to identify a reviewer, either through IP or through an email request. Just as the search engine algorithms can work out that it is your site being reviewed they can also profile the people leaving reviews for you. If the algorithm can work out that your reviews are coming from people who have reviewed your site a number of times, but never reviewed another site even once, then it is unlikely much quality will be assigned to that review, if it is positive. Worse still that kind of evidence can be used to punish you for these kind of misleading business practices.
Reviews are not a static process, the more your site is reviewed the better and fairer the picture that Google can pick up of your site will be. For this reason it is essential to start the drive to build up the reviews of your site as quickly as possible. Many companies wait for the kick up the backside that a bad review can give, to start farming for positive feedback, but by then it can be too late. This action is even more urgent as an unhappy customer is far more likely to review your site through every channel they can find than a happy customer is. Thus you must start now to farm as many good reviews to head off the day one of your customers wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.