Friday, 26 May 2023

The psychology of reviews

We spend a lot of time telling you the facts about reviews and review management, but what about the psychology underlying consumers' interaction with reviews? With well over a decade's experience moderating thousands of reviews every month, here is the distillation of those imponderables that results in HelpHound's review solution standing head-and-shoulders above the rest.

1.  Scores matter

This is a screenshot of a business's Google My Business (GMB) monthly report, one month after full implementation of HelpHound's review management system. It shows just how many potential customers clicked through to the business's website or called the business having found its listing on Google. It also shows the dramatic uplift in those clicks and calls at a traditionally very quiet time of year for their sector.

When we meet businesses for the first time they will do all they can to justify or excuse their [Google] score. We hear all of the following...

  • 'No one ever says they wouldn't use us because of our low score or the negative reviews underlying it.'
  • 'Scoring 5.0 - or even near to 5.0 - means a business is manipulating the system, we're sure consumers aren't attracted to such businesses.'
  • 'We get all our business by word-of-mouth, so our Google score doesn't really matter.'
  • 'We welcome negative reviews.'

The psychology:

Believe it or not, consumers overwhelmingly do want to deal with perfect businesses - or as near perfect as they can find. A business scoring 5.0 will get more clicks and calls than a business scoring 4.9. A business scoring 4.9 will get many more than a business scoring 4.6. Guaranteed*. No one calls a business to tell it that they've been put off contacting it by their negative reviews, but any business that thinks negative reviews don't deflect calls and clicks is deluding itself. Even word-of-mouth customers, however highly recommended by friends or colleagues who have used the business, will be put off by low Google scores and the attendant negative reviews.  And, by the way, the second response - 'manipulating...' is often correct. Read on to hear more about that.

* 'Guaranteed'? Yes. And we - and you - can proove it. Try HelpHound for six months and if you GMB monthly report is not showing an uplift in calls and clicks then we'll refund your joining fee.

2.  Responses matter

So many businesses either don't bother to respond at all or only respond to negative reviews. 

The psychology:

Consumers read responses. Those responses, if worded carefully, can turn a browser into a potential customer, even if it's a response to a negative review. Perhaps most important of all, when a disgruntled customer is looking to post a negative review, seeing that the business will inevitably respond will keep that customer's review genuine. Many people are initailly tempted to exaggerate when posting a negative review, just to support their 1* rating - that's only human nature - but seeing that their review will definitely elicit a response will inevitably temper that exaggeration (and often it will mean they decide not to post at all).

3.  Review sites are a waste of a business's time and money

So often we hear 'We score 4.9 on [Trustpilot/Feefo/Yelp/]'. And that's unsurprising given just how many advertisements reference them: 'We're rated excellent on [review site].'

Trustpilot? Oh yes - it makes it onto this chart...

So: it's Google reviews all the way - visibility plus credibility.

The psychology:

The - very basic - psychology of reviews, from a business's point-of-view, is as follows: 'We have few/negative reviews: reviews are rubbish and no one pays a blind bit of attention to them.' or the exact opposite: 'We have many positive reviews: reviews are the life blood of our business.' But then there's the subset: the business that has accepted that reviews are a 'good thing' but has been sold an alternative to Google reviews. We think the chart above answers that question, but it has not prevented tens of thousands of businesses subscribing to the likes of Trustpilot - at a minumum of £200 a month. The logic? Part copying near competitors, part just being 'sold' by the review site.

Consumers love reviews, and rely on them, especially when making vital choices - medical, financial, legal and big-ticket (property purchase, for instance). But they can only be influenced by two kinds of review...

    • reviews they see - and Google reviews show in every search on every business, review sites' reviews rarely feature in search
    • reviews they trust - and Google reviews are trusted more than any other (and with good reason - their reviewers are traceable to an individual Google user). 

4. Negative reviews hurt businesses

We've already touched on this: consumers - a significant proportion - trust Google reviews. Fact. Just look at how many people write Google reviews, would they do so if they thought their review would not be seen and trusted? A single well-written negative review can literally strangle a business. It has the power to stop the phones ringing and the clicks coming. If you have any doubts whatsoever please read this and this.

The psychology:

We meet so many business people who minimise the impact of negative reviews. Of course they do - who wants to believe that a negative review of their business is going to cause significant financial harm? But they do. Sometimes at the margin, sometimes in ways that stop a business dead in its tracks. Because consumers do trust them. 

Business people owe it to themselves, their colleagues and their potential customers to do everything in their power to ensure that the absolute minimum of factually incorrect or potentially misleading reviews ever make it as far as Google.

But here we come to another crucial point: show us a business scoring 4.8 or better with 100+ reviews and we'll show you a business that is flouting  - intentionally or unwittingly - one of more of the CMA's regulations. Why? Because they know they need a great score but they are worried that by complying with the law - by allowing all of their customers to write a review - they will attract factually inaccurate, potentially misleading or just plain unfair negative reviews.


Another point: the higher the Google score the more a business's negative reviews will be read. Why? Because consumers will filter out all the low(er) scoring businesses by just looking at their score, only when they have a 'shortlist' of high-scoring businesse will they begin to read the reviews - and always 'Lowest' first.

So, for the solution, on to point 5.


5.  Moderation is vital

Allowing reviewers to post reviews directly to your website is the only way to benefit from moderation. We cannot stress this enough. If a business invites customers to post reviews direct to Google they risk severe harm (of the kind linked to at the end of the first paragraph of point 4. A business may be perfect, but all of its customers most certainly won't be. 

Most mechanisms businesses use to mitigate against this kind of review are illegal, at least in the UK (it is against the law to only invite reviews from known 'happy' customers and it is equally illegal to pre-qualify customers before inviting them to write reviews - by sending them a questionnaire, for instance).

The psychology:

If you accept points 1 to 4, then you know you owe it to your business to adopt moderated review management. Even if that only prevents one really harmful review a year from appearing in a Google search it will have been more than worth the effort - and expense; emotionally and psychologically business people, especially business owners - who are, by their very nature, totally invested in their business's reputation - are inclined to minimise the impact of negative reviews. But that is to run contrary to all the available evidence. Moderation is variously described by our clients as...
    • 'the best insurance against unfair reviews a business can buy'
    • 'the only way we can ensure we sleep at night, free from the fear of waking to an unfair Google review'
    • 'dry cleaning for our reviews'
And, maybe even more importantly, it is valued by your customers. It often surprises businesses, when they see moderation in action, that it is universally actively welcomed by their customers, especially when they realise that it is designed to help them write an accurate review - rather than prevent them haveng their honestly held opinion published.

And one footnote...

Flouting the law is unnecessary  

Your business is unlikely, on the CMA's performance to date, to be prosecuted by the CMA for breaking its core rules...

  • by not allowing all your customers to post a review 
  • by controlling the timing of those reviews
And businesses often, quite understandably, say to us 'But [our competitor] has been flouting the CMA regulations for years and has received no sanction, why shouldn't we?' Our answer to that is - and always has been - if you can tell your competitor is up to no good - cherry-picking and/or gating - in order to maintain their ranking in search and their Google score, then you need to bear in mind that they - and other competitors - will be equally able to tell if you do so, and that's a very dangerous weapon to hand a competitor. 

That little button ringed in red on the business's website ensures complete compliance with the CMA regulations for our clients; it is also one of the most powerful sales tools they have.

Being able to say to potential customers that 'we enable all of our customers to write a review at a time of their own choosing' is, on the other hand, a very powerful sales tool indeed.


The psychology of reviews is simple: enough of your potential customers trust - indeed rely heavily on - Google reviews to make it vital that your business finds the very best mechanism for maximising your score and minimising the number of unfair negative reviews you receive.

HelpHound is that mechanism. The fact that we can also help you boost your SEO and add huge value to your existing customer relationship management is a welcome bonus, but our core offering will always remain the same: HelpHound will allow you to present your business to the world in the best possible light. Compliantly. 

Further reading...

  • Results - backing up our promise of success

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Deflection - it's hurting so many businesses

We first coined the term 'Deflection' back in 2017 to describe what happens when a business actively invites its customers to write reviews to a review site, as opposed to (or even as well as) Google. So often the business's happy customers will do just what they are asked to do, whether face-to-face or by email: write a review to that review site. So far so good? Well, no actually.

Let's take an example: ScS Sofas. We've all seen their advertising and there's a fairly good chance that you're reading this article sitting on one of their products! Why have we chosen ScS? Because the proof that deflection is hurting their brand very badly in local search - and who searches for a sofa supplier outside their locality? -  is so concrete that it's as near to irrefutable as it could be.

First: look at their chosen review site - Trustpilot... much better could you possibly want your business to look? A score of 4.8 out of 5 from nearly half a million reviews.

So what is the problem? You guessed it: deflection. By inviting happy customers to write reviews to Trustpilot - in-store mainly, immediately post-purchase - they are getting almost all of their positive reviews posted to Trustpilot. So what's wrong with that? 

The purpose of reviews, as far as the business is concerned - is to do two things...

  1. Bring customers conducting an initial web search to the business's website and to their physical stores
  2. Reinforce the sale - 'Half a million customers can't be wrong'
But what actually happens when a consumer performs the two most overwhelmingly common searches? This...

For 'Sofa'...

For 'ScS'...

But surely the Trustpilot reviews show up in searches? Well, no, not really (actually they do, but halfway down page 3 of a Google search - which is akin to not showing in search at all).

But back to deflection. Why the disjoint between Trustpilot and Google scores. The answer is simple: unhappy customers are posting their reviews to Google. We have just shown one location, but we can assure you that the experience is replicated across just about every one of ScS's 97 other locations.

And the answer? Focus on Google. Apart from anything else the business's score on Trustpilot is just about bulletproof with that many reviews, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be on Google too. Add moderation from an independent review manager such as HelpHound and the business will benefit from this positive triple-whammy...

  1. HelpHound moderation will reduce to a bare minimum the number of factually inaccurate or potentially misleading reviews that are posted to Google or anywhere else
  2. The business will own its own reviews - they contain extremely valuable data
  3. The business will benefit from the SEO kicker that comes from hosting its own reviews - as well as the stars in search you see below...

Those 501 reviews are the business's own, every one moderated by HelpHound and hosted on the business's website, and it is they, not the business's Google reviews, that generate those stars in local search

In summary

HelpHound's moderation gives business's the confidence to invite reviews direct to their own website and then straight on to Google. If your business is looking for a safe and secure solution to reviews, with immediate and measurable short-term benefits (more calls, clicks and visits) and long-term positive results then look no further.

Further reading

No matter what your line of business, if there is an element of customer service involved, HelpHound is the proven review management service you need. Here is an article that goes into depth about the kind of results that we will - notice we say 'will', not 'can' - produce for your business.

Thursday, 11 May 2023

Purplebricks - and what its experience with reviews can teach us


If ever there was any doubt as to the credibility of review sites, especially when compared with Google reviews, the sorry Purplebricks saga has put an end to it. Here is a link to this article.

From their inception, review sites have been a major plank of Purplebricks' marketing, as they are for many businesses. The crucial question is 'Should they - review sites, as opposed to Google - be?' or is there a better alternative? Let's see...

Here they are, today, on their own website...

Here on Feefo...

And on Trustpilot...

Why would Purplebricks - or any other business - use a review site?

The answer, we are afraid, is simple: it allows the business a degree of control over the following...

  • who is allowed to/invited to write a review: in order to write a review on Feefo you must receive a unique invitation from the business to be reviewed with an embedded link, for Trustpilot just the invitation (it is possible to visit Trustpilot to leave a review, and some people do, but most that don't receive that invitation and want their voices heard head straight to Google)
  • the date of that invitation
So: your business cares - quite rightly - about its online reputation. You look at the 'advantages' listed above and your first reaction? 'Great, we can control who writes reviews.' Unfortunately, that has two far-reaching consequences...

  1. It is illegal - it is in direct contravention of the UK's CMA's regulations which specifically state that 'a business that actively invites reviews must allow all of its customers to write a review' and that 'the business must not control the timing of the writing of that review.'
  2. It results in what - back in 2018 - we christened 'deflection'. It drives uninvited dissatisfied customers to write their reviews direct to Google.

So what does Purplebricks look like on Google?

It is also an unfortunate truth for businesses that employ review sites that Google reviews, in over 98 percent of cases, feature far more prominently in searches. They are shown front and centre for just about every business search.

Just look at this - or search for your own business...

What does the searcher see? Trustpilot reviews? No. Feefo reviews? No. Google reviews? You bet!

'But...' - we hear you say (and it is a big 'But') 'We have no control over who writes a Google review, and no recourse once a Google review, however unfair it may be, is written.' 

Funnily enough, this is where HelpHound comes in. Our core offering is moderation. 

What, exactly is moderation? It means first inviting the review to the business - via its website; this enables the independent moderator - Helphound, in this instance, - to check the review for factual errors or statements likely to mislead future readers. Far less than five percent of the reviews we see require moderation, but when they do it is often crucial: misunderstandings over billing, blaming the business when a third party was actually at fault, and so on. Reviews that, if published - either on the business's website or on Google (and we ask reviewers to do both - and about 50% do) can do untold harm, both to the business and to the consumer that may be put off using a business that is ideally suited to their needs.        

How do we enable businesses to comply with the CMA regulations and look good at the same time? The simplest answer is that we only work for great businesses, but even great businesses need moderation - because customer/client/patient misunderstandings will always arise. If you look at this example you will see what we mean: here's the business - a client of ours...

...and we know them well. They are a very experienced and dedicated team. But just once in a while, even they get a review that our moderators have cause to query - and in every case since they joined five years ago the review has either been re-written by the client before it was published or withdrawn. 

Once reviews are published on their website (498 there to date) the reviewer is automatically asked - by HelpHound - to copy their review to Google. As you can see 284 have done so. The combination of the business's professionalism and our moderation has them listed as the top business in their sector in local search (also helped, no doubt, by the SEO kicker provided by hosting their own reviews on their website). 

Most important of all, our moderation gives them the added confidence to invite reviews in the first place, in the certain knowledge that factually incorrect or potentially misleading (and, ultimately, potentially damaging) reviews will be challenged and - for the most part - corrected. 

And, by having the standing invitation on their website - see above - they comply with the law. They don't have to proactively ask 'Mr Angry' to write a review, but he can click and post one if he wants. That way at least they - and he - will benefit from moderation (you might be surprised to see just how many messages we see coming back from the reviewer - in private - saying things like 'Thanks for putting me straight' and 'I'm glad I had the opportunity to understand [X] before my review was published').


We are not suggesting that Purplebricks would have thrived as a business if it had focussed on Google reviews, just that it would at least have had reviews from those with a positive experience there for consumers to see. Moderation cannot magically make reviews from consumers who have had a negative experience go away, and nor should it, but, as we have said above, it does give the business the confidence to invite its customers to post reviews to Google.

The core message is that if reviews are important to your business, and if you are in the service sector: financial, legal, medical, marketing, recruitment and so on, they will be, we provide the most up-to-date, proven (see 'Results' below) and effective review management platform available today. And it won't cost your business the earth - almost certainly less than an equivalent business would be paying Feefo or Trustpilot.

Further reading...

Friday, 21 April 2023

Google reviews - back to basics

We have not published a 'back to basics' article for quite a while, but judging by our day-to-day experience, plenty of businesses will still welcome it. Please persevere, even if you think the first one or two topics are pretty basic - getting the basics right, as we all know, is just as important as understanding the finer points. So here goes.

What are Google reviews - and why are they so important?

At a glance - a great score from a credible number of reviews and excellent Google rich snippets

1.  Google reviews are the first opinions a potential customer will see of your business. Always. They will appear in every single web search on your business name - even if the customer is simply looking for your telephone number or address. It is a mistake to think that reviews are only read by those actively looking for them. 

2.  Like it or not, they are read by anyone and everyone who interacts with your business. Ask any customer/patient/client (we'll simply call them 'customers' from here on in) and they will confirm this, from the patient in the dentist's chair to the divorcee in the lawyer's office. And they are read more the more high-value the service you provide. Selling toasters? A high review score will shift products but the individual reviews themselves will convince someone to at least make first contact with a doctor, financial adviser, solicitor or estate agency.

3.  They are believed. Not all of them, but consumers nowadays have learned to take a business's headline score as a shorthand way of whittling down their options. Your competitors score 4.8 and your business scores 4.6? Your competitor will get more enquiries than you do. Verifiable fact (verifiable by reference to your monthly Google My Business statistics).  The difference between having a great Google score with great reviews - not always one and the same thing - will make the difference in getting serious volumes of customer enquiries through Google to very few, or even none at all.

What are the most common mistakes that businesses make with Google reviews?

1.  They don't take them seriously. We call this 'review denial'. Expressions such as 'What kind of [blank] writes a Google review?' or 'Who would believe a Google review?' and 'Who chooses a business on the basis of their reviews?' are still heard around boardroom tables in 2023.

2.  They don't take the quality of their reviews seriously. They are happy with one-liners or simple ratings (reviews with scores but no content). Consumers search out and value detailed well-written reviews. 

3.  Businesses don't respond to their Google reviews and if they do they often only respond to critical reviews. Besides being plain good manners, responding to every one of a business's reviews is proven to reduce the incidence of negative reviews.

What alarms businesses about engaging with Google reviews?

1.  The very points made above: that Google reviews are highly visible and credible and, as a result, they can dramatically impact lead flow through search - add to this the fact that it is extremely difficult to get a Google review removed (unless it is demonstrably and provably factually incorrect - and even then it's a struggle) then we begin to understand why some businesses will either game the system - often going so far as to break the law - or retreat into the above mentioned denial and not engage with Google reviews at all.

2.  Conforming with the law. In the UK the law states that a business that invites any customers at all to write a review must allow all of its customers to do so. It also states that the business cannot control the timing of the review. It takes a brave business to allow all of its customers to write a review.

How does HelpHound enable businesses to reconcile all of these factors - both positive and negative?

In a word? Moderation. Given that a business cannot opt out of Google reviews it has to find the best practicable solution that takes all of the above into account...

  • one that allows all of a business's customers to write a review
  • at a time of their own choosing
That's step one. After all, adopting a system outside the law...
  • by cherry-picking (selecting known happy customers to write a review)
  • and/or by gating (sending out a customer survey to establish which customers are happy before only inviting those to write a review)
...not only invites legal sanction by the CMA but plays right into the hands of competitors (after all, there's probably no more powerful disincentive to doing business than the knowledge that the business in question has illegally massaged its image).

So: back to moderation. What - exactly - is it? It is the act of reading a review pre-publication to ensure, as far as is legally possible, that the review contains no errors of fact or wording that may be likely to mislead a reader. Here's the process...

From the 'Write a review' button on the right all the benefits of professional - moderated - review management flow

1.  The business emails their customer inviting them to write a review to be published on their website - or the customer sees the invitation to write a review on the business's website (see example above - even look up Shepherds' website - and see what they look like in search).

2.  The customer writes their review and submits it.

3.  The review is read by a moderator. By definition that moderator must be independent of the business (yes, this is where HelpHound comes in).

4.  If the review contains no factual inaccuracies or misleading statements it is published to the business's own website and an automated email is sent to the reviewer inviting them to copy the review to Google. This applies to over 95% of all reviews.

5. If there are issues with the content of the review the moderator will inform the reviewer and the business, simultaneously. This happens in the case of less than 5% of all reviews and in 97% of those cases the review is either withdrawn by the reviewer or revised and then published. In less than 3% of cases is no resolution arrived at and in those cases the original review is published (with the business having a right-of-reply).

This is the aspect of our service that provides all the reassurance businesses need to fully engage with reviews. From the numbers above you can see that the chances of an 'unfair' review being published about a business are vanishingly small compared with inviting reviews in a legally compliant manner to Google direct - 3 percent of 5 percent: roughly 1.5 in a thousand.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
For more about HelpHound and our services to professional high-value service businesses please don't hesitate to call us on 020 700 2233.

Further reading...

Monday, 27 March 2023

Trustpilot - what a waste of effort

Today we received a sales email from the UK Energy Bureau.  Their signature block included this...

Which is derived from this...

Over three hundred glowing reviews from customers. But wait. What would you see if you were to search for this business online? This...

What a shame. When so many of those customers - all of them, in fact - could have been asked to post their reviews to Google.  

Just in case anyone thinks we're picking on Trustpilot, a day later this email arrived...

With the business showing marginally better on Google...

but looking just awful on Trustpilot...

None of which would be keeping anyone awake at night if the business hadn't had all of its efforts diverted to a review site that's nigh on invisible in search, but had, instead, devoted those efforts to getting reviews to Google

The basic rules of effective review management   

  1. Own your own reviews - data is gold, and your customer opinions are platinum. Don't give them away to any other business
  2. Have them moderated
  3. Display those reviews on your own website
  4. Get as many as possible across to Google
Look like this...

And this...

And, perhaps, most important of all - in local search - like this (those gold stars and the rating are from the business's own reviews, they're not Google's)...

Getting to look like this requires a deal of commitment and hard work. Make it count.

And just before you dive in and post a Google review widget on your website

Let us remind you of the benefits - some of them absolutely vital for high-value service businesses - of employing a moderator such as HelpHound...

  1. We will correct faulty English (bad English devalues the power of even the most positive review in the mind of the reader)
  2. We will ensure, as far as is possible, that the review contains no errors of fact (if they do, we will intervene and initiate a dialogue between the reviewer and the business to resolve those errors)
  3. We will weed out fake reviews*
  4. We will not post 'accidental' reviews**
  5. Moderation will give you the confidence to invite reviews through your website, especially misleading or inaccurate negatives that might otherwise be posted unchallenged to Google
  6. We will provide your business with an extremely effective defence against what we call 'killer reviews'. These are negative reviews that are so powerful that they have the potential to stop the clicks and calls coming through to your business (one may suffice: if you doubt this, please read the terrifying case history under item 2 in this article)
The result of all of this - collectively known as moderation - is...

  • Fewer inaccurate or misleading reviews (which ultimately means fewer unfair negative reviews, the 'killers' especially)
  • More credible reviews - to both your website and Google
  • Full compliance with the CMA regulations

* Fake reviews: if w are in any doubt whatsoever as to the veracity of a review (or a reviewer) we will challenge the writer to substantiate their opinion. If they do not, the review will not stand.

**'Accidental' reviews: you might be surprised just how many happen over a given period. They might be unfinished reviews (where the reviewer has pressed submit before they've finished writing their review, or they might be reviews of the wrong business altogether (how many times do you see a 1* review of the business when the 1* review should attach to the delivery service, for instance?). 

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Don't be held hostage by a threatened negative review

This article appeared in yesterday's press. It describes a couple who managed to stay in a pretty upmarket hotel for over two years, for free. Only with a change in management is the hotel attempting to recoup over 200,000 from them.

But why would a hotel - or any other business, for that matter - allow a customer so much leeway? One answer we hear of quite frequently is the threat, real or implied, that the customer may write a less than complimentary review of the business. In its most basic form this used to be really quite common when Yelp strode the streets in the UK; Yelpers - as they called their reviewers - would often suggest that a restaurant booking from them would 'help' the business climb the Yelp rankings. The implication went further still, as far as 'not presenting a bill for the meal' would further enhance the business's chances of achieving the holy grail of multiple five-star reviews.

Individuals very often use reviews as a back-end negotiating chip when presented with all kinds of invoices. We even had to draft a statement for one hospitality client that was placed at their reception which ran along the lines of 'Please be sure to raise any issues during the course of your stay as we are unable to retrospectively adjust your invoice upon departure.'

Our advice to businesses? Never, ever, give in to such blackmail. By all means discount or refund if and when a customer has a valid complaint, but don't respond to 'I may have to write a negative review unless...' with anything other than 'That is your right, but please be aware that we respond to all our reviews, both positive and negative.'

What to do if such a review is posted?

Every site that hosts reviews has a procedure; Google's own starts here. Every one is different and some require considerable hoops to be jumped through. So our advice is to contact someone like HelpHound that has years of experience in guiding businesses - here's a case history from back in 2016 where the business made the national newspapers before we helped them get the offending and very damaging review taken down - their reservations had fallen to zero as a direct result. 

In the case of Google there is a detailed appeals procedure: miss one step and your chances of having the review taken down reduce from small to vanishing. We conduct an average of one such appeal every month.


Respond, respond, respond. We cannot say it often enough. Respond to every review your business ever receives, positive or negative, short or long, well-written or not. Not just because it's good manners but because it sends a very strong message to anyone tempted to be even slightly loose with the truth. They will see that their review won't go unchallenged.

But don't take the reviewer on. Remember the audience for your response is not the reviewer (they will seldom retract or change their review) but your future potential customers. So don't write a response that will show you in anything but the most positive light. Be understanding and polite (even if you don't feel that way).

The importance of Moderation

As the case history referred to above shows, one well-crafted but inaccurate, potentially misleading or just plain unfair review can stop the clicks/calls/tills dead in their tracks, no matter how many positive reviews the business may have. 

But it only applies to service businesses. Retail doesn't need 5 stars all the way. Service and the professions do. Consumers will buy a toaster that scores 4.0 out of 5.

But a medical professional - or a lawyer - or a financial adviser - or an estate agent? No way. Or at least not nearly as many as would if the score was 4.8 or better.  Click-through rates and Google My Business reports have been confirming this for years. The higher the score the more clicks and calls. End of.

So what exactly does moderation achieve? It ensures that the reviews of the business in question provide maximum value for the consumer, by being as accurate and least likely to mislead as possible. 

Note we don't say 'as positive' - because moderation rarely turns a negative review positive, even if the reviewer ends the process understanding why exactly their review was factually incorrect or potentially misleading (or, again, just plain unfair on the business). The best outcome, realistically, is that the reviewer decides not to post their review (although they retain the right to do so at any stage in the moderation process, which is handled by a 'real-life' HelpHound moderator, not some algorithm).

It is, in effect, insurance - for both the reviewer and the business - against misleading reviews of all kinds.

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

HelpHound - the Bullets

There are way over a million words in this blog - and we don't regret publishing a single one of them; they're an outstanding record of some of our clients' most successful strategies and some of the older articles prove that we knew what we were talking about, even back in the day!

But we fully acknowledge that some people would rather have a simple list of the benefits of HelpHound membership, so here goes...

1.  Enquiries through the business's website up - evidence: anecdotal, from clients - ask any client whether or not they would lose business by taking their reviews off their website and the answer will be a universal cry of 'Dead right we would',  and evidenced by our extremely high client retention rate (currently virtually 100% for 2022/3).


 A screengrab of a client's Google My Business report (these are automatically sent monthly to every business with a Google listing, if you haven't seen yours contact us).


2.  Enquiries through Google up  - evidence: clients' Google my business reports. These vary, but commonly report between 15 - 25 percent uplifts from scratch, but we have seen uplift numbers in the hundreds. What we do know, for certain, is that looking great on Google - stand-alone and against competitors in search - dramatically increases inquiries through Google.

Estate agency: a high-value low volume service business. Achieving at least a review a week (they had two Google reviews in the two years before they joined).


3.  More reviews: to your own website - you and your staff will be far more likely to invite your customers to write a review in the knowledge that inaccurate, misleading or plain unfair reviews will almost certainly not see the light of day (see point 5).


Reviews: current and convincing. over 450 of them. Front-and-centre of their website for good reason.

4.  More reviews: to Google - we target our clients to get half of the reviews that appear on their website copied to Google. Some achieve a higher percentage, but fifty is a good starting point, and will ensure there are always fresh reviews appearing on Google (consumers like to see recent reviews). See example above.

5.  Fewer inaccurate, potentially misleading or just plain unfair reviews: anywhere - if your business and, more importantly, your customers are perfect, move on to point 6, otherwise you will learn to value our moderation almost more than any other point: the amount of factually inaccurate, potentially misleading or 'unfair' reviews that we manage before publication is small - usually less that 3 in every 100 - but goodness, the potential damage such reviews can cause, if published, is immense.  

6.  Rank in local search: boosted - 'hosting your own reviews on your own website' gives your business credit from Google where local search is concerned. It is no accident that over ninety percent of our clients appear in the top three of any given local search.


Top of local search - consistently (we can't take all of the credit: their website is very well optimised) but the stars in search are drawn directly from the reviews they host on their own website - the only business in that location that has them, in a very crowded market. See below how that is saving them on Google Ads...

...with a great quote pulled from one of their reviews.


7. Appear in the Google 3-pack - many web users believe Google hand picks businesses that appear in the 3-pack. It doesn't. It's based purely on Google's algorithm, and that algorithm gives credit for businesses that host their own reviews - some industry experts estmate up to 15% of a business's score for that alone.


A great score supported by over 250 reviews. Driving clicks? You bet.

8. Stars: in local search Just like the Google 3-pack - and indeed all of search - where many consumers are influenced to click on a business based purely on how high up the rankings it appears (when did you last go to page 2 of any Google search?), many consumers think these stars are somehow 'awarded' by Google. They're not (they are derived, by Google, from the business's own reviews on their own website, not their Google reviews), but they surely drive clicks and enquiries. See screenshot under 6. above.

9. Staff morale: boosted - clients consistently report the positive impact a great review has on staff - and management - morale. And, interestingly, that doesn't wear off with time. Why? because staff, even back office staff, like seeing their work appreciated, especially when they know that their reviews lead to increases in business.

10. Great marketing ammunition - our best clients don't just stop when they look great on their own websites and on Google. They mobilise their reviews in all of the marketing - customer opinions make for great advertising and PR as well as lending themselves really well to socal media.

Last but not least

As you can imagine, the Plc referred to in this article has been approached by many rival solutions over the years - in fact, just about all of them - but every time we have been able to demonstrate HelpHound's value for high-value service businesses. As a service-driven business ourselves we completely understand the difference between inviting a review of an item of clothing or a dishwasher and doing so for such a potentially complex transaction as house sale/purchase/letting or the equivalent in the financial, legal or medical sphere.


Sometimes clients pick out one of these points and attribute value to them way over and above all the others - usually 2, 5, 6 and/or 8 lead the way - but it's the whole package that adds value, just different aspects at different times. For more on any of the subjects listed above just interrogate this blog or speak to one of us. Welcome to HelpHound.