Friday 2 December 2016

Independent review sites for estate agents - the unintended consequences

The last six months - when the penetration of Google reviews has massively accelerated - have highlighted one of the most damaging consequences of adopting an independent review site as a review management solution: unintentionally driving unhappy clients to Google.

Let's look at two examples - where two separate review sites have been used by two agencies. Here are the current Google scores for those two agencies:

Now - and this is where it gets interesting - this is what those same two agencies look like on the respective independent sites that they use:

What is happening? Why is the disconnect between the Google score and the independent sites so marked? When we mine down into the dates of the Google reviews all becomes clear:
  • in the first example the agency is a recent adopter of an independent solution to reviews. When they adopted that solution they had two Google reviews (and, as a result, no Google score). Since adoption three more one star Google reviews have been posted (and, as a result, they do now have a Google score)
  • in the second example, the agency has a long-standing relationship with the independent site. But all bar one of the negative Google reviews have been posted in the last 12 months
The answer to the question posed above now becomes clear. Since more and more people have become aware that they are able to easily post a review to Google, agencies like these are unconsciously driving their dissatisfied clients to Google. In the case of one of them, where they have adopted a 'closed' solution (one where the review is posted by invitation only) more so. Not inviting unhappy clients to write a review used to be a solution - albeit one that called the probity of the business into question - before Google reviews achieved critical mass - that's no longer the case.

It's not only Google

If they - the unhappy clients - are not offered the option to write a review to the business they may well choose to do so on that other site with a global presence: Facebook. Here's what one of the agencies looks like there:

The only solution

Your clients must all be invited to write a review - to your website. There, any misleading or inaccurate reviews can be managed in private. They must then be asked to copy their review to Google (and/or Facebook). 

Then they will look like this:

And this:

And this:

Owning your own reviews - on your own website - and then having them on the sites that matter - the sites that are seen in search (and the sites that your prospective clients use and trust) is the only solution going forwards. Welcome to HelpHound.

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