Online Reviews | Digital Marketing Burlington, Vermont |

First Impressions [Part 2]: Online Reviews

July 30, 2015 by Emma Shank

In our last blog post about first impressions we talked about how to make future customers fall in love with your business before getting to your website. At the end we recommended you Google your business to see what impression you are leaving with your customers and if you haven’t done so yet, go do it!

What did you find?

Awesome reviews? We hope so. But if not, let’s get into how to make that happen.

As Vermont natives and transplants we’re known to hunt down brews with extra hop and a good burger if the reviews are promising. This need for quick information and customer feedback exists in nearly every industry. So while it is easy to write off reviews as only important to restaurant owners, we are here to tell you it is time to get your head out of the sand.

Not all review sites are ranked equally so there are only a handful worth spending the time on and even less that you can have an influence on as the business owner.

Google reviews carry the most weight when it comes to search rankings, because well, Google likes Google.

So we will start there, but as you look through search results your eye might catch the star ratings from Google, Yelp and Facebook pages.

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Occasionally there may be other review sites, but these are the big 3 worth your attention.

Google Reviews

[Google] How it works

Anyone can review your business as long as Google has created a Google My Business page. All the customer needs is a gmail account and boom the review is live and published immediately.

[Google] Where does it go?

The review is attached to your website url in search results and depending on the number of reviews there might be excerpts from reviews on the right hand side of the search results page.  This means the chances of a customer landing on your website before seeing an online review are slim to none.

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Good or bad, it WILL affect your search rankings.

The more positive reviews your business has the more trustworthy your business appears to google and the higher you rank.

The more negative and less reviews, the lower you will rank.

[Google] What you can do

  • Encourage your customers to leave reviews
  • Claim your google my business page

[Google] What you shouldn’t do

  • Respond publicly to reviewers unless absolutely necessary
  • Write fake reviews

Yelp Reviews

Not quite as important as Google reviews, but Yelp pages usually make the top 5 search results and customers still trust Yelp more than most business owners would like them to. Yelp reviews often become a thorn in your side because Yelp filters its reviews.

Check out our friends over at Butch + Babe’s. They have a 4.5 star rating out of 49 reviews and note the lineup above the fold:

  1. Google Reviews
  2. Yelp Reviews
  3. Seven Days articles
  4. Facebook
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[Yelp] How it works

Unlike Google reviews which are public immediately after written, Yelp reviews are filtered by an algorithm within two weeks of being posted. The algorithm is search for clues to whether or not the review is real, critical, and the reviewer is not associated with the business.

This means short reviews with 5 star ratings written by first time Yelpers are often hidden. This means the rating isn’t factored into the overall rating and the business doesn’t receive any credit for a 5 star rating. The filter will also occasionally catch a 1 star scathing review so there can be a positive side to this feature, although more often than not Yelp’s filter does more harm than good for businesses.

[Yelp] Where does it go?

If a review successfully passes through the filter it is posted on the page, the rating is factored into the overall rating and it cannot be removed unless it violates Yelp’s terms of service.

A filtered review will be hidden at the end of the page. Users can click the faint grey link to view “reviews that are not currently recommended.”

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If you are able to make amends with a negative reviewer, ask them to update their review. There is a small chance Yelp will post it onto the page if it is longer, more critical and the reviewer has left a number of other reviews.

Yelp is a tough one, but there are a few things you can do to make sure your listing is up to snuff.

[Yelp] What you can do

  • Claim your yelp page
  • Add business information and photos
  • Put yelp stickers up around your business
  • Respond privately to negative reviews and ask the reviewer to update their review if appropriate.
  • Remember that reviews are more likely to successfully pass through the filter if the review has friends on yelp, has left other reviews (with a variety of ratings) and it is a few paragraphs long.

[Yelp] What you shouldn’t do

  • Ask customers to write Yelp reviews (they will get filtered)
  • Pay for advertising with yelp
  • Respond publicly to negative reviews

We’ve covered search engine reviews and a website’s built entirely around reviews. Next up, reviews on social media.

Facebook Reviews

[Facebook] How it works

Anyone with a Facebook profile can leave a review on a Facebook business page. The review must include a star rating and leaving a written review is optional. Reviews must have a name and Facebook account attached to them.

Generally speaking, reviews on Facebook are positive.

People in your social network are more likely to leave you a review, and a positive one at that. It only takes one click to leave a star rating.

[Facebook] Where does it go?

Just like Google reviews and Yelp you’ll find star ratings in search results pages and this is how Facebook reviews can make a good first impression. Users generally give more weight to reviews on Google and Yelp and pay little attention to those on Facebook (appearing on the left hand side of a page), except when seen in search results.

We recently launched the new Camp Kippewa website and they have a  whopping 63 reviews on Facebook to go with it!

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[Facebook] What you can do

  • Ask happy customers to leave you a quick review on Facebook
  • Keep an eye on your overall rating and how it appears in search results
  • Respond to any negative reviewers privately, if the problem can be resolved ask them to update or remove their negative review
  • Report any reviews that do not meet Facebook Community Standards or focus on the product or service of the page

[Facebook] What you shouldn’t do

  • Respond publicly to negative reviews. It is easy enough to reach out for reviews that will bury the negative review
  • Post a status addressing the negative review or calling out the reviewer

Feeling generous? Leave USM/Interactive a review on Google or Facebook!

If you want to learn more about online reviews, Social Media Marketing or other digital marketing strategies feel free to use the form below to reach Emma Shank.