How to rock your review and testimonial pages
When you see an ad or access a website for weight loss products, you will invariably get “before-after” visuals along with customer testimonials touting the product as the one final thing that worked for them. Consumers who view these types of ads are becoming smarter and far more skeptical. Such “testimonials” are falling on deaf ears, for the most part and search engines do not like such content. There has been, therefore, an effort on the part of reputable businesses to seek and publish testimonials that are honest and believable.
At the same time, review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, City Search, and Amazon are becoming more important. In fact, 92% of consumers do say that they read reviews, and many of them say that reviews that have positively influenced their purchases. This is especially true for local businesses.
Add to this the fact that Google has overhauled and established new guidelines for reviews and testimonials, and Yelp is also insisting that reviews follow those guidelines. Testimonials and reviews that follow these guidelines and that are published on your site improve SEO rankings, whether your business is the result of a national or local Google search. So, it makes sense to understand how you can use testimonials and reviews on your site that will make search engines happy and give you credibility.
Making you Review/Testimonial Page Rock
First, some important definitions.
The Common Review: This is a review that customer posts on a website for that purpose. Given the huge use of social media now, however, reviews and comments posted on those platforms must be monitored as well. Here is a typical set of reviews commonly posted on Yelp for informal eating in Chesterfield, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. The business owner has no control over what is posted but does have a place to reply. It will be important to monitor review sites so that you can respond quickly, especially if there are negative comments.
The Typical Testimonial: This is a short statement by a customer, usually gathered by the business and published on the site. The business has more control over what is said than on an off-site review can always choose which testimonials to publish on his site.
“We love our new windows, and we are already seeing a reduction in our heating bill.”
Bill and Susie Wall, Chesterfield, MO
The Hybrid Testimonial/Review: This is a meshing of a review and testimonial that is published on the site. It is a more sophisticated statement of sentiment, and customers can use a site-based “form” of sorts to provide their feedback. Some of these forms also include rating stars, emoji’s, and avatars. And, the business owner can also respond to the customer statement. The great thing about this new process is that it makes it easy for a customer to provide the feedback. It might look something like this:
Susie Wall, Chesterfield, MO, October 10, 2016
Love my new windows. Bill was so helpful in
helping us pick out the right balance between
quality and price. And your installers were just
Sam B. responded, October 11, 2016
So glad you are happy and satisfied. We think
we have the best quality and price in the St.
Louis area. It’s nice to have that confirmed
by a customer. Thank you for taking the time
to share your experience.
This hybrid is credible and allows for a company response. Potential customers who see this are far more apt to take the review/testimonial seriously and will appreciate the fact that there is a company response.
Overall, reviews and testimonials that you publish on a site page must be far more sophisticated than those of the past. As Marcus Hancock, Director of MJH Group states:
“Any type of review/testimonial publishing that you include on your site has to be considered part of a total marketing strategy. While customer feedback is only one marketing tool, it is fast becoming a major player. Consumers rely on other consumers for recommendations, even if they are strangers. Businesses need to create a customer review page that is well-structured, credible, and that follow guidelines set by search engines.”
Review and testimonial platforms do have guidelines for who, what, and how is published. Staying within these guidelines means two things:
- If you wish to re-publish a review that is on a review site, such as Yelp, then you must check out the guidelines – size of Yelp logo, publishing the entire reviews, not just excerpts you like, refraining from intimidating that Yelp is endorsing your business, etc. Every platform has its own guidelines, so be certain to follow them.
- Each platform is different, so be certain that you do not get yourself into trouble by failing to adhere to its rules.
When You Solicit and Post Your Own Reviews/Testimonials
- Add credibility by posting name, last initial, and town/city
- Be certain to get permission to publish the testimonial
- See if the customer is willing to provide a photo you can use - powerful
- If you have tech-savvy customers, ask for a video testimonial – these are more powerful
- Try to get the testimonial as quickly as possible after the sale. That’s when customers are most motivated to do so. Send an email with a format and/or app (for those hybrid testimonial/reviews), and make it very easy.
- Follow Google guidelines for testimonials – they must come directly from users, not from a third-party source; do not compile or edit testimonials.
Consumers today do research when they are considering a product or service purchase. And they can usually “smell” a trumped up review/testimonial page on a company’s website. If you follow these steps and guidelines, yours will be credible and search engines will be happy.