Reviews Trump Testimonials in 2016

Google Reviews

A lot of pieces of the local marketing puzzle moved around in 2015. For example, Google’s 7-pack shrank to 3 and Google+ removed location information, marking two of the biggest recent changes in this arena. Until Google makes additional changes, right now, your business listing’s Knowledge Box and Google Maps are the only places where your business information, including reviews, is shown.

Reviews have always been important, especially when it comes to potential customers. And now that Google has purged information from the listings, including the business description, categories, and photos, all you’re left with is your business name, basic contact information, and reviews. This means the importance of these reviews has increased, so much so that it may be time to rethink your review/testimonial strategy.

Customers want to see unbiased, honest reviews on a third-party site, not hand-picked testimonials. Have you ever looked at your website analytics to find activity on your site’s Testimonial page? If you have one, it is most likely one of the least-visited pages on your entire website. Consumers want to read the good with the bad and gather enough information about a company to make a decision themselves.

That being said, instead of a testimonials page, we suggest a reviews page that links to various off-site reviews, including Google Reviews as well as other sites your customers may frequent. For example, restaurant-goers are more likely to use Yelp, while those reviewing a medical facility are likely to use Healthgrades.

Keep in mind that Yelp frowns upon direct links to a listing page. However, by conducting a Google search for “[your business] Yelp” and using that SERP URL as the link, you are putting the Yelp reviews on a platter for the user without sending them directly there, and Yelp sees it as the visit coming from an organic search.

Now your Reviews page is a wealth of useful information that a customer can appreciate. Having these links also makes it easier for customers to leave reviews. It’s a win-win!