Friday 20 September 2019

Four ways businesses are hurting themselves by adopting DIY review management

These two searches (specific - on the business name - above; local/generic - on the type of business - below) show the 'holy grail' of review management, where all the following have been achieved:

  • great Google score
  • a significant number of Google reviews
  • Reviews from the Web (centre right - taken from the business's own reviews on its own website)
  • great rich snippets (the three extracts at bottom right)
  • stars in organic search (top left)
  • score ditto
  • a significant number of reviews from the business's own site (180 in this case - top left)

  • ranking high on the first page of local search (1st in this case) 
  • showing stars/score and number of reviews hosted on the business's own site, making the listing stand out from the crowd

All of the above has been achieved with the help of professional review management, but the Google part (reviews and scores) could have been achieved without - we see it all the time: businesses that have realised that they need to look great by having high scores and lots of great reviews on Google - and so far so very good. But then the pitfalls emerge. Here we go through these one-by-one; by the end you should be able to answer the key question faced by every business these days: 'should we continue to go it alone or does professional review management look like good value?'

Pitfall no 1 - compliance 

Or should we say 'non-compliance'. It is possible to run a CMA-compliant reviews system - here's how...
  • put a 'write your review here' button on your website leading straight to your business's Google knowledge panel, so you can prove to the regulators that you are enabling every single one of your customers to write a review in compliance with the regulations that state that...
    • every one of your customers must be able to write a review...
    • at a time of their own choosing
...but we can count the number of businesses we have encountered over the years doing this on the fingers of one hand; for reasons that will become clear as we continue.

There are two main issues with non-compliance, at least for UK businesses:
  1. They run the risk of coming to the attention of the authorities (the CMA) and they - the CMA - have the power to prosecute non-compliant businesses
  2. It is easy to spot a non-compliant business - all a competitor has to do is see that the business has lots of [positive] Google reviews and then check their website to see that they have no invitation to write a review there. This - the ability to say 'this business is only inviting reviews from happy customers' is a powerful weapon against the business in question in any competitor's hands
There's a whole article dedicated to compliance here. Five minutes spent reading it could save your business's reputation.

Pitfall No 2 - moderation 

This is the kind of review where moderation will help everyone involved: the reviewer, the business and those reading the review. Our moderators would invite the reviewer to expand on his allegations by providing facts, and then invite the reviewed business to respond, privately in the first instance.

First: what exactly is moderation in the context of reviews? It is the act of having your reviews read, pre-publication, by an independent body (such as HelpHound). Reviews that contain factual inaccuracies or statements likely to mislead future customers are then able to be challenged, not by the business but by the moderator.

No moderation? Fine for pizza parlours and online retailers. A score of 4 out of 5 on Google (with the 20% of negative reviews that entails) will not deflect many of their customers, so why concern themselves with the odd inaccurate or misleading negative review? But high-value professional businesses? These businesses need a mechanism that enables them to...
  • correct errors of fact, pre-publication
  • address potentially misleading statements, again - pre-publication
...and that's where moderation comes in. There's more on that important topic here.

Pitfall No 3 - SEO

There's only one way your business will get to the top of the Google 3-pack and the top of organic local search, and that's by having great SEO

Google will - understandably - never tell you exactly how much hosting your own verified reviews on your website will impact your ranking in local search, what they will say, however, is that it is a significant factor. Our attitude is 'look at our clients and then look at their rankings in search, do you need any more evidence?' 

You might also want to read this article written straight after we returned from San Francisco this June.

Pitfall No 4 - no independently verified reviews 

These two - the first a link to a full explanation of HelpHound's role, the second a note of reassurance, appear on our clients' websites.

What percentage of your potential customers land straight on your website? How much would they value an independently verified review resource there? You know the answer to the first question and we all know the answer to the second question because so much research has gone into answering it. Customers want reviews, not testimonials. And they want reviews they can trust. On Google and on your website.

Of course, there is a 'Pitfall N. 5' and that's cost. We pride ourselves that, unlike the reviews websites, we have a very high customer retention rate. If the cost of membership of HelpHound, which can start from as low as £50 a month, was not being outweighed by the benefits we - and you - know that would not be the case. Call us and we'll ask you a few simple questions and then quote you (and, by the way, there's no contract term either). Then you will be well on the way to achieving everything shown at the top of this article without any of the pitfalls.

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