Monday 2 August 2021

Why pay when the best review solution is free?

This article was prompted by a puff piece in today's Times for a new app aimed at garden enthusiasts called PictureThis. Essentially a solution for a problem already solved by Google Lens.

Here's the PictureThis plant identifier app (a snip at £25 p.a.)...

And here's Google Lens - in action...

Plant identified - for free.

What relevance has this to reviews, you will be asking? Well, almost exactly the same situation pervades the reviews sphere: businesses are paying for a service that Google already provides - for free. And those paid-for alternatives are by far and away less effective.

Look at this simple matrix...

And just pause a minute to think about how you, the person reading this article, and your customers, find, see, read and react to reviews. 

  • Everyone sees Google reviews - every time they perform a search, even if they are not consciously looking for them
        Search for a specific business and what does the consumer see?

Trustpilot? AllAgents? Yelp? Feefo? Any other review site's reviews? No. Google reviews (Oh!, and in this instance, the business's own reviews hosted on its own website and pulled through to Google under its organic listing, but we'll come to that later)

        Search for a category of business and what does the consumer see?

The same: Google reviews. Or rather the business's score and the number of Google
reviews it has accumulated. The reviews themselves are just a click away...

  • As a result, Google reviews have massive influence, way ahead and above any individual review site, no matter how ubiquitous; many studies have repeatedly confirmed that consumers increasingly don't bother to seek out individual sites now that Google provides reviews in all searches, all the time. You only have to look at the share prices of the two largest quoted review sites to see what investors think...

  • This leaves the businesses that employ those review sites in the position of having to jump through multiple hoops - often at significant expense (Google Ads/SEO etc.) - in order that their reviews be seen. Even then their reviews are often - almost always, in fact -subordinated to Google reviews.

Ask yourself the $64,000 question: if a fairy godmother came along and offered you the choice of 100 5* Google reviews or the same for a reviews site, which would you choose?

HelpHound - where do we come in?

If you look back at the two Google searches above you will see one aspect of our service: providing the mechanism for the business to show reviews on its own website...

Right in the potential clients' eyeline on their home page, with over two hundred more just a click away...

...that Google pulls through into every search result...

But perhaps our most important functions take place behind the scenes:
  1. Collection and moderation: our software not only enables the business to display its own reviews (that it owns - rather than giving away that valuable content and data to a reviews site); before each one of those reviews is published it is thoroughly checked by one of our moderators for factual inaccuracies and potentially misleading statements
  2. Only then, after being published on the business's own site, is the reviewer - every reviewer - asked to copy their review across to Google. That's why our clients invariably have more reviews on their website than they do on Google - but our keyword is 'quality': any business can accumulate hundreds of reviews, but it takes the kind of care and expertise we deploy at HelpHound to ensure, as far as is practicably possible, that those reviews add value for all concerned, consumer and business alike.
  3. Compliance: most businesses are currently reaking UK law when looking to boost their Google reviews. The law specifically states that in a business invites a single customer to write a review it must allow all to do so - and at a time of the customer's own choosing. And it's no defence to say 'Well, they can write a review on Google whenever they like'. HelpHound clinets comply with the CMA regulations.

Many kinds of business don't necessarily need a service such as this (online retail, for instance, where consumers are buying a physical product), but service businesses and the professions - medical, financial, legal and estate agency, for example - do themselves and their potential clients and patients a disservice if they don't.

Key takeaways

  • if your business has yet to decide on a reviews strategy/solution: make sure it is focused on Google reviews
  • if you are concerned by the harm an inaccurate or misleading review (or reviews) can do (to your business): you would do well to give HelpHound's service serious consideration
  • if you are already involved with a reviews site you should be reviewing that involvement in light of the points made in this article

Further reading

  • Reviews and the law: almost all businesses that we meet are breaking the law in some way or another; how do our clients comply?
  • Results: how professional review management is positively guaranteed to generate more clicks and calls for your business
  • Trustpilot: why it struggles so badly when compared with a Google-focussed review policy

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