Your review count and average ratings are just the tip of the iceberg.
Your business might have 200 reviews and a 5-star average and your review strategy could still be a flop.
That’s because lots of other factors – I can think of 51 – determine how much your customers’ reviews help your local visibility and your ability to get more customers. It matters which sites you’ve got reviews on, who your reviewers are, what they say in their reviews, what they don’t say, and how much marketing mojo you wring from those reviews.
You can use this post as a checklist to “audit” your reviews strategy, and you’ll probably think of ways to improve your strategy right away. But this is not a paint-by-numbers, “Do these 51 things” type of post. How to improve your strategy and your reviews may not be simple or easy. The first step is to know what success looks like.
Beyond review count and average rating, here are 51 ways to know whether your reviews strategy is working.
(By the way, you’ll want a “Yes” answer to each of these questions.)
1. Do you have reviews on the sites that show up on the first page (or two) of Google please reviews when you search for your business by name?
2. Do you have reviews on the sites that show up on the first page or two for your main search terms?
3. Do you have plenty of reviews on sites that are geared toward to your industry?
4. Do you have reviews on any sites that feed your reviews to partner sites?
5. Have you removed as many duplicate listings as possible, and tried to consolidate reviews that were spread out among duplicate listings? (See this for Google, and this for Yelp.)
6. Do any of your colleagues who work at your location (other doctors, lawyers, agents, etc.) also have reviews – and on a diversity of sites?
7. Do all of your locations have reviews?
8. Do you have at least one Yelp review? Crucial because Yelp reviews will also show up on Apple Maps, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local.
9. Have Yelp reviewers uploaded photos of your business (or your handiwork)?
10. Are your reviewers from the cities where you want more customers?
11. Do some of your longtime customers mention in their reviews that they’re longtime customers?
12. Have some of your customers left reviews spontaneously – without your asking?
13. Have some of your reviewers uploaded profile photos? (They can upload profile photos on Google+, Yelp, and Facebook. Can’t think of other sites at the moment – but please tell me if you know of any.)
14. Is there roughly the right balance of women and men among your reviewers?
(Props to you if you can tell me what movie this arm-wrestle is from.)
15. Do your reviewers’ ethnicities more or less reflect those of your customer-base?
16. Do you have any reviews from “Elite” Yelpers?
17. Do you have any Google reviews from “Local Guides” or other high-volume power reviewers?
18. If your customers (or clients or patients) are concerned about associating their full names with reviews, do some of them still write you “anonymous” reviews?
19. Do you have any reviews from non-customers (e.g. leads or peers)?
Reviews and ratings
20. Are at least some of your reviews long and detailed?
21. Do reviewers mention specific services?
22. Do you have recent reviews?
23. Do you have old reviews? (If you don’t, I guess you can’t help it. Just start racking ‘em up today.)
24. Do you have at least a few less-than-stellar reviews? (You should.)
25. Do reviewers mention your company by name?
26. Do customers mention the selling points you hoped they’d mention?
27. Do reviewers ever mention exactly where they’re from, or where you performed your services for them?
28. Is at least one review funny?
29. Do you have a reviewer who was skeptical at first but became a raving fan – and mentioned that fact in his / her review?
30. Are your filtered reviews (on Yelp) mostly positive?
31. Have you tried to get removed any negative reviews that violate the site’s content policies?
32. Do your reviews indicate what types of people should not become your customers?
33. Have any customers updated once-negative reviews to positive reviews?
34. Do any customers compare you favorably to specific competitors? Bonus points if customers make a comparison in your favor in their reviews of yourcompetitors.