The Ridiculous Hidden Power of Local Reviews: Umpteen Ways to Use Them to Get More Business

Even the obvious benefits of great customer reviews are almost too many to count.  To wit:

  • They take a little pressure off your site to “convert,” because visitors arrive largely pre-sold.
  • They can help you eat up more of page one of Google.
  • They help you cultivate non-Google Maps or non-Google sources of visibility.
  • They take some of the pressure off your local SEO and other online-marketing efforts, because they build your reputation online and offline.
  • You’ll be a little more attuned to customer-service if you know you’ll ask for a review eventually.
  • Even if your rankings stink, they help you land more word-of-mouth referrals. (Those people probably Google you, too.)
  • Whoever sees your reviews in the local search results is more likely to pick up the phone.

Those are just the beginning, though.  You can squeeze many other benefits from customers’ reviews and from the process of earning and encouraging them.  As AJ Kohn said about commenting on blog posts, the hidden power of reviews is ridiculous.

Here are some of the less-obvious ways you can use your reviews to help your local SEO and marketing even more.

1. Use them to research keywords. You might not call your services what your customers call them, and you might not search for them in the way they search for them.  Where appropriate, try to incorporate those phrases into relevant pages of your site, or create separate pages on them.

2. Mine your reviews to learn exactly what kinds of customers have reviewed you, and why. Use those insights to determine who are the other customers most likely to review you (and ask them), and to make your services better.

3. Study your competitors’ reviews. Ask the same questions as in points #1-2.

4. Use a freshly-written review as an excuse to contact the customer who wrote it. Say thanks.  Ask how he or she is doing, or just say you’d like any further feedback.  That’s good to do on principle, and sometimes you’ll get repeat business out of the deal.

 

5. Use a new review as an occasion ask for an additional review, on a different site, if the customer is willing.

6. Write owner-responses in a way that makes you look great to anyone reading your reviews.

7. Copy and paste the reviews onto your site. (Google doesn’t seem to mind, and neither does Yelp, and other sites surely don’t care.)  I suppose this isn’t such a hidden benefit of reviews, but I have to mention it because it’s so important.  Your customers’ reviews are copywriting rebar.  Your selling points are stronger if you’re not the only one touting them.   Also, if you cite the city the reviewer is from, they’re semi-“local” content you don’t have to write.  They’re particularly useful on city pages.

8. Put them on a “Reviews” or “Reviews & Testimonials” page on your site. It might even rank for keyword + reviews local search terms.

9. Use them on a “Why Choose Us?” page.

10. Add reviews badges or widgets to your site to showcase the reviews. The badges serve as third-party “trust” symbols, if you use the badge(s) provided by the site where you’ve got the reviews.

11. Create your own badge, if none is available on the site where you’ve got a pile of good reviews.

12. Allude to your reviews in your AdWords ads.

13. Include them (or excerpt or link to them) in your email signature, possibly along with a link to your “Review Us” page.

14. Use them as seeds for blog post topics. You can expand on certain selling points (or other points) a reviewer brought up.

15. Use them to reduce surprises and customer-service issues, by encouraging visitors to read your reviews before they call you. Even if that means they have to open up another browser tab and take their eyes off your site for a minute.  Say something like, “We want you to know how we made other customers happy, and we want you to be our latest happy customer, so please take a minute to read our reviews.”  When they come back, they’ll be more likely to call you, and less likely to eat up your time with questions your past customers already answered.

Any non-obvious powers of reviews I didn’t mention?

How do you leverage your reviews (the good and even the bad)?

Any great real-life examples of one of the points I mentioned?

Leave a comment!

Ultimate List of Review Widgets and Badges for Your Local Business Website

What good are your reviews if nobody sees them?

Whenever possible, you should show them off on your site by using a review “widget” or badge.  Many review sites offer them for the taking.

But review widgets and badges are more than flashy “trust” symbols.  They can also:

  • Encourage any current / past customers who visit your site to leave reviews
  • Help with your barnacle SEO (because you’re linking to your listings)
  • Add a little extra color and je ne sais quoi to your site

For the record, here’s what I’m talking about:

For the third part of my recent unofficial trilogy on more-advanced review strategy (see this and this), I’ve rounded up every piece of review bling I could find.

How many widgets / badges you can put on your site depends mostly on your industry and on where you already have reviews.

See which ones you can add to your site.  Here are the links:

Angie’s List

Widget: http://www.angieslist.com/angie-badge/
Industry: Any

Avvo

Widget: http://www.avvo.com/partner_with_us/syndication
Industry: Legal

Cylex

Widget: http://bit.ly/1tYUsBR
Industry: Any

HomeStars

Widget: http://bit.ly/1ERKE4Y
Industry: Home-improvement

Houzz

Widget: http://www.houzz.com/buttonsAndBadges
Industry: Home-improvement

Note: You’ll need to have reviews on Houzz and be signed-in to get your widget. Thanks to Ben Bowen of Ross NW Watergardens for pointing this out in his comment.

Martindale

Widget: http://bit.ly/1D6bPY2
Industry: Legal

Kudzu

Widget: http://www.kudzubizsuccess.com/?p=599
Industry: Any

SuperPages

Widget: http://www.superpages.com/ratings_badges/search_page.html
Industry: Any

TripAdvisor

Widget: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Widgets
Industry: Tourism and dining

Trulia

Widget: http://www.trulia.com/tools/ambassador/
Industry: Real estate

WeddingWire

Widget: http://www.weddingwire.com/shared/Widgets
Industry: Wedding-related

Wellness

Widget: http://www.wellness.com/docs/12761/wellness-provider-program
Industry: Health

Yelp

Widget: https://biz.yelp.com/bling/
Industry: Any

Zagat

Widget: http://www.zagat.com/business-owners/badge
Industry: Dining

Zillow

Widget: http://www.zillow.com/webtools/widgets/review-widget/
Industry: Real estate and home-improvement

 

A few notes:

You’ll notice I didn’t include paid review-encouragement systems – like CustomerLobby, DemandForce, or SmileReminder – although they do give you ways to showcase your reviews.

Didn’t see the site you wanted represented among the above widgets / badges?  You can always create your own badges, which you link out to places where you’ve got reviews.  That’s the only good way to show off your Google+ reviews, for instance.  (If you do this, I suggest you have the links open into new browser tabs, so that you’re not making people leave your site.)

Use CrazyEgg or a similar tool to see how many people click on your review badges – or even see them in the first place.  You may conclude that you should show off your reviews in the sidebar, or only on specific pages, or on this or that part of the page.  Tinker around until your plan comes together.

Am I missing any review widgets that you know of?

Do you use any widgets on your site?  If so, which one(s) do you like?

Leave a comment!