Tuesday 30 June 2015

See yourselves as your customers see you

Just recently we seem to coming across some clients who are using Bing as their default search engine. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that but you should be aware that you look a whole lot different to your prospective customer who is almost certainly using Google.

Here is an example of a Bing search:

And here is the same search on Google:

And here is why it is so important that you are aware of how Google displays (and scores) your business in search:

The figures speak fro themselves - Google has to be the priority. And, for our clients: don't worry, we'll let you know if and when the situation changes.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Linking to external review sites can harm your business

Long-standing readers of this blog will recognise that this post is an update of an article first published in May 2013. 

We all know the feeling - you've got great reviews on TripAdvisor/AllAgents/Yelp and you (and/or your web designers) think "We'd benefit from a link/feed", but...

BEWARE! At first glance the idea of embedding a link or taking a feed from a site may look attractive. In reality SEO-based solutions like this were effectively made redundant by Google back in 2013.

There are risks inherent as well: below we show two real life examples of reviews (not just any review: the first review at the top of the list*) shown when we've followed those links or read those feeds...


Estate Agents

And in some cases those links or feeds are even being paid for! 

It's just another case for retaining control of your reputation on the web - on and through your own website

Our advice:

Our advice to clients (outside the hospitality industry) has always been consistent: there are only two places you need reviews, on your own website and on Google. 

Having reviews of your business hosted on an external site (whether you link to the site, or the site gives you a feed of - your own! - reviews) while superficially appealing in the short term, invariably adds more value for the host site than for the client business (just ask businesses that have been paying Yelp over the years!)

Dialogue is a modern integrated solution to reviews: enabling you to host your own reviews on your own website and get those reviews to Google. Just what every business needs in 2015.

*This is key - up until the day you link all the reviews may be great, but that's no guarantee that future reviews will be positive. By using Dialogue you ensure that your retain control of one of your major business assets - your reputation.

Friday 12 June 2015

Estate Agents - the Tortoise and the Hare

In this article we are going to look carefully at some numbers - real numbers for a real client -  to show you just what you can expect.


There are three important numbers: the reviews through Dialogue to the client's own website; the reviews to Google and the negative reviews managed through Resolution.
  • Their own website: 171 reviews
  • Google: 31 reviews (scoring 4.7 out of 5)
  • Resolution: 6 cases (all resolved, none re-posted, either to their own website or to Google)
Note: All numbers in this article are 'per branch' over the last 12 months. 

Broken down (monthly averages):
  • Their own website: 14 reviews
  • Google: 2.6 reviews

Lessons learned:

For the first two months nothing much happened, there was a fair amount of resistance in-branch (as there invariably is to anything 'new' that is seen as involving 'extra work') until the first instruction was gained that was directly attributable to the reviews on their own website - then everyone began inviting clients to write reviews.

The reviews then began to flow to the Dialogue module on our client's website, but resistance to Google continued (with comments like 'clients cannot be bothered' and 'no-one is signed up to G+'). 

Then two things happened at the same time:
  • One of their major competitors began taking Google reviews seriously
  • One of their branches got a big instruction thanks to their great reviews on Google

At this point attitudes and results changed. No-more were we hearing how 'difficult' or 'time-consuming' or (worse!) 'time-wasting' review management was, but 'how great reviews were for driving enquiries/helping close/creating a positive impression' and so on.


 The lessons to learn from this are:
  1. Showing verified reviews on your own website wins business
  2. Looking great on Google wins business
  3. It's not a big deal in terms of time and effort
That last point is key for managers to get across: that a maximum of 5 minutes a day is all it takes to achieve results like these. 

More detailed advice for managers can be found here.

Monday 1 June 2015

Dialogue for Estate Agents - Getting Reviews: Advice for Managers (2)

We've learned a lot about review management over the last eight years, one of the most important being just how to get reviews - both to your own websites and to Google:

  1. If you just send emails you will get very little response
  2. If you follow-up each and every email with a phone call*, within minutes of the email going to your client, response will increase 
  3. If you get all your staff to explain to clients just how important reviews are for your business - both reviews (to your site and to Google) response will be even better
  4. If you target your staff to produce a specific number of reviews a month (to your website and to Google), you will do even better still
  5. If you incentivise your staff to ask for (and get) reviews, you will do brilliantly

 Do you want to look like this? Then do 2, 3 and 4!

If you are new to Dialogue you will soon understand just how valuable each review is to you (see this article: 'Just How Much is a Single Review Worth'), and how rewarding the whole process is.

*We are often asked about the content of this crucial phone call

Of course, the call is made a whole lot easier for both parties if your client has been 'warned' to expect it during their previous day-to-day dealings with you. Your client will also find writing the review easier if you can give them some prompts, along these lines:

"It would be helpful if you mentioned...[that you had considered other agents]" and "Do you remember that we...[recommended a great mortgage broker]"

Response is also much better if you are completely candid with your client...

"We really need your opinion, on our own site and on Google....because that's the way new clients find us nowadays."

...rather than dressing it up as 'customer feedback' (which most people have learned to hate!). 


The calls (and other client contact) are key; get all your staff to familiarise themselves with the process - on desktop/laptop and on tablet/mobile, both for Dialogue and for Google - by writing real reviews of businesses they have used recently - and they will be able to empathise with their clients and explain the process to them so your success rates will be as high as they need to be.

Note re: getting reviews posted on Google on mobile and tablet: Google links change all the time (without notice) so warn your clients, but they will be able to write (and copy) their review very easily as long as you explain the simple procedure - look up your business and find the 'write a review' button when you call them.