Don’t Forget… Business Reviews Are Searchable

They found your site and they liked it… you charmed ‘em with that ‘about us’ smile… and they are just about to pick up the phone and call you… but they stop and think… “wonder what others are saying about this business.” Then back to Google and they type in:

Review + Your Business

What comes up? Do you know? Is it important?

A recent survey conducted by Nielsen Netratings found: (as quoted on the Kelsey Group Blog)

Favorable reviews in blogs play a key role in local purchase decisions – but only if the review comes from credible sources.

The use of the term blog here is strange, it makes me wonder if the sample is a little more web savvy than average, but it tells me that the review strategy of Fake
review optimization
isn’t the way to go.

Small Businesses Should Have A Good Review Strategy In Place

A good review strategy should start with Search Engines. Begin by doing a couple of simple searches in Google that include the word review: 1 for your business name + review and in the second use the business category. The goal here is to find the review site that Google is most likely to return for your business. The review sites Google returns will likely vary by geography and business category. So, play with the geography a little bit, if necessary.

Review Sites Returned by Google If you look at this search in Google, the geography I used was a state plus the category. In this case, Insider Pages was the top 2 results.

When I added Paramus, a city in NJ, the top were CitySearch and Yahoo! Local.

These 3 sites will be the first 3 I target.

I will begin with Yahoo! Local believing that if my name is typed in with the word review, this will be the first place Google looks.

First, I will verify my business with Yahoo! Local by doing a search for my business and then click on the update listing link. If you need to add your business go here. In either case, you will need to set up a Yahoo Account. Then make sure you have a listing on Insider Pages and CitySearch.

Next, is to just encourage your customers to go on and review you. Some business owners I have talked to about this are hesitant to bring it up because they don’t know how to do it. Simply, sign up with these sites and add a review. Go on and review your favorite pizza place. Write down each step you had to take to complete the process including signing up in an email. Copy and past the link into that email and save it. Repeat the process for each site you’re targeting. This pizza place will love you.

Some Will, Some Won’t, So What!

Next, just have a conversation with your customer. Ask them if they were happy with the work you did. If they were you have a good candidate. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind reviewing your business online. If they say yes, thank them and tell them that you will email them to make it easy. Send them the email and your done.

When you’re satisfied with the reviews on these sites, you should try and get some reviews on popular internet yellow pages such as Superpages.com and Yellowpages.com. And don’t forget Google Maps.

You might later create a page on your site including all these reviews. Include the town of the reviewer at the end of each testimonial and you will have a page laden with great keywords.

And that’s it, you now have a solid review plan in place.

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4 Responses to Don’t Forget… Business Reviews Are Searchable

  1. David Mihm says:

    Reviews are without a doubt the most important frontier in the Local / small business SEO space right now. I agree with everything this article has to say, but I think it leaves out a very important point:

    Google is still the big dog in search, and the Map + 3 Listings shows up with increasing prevalence–almost 100% prevalence in some areas–for “(product/service) CITY, ST” search queries. The first place I’d start to encourage ANY local business to get reviewed on is Google Local itself. True, G is also pulling in reviews from the sources you list (Insiderpages, CitySearch), but I have to think that it’ll include reviews in its own database much, much faster than a third-party source.

    You may have already discussed this in another blog post & if you have I’d love it if you sent me a link to that post, but I wanted to bring this up for small business owners for whom this might have been their first post related to online reviews.

  2. Thanks for the comment David. I almost agree exactly with what you said; I just couldn’t find any evidence of it.
    What I did was locate businesses that were reviewed multiple times on multiple sites. I looked specifically for businesses that were reviewed on G maps and others then I did I search for that business + review. In each of a small sample of searches I found G returning Insider Pages and City Search over their own reviews.

    Another factor here could be the age of the review, I believe Google gives more weight to older reviews. If that’s true and you are beginning a review strategy today, beginning with Google might be the best idea. But I think that might be an unnecessary gamble because G is clearly indexing and returning these reviews in their search results.

    Thanks again for the comment David, this is a better post with this discussion.

  3. David Mihm says:

    Thanks for the response, Tim.

    In my experience, your point about older reviews being more “trusted” is 100% true. As for returning InsiderPages / CitySearch reviews before their own, it seems like this is more random to me than you suggest, but the Local algo seems to change on a daily basis, and maybe it is trending this way.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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