To get the right answer to that question it is important to understand how consumers use reviews. There has now been plenty of academic research in that field and all of it points to the following:
- The pure number of reviews can either boost or dilute the impression you create online. Put simply: a business with 100 great reviews looks bigger and more successful than a business with 50 (and much more so than one with none). The message here is loud and clear: never take your foot off the throttle.
- Recent reviews matter: If consumers see that the last review was written months ago that runs the risk pf creating the impression that it was written by the business's most recent customer. Then some will draw the conclusion that you are not a great force in your marketplace.
- The content of reviews is important: it is used by Google to create the three 'rich snippets' shown in the Knowledge Panel (the box that pops up to the right in search containing all your business details - see illustrations below), so encouraging customers to make content detailed and relevant is a good idea. Simply explain how important this is to your business and your customers will respond with great content.
Remember that four reviews a month will add up to fifty by this time next year (and how many of your competitors have anything like that number)? Perseverance is the key here.
If you build the fact that you will be inviting reviews into all your dealings with your customers they will be upset if you don't invite them, rather than the other way around! That's the way to keep your reviews fresh, as well as the numbers steadily growing.
Rich snippets are one of the most important aspects of the Google Knowledge Panel - there for all to see, every time you feature in search results. Negative rich snippets can do untold harm. Here's what one client's looked like when they joined at the end of last year:
And for anyone wondering about this business: they are a large well-established lettings agency with a very positive and proactive attitude to tenant relations. But with thousands of tenants it was all too easy for the disgruntled minority to dominate what was being said online, so the impression being given was heavily skewed towards that tiny (but vocal) minority's opinions. Dialogue has redressed the balance for them (and will continue to do so).
And one last thing...
There's much more to our role, but clients refer time-and-again to the 'discipline' element, by which they mean that Dialogue ensures that they are always up-to-date as far as reviews are concerned; that they are consistent in requesting (and therefore getting) great reviews, month in, month out.
*Rich snippets: Google software analyses the content of all your reviews, looking for the three predominating themes, it then chooses a phrase from a review that relates to those themes and displays all three as illustrated above.