What’s the Best Place to Gather Reviews for Your Company?Positive reviews are definitely helpful when it comes to getting new business. People want to see that other people have had a good experience with your company, and that’s certainly a reasonable thing for them to want.
But where should you direct your happy customers to leave those precious reviews? Yelp? Google Places, in the hopes of boosting your local SEO? Or somewhere else entirely?
Recently I wrote an article on The Blogging Painters website where I cautioned business owners to avoid paying sites like Yelp. It’s not cost-effective and it simply “feeds the beast” by paying people who are in the business of making life harder for business owners. Contractor marketing specialist Darren Slaughter of DarrenSlaughter.com weighed in with the notion that reviews should be warehoused on your own site. He provided some great reasons for this.
When contractors ask clients to go to Yelp or any other review repository they do a couple of things:
1. They give away the rights to that review. Once you post it on Yelp it becomes their content, so even if you copy and paste it on your site it’s now duplicate content.
2. You make Mrs. Jones go AWAY from your site to read what people are saying about you, when all your hard work should move people TO your site.
3. You open yourself up to gaming by the review sites. Yelp is notorious for reaching out to companies with negative reviews and selling them ad packages that in essence “move down” the offending review.
Reviews matter. They matter a great deal. So instead of asking clients or customers to go to another site where you are simply a digital sharecropper, own the message and put the reviews on your own site. Label the page “reviews.”
This was all excellent advice. (Incidentally you use “reviews,” and not “testimonials,” Darren explained, so that you came up first when someone searches [your company] reviews.)
Warehousing reviews on your own website kills a lot of problems with gathering reviews. You won’t see any “disappeared” 5 and 4 star reviews. 3 stars or less? You can contact the customer to work out any issues and you don’t have to show the review at all unless you’re deliberately trying to demonstrate how great you are at customer service. Indeed, “bad reviews” just become customer service complaints the old fashioned way, rather than becoming something that can destroy your entire business.
But what about local SEO, which takes third party review sites into account? Won’t you miss out by warehousing the reviews on your own site?
I don’t think so. First of all, some people will go to third-party review sites no matter what you ask them to do. Maybe they take pride in contributing to those sites. Maybe they want to help you out there. Maybe they just do it out of habit.
Second, reviews only help local SEO if they are saying nice things. So if you’re seeing all of your good reviews get filtered while the 1-star spam reviews stay right where they are you’re not getting much benefit from those third party sites at all.
Third, third party review sites are only a small part of a greater algorithmic puzzle. There are other factors that Google uses to determine local SEO placement. You can build citations, for example. You can post pictures on Google Places. You can optimize your own site and build up a web presence everywhere. All of these things help local SEO without relying on reviews.
Finally, the benefits of controlling your own reviews simply outweigh the benefits of sending people to Google Places or Yelp. It gives you control over your own reputation while acting as a closing tool on your website, and both of these things are very good things indeed.
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