No business – whether big or small – should be without great reviews or testimonials. It’s vital for local SEO (better web presence in local communities), and a number one trust signal (makes customers feel comfortable about your credibility). In fact, one study found out that 79% of consumers believe in online reviews as much as personal testimonials. In 2013, more people based purchases on reviews they read on the Web (when compared to data from 2011 and 2012). On average, a person will browse through 2-3 testimonials before making a decision. So basically, if your business website lacks this feature, it could shrivel and die.
These statistics are not so surprising. It’s human nature to seek validation. We want to know that we’re doing the ‘right thing’ or that we’re ‘up-to-date’. While we’re curious creatures too (‘hey, this places looks awesome!’); we’re also naturally cautious. Before we give our trust, we need to see proof that it’s worth the effort (‘my friend said the place was great’). Hence, the need for reviews. Positive ones, if you can encourage that.
Lately though, there’s been two sides to this trust signal: on-site reviews and embed reviews. How are these two different? Do they affect website ranking and conversion?
Again, reviews are awesome. They give website visitors fuzzy feelings that you’re a business they can trust (because others already have). However, not all testimonials are what they claim to be – and savvy shoppers know this. The Web can be a good thing; but like double-edged swords, all this information comes at a price. One study says that about 15% to 30% of online reviews are fake. This is why review sites like Yelp have their own system to help cut down on spam or fake testimonials. If you’ve noticed, you need to post in-depth analysis of a business before your review could be approved.
This brings us to on-site testimonials, or those you see immediately on a web page when you visit a website. While this is all fine and dandy, you can see that it looks sort of generic. The pro side is that there’s no need for additional widgets. The downside is that, some visitors may think that these are made-up.
Embedding has made it easy for webmasters to incorporate posts from social media profiles onto their business websites and/or private blogs. Not only does it look cool, you also don’t need a developer’s knowledge to do it (as sites like Facebook and Google+ have customized codes you can just copy and paste).
It’s not just posts you can embed these days – but also reviews. Yes: there are plenty of tutorials online on how to embed user testimonials from Yelp, Google+, and Facebook. For the latter, there’s no tool yet to embed ALL posts, so you’ll need to do it individually. But why are they so important? And should you even bother?
This is not to say that on-site reviews don’t work; but embed testimonials provide better pizzazz than plain reviews because of the following reasons:
Trust is a HUGE factor nowadays. If people don’t feel comfortable within the first few seconds of their visit, they’ll bounce (leading to high bounce rates). You want them to know you’re a credible business with a solid reputation. By showcasing embed reviews from your other social networks, they’ll feel more secure.
Activity is also very important. Dormant profiles usually signal that you’re either a) a dummy account because there’s nothing going on there; OR b) you’ve stopped caring. Embed reviews display positivity and familiarity. If they see someone they know who gave a sterling review of your business, they’d be more inclined to try it out themselves. This is even more effective if users are logged into their favorite social media networks. Which brings us to the third point…
A seamless user experience. People who are already logged in can immediate leave a comment or rate the review as helpful (more plus points for you). If they have tried your product or service, it’s easier for them to write their own testimonial, too! And the last point – of course, embed stuff just looks awesome. Period.
While embedding reviews presents plenty of opportunities, it also has a downside: it’s not a verified ranking factor. Yes, reviews are counted in the Google algorithm but there are no studies yet that show if there’s a difference between EMBED and ON-SITE reviews (Moz’s survey suggests that review quantity, velocity, diversity, etc. have an effect though). So what does this mean?
Use your own judgment when it comes to incorporating embed testimonials – don’t embed everything! Maybe two or three good reviews from Yelp can help. Or perhaps your business could benefit from Facebook embed posts. It’s really up to you. But one thing is certain: your local business needs positive reviews to make it. So encourage your customers to visit your profiles online and leave a helpful word.
Reviews are not just useful when it comes to local SEO, they also build businesses up. How about you, do you have enough reviews for your local store? Tell us how user testimonials gave your business a boost!