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Are Online Reviews Important?


In this week's episode we discuss the importance of online reviews for local businesses. We break down:

  • How online reviews help with your business' Credibility, 

  • Which of the various platforms you should focus on (Google, Yelp, Facebook, Next-door)

  • Keywords in reviews

  • Keywords in answers

  • Buying reviews

  • What's the Sweet Spot for number of reviews?

Jamie:    Hello Adam. Hey!

Adam:    Jamie. How's everything going with you today?

Jamie:    Oh, everything's going great. Oh, always crazy, but definitely excited about today's topic.

Adam:    Really. Okay. What's today's topic?

Jamie:    Wow, let's see. Ahh, you already told me what it is and it's online reviews and one more time online reviews. And why are they important?

Adam:    Okay. So, yes, online reviews are incredibly important. Of course. I know that you have a highly rated, business online and I guess as a business owner, why do you think that's important?

Jamie:    Well, it's definitely, people want to trust the company that they're going with before they make a purchasing decision. They want to see what other people's experience was. Did they regret, you know, eating at that restaurant or do they, you know, did they feel like they had a great experience? or was it just in the middle? People want to feel valued and if it's really an accountability tool for a lot of businesses. Oh yeah. So, yeah, so I mean, there's a million reasons why, but it's really to build trust with a customer that we haven't even met yet.

Adam:    Right. So when we're talking to a new client, and going through the onboarding process for them, what we're talking to them about is there in regards to online reviews is their credibility. So either if someone has found them online for their service or for their, for their type of business, or even they've been referred to that business, each one of those potential customers, they're going to look at your reviews. So if you have a ton of great reviews, then number one, it's going to lead to them trusting you a little more, at least trusting, even if you've been referred directly to them, or if they found you online. So we wanna make sure that your credibility without anyone meeting you or having any interaction with your business, they kind of know the experience before they, do business with you. And that's kind of like if you're a franchise, that's the idea of why you buy a franchise is because if I buy a McDonald's franchise, I know, or if I'm going to go to a McDonald's, it doesn't really matter what country I go to or what state or anywhere.

Adam:    Basically every McDonald's you're going to go to smells the same, looks the same, and generally serves the same food. I know a in Japan that was, they were almost indistinguishable other than of course the language on the menu. But the smell, it was very weird cause I, I dunno, it's the same. I've been in Costcos in different parts of the world. They all for some reason smell the same, but it's probably cause they're all, that's why they're a franchise because they don't need reviews as a franchise because they're already promising the same experience. So if you don't own a franchise, you want to make sure that your, you have lots of online reviews because that takes away that, that [inaudible] that risk away from that potential client. Make sense?

Jamie:    Yeah. But do you know what is really different between franchises?

Adam:    Umm, owners?

Jamie:    Online reviews. You can read the reviews of one McDonald's and the same McDonald's in the same town can have just huge differences in the online reviews. So, yep. Definitely one big different. But I mean, yeah, if I had a franchise or if I owned a franchise, I would certainly be monitoring those reviews of all the franchise owners and I would use that as a point of evaluation.

Adam:    No, I agree. We also, when we're talking to a client, they always ask the question, which online review service is the one that they should focus on the most? So, they're the big ones like Google and Yelp, Facebook, and even, smaller ones like next door or Angie's list, stuff like that. what we tend to give our clients as the most important are Google, Google reviews. just because that will help with your visibility. The most. Number two would be Yelp. but there are some drawbacks with getting Yelp reviews. And I'm sure you know, and I'm sure actually a, if anyone who's owned a business in the last two years, they realized, Hey, last November a ton of my reviews went away. So in November of 2018 did you see anything happened with your businesses? Reviews?

Jamie:    We had over 105 star reviews. Nothing less than a five star review dropped down to 27 overnight or within 30 days. It was just a great day!

Adam:    So the reason that happened was because Yelp had their earnings call and they had a significant dip in their earnings. And so what they blame that on is lack of contact with the decision maker in whatever business. So they knew that ghosting those reviews, filtering them so that the reviews are still there, but theye've been filtered so they're not really visible. But anyway, that would make you as the a, the, the business owner, the decision maker, call them and say, Hey, what's going on? So then they, that would give them an opportunity to up sell you on their services. So, is that what they call that? Well, everybody's got, everyone's gotta make money in these things. So I know Yelp is a, they're a public company, you know, they gotta make money and the reviews are definitely, by ghosting your reviews. They have done two things.


One is they made you mad. That's not good. But, they also reinforce that image that, you can't for five star reviews on Yelp. so that, that's a, and actually at the same time before they did that, they did something that probably most boast, most business owners don't know about. And that is they told online review generating systems. So, you know, you, you probably have gotten an email that says, you know, Hey, how was our service? You know, would you write us a review online? Something like that. Yelp at the same time last year, they did say to all of those online reviews systems, if we catch you using one of these review generators, we will take your page off of Yelp. And, that they're very serious about that. So, that is against their terms of service. So if you as a business owner are thinking about getting one of these systems, make sure that you, you know, that they don't do, they don't point your customers to Yelp. anyone who says they can get you an automated way of getting Yelp reviews, the risking your business getting taken off of Yelp, which would be really bad, right? That would be,


Jamie:    well, show me if you, you know, if you're getting, if you are getting a lot of business from Yelp, but I, you know, why I talk to lots of business owners who could care less about Yelp, they really could care less about their online reputation is really prevalent in the contracting world. So, what do you think about, I mean, obviously they should care about their online reputation. How do you, or how would you recommend, you know, having, or getting someone to care about that?


Adam:    Well, it's tough to prove the negative, right? It's tough to say that you've lost business, because of this. But, when we take them kind of through their customer journey, whether they're getting a referral or whether they're finding a service, finding them as a service on Google, reviews are a big way, a big way that both of those happen. So when we talk about reviews, we want to have, make sure that in those reviews are keywords. So the keywords that people are looking are using to searching for, to search for your business. We want to make sure that, those keywords are in those reviews. So if you have any way, if you can, tell people, Hey, if you're going to write us a review, you know, use our keywords. So for your business, it's a solar company. So Hey, make sure to use solar, or you know, solar, I think your solar energy supplier or solar energy company, stuff like that, those kinds of key words that people would use.

If you can influence those reviews, in any way you get those keywords. Cause on Google they make a difference on Yelp, they make a difference. these are, those are really, really important for, for your ranking within both of those. And so of course Google is, if you're on the top of Google in that Google's, local three pack, for one of the reasons you will be in there is because your customers are using the keywords that are associated with your service. So, people who don't want to use, who don't see any benefit for online businesses or online, their online presence. You know, I can't, we can't convince everyone that this is, this works. So it's OK. if they're, if they are willing to go those contractors go project to project to project, that's okay.

What we do, and what the other online platform does is it fills that pipeline so months away. So it kind of, the good contractors know that this is the way to get the best clients. Because I think you've told me this before, you want the clients who do their research because they not, when they call you, they are ready to go. They know what to expect from you and they're, there's no hemming and hawing and you know, we need to meet in person and you need to meet my dog so my dog can check you out. You don't have to any of that. So it brings a qualified customer when you have tons of reviews, online qualified customers come to you. So it's way easier to sell them because basically they've sold themselves already by checking you out online. So, yeah, I think that's the, that's the, that's probably what you were edging around. That question is a qualified customers. That's what helps with these online review.

Jamie:    Well, and you know, I, it being in the contracting world, I definitely let contractors know, you know, we've had pretty much, you know, seven or eight years of strong, really strong business. And it's not always gonna be like that. Every contractor has gone through, you know, big time, you know, boom times and slow times when no one can do anything. But the contractors who are good, and have a good online reputation, they're going to feel that a lot less than the ones that don't care about their reputation. So, you know, when times are good. So yeah, I mean, people cannot, you just really can't find good contractors that are not booked out 18 months. so. Yep. but the online reviews will definitely keep the pipeline busy, even in bad times

Adam:    and full of good customers. That's also a, nobody likes the time wasters or the people who, signed contracts and then disappear. So yeah, that's, or, you know, just the ones who are way more work than they have to be. the brick have making sure that your a business has tons of reviews, kind of once again brings in those qualified, customers who are ready to buy. So the other one, the other thing I wanted to touch on is when someone writes you a review, online on any of these platforms, you want to make sure that you respond to every one of them, good or bad, of course. on a future episode, we'll talk about the bad ones, but even the good ones, we want to respond to them. And, another good tip is to use your keywords in those responses.

Adam:    So to make sure that you're, that those key words are another ranking factor within Google especially and actually within Yelp. So that way when you're using your keywords, Hey, thanks for making us, the, the top rated a yoga class or yoga studio in the air, in whatever in the Bay area or in Contra Costa County, or even better in your city name, that helps with your ranking within both of those platforms. So finally, the only one, the last thing I want to leave you with is I know that, you might be tempted to buy reviews. So, I know in some sectors you'll have, a competitor with 200, 300 reviews and they've been in business for like two months and you wonder where do they get these reviews? they bought them. And you can, a lot of times you can spot the ones that are bought.

Adam:    they're purchased because it's a law firm. But the review says, Hey, he fixed my toilet really well. I'm there, and I'm not exaggerating. Those are the level of those reviews. But what people don't really realize is when you're buying those reviews, those reviews have to be hooked to a certain account or group of accounts on Google. And so when Google finds those accounts and they eventually do, they find them because they're using the same name, the same IP address, they're from the same area, however they're using to track those reviewers. Guess what they do when they find out? John DOE wrote reviews for this one and this one and this one. and then they find your business with John Doe's review. They'll take down your business, they'll take your business off of Google in a second, and, if you have 20, 30, or five, 10, whatever, a, that can always, any time that can happen.

Adam:    So I know that it's, it is quite tempting for some, for some, and especially if you're in a combative, competitive industry on Google for you to buy reviews, just don't ever don't, it's too risky. it's, it's way too risky. And if you see your competition has done it, they're going to get caught. So, and it's just because it's a matter of time because those places that sell those reviews, there's no real way to review them so they can disappear tomorrow and their reviews will stay forever. And if they're found, that's a, that's a risk that those, that you're taking, and Google will and Google does to take down and suspend businesses all the time for fake reviews. So don't do that. Yeah. Seems like a no brainer. well I know, this is something that I'm a, I've been asked many times by clients, so we want to make sure that, it's out there. if they choose to do it, we recommend that they don't. And, and I would say, nah, that none of them have ever done this to my knowledge. but they see their competition doing it sometimes and it's, it's disheartening. but you know, I always say it's going to come around. Don't worry. Last one. this is the other question I wanted to ask you. How many reviews are enough? What do you think?

Jamie:    well, so in my business, you know, there's certainly, people are excited once the solar panel gets system gets turned on. So we like to have them write a review and talk about how they found us and use the keywords and everything. But then w we check in with them like a year later as well and find out, you know, did the system do what we said it was going to do and almost every time a there, they're very happy. We're still a year down the road and we'd like to have them update that review as well. And so it's a, it's been, that's our, that's our best strategy is to really, cause if somebody right to you in one year or you know right after the really big nice chose to anyone who's looking, they're like, Oh my God, not only did they do a great job initially but a year or two or five years down the road and we're getting another five star review. I can't think one thing I wanted to review, you know, later. So good wise, nice five years. But yeah, asking for updated reviews is pretty, pretty beneficial.

Adam:    All right. So we also want to say that the amount of reviews is basically double, at least double whatever your competition is because we want to make sure that you are the no brainer choice. So that's what we say to our clients. We want to make sure that you're the no brainer choice. So if somebody is just looking at the two of you and that's the only way that they have, or the three of three people in one group, the only way they can make a decision is on that information quickly. Double, double, triple, triple makes it an easy and easy answer. so we want to make sure that, from that point of view, double, triple, that's what you want to aim for. Yeah. Makes sense. Of course. Yeah, no brainer. Right. All right. That's all. We're gonna wrap it up here. and if you have any questions, that you want us to address on a future podcast, please make sure to visit our Facebook page. It's a local SEO in 10, and, we're going to be wrapping up today. Jamie, you want to sign off or anything?

Jamie:    Well, it's, you know, online business makes a whole lot of sense.

Adam:    There you go. Thanks a lot. Everybody talk to you later. Alright.