Nobody wants to be average, right? The same is true in the online review space. To be truly effective, your reviews need to be better than average!
Most business owners know they need great reviews. Few have a focused review strategy. And fewer still think to direct traffic to more than one review platform.
Here’s why it’s time for you to create a better-than-average review strategy to get more and better reviews across a range of review sites.
Why You Need More Reviews Than Average
Your review count matters more than your star rating.
You may be asking…how can this possibly be true? Wouldn’t your single 5-star review be vastly superior to the ten 4-star reviews your competitor has?
Here’s why not:
1. Consumers Expect Lots of Reviews
Consumers want to not only see a lot of reviews to make a judgment about your business but also want to see that you have more reviews than your competition.
One study shows you need you to have an average of 40 reviews before they trust your star rating at all!1
This can vary by industry.
Small businesses can get by with fewer reviews, but only if they have more of them than their competitors do.
2. Lots of Reviews Means More Trust
It all comes down to trust.
If Joe Lawyer has 10 reviews, and Mary Lawyer has 20 reviews, then Mary is likely to get more visitors. And if you’re the lawyer in town with just 2 reviews, then many potential clients will opt to go with someone else.
3. Reviews Are Part of Your SEO Strategy
The SEO benefits of reviews are well-documented, but it’s worth reiterating: it’s easier for a business with more reviews to rank higher than one with fewer. Which business do you want to be?
4. Businesses with More Reviews than Average Make More Money!
And all these benefits add up into one larger, core benefit. Statistically, businesses with more reviews than average for their industry and town generate 54% more revenue.
Why Your Reviews Have to Be Fresh
Reviews have a shelf life.
83% of consumers believe reviews aren’t useful if they’re more than three months old.1 And some won’t bother reading reviews if they’re more than two weeks old.
This is especially true in the hospitality industry. There is a lot of staff turnover in restaurants, and customers know the quality of the food can change with the quality of the staff. Thus, they are more vigilant about checking dates.
It’s true for hotels too, both because of high staff turnover and the customer’s high degree of anxiety over choosing a bad hotel. If you plan to vacation in a strange city for five days you don’t want to get there only to discover a filthy hotel!
It’s a sensible strategy for those who are looking to make sure they get great value for their money.
Businesses change. Staff comes and goes. Management shifts can lead to reductions in quality in the name of slashing overhead. Prices go up or down. And savvy companies look to improve when their reviews tell them there’s something wrong.
This is never a one-and-done process. If you slow down or stop, your competition will overtake you, and your reviews will lose value. You must make reviews a priority and do so on a consistent basis. A slow, steady drip of reviews is better than one big rush for SEO and trust purposes. Continuing to grow your reviews means never having to scramble to catch up.
Why You Need to Be on Multiple Review Sites
1. More Reviews Means Higher Revenue
You can get more reviews by being on more review sites.
Businesses who have a robust review presence on multiple sites see 58% more revenue.
There are several reasons why this is so.
First, there are SEO benefits of having a review presence. Businesses who make it into the local 3-pack, which shows at the top of Google search results, receive most of the calls. After your geographic location, reviews are one of the main factors for getting into the 3-pack.
Once people find you and see your reviews, they might never even need to visit your home page. Many people use Google’s knowledge panel instead, and reviews are the first thing they check. They can call you right from there, or get directions to your location.
Higher Yelp ranking
If people decide to scroll past the 3-pack, your site might not be the first site they see. Yelp appears in the top spot 92% of the time for any local business search. If you have more reviews on Yelp, you can be more visible once the person clicks to Yelp.
2. Google Isn’t the Only Player
Not everyone uses Google. Those who do sometimes check additional sites to make sure the story those sites tell is in line with the story your Google reviews tell.
3. Boost your Overall Credibility
Which plays into the third benefit: overall credibility. Plenty of businesses focus one platform, racking up the reviews. Few spread their attention out to multiple platforms. If a customer can see that you’ve got great reviews on more than one site, then they’re going to tend to trust your business more.
4. People Pay More when a Business Has Great Reviews
Finally, people are willing to pay more to visit a location that has great reviews. Everyone is looking for a top-notch experience with everyone they do business with, and reviews are one of the easiest ways to find one.
How to Choose Review Sites
1. Start with Google My Business
Start with Google and go from there. Everyone uses Google. You can easily email customers a direct link to your Google My Business profile so that they can just click and review, hassle-free.
Google’s new Q&A feature makes their review platform more important than ever. Google will pull up answers to questions as customers type them. All the answers come directly from your reviews.
2. Next, Facebook
Facebook has changed its “leave a review” feature to “leave a recommendation.” This is nice because it puts people in the mindset that if they’re leaving a comment here it is meant to be positive. Remaining active on Facebook is a good way to generate these.
3. What about Yelp?
It depends on your industry and location. Yelp is very popular in urban areas but is barely in use in rural ones. And because they have very prohibitive terms of service, you can’t send customers there directly.
Still, if you have a brick and mortar store getting a few of Yelp’s marketing materials to put up (such as the window cling) can be a good idea.
Google has an up-and-coming competitor: DuckDuckGo. This privacy-based browsing service is slowly stealing market share away from Google. They’re now absorbing 40 million searches a day.
And DuckDuckGo pulls all their local search review data directly from Yelp.
And even though 60% of consumers use GMB, another 11.9% use Yelp. And if you’re a restaurant, the percentage jumps to 29%, slightly ahead of Google at 28%. That’s a lot of business to leave on the table, even if you’re skeptical of the platform.
4. Chose Niche Review Sites
Almost every industry has its own niche directories.
Schools have Greatschools.com.
Doctors, dentists, and chiropractors have Healthgrades.com.
For Realtors it’s Realtor.com.
For car dealerships it’s Cars.com.
For travel, it’s TripAdvisor.
Research your niche to find out what sites your clients/customers are using.
Most of these sites allow you to send your clients a direct link so they can leave a review there, but it’s always a good idea to check that site’s terms of service before you start directing reviewers there.
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1Brightlocal local consumer review survey, 2019