There are plenty of things to be thankful for this holiday season, and one of them better be your clients or customers. And I hope that by serving them with good quality work at a fair price you have been able to get yourself some great testimonials and reviews.
But which one is better for your business, testimonials or Reviews?
If you are just starting out with your contracting company you would be happy with either right? But there is a difference, and if you actively solicit testimonials and reviews (and you should), then let me suggest why testimonials should be your first choice.
Testimonials are a reward for your good work, and a testimonial acts just like a job recommendation. Reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Places, Merchant Circle or any of the IYP’s help bring in business and move your site up the search engine rankings, but the trouble with reviews is they can be gamed.
Here’s the problem
Reciprocal link exchanges, keyword stuffing, keyword color manipulation, the list goes on and on of all the tricks used by people and companies in my line of work trying to game the system. Yeah, these methods worked for a while, but eventually the search engines caught on and banished the offending websites to the 400th page of the search result. Why? Because search engines don’t like it when they get gamed, and reviews WILL become a way to game the system.
There are people out there who will get a friend or relative to write a positive review for their own company. Others have written a negative review about their competition. If you have done either, stop, the law of reciprocity will come back around and sting you in the ass for it!
We have already seen the future
As I mentioned above, Google has had to deal with shifty SEO companies before, so what I see happening when the user review becomes useless is that Google (and the other engines) will start by discounting the weight they give to reviews in their algorithm. Then, there may be a time when they don’t even count reviews at all. Right now they are penalizing sites they KNOW are gaming the system and it will get worse. In fact, you can already see it. Google has started to require reviewers to have their own Places profile before they can write a review.
How to win with testimonials
One client of mine loved the reviews he was getting on Google. I suggested he turn some of those reviews into testimonials and create a page on his site dedicated to the great things his clients were saying about him AWAY from his own site. And since the change I think he has doubled (correct me Chris) his leads each month as a direct result of that minor change to his site.
Why such an emphasis?
Besides the obvious increase in leads, Chris knows through testing that testimonials on his website have a better return than any marketing he can do right now. He also knows that potential clients or customers are influenced more by what people say about him and his company than anything he can say about it in an advertisement.
Here’s an example of Chris’ testimonials page on Magic Pool Services:
Now, you probably have another year or so before “reviews” come under serious pressure and stop being a useful tool for search results. This is why you want to get a head start building your own “testimonials” page, so here are some tips.
1. Go read this post I did on setting up Google Alerts to monitor the conversation about your company online.
2. If you find people writing positive reviews on sites other than yours, reach out to them and simply ask them if you can use their comments on your site.
3. Ask for testimonials at the best possible time, when the client is reviewing the finished product.
4. Offer a discount or gift card for their kind words if you are having a tough time getting testimonials naturally.
5. Prominently display your testimonials and use them on your sales calls too, not just your website. Trust me, they help close business!