Wednesday 8 September 2021

The keys to success with reviews

What you see above - a great Google score derived from a significant volume and flow of Google reviews and reviews on your own website that are owned by your business (not a review site) and then generating stars in natural local search drive business, there's no longer any argument about that. But how to achieve this...

  • without exposing your business to unfair, inaccurate or misleading reviews?
  • legally and in compliance with the CMA regaulations?
  • without disrupting your business?
  • without being sold the wrong solution?
  • for the long term?

Reviews - every business needs them - or so the sales forces of all the review sites and aggregators* would have us think. But this couldn't be more misleading. Let's see what almost every business in the world actually needs to get their review management spot-on, legally and to get the maximum benefit for the long term.

The following eight subheadings cover just about every critical aspect of review management a business needs to understand. Once you have read this article you have three options:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Follow the links to more detailed explanations and in-depth articles (there are more than a million words on this blog, written over more than ten years - it can be instructive to pick an old article at random to see if HelpHound was accurate in its predictions!)
  3. Contact us to see just how much value HelpHound can add for your business

*review site: the likes of Trustpilot, Yelp, and Feefo; review aggregator: the likes of and Trustist. If your business is a client of any of these you need to pay special attention to the contents of this article.

Not yet engaged

It is completely understandable that many businesses have yet to find a safe and credible (not to mention compliant) way to engage with online reviews review management remains a minefield for the unwary (witness the massive monthly fees charged by some providers and the questionable credibility of many review platforms), but if your business has yet to adopt a formal review management strategy it is missing a huge opportunity to generate a significant and regular flow of inbound enquiries, both through Google and your own website.

The first question, therefore, you will be asking anyone pitching a reviews solution is 'How can we protect our hard-won reputation from...

  • fake reviews?
  • inaccurate reviews?
  • malicious reviews?
  • misleading reviews?'
The next question should be 'is your solution compliant with the CMA regulations?' And we suggest that you insist on having the answer to that one in writing, as very few are.

And only when you are completely satisfied with the answers to all of these should you even consider taking the next step into proactive review management.


If your current reviews solution is not compliant then you need to seek advice - urgently. Non-compliance is against the law**, in the UK and EU at least. How will you know if your solution complies? Here's is a simple test...

  1. Do you pick and choose which customers to invite to post a review?
  2. Do you control the timing of the invitation to write a review?
  3. Do you use a customer survey or another review site - or any other mechanism - to establish who your 'happy' customers are before inviting them to write a review
  4. Do you use a system that allows you to defer/deny the publication of a review pending 'proof of purchase'  

If your business cannot answer 'No' to all of the above it is non-compliant, and liable to sanction by the CMA. 

Read this article; it contains everything you need to know about compliance with the CMA regulations and UK law.

**It is also blindingly obvious to even the least savvy competitor, and they won't hesitate to alert potential clients to the fact that 'XYZ may look great, but they flout the law to do so; would you want to do business with that kind of outfit?'


Hosting reviews on your own website encourages potential customers to make that crucial first contact and, vitally, contributes to your search engine optimisation score and therefore directly impacts your business's ranking in local search. If you don't currently rank in the top three (top five in densely populated areas) of local search you need to be consulting a review manager that allows you to host your own reviews on your website (not theirs).

There is also no doubt whatsoever that Google will, at some future date, further refine its review filter to produce ranked search results based on a business's Google score and the number of Google reviews it has and businesses that are not prepared will suffer. 


The number of businesses we meet that have adopted review solutions without first seeing concrete proof of their effectiveness is astonishing, to us anyway. Proof? Every business receives a Google My Business report once a month. In that report are the number of clicks and calls the business received through Google in the previous month. To understand the impact that effective review management has on any given business all that business has to do is monitor the uplift in the flow of enquiries through Google from before adoption through implementation and onwards.

Read this and see the audited results of properly implemented review management, and then read this 5-year-old article and bear in mind that all five of the clients quoted remain clients of HelpHound to this day (you might also conduct a local search on any of our clients to see the impact we have been able to have).


Unmoderated review systems work for some businesses: retailers, online more so than high street; monopolies (or virtual monopolies) such as utilities. All other types of business that provide a service - or a significant element of service - in a competitive marketplace will invariably benefit massively from adopting moderated review management.

For the latter, a mechanism that prevents factually inaccurate and/or potentially misleading reviews from seeing the light of day, either on their own website or on Google, is not just 'nice to have' it is essential.

For more on this critical ingredient read this.


Own your reviews

We all now know that data is valuable in the modern technological age, so why give all your clients lovely data to a review site? The solution you use should enable you to retain all your client data and that includes their reviews. Only give it away when there is an overarching reason to do so - having their review copied to Google, for instance.

Take a long-term view

We know of at least one Plc that has changed review solutions over five times in the last ten years. By retaining control of all but the most essentially contracted out aspects of your review management (moderation is a good example of something that has to be done by an independent agency, otherwise all credibility would be lost) you will be well on the road to establishing a firm long-term review management strategy. 

Here are some pointers:

  • Your strategy must be Google-focussed: Google will still be here in ten years and, if anything, will be even more influential and credible than it is now. Your business needs Google reviews, not Trustpilot reviews, not Feefo reviews, not Yelp reviews (oops! Yelp has already shut down their UK and EU operations; just goes to show how the biggest of the review sites can be the most unreliable)
  • Your business needs to invest in adopting a proper API-driven review display system that doesn't jar with the rest of your site design and allows Google to 'see' all of its contents
  • Your staff need to be trained to understand that review management is not an add-on, but an integral part of your business's long-term marketing plan
  • Targets should be set for review flows and scores; few things look less professional or risk a slide down the search rankings than a business that has let this slip

Nothing to lose

It's intriguing just how dominant the wrong solutions have become in the last five years. The review sites, which are pretty much ideal if you are selling shirts or vacuum cleaners are currently making significant inroads into sectors where they are not only unsuited but indirectly positively harmful.

Suppose you had been sold a solution by one of these sites three years ago and had garnered 300 reviews there, and then read this? And realised that those 300 reviews could so easily have been on Google instead and owned by you on your own site, where they would be...
  • more visible
  • more credible 
  • more powerful
...and not just by a small margin. It is estimated that Google reviews are seen over six times more than reviews hosted on any review site and as for credibility...we leave that judgement to you (and your customers).

If you are at all unsure as to the viability of your business's current review strategy, just contact us. There's no obligation and we might just be able to set you on the road to the kind of success you see at the top of this article.

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