Product review websites have gained popularity over the past years and product/company reviews have been incorporated into many websites including social media, online directories or specialised review sites.
On some of the websites, the profile can be created by the organisation and partially managed, while on others, the business owner can only respond to the reviews written by users of the products.
For each company, it is crucial to pay attention to what people tell and write about its brand and products. The word of mouth spreads fast, especially when the customer is not happy with the purchase.
Acccording to recent data from BrightLocal, 91% of consumers read reviews to determine whether a local business is good or bad. When we look at some of the popular review sites and online directories that enable product/company reviews, we can see that many of the companies do not actively manage their profiles.
In some cases, such as Productreview.com.au, the business owner cannot manage its profile on the review site but he can still respond to the reviews published. On other websites, however, also the public profile can be changed and description, keywords, pictures and other stuff can be added by the business owner (take Yelp.com.au as an example).
Regardless the character of the websites publishing customer reviews, businesses should focus on managing them. The best strategy is to reply to each and every review received. For most business out there, this would mean responding to a few, max several dozens of reviews.
Now, a strategy needs to be applied to address the negative ones. Some of the strategies for managing negative reviews include facing the problem, explaining your position, offering a solution or admitting the failure to deliver.
The next important thing is to manage the process of addition of new positive reviews. Negative ones are usually added naturally but positive ones need a bit of help. According to the rules of most review sites out there, the business owner can actively request a review from his customers and some of the sites even provide a form for such a request.
Each organisation should implement a process for continually managing these requests and following them up so new happy customers post their positive ratings. With this process in place, the overall score should be quite positive (unless there are no happy customers out there which I hope is not your case).
The already mentioned customer survey by BrightLocal also revealed that majority of people (63%) access review sites from search engines. Company profiles on these review sites usually have a good SERP ranking and when people search for the company brand, they show up quite high. Thus, the impact of the ratings on customer decision making is huge.
Moreover, the rating is often displayed directly within the search results. If it is negative, the chance of gaining the customer decreases rapidly. Usually, having at least 3 of 5 stars can be the magical boundary distinguishing success from failure.
Moreover, the directories and review sites can take a significant part of the SERP for certain keywords. If managed properly, they will help you get conversions and be successful. Otherwise, they would tell your prospective customers that, despite a nice self-presentation on our own website, your products are not worth spending money on.
Managing the overall search profile for a set of keywords that you focus on should be incorporated into your Search Engine Marketing strategy. Instead of focusing solely on your website, you should think out of the box and try to positively influence as many results on the first SERP as you can.
When you look at the SERP from this perspective, you might find that some of the pages from let's say the first SERPs belong to some of your business partners, distributors, dealers, suppliers etc.
You might ask yourself this question: Is there any chance of having some kind of content on these pages that would present me and my products and possibly rank in TOP 10 over some time period?
If the answer is yes, you should reach out to the website owners and discuss possible steps to achieve that.
With these strategies in place, you might find that the first page with search results for your key search phrases looks much better than before. And as the end effect, you will get more conversions, both offline and online.
So from now on, when thinking of a marketing campaign and SEO, think about the entire search profile and do not forget the power of review sites out there.
It is worth the time and commitment.
Andrej Miklosik is a business owner and academician focusing on researching the impact of IT on marketing and performance of businesses.