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    Reviews, reviews, reviews


    I'm starting to believe that Google will be taking reviews into account more when ranking pages - especially company or product pages. It makes a great deal of sense to me that where you can find trusted reviews they are another factor for the algorithm to consider.

    I was reading this thread: http://forums.seochat.com/e-commerce...**-463760.html and have since done some digging around regarding reviews but would welcome second opinions or real experience.

    If I understand this right there are three sources of reviews:

    The type you generate yourself during the event
    Best for blogs, etc - where the user can rate the content right there and then
    Pros - Good for being picked up in rich snippets / easy to implement
    Cons - can't be used on ecommerce as the product hasn't been delivered yet / does not feed through onto other parts of Google(?)

    the type you generate yourself after the event
    So signing up to Trustpilot who then contact your customers/users/readers and ask them to fill in a survey.
    Pros - most likely to get positive reviews as the second type below often only encourages the unhappy(?)
    Cons - cost

    the type the web generates
    For example reviewcenter.com where people trot along of their own free will
    Pros - doesn't cost you anything
    Cons - most people who post here have made an effort and it usually only unhappy customers/users/readers who do this(?) / it's not very proactive in getting past customers to create reviews

    Is that a fair summary and if so what third party review apps (like Trustpilot) work the best?
    Learn SEO and Online Marketing with Doodleddoes or follow me on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+TimHillDoodled/
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    This is an interesting topic.
    Google does already use several sources of reviews to put a *** rating next to listings. I forget where the list is but it is in the google documentation.

    Your second type of review seems the best for a Search Engine to look at. They want to know the whole customer experience. My biggest problem with that type isn't unhappy customers but rather MAKING customers unhappy. People forget what they signed up for. The emails often look like spam. Even asking can be pushing it especially as many companies use a popup (universally bad IMO) to make the request.

    I also have an issue where my product isn't really something you can review. Call it parts, or widgets. Not much to say about them. So the reviews would be more about the company. I wonder how google will handle those types of products.
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    I take advantage of your third option Doodled. I encourage my e-commerce customers to rate us on resellerratings dot com or Yelp dot com. You better have confidence in your products and service to do this My experience is that unhappy reviewers are most likely to leave reviews if the company is large and un-responsive (i.e. Dell). Happy customers are more likely to leave reviews if the company is small and responsive (Like me). A search on my company name brings up my independent off-site reviews on page one. I also link to my off-site reviews via my home page. I personally believe Google places high trust in independent review sites that have strict processes in place to prevent false reviews. Two of my competitors had their reviews wiped off resellerratings completely. I assume they tried to generate false reviews. So yes, from a standpoint of SEO and sales conversions, take advantage of reviews and keep it legit.

    Ed
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    Originally Posted by eddyf
    I encourage my e-commerce customers to rate us on resellerratings dot com or Yelp dot com.
    How do you "encourage"? The way your wrote it reminds me of The Godfather .... "I've got a pair of concrete boots here but if you pop along to Yelp I might forget all about it"!! That's just my twisted imagination - seriously speaking do you offer some sort of future discount/incentive or just a follow up email and fingers crossed?

    Comments on this post

    • eddyf agrees : Giving incentives for reviews is against TOS. I simply suggest a review (and give the URL) when I send my shipment emails.
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    Originally Posted by realityhack
    I also have an issue where my product isn't really something you can review. Call it parts, or widgets. Not much to say about them. So the reviews would be more about the company. I wonder how google will handle those types of products.
    Perhaps being ignorant but if you sell anything then it can be reviewed. No matter how dull it might appear to you or me it's probably something else to the customer?

    I can see that if the product is bespoke (say a 3D printed object) that can't be reviewed but the company and/or the service can...
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    Originally Posted by Doodled
    Perhaps being ignorant but if you sell anything then it can be reviewed. No matter how dull it might appear to you or me it's probably something else to the customer?

    I can see that if the product is bespoke (say a 3D printed object) that can't be reviewed but the company and/or the service can...
    My company and their service certainly can be reviewed. But what would the review for nail be? Oh man... these nails are too short... better get the longer ones... if you are doing exactly what I was. Also deducting a point for smashing my own thumb. 3 star rating for 16 penny nails.

    Like you said the company can be reviewed, but without a product review on that particular nail on the page I am wondering how google will handle them.
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    Originally Posted by realityhack
    But what would the review for nail be? Oh man... these nails are too short... better get the longer ones... if you are doing exactly what I was. Also deducting a point for smashing my own thumb. 3 star rating for 16 penny nails.
    Having just renovated a 19th Century wooden house I can tell you there are nails and then there are nails. Some are too soft, some have tips which split wood more than others ... how sad is that!

    But would I go back and report in on my nail purchase ... good question .... !
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    Are we talking about Product Reviews or Site Reviews?

    I can tell you that Reviews are Extremely important for conversion. "Brand +Review" will most likely be in your search terms if your in the eCom game.

    Site (Brand) Reviews don't seem to play at all when it comes to SEO Ranks. At Least not in my Topic Sphere. I out review all of my competitors with higher review ratings that all of them and see Zero impact on ranking for a key phrase.

    It could be possible for Product reviews to play on the page. Product Reviews + Unique content on page. I've seen this being used more and more in SEO, but havn't seen any evidence to show it plays into ranks.

    Comments on this post

    • eddyf agrees : Brand +Review will most likely be in your search terms if your in the eCom game. Yep - gotta have external reviews!
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    Right - I've done some digging around from a eCommerce point of view and it seems to me that BizRate is a very good option. It launches a "how was your shopping experience" questionaire after checkout and then follows that up a few days later with a "how was the fullfilment" questionaire.

    I can't really see how Trust Pilot justifies $99 per month except that you can use it to email past customers to get their experiences. Perhaps there is more in the way of personalization but for a shop that sells, say, 100-500 items a month which may generate less than 10 actual reviews - $99??

    Bizrate feeds shopping.com and is part of the network that Google picks up it's reviews from so that's fine. And then of course it's free.

    Am I missing something?
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    Honestly I don't know how any of these survey companies stay around. Your paying them money to annoy your customers with popups. Forsee, bizrate, whatever. I see that popup and my opinion of the company drops about 90%. I wonder what average users think. I seriously doubt any of the survey companies have hard data on it. Would be a great useability lab experiment though.

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    • eddyf agrees : Some even give you a survey pop-up the moment their page opens. How NOT to do business.
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    Yes - pop ups when you are just trying to visit are a pain in the @#$@#. I see even Yelp using Foresee in the middle of a visit.

    But surveys that pop up after you have bought something (purchased an item, stayed in a hotel, used an online service, read an article) or as you abandon your cart are, I think, a different kettle of fish. The user has done something concrete and are being asked why.

    Ultimately though, like with Google+, Google is forcing the hand of website owners. "Don't want to do reviews? OK but don't expect the same action as people who do because we're shouting out reviews on the search results and in Google shopping". This along with how many times something has been shared on Google+, etc, etc.

    To me the question is not if you should do it, but how. Like it or not.
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    Ok Let me Expand a little, Doogled you did get my noodle going a bit and there could be some impact from your external review landing page. Reviews actually can create a very strong, high quality, trustworthy backlink(s) if done correctly, but expensive.

    This is primarily for eCom only, but if you have some sort of customer cycle then you could deploy it. I pay $199 a month to maintain my resellerraitings account for a high value Pr4 page linking back to us. RR seems to have LUCKLY become the defacto standard for my Competitive Area and is necessary if you want to seriously compete. They do a pretty good job and are expanding their offerings. Their pricing model is a racket. You pay by "What they think you can afford". They tried to extort me for $499 a month we threatened to leave and go else ware like bizrate. I was able to lock RR down to a two year contract. When that two year rolls around I will have to reevaluate again.
    We did try bizrate, but they are shady as all get out. On the Review popup they ask extremely generic questions of my customers and try to sell them Magazine subscriptions. We did an A/B Test against them an RR. Incoming reviews on RR was 10x bizrates. Meaning we got 10 reviews on RR for every 1 on Bizrate with a 50% traffic split. With Bizrate you also do not get your own landing page. They said you did but neither we or them could actually find it. If it exist, it's burred so deep Google bot would not find it.

    So in summation, reviews can create external quality pages that link back to you for straight up link juice. All and All if you can apply reviews to your site, it's a good game to play as it creates trust to the buyer, can create net positive trust for a website.
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    Originally Posted by Dice79
    RR seems to have LUCKLY become the defacto standard for my Competitive Area and is necessary if you want to seriously compete.
    Right - what have I missed? Who are RR?

    Comments on this post

    • eddyf agrees : RR = ResellerRatings dot com
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    We tried RR for awhile and I do agree their review quistionaire process is the best and does get the most responses. Its actually shocking to me that bizrate, pricegrabber, etc. do not redo their review process from the ground up to look better like RR. The problem with RR is thy are shady as heck too. If you don't pay for their service, you get negative reviews out of the blue from people who you can't even verify as ever being a customer. If you do use their service and you grow, they start trying to charge you more and more. If you then stop using their service, within a few months, all of the reviews you built up will be gone and then that nice little star box with review count you have on your CPC ad goes away unless you have 30 other reviews from google checkout or bizrate or pricegrabber or whoever else. We dropped RR and just roll with PG, google checkout, and bizrate now. If you use RR for too long you will be trapped with them forever. If anything, I would recommend leaving yourself an out and using multiple service and rotating them to your customers.

    Since we are on the topic, do any of you all use Power Reviews for product reviews? We built a product review thing in house for all of our products and have been rolling with that, We looked at switching to power reviews since it was 3rd party and possibly viewed as more trustworthy however they wont let you roll any of your old reviews into their system. I think that would temporarily hurt our business for a good 6-12 months if we did that since our customers definitely check out product reviews. We also would lose all of that valuable text so I am now thinking why would we ever switch. Have any of you actually made a switch like that before, and if so, how did it go?

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    • Doodled agrees : Thanks very much for that - very useful info
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    Thanks for the many opinions and experiences.

    The gaping hole in the market seems to be for low volume retailers. For them the price barrier is fairly high. Also getting reviews on third party systems seems to hold risks in many directions.

    I'm wondering if the best approach (as the first step for low volume/start up eCommerce sites) is to set up an auto-email that simply asks "How did we do?" and refers them to the Google+ page?
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