Review Sites In Australia
There’s a huge pink elephant in the room in any discussion about Review sites, that many businesses would rather ignore. It’s that reviews aren’t abstract, they are reviews of your business, the way you carry out business, your value for money, you or your staff’s attitude. So, there’s only so much that an SEO company can do to help you with reviews – it really is down to you to provide the best service that you can and encourage your happiest customers to leave great reviews!
Here in Australia, Review Sites aren’t really that much of a big thing, yet! There are a number of socio-political reasons for that, the most obvious being our general reluctance to cause a fuss – or even leave a review – but things are changing, slowly. While Australia ambles into the 21st Century, the rest of the world – particularly the USA – loves giving their opinion on Service Industries. In May 2015, one of the biggest Review sites, Yelp, was valued at $3.5 billion! Patently, review sites are big, big business and if your company provides great service, getting positive reviews on such a site could be a great pathway to success.
So, Australian businesses in Hospitality & Tourism are in the front line, culturally, because they have to deal with a lot of overseas customers, who obviously, would have no problem in leaving reviews, whatsoever. My experience with the giant Review site in the Hospitality field, Trip Advisor, is that when a respected reviewer gives you a detailed, enthusiastic thumbs up, the social proof gained often becomes an amazing conversion tool.
Our local Wollongong backpackers hostel, Keiraleigh, makes a fascinating case study, with Trip Advisor reviews ranging from POOR to EXCELLENT, distributed in a fairly even bell curve. I’ve actually stayed there for quite a long stretch and I empathize with all the reviews – they’re all accurate in their own way. The POOR reviews seem to be from people who want a Motel/Hotel experience and the EXCELLENT reviews are from backpackers who just want a cheap bed and a great place to party.
Since Keiraleigh is frequently close to full of backpackers, I’d say that the EXCELLENT reviews are working pretty well and the POOR reviews are providing a suitable deterrent for the more straight-laced travelers.
However, from a business perspective, having such a number of POOR reviews could be devastating for most businesses and I would be doing everything I could to rectify that situation. At the very least, I’d develop the listing to actively discourage the more conservative clientele by posting lots of pictures & brief videos of young people having fun, capturing scenes, like in the photo above. Frankly, that would probably encourage more backpackers, so I would hazard a guess that it would probably be revenue neutral, while greatly increasing their positive reviews.
Interestingly, Keiraleigh’s Facebook Business Page, contains many enthusiastic, often emotional reviews from young backpackers and provides them with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. Those reviews are business GOLD and snippets should be all over their website – they are, in effect, glowing testimonials.
The Effect Of Reviews On SEO
Hmmm. I doubt that anyone can prove that reviews, themselves, have an effect on SEO, though I would strongly suspect that they do. Certainly, Search Engines would be aware of the amount of traffic that Review sites generate to your site and I also suspect that by quoting and linking to specific testimonials on e.g. Trip Advisor, could also be quite beneficial. My very rough rule of thumb is that if it’s helpful for your customers and good for your business, it’s probably good for your SEO.
NOTE: The 2015 MOZ Local Search experts gave Reviews an 8.4% importance for Search Engine ranking factors.
In a way, the reviews on Review sites may also function, collectively, like a Citation, particularly over time, in that they certainly prove that your business is where it is and ongoing. The bottom line is that, presently, reviews seem capable of having a huge effect upon the success of your business but probably a minor effect upon your Search Engine position, unless individual reviews are highlighted or quoted as testimonials.
Nevertheless, since it’s vaguely in SEO territory, it might be worth chatting to us about:
- How to best optimize your Review Site listing – I can’t stress how important this is. When people add reviews, they are generally in some kind of an emotional state. If your reviews are positive, then to optimize your listing with brief videos about your business (phone cam will do!), testimonials, semi-pro stills etc. will only encourage customers to believe those reviews. Further, we can take each of those pieces of media and using nerdy SEO tricks, ensure that the Search Engines are connecting them to your business. Individually, each may not add up to much but cumulatively, they may well have a positive SEO effect, since your competitors probably wouldn’t be going to that much trouble.
- What are the best ways to get reviews? While getting positive reviews will be very good for your business, asking for them is a very grey area. It’s worth chatting about what you should or shouldn’t do
- Fixing BAD reviews – this is a thankless task for business owners that’s still no easier to do when SEO companies given it the fancy name of Online Reputation Management. Again, it needs discussion and a budget
Updates From The Web
How Consumers Feel About Adding Reviews – November 2016
This is a really in-depth survey over a broad range of questions to 1,000 consumers about Reviews. Though American, it’s still an excellent resource for any business in the world that might be considering asking their customers for reviews.