However well the independent sites are structured - in theory - in practice they are always gazumped by Google:
Here's a search for a famous hotel in London:
Do you see TripAdvisor?
The problem is that to return TripAdvisor in search, the potential customer has to add the word 'reviews' to their search string. But, because they instinctively know that Google will return reviews anyway, they don't. And even if they did, the Google reviews will still dominate:
It's the same for estate agents. Look at this search (including the word 'reviews'):
There is a conflict between the Google reviews and RaterAgent - no offence to Rateragent, but which carries the credibility?Two review sites are returned (Yell is not that helpful for this business!), but the Google box dominates.
And now the overwhelmingly most popular search string - on the business's name and location alone:
It's the Google reviews that are returned:
Our job, on your behalf, is to ensure your reviews appear where they make maximum impact. And for the overwhelming majority of our clients that is on Google. If, in the future, the landscape changes, we will advise accordingly (a massive advantage for us, and our clients, is that we have no bias). But until then our advice is straightforward: you need reviews on your own website and on Google.
What does the stock market think of independent review sites?
For those of you with an investment bent, you might be interested to look at the recent share price performance of those two giant independent review sites - Yelp and TripAdvisor. Here's an article we wrote in June 2015 - and Yelp's share price has fallen nearly 50% further since then. All a reflection of Google's dominance - and further vindication of our long-standing advice to our clients.
If you are concerned that getting reviews to your own website and to Google may be a big ask, look at what this client achieved in just a week.