There is no substitute for contact with people who work in, around and with Google; if the flight were less than twenty-two hours return we would do it more often!
The 'REVIEWS' tab - front-and centre of every Google search
- Google values reviews more every day; as a stand-alone resource for its users and as an SEO 'credit'
- Google will continue to reward businesses that host their own reviews on their own websites
- Businesses must start planning - now! - for the day that Google returns businesses in search based on their reviews: their scores, the absolute number of reviews they have and the flow of those reviews
- Google sees independent reviews sites - from Tripadvisor and Yelp to Trustpilot and Feefo - reducing in significance in search in the near future (in the UK we have already seen both Trustpilot and Feefo pull back from service reviews recently)
- Google is determined to continue to add value through reviews - by refining ways in which it can identify fake or fraudulent reviews, for example (see our note on compliance at the end of this article) and by encouraging quality reviews, initially through its Local Guides
Other more general - but equally important - themes emerged:
- Businesses should take reviews seriously - more seriously than most do currently
- Businesses should make every effort to score as near as 5.0 as possible (4.0 out of 5 will simply not cut it in the new era)
- Businesses should be looking to accrue reviews in their thousands (as opposed to the tens and hundreds as is common at present)
- Businesses should be making a significant investment in training staff, from senior management through to sales and customer support, in order that they do not fall behind or have their online reputations negatively impacted
- Review management must be viewed as a stand-alone discipline - complementing feedback and analytics, but not secondary or subordinate to them
And just one point - alluded to above - on our old friend compliance:
- Google will be introducing more ways of its own, independent of national regulatory bodies, to establish whether or not businesses are cherry-picking or gating and it will be expanding its current range of sanctions