Web designers focus on making pretty websites, SEO experts focus on rankings, marketers focus on getting more traffic, but very few focus on the really important bit – the customer, their experience, and how that impacts your business.

Google make it very clear that they want to show relevant results to people that answer the questions those searchers are making, but how can Google know that the information they are giving to people is correct?

One of the core principles is to make sure that they are displaying content produced by people and companies that can display Experience, Authority and Trust (E.A.T).

But how can these things be measured if you’re not a well known expert in any given field, a published author in any given topic, or you aren’t getting linked to by super authority sites in your niche or industry?

If you think about it, it’s not always possible to fit into those categories.

You might for example be an amazing baker who creates outstanding and jaw-dropping Wedding, Christening and Birthday cakes, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to be getting articles written about you in a food magazine or the BBC, so how else might your ability be recognised?

One significant way that might help Google realise that you are talented at what you do, and reward you with the appropriate rankings and traffic that your skills deserve is through positive Google reviews.

Reviews are an obvious way that Google can see how your clients and customers react to the work you do for them, and these can be used to measure your E.A.T in any given business arena.

Which Type of Reviews / Which Review Platforms Are Best?

There are many, many review platforms out there now like Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, etc, and you can also add review software to your own website so they can leave their comments directly to your web pages.

While this might seem like a good idea there is one major drawback, which is how do Google know these reviews are genuine?

If reviews appear on your own website then anyone could have left them, and Google have no way to know if a real person left them or you wrote them yourself (of course we know you would never do that, but some companies do), I’m sure you’ve seen some before on other websites and they just seem – questionable.

On the other side of the coin some of the review sites have come under fire because if a company pay for a premium account, they can delete bad reviews and only leave the good ones live, which creates a distorted view of the company and their practices.

We suspect that the best review platform is Google reviews, because Google can actually see that a real person left a review, they can then trust that review to be an accurate reflection of your E.A.T, and so…

We’ve decided to run a Google reviews experiment!

Our Google Reviews Experiment – Will it Effect Our Rankings?

In the past we’ve never bothered with reviews, mainly because we’ve never been sure if people will believe they are genuine or not.

Instead we’ve relied on word-of-mouth recommendations to bring in most of our clients and business, but we’ve decided to test this out a little and see just how important E.A.T is in terms of rankings (particularly local rankings) by focusing on reviews.

What we don’t want to do is to go back to everyone we’ve ever worked with and ask for a review, see dozens of them appear in a short time and try to infer something from that.

First it would be really un-natural looking to Google, and secondly, we want to see how a steady increase in the number of reviews impacts proceedings, like it would for a new business for example.

So, we’re going to aim to get a slow and steady number of reviews over a long period of time – we will update the results of this experiment – but it’s going to take a looooong time!

Of course, people don’t just leave reviews willy-nilly so how can you get more of them?

One Simple Way to Get More Google Reviews

In England in particular (or maybe the whole UK) we simply do not like to ask people to help us.

It feels like an imposition to ask someone to leave a review, almost like it’s rude or cheeky, but really what have you to lose by simply saying “hey, if you’re happy with what we’ve done for you, would you take 5 minutes to leave a Google review for us please?”

It really is the simplest way, and you’ll be happily surprised with the response when you have helped someone out.

If you don’t ask and just hope that maybe someone might leave a review, then you’re going to get very few, and it’s only going to be when someone feels you did them such an over the top, amazing favour that really helped them out that they just have to tell people about it.

The flip side is that if someone is unhappy about something they will be much more likely to go and leave you a negative review, even if it’s something and nothing they are unsatisfied with.

To see this in action just look at the reviews for any restaurant or pub that serves food.

They will be serving hundreds of people every single month, but the numbers of positive reviews will not be that great – even if you have a favourite restaurant you go to regularly, do you leave them a positive review after a good meal – or do you not bother because that’s what you expected from them – you got what you were paying for?

On the other hand, look at the negative reviews – they can be for all manner of reasons, the food took too long, wasn’t hot enough, was too hot, was too big a portion size, or too small, the waiter was too attentive, or not attentive enough.

How can you possibly make every single person happy?

But when you don’t, they will be far more likely to jump right in and leave you a bad review, as in their eyes you ruined their experience and they want to be heard (but never face to face of course!).

On the other hand if they had a good experience they won’t leave you a good one – they got what they paid for, so why are they going to bother?

So, what can you do?

How to Get More Positive Reviews and Less Bad Ones

You might (having read the section above) think it’s a bad idea to ask everyone to leave you a review, I mean imagine you’re a restauranteur and you don’t know if someone really enjoyed their dining experience or not?

[people tend to be very shy about complaining in person, but will happily vent their spleen from behind a keyboard, and by the time that bad review is live it’s too late]

So, dare you ask people to leave you a review or not?

How might you solve this worrisome problem?

One great idea is to get them to speak to you so that you can funnel the people who had a good experience into leaving a positive review, and to get the people who weren’t happy to tell you why so that:

  1. You can understand how you might improve your product or service; and
  2. You can find a way to resolve the issue so that they don’t leave you a bad review, but more importantly you don’t lose a potential long term customer.

The trick is to use the right system to funnel and filter happy and unhappy customers, and then to manage that data.

It isn’t exactly rocket science but it’s easy to get it wrong, and if you get it wrong you’re back to square one again.

We can implement a system like this for you, and then best of all use it to drive more customers to you AND improve your search engine rankings!

Think about the impact of someone searching for a business in your industry and there are 4 companies and they all have hardly any reviews.

Then imagine someone does that search, and while your competitors have hardly any reviews, you have 50 or 500 positive ones.

Who do you think they will choose to do business with?

You always run the risk that you’ll end up with people deliberately picking faults to try and get something for free, but really these kinds of people are few and far between.

You’re better off bowing to a handful of them and defusing real issues as soon as you can, than losing genuine people who could become long term patrons if you only knew what stopped them from coming back.

The upside is that you might discover that a lot of the unhappy customers complain about the behaviour or attitude of a particular server or member of staff for example, something that you would never have known, but that you can address when you do.

It all comes down to that same point – if you don’t ask you don’t get, and if you don’t know what the problems are then you can’t fix them.

If you can find the genuine problems and fix them, and increase the numbers of positive reviews you get, then you’re going to really reap the rewards.

SEO Experts offer an online reputation management and review management service.

Based on the West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire border we work with businesses in Bradford, Leeds, Keighley, Skipton, Harrogate, Ilkley, Halifax, and Huddersfield, as well as nationwide.