“I picked you because of your reviews” is nice to hear, especially it’s often. But how do you achieve that?
Having “good reviews” isn’t always enough. Plenty of businesses have good reviews, but don’t attract enough business, or rank well, or beget the kinds of reviews that beget more customers who beget more reviews. That’s one reason local SEO and review strategy are so connected (if you’re doing it right).
What’s in a “perfect” pile of reviews? More than you think. Possibly more than you can get, even if you do everything right. As someone who’s helped business owners on that for many years, I’ve got a long list of boxes you should try to check. More on that in a minute.
To keep the checklist to a reasonable length, I’ve got to assume two things about you:
- You want reviews from real people, and not from friends or Fiverr merchants.
- You know your customers well enough to know how important it is for your business to have reviewers from “different walks of life,” and that you don’t need my advice on that.
For my list to be of much use, you probably need to keep at least a little influx of reviews from customers / clients / patients. See this post.
Now, what should that stack of reviews look like? No one review will meet more than a few of these criteria, but your stack of online reviews as a whole should contain as many of the following as possible:
- Reviews on a wide range of sites.
- Plenty of 5-star reviews.
- A stinker or two. For one thing, they’re a reality-check. We don’t live in a 5-star world.
- Recent reviews. Make it clear you’re still in business.
- Old reviews. In time you’ll want a few Mick Jaggers in there.
- Excruciatingly detailed reviews. Happy, yappy customers who don’t seem to have an “off” button can make great reviewers.
- Funny reviews. Maybe you can skip this one if you’re a bankruptcy lawyer, urologist, or funeral-home director.
- Sloppy reviews. Some people just don’t think in terms of paragraphs or complete sentences. Doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a belch of approval.
- Photos included with the reviews.
- Mentions of your business by name.
- Mentions of specific people in your organization (you, partners, employees, etc.).
- Reviews on less-trafficked or niche review sites. Don’t necessarily fixate on Google and Yelp.
- Reviews by one-time skeptics. There’s no zeal like the zeal of the convert.
- Reviews by former customers of your competitors.
- Reviews by longtime / repeat customers of yours. “I had a great experience” is only weak when compared to “I’ve brought my wallet here for years.”
- Reviews by farther-away customers – people who maybe had to drive a little, or who are on the outer edge of your service area. Great tie-in with “city pages,” by the way.
- Reviews by almost-customers. When a near-miss speaks up, it shows you’re willing to turn down business if it’s not the right fit.
- Mentions of relevant cities / places. May help your rankings. Of interest to would-be customers either way.
- Mentions of specific services. People like crunchy little bits of detail. Google sure seems to.
- Reviews that explain how the reviewer found you.
- Reviews that explain how the reviewer picked you.
- Reviews from people who reviewed you on another site, too.
- Reviews from shy customers / clients / patients. Maybe they use a pen name or initials. Maybe they don’t go into as much detail as they could, and it’s obvious there’s more to the story. Reluctant reviews can pack a strange wallop.
- Comments on other reviewers’ reviews. It can be powerful for customer B to rebut or confirm what customer A said.
- Favorable comparisons to a competitor.
I didn’t include screenshots of examples because I wanted to keep it as much like a checklist as possible. But I’m all about real-life examples, so here are a few examples of great local-business review profiles for you to leaf through:
Can you think of any other parts of a perfect pile of reviews? (I know I’ve forgotten something.)
Any real-life examples you’d like to share?
Leave a comment!
Definitely, I agree that you need a couple of stinkers in there – especially if you have plenty of reviews. You have to laugh at some people who game the system to give themselves 1,000 glowing reviews, and every single one of them is 5 star. People aren’t stupid, and most will spot a fraud a mile off. When sussing out a business, many people will sort by lowest score, read them, and if they aren’t absolutely horrendous (i.e. illegal activity or something), they’ll usually be satisfied. So if you get a couple of moaners in your reviews that are particularly harsh on you, don’t worry – wear those reviews with pride!
Couldn’t agree more, Nigel. Most people have pretty good BS meters. Also, we attract to the degree we repel.
Boyd Butler says
Video reviews. Simple video reviews on YouTube that you can then embed on your site.
Video reviews are good, Boyd, but I’d throw them more into the hamper of “testimonials” – rather than of reviews on third-party sites.