How does ORM (Online Reputation Management) reviews work for (or against) your business SEO?
Reputation can make or break a business, any savvy business owner knows that. In this digital age, Online Reputation Management, ORM is like "word-of-mouth" marketing that previous generations of offline business owners swear by. We invited other successful business owners and website operators to share their insights in this blog.
Oliver Sissons from Reboot Online Marketing writes
Customer reviews have become increasingly more important in recent years when it comes to the SEO performance of all sized businesses. Customer review services (otherwise known as reputation management) are one of the go to additional services offered by SEO agencies all over the globe and for good reason to, they can have a dramatic effect on your sites organic performance.
Where, when and how the reviews are published can have a profound effect. For example, reviews posted on a websites Google My Business (GMB) listing is likely to help their local search engine result page (SERP) rankings (providing that they are genuine, relevant, useful and of course positive). Alternatively, reviews posted on third party review sites such as Trip Advisor, Trusted Shops or Feefo can help build authority and trust of the website being reviewed much in the same way that backlinks from trusted sites can. More details of this can be found in the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines released by Google themselves.
Besides considering all of the obvious benefits of a positive review profile such as a positive reputation online and increased conversion rates, having unique and fresh reviews posted on your website (be they added manually or even better if added dynamically through the widget of a third party review site) can make the content on your website higher quality and more up to date. With each review adding between 50 - 200 characters minimum to your site (and in many cases a lot more) and having a recent time stamp displaying when it was published, that product page that was uploaded 5 months ago and only contained a 300 word product description can quickly become an authoritative research for anyone looking for the pros and cons or more information on the product in question. The result? Hopefully, your site will rank higher than competitors seeing as it answers searchers queries that much better and provides more value.
So now that you are convinced on the SEO benefits of establishing a positive customer review profile online, we need to think about the best strategies to generate, maintain and manage your customer reviews. This will heavily depend on how many new reviews you can realistically generate regularly, how many employees you have/the size of your company and how many review platforms you can be found on.
The first thing to consider would be how many review platforms you want to show up on. Of course the more platforms you can be found on, the more time you will have to spend monitoring and managing them. I would suggest picking only a couple (and one of them should be a GMB listing) so that you can easily manage any reviews coming your way without having to log into 20 different sites.
Next, you should consider how many reviews you think you will be generating. If you are a local business who has regular face to face contact with your clients/customers then there is little point in investing in automated review software as not only will simply asking your customers to leave you a review when you do see them, this will probably be more effective. In this case, managing your reviews do not need to be too difficult or time consuming as anyone you ask to write their opinion of your business is likely to give you a positive review. Maybe you are an online store though who could expect to receive tens, hundreds or even thousands of new reviews a week. In this case, you will need to make use of online reputation management software such as Grade.us or Reviewtrackers.com which can not only automate the process of asking customers to leave you a review but also help you respond to or dispute any negative reviews you might receive. When using an automated tool it is inevitable that you see a negative review every now and then, the important thing to remember is to notice when such reviews are left and to manually respond to them with a personal touch! Doing so could demonstrate to potential customers reading your reviews that you are engaged and committed to helping your customers or even turn the review into a positive one.
Make sure that you decide on some clear goals before opting for any software or review platforms also. If you want to increase your rankings in the local snack pack, you will want to build your GMB review profile more than anything whereas if you want the benefit of a positive review profile alongside fresh, original content on your website you may opt for a video review software that could go that much further in increasing your conversion rates..
Negative reviews and negative SEO, in general, is almost impossible to predict and even tougher to combat but as long as you are dedicated and active online, you stand a chance of not letting it jeopardize your rankings! Unfortunately, companies can experience negative review attacks from competitors looking to disrupt their organic performance and not only are review websites aware of this but Google is too. If you are experiencing such an attack you will want to take a two step approach, first you will want to ensure that you are disputing the negative reviews as it is likely that you can prove that the review(s) have never interacted with your business or purchased your products or services and have the reviews removed as a result. Next, you will also want to make it a personal mission to generate as many genuine, new positive reviews as you can to offset any negative effects of the fake reviews until you can have them removed. Depending on the attack, you may have to keep up this approach for quite some time.
One of the best things that you can do today to help you grow, maintain and manage your online review profile is signing up to Google Alerts and set up an alert for whenever your business, brand or product name is mentioned. This will help you discover new mentions of your business which (if positive) you could follow up with asking to leave a review on one of your chosen review platforms. It can also help you keep on top of any negative reviews be they posted on your review platform or on someone else's website.
I hope that this content can be of some use for you. Here is a link to the Search Evaluator Guidelines published by Google that is discussed at the end of the second paragraph - https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//insidesearch/howsearchworks/assets/searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf.
Jimmy Chan from Pixelicious writes
*Google loves itself*
The first step is to sign up for Google My Business. Not only will it allow
your customers in leaving reviews, earning those valuable golden stars, GMB
is also smart enough to retrieve your ratings from other sources such as
Facebook, Trustpilot, Yelp, etc.
Potential customers searching for my brand will see my GMB panel at the top
. Leverage that prime screen real estate to showcase your reviews,
motivating your customers in visiting your website.
*Consolidate Google reviews to improve Local SEO and upcoming Local
I only ask my clients to leave reviews in Google nowadays for two reasons:
1) Clients are kind enough to use their own time writing one, asking them
to leave a review in multiple places will quickly become a hassle;
2) Google reviews hugely influence your competitiveness in Local SEO (Maps
3-pack) and conversion rate. Nobody would bother clicking on a local
business with 0 review;
3) The upcoming Local Services Ads is a game changer! They will be shown on
top of Google Ads (previously Adwords) and sorted based on the number of
reviews. This isn't available in my area yet but start accumulating those
golden stars now;
*Use testimonials to improve EAT and conversion*
Testimonials are prominently featured on my homepage to drive conversion
but they also benefit SEO due to increase in EAT, also known as Expertise
Authority and Trust.
A link to my GMB is strategically placed in my footer, in addition to the
actual map (showing the number of reviews) in my Contact page, tying
*What to do if you are a victim of negative reputation attack*
Luckily I haven't yet to deal with one but here are some practical tips:
1) Prevent it by avoid signing up at too many review platforms. Many
require domain or address verification so the less places you allow people
to leave reviews, the easier it will be to manage;
2) If it's a legitimate client leaving a poor review, respond promptly with
professionalism and grace. Offer to rectify the situation by letting the
customer try your product / service again such that they can update the
3) If the above doesn't work, maximize your effort in obtaining positive
reviews to bury the bad one;
4) Depending on the platform, there are ways to remove illegitimate reviews
(victim of attacks). For example, Wedding Wire requires a copy of the
contract when there's a dispute to protect the vendors
Michelle Hoglan from Top Hat Creative Marketing, Conifer, CO writes
How to use customer reviews to benefit your SEO?: Working with the client to make sure things are done right. Automated systems are great but we all have filters to avoid that sort of message. Having the personal touch to make sure the owner and staff know how to request reviews, how to control their online pages, and how to create, gather, and post interesting effective content is the difference. It is like knowing you have to exercise and actually doing it. If you pay a personal trainer you exercise, if not most of us do not do as well.
SEO is changing and the unique content from 3rd party trusted review sites has become a huge influence in your SEO. I go so far as to say it is a large part of it. Back linking and citations are yesterday's news. A Good reputation management program including reviews and management/posting to your Google, Yelp, and Facebook page will take advantage of any and all SEO work. The reverse can not be said, just because you have good SEO does not mean your business is positioned to take advantage of the main way people find you online. In other words, if your Google page is not optimized SEO will be much less effective.
The main thing to do about any negative review and especially a coordinated negative review attack is to not take it personally. It will be personal to the small business owner but taking that public will almost never get good results. Some are able to use humor or sarcasm to reply to reviews, but most fail badly and end up worse off with wildly popular very negative reviews that end up with a life of their own (go viral) because the owner gave the bad review more legs than it had on its own.
For a Coordinated attack by reviews, you need to flag the reviews (in instances where there are only 5 or 10 reviews, or one person writing multiple reviews under different names) in the provider like Google, Yelp, or Facebook.
If it is a coordinated attack responding to something the owner said publicly (news, Facebook page, etc) often times the big players, Google, Yelp, Facebook, will take down the mass response to that action. But if they do not, contacting them and letting them know what the situation is will get that process started, Google and Yelp will do this and have for the last 6 months or so. Examples 12 Rounds Brewing in Sacramento - Owner posted on Facebook about the women's march saying go home, and got 100's of bad reviews - this was before this policy from Google and he ended up selling the business. A different post from a Dental Center in Raleigh, NC had "tone deaf content" and 99% of the replies were taken down by Google due to the replies being considered politically motivated instead of a review of that company.
Thank you Oliver, Jimmy, and Michelle for your input. We hope you can put these pointers into action and boost your traffic! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below and we'll send you to the right direction.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SEOWriters