I'd love to hear more about your experience - can you share any links / detail what happened, please?
Whether or not they increase your rankings, reviews can increase your click-thru rate. Suppose you see two listings in the SERPs. One has schema markup for its reviews that show the product has an average 4 star rating and the other doesn't have this enhanced listing. Which are you likelier to click? The one with the stars, obviously.
Reviews were important before too, but probably G+ wasn't launched yet to merge it with local businesses. The best way is to make the natural or you can get your business flagged so easy. This was done by guys from iOS application games. They bought reviews for their games but apps store is way to smart for that, and they got flagged, penalized, etc.
Aside from this fact, let me support this in my own POV. Putting a review is like building you name. It is simply bringing up your credibility for people (users) to trust you. Thus, as a result, will lead to more web visitor, more traffic, more customer.
Reviews are excellent things to have even if they didn't help with SEO, since they build credibility and help with conversion rates. But having them help with SEO is a pretty nice perk. Something I learned is that if you have some keywords (like the product name, or some of your relevant search phrases) inside the review then the google bots will recognize your site and start putting it toward the top of the results page. But, you don't want to be stuffing your reviews full of keywords and making them look fake. Keywords help google, but google's job is to help customers find what they need. Bringing the two together will guarantee that your webpage gets the attention it needs.
Question: is there a special way to format the reviews? For example, suppose I transcribe a few of my Yelp and Google+ reviews onto my website and used rich snippets to mark them as reviews. Would that really be useful at all? Would Google really prize you for reviews that it can't really verify as genuine? Or, is there a specific way the reviews have to be organized — e.g. does the user interface have to be interactive (does there need to be review "software," for lack of a better term coming to mind) — for Google to find them useful?
If you want to transcribe Yelp or Google+ reviews for your customers benefit go ahead. I would not mark them up as reviews though. First Google might think you were trying to trick it into counting a review twice (it sees yelp and Google+) secondly AFAIK there is no markup for reviews of your company itself as opposed to a specific product.
Mark up product reviews as Google recomends and consider asking customers to review your service on third party sites. Google keeps a list of the ones they use to determine your star score in PPC somewhere (sorry no link right now) Reseller Ratings (ugg) Trust Pilot, etc. etc.
I already have a Testimonials page on my website. In the past I used to list first name and last name, now for large customers I only list first name and initial of their last name. But I want to find out if these Testimonials can be seen as Reviews by Google so I may get some SEO benefit beside getting sales
Last edited by dzine; Jan 21st, 2015 at 09:19 AM. Reason: sig