Monday 30 January 2023

HelpHound - Blog Index for 2023

The businesses we meet almost always fall into one or more of the following categories when it comes to reviews...

  1. No Google reviews - usually due to understandable caution (fear of unfair negative reviews, mainly); Read Item 1.
  2. Less than 100 Google reviews - as above, but the business has mobilised its most loyal customers to write a review. Again - understandable. But, believe it or not, illegal. Read Item 2.
  3. More than 100 Google reviews. An extension of Item 2. Read Items 2 and 3.
  4. Using a review site - Trustpilot, Feefo, Yelp, etc.- instead of or alongside Google. Read Item 4.
  5. Using a review aggregator:  a widget that scrapes the web for reviews and displays them on a business's website: Read Item 5.

Scroll down and read the paragraph that relates to your business and then read the notes about moderation and expected outturns at the end of this article. 

1. For a business that has yet to acquire any reviews:

Very few businesses in 2022 have no Google reviews at all. If one has none or very few this is invariably as a result of the justifiable fear of attracting inaccurate, misleading or just plain unfair reviews.

  • If this is the case this is the article for you. It maps the route your business will need to take to eliminate that 'fear factor' without, as is the case with so many businesses these days, flying in the face of the law.

In some ways this business is in an enviable position: once it adopts a review management strategy it will be in a position to measure its success very accurately indeed. After all, any uplift in clicks and calls post-implementation will be startlingly obvious and will almost certainly be attributable to one factor: its new review management strategy.

2. For a business with some, but less than 100 Google reviews:

It is very common for a business to invite its most loyal customers and connexions to write reviews, and then run out of steam. This is completely understandable but - wait for it - illegal (at least in the UK). So how to comply with the law and the regulations and get more reviews at the same time? 
Compliance won't hold you back - quite the opposite, it will enable you to confidently invite many more reviews - or expose you to risk, but it will mean you and your staff will be able to sleep at night.

3. For a business with many - more than 100 - Google reviews:

Again, the first step must be compliance. 'Cherry-picking' (selecting happy customers and then inviting them to write a Google review) and 'Gating' (sending a customer survey or using a little known review site to establish who your happy customers are and then inviting them - and only them - to write a review to Google) are both against the law; the latter is also against Google terms of service and, if detected, will result in all the business's reviews being removed (in every case we are aware of such action by Google was prompted by a whistleblower).
  • Read this brief analysis. It will reassure you that your business can reap all the rewards that come with having an impressive Google score alongside many great reviews and be bullet-proof when it comes to complying with the law.
  • Here's an article that specifically deals with gating. Imagine having dozens - or even hundreds - of great Google reviews and then losing them all overnight? That's what Google does to businesses it identifies as gating. No redress. No appeal. It's simply not worth the effort, especially when there's a legitimate alternative.

Both these articles will help explain why there's no need to cherry-pick or gate; adopting professional review management will protect and enhance your business's reputation, legally. 

4. For a business currently using a review site - Trustpilot - Feefo - Yelp etc.

See if yours is the kind of business - online retail, for instance - that can benefit from membership of a review site. And see why service businesses and the professions need a Google-focussed review management programme instead. 

It's no fault of the review sites, but it's rather like the Japanese car industry in the 60s and 70s: Google just took what's best of the service provided by the review sites and combined that with their domination of the search market and came up with a far more attractive alternative, for businesses and their customers.

Google reviews are more visible and more credible - so businesses need to focus on getting them. They're the only reviews 90% of consumers will ever see. Your business needs Google reviews. 

But do remember to employ a moderator - see 'HelpHound's USP' below - because the influence works both ways: loads of great Google reviews drive business, and a single inaccurate or misleading Google review can stop a business in its tracks.

5. For a business currently using a review aggregator - etc.

Whilst they look great, in theory, aggregators - sites that scour the web for reviews of your business and then display them on your website - have considerable downsides once you look under the bonnet.


Now for some sector-specific articles containing examples and advice:

The professions and related service businesses are amongst those that most resisted review management back in the early days. Their logic - understandable, given that it takes years to build a reputation and one well-written negative review can undo all that work - was that...

  1. Their sphere of operations was complex and difficult for a lay person - their client or patient in these cases - to understand.
  2. Client - or patient - confidentiality was one of the cornerstones of their modus operandi; asking someone to effectively break that to write a review would be a bridge too far for many.
  3. Clients - and patients - would be extremely reluctant to reveal details of their personal experiences.
Interestingly, experience - long experience - has shown us that...
  1. Complexityproviding their reviews are moderated clients and patients are capable of writing extremely helpful and reassuring reviews that are hugely welcomed by prospective clients and patients.
  2. Confidentiality: the key here is to stress that writing the review is entirely at the client or patient's discretion. Those that are happy to write a review will do so, those that are not won't. There is no sign whatsoever of any hard feelings either way (although we do see the odd case of 'A - usually a friend or work colleague - was asked to write a review and I was not, please may I?').
  3. Reluctance: again, it's optional. Anyone who does not feel happy commenting won't do so and that's OK. But it's often surprising just how much detail someone who has been helped by a business will be prepared to go into.

How much more personal and confidential can such a relationship be? These reviews, and the many others on this Harley Street clinic's site and Google listing show just how willing a grateful patient can be when it comes to responding to a well-worded request to post a review. And for the person searching for this kind of service? We'll leave that conclusion to you!

Here are articles that address issues specific to the professions...

HelpHound's key - and crucial - USP

Everything we do is designed to make your business look as great as it is in all kinds of searches, as well as on its own website. But that would be as nothing without moderation. 

We read every single review written to our client's website, before it is published there and before the reviewer is asked to copy it to Google. This is what enables our clients to relax in the knowledge that it is highly unlikely that a factually inaccurate, potentially misleading or just plain unfair review will ever see the light of day.

And finally...Results!

The ultimate objective of professional review management:

The above are actual figures for a client from Google exactly six weeks after they joined HelpHound. We have seen better but we reckon most new clients in the professional sectors we specialise in will be happy with similar results, especially when they are sustained (which they will be!).

And to have our clients looking like this on their own websites:

Please take time to read the actual reviews on their website - for it is those, the individual reviews, that prompt contact from potential clients, just as much as the pure numbers (review score - 4.9 and totals - 443) if not more so. 

And like this in local search:

Local search is used by everyone when conducting their initial search for a service, even if the business has been referred by a friend and/or their advertising and PR is impressive. Making an impression there is vital if calls and clicks are to flow. If you look carefully at this search - and even conduct a similar real-time search yourself - you will see this client leading the Google 3-pack and organic search. 

You will also see the five gold stars highlighting the business's rating, drawn from their own reviews on their own website. And so will their potential clients!

We've already mentioned the intangibles: being 100% compliant with the law, focusing on Google and so on, but here is the clincher for your CEO/CMO/CFO...

We look forward to being of service. Most of all we look forward to seeing the concrete - measurable - results that HelpHound membership will surely provide for your business.

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