A Deep Dive into Reviews: Quantity & Diversity Explained

Last week, we hosted a 30-minute webinar about best practices for managing your online reviews — especially for contractors in the HVAC, home performance, and solar industries.

In today’s blog post, we’re taking a deeper dive into third party reviews to help you understand how review quality, quantity, and diversity all factor into the review management game.

Reviews Are Rising in Importance

As we recently mentioned in our blog post about the 2018 Moz Local Ranking Factors Survey, reviews are growing ever more important as a ranking factor in search. Take a look at how review signals grew in importance from 2017 to 2018, according to the annual Moz survey.

This comes as no surprise when you consider how prominently reviews are displaying even in organic search results. If you were to perform a brand search for your own company, for example, you could expect to see a number of third party review sites listed in the results. Notice how many review sites show up here:

Just about everyone uses third party reviews when making purchase decisions, and those people trust third party reviews even more than first person endorsements. Long story short, if you’re seeing ratings below four stars on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Home Advisor, or any other third party review site, it’s time to elevate your review management strategy.

How Does Quantity of Reviews Factor In?

It isn’t just your average rating on GMB and other review sites that matters. The number of reviews you garner is a key ranking metric as well.

While having ten reviews was once enough to give you an edge over other HVAC, home performance, or solar companies, that threshold is quickly rising. According to the Google Reviews Study by BrightLocal, the average number of Google reviews that Plumbing and HVAC businesses have, including those without any reviews, is 41.

How many reviews you should aim for largely depends on your industry. We recommend these goals for 2019:

  • HVAC: 40+

  • Solar: 75+

  • Home Performance: 25+

  • Insulation: 15+

  • Building: 10+

  • Remodeling: 25+

The BrightLocal study also stated that the average consumer expects a business to have 40 reviews before trusting its star rating. Keep this in mind even if you have what is considered a good “threshold” number of reviews for your industry.

Service Keywords in Review Text

Did you know that the content of every review you amass can also have a significant impact on how you rank in organic search and the Local Pack? When more service keywords show up in your reviews, you can expect to see improved rankings both in the Local Pack and organic rankings.

Take a look at the highlighted service keywords in the review snippets for Total Home Performance (left), and then check out THP’s rankings for “attic insulation easton maryland,” (right):

Which Review Sites Should I Prioritize?

Remember: you cannot lean too heavily on one review site to boost your rankings. It’s important to diversify your review profiles.

Why diversity is important

According to a survey conducted by Moz’s Mike Blumenthal, when participants were asked what they do first when searching for a local business online, 46% said they read reviews. Moreover, almost as many said they would go somewhere other than Google to find those reviews. Diversifying the sources on which your business is reviewed can help in two ways:

  1. It will exponentially increase your business’ presence online, as many review sites like Yelp and CitySearch actually syndicate their reviews

  2. More review options make getting reviewed easier. If your customers have choices as to where they can leave you a review, they’re more likely to do so on the platform or site of their choosing.

Even if your reviews are viewed only a limited number of times on those sites, they have the potential to be viewed many more times by a much wider audience via various syndicated placements.  

Finally — and this may be the most obvious argument for diversification — it’s important to diversify your review strategy “because Google says so.” We know from the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey that SEO experts agree: Google takes the number of different review sites on which you’re reviewed into consideration as a ranking factor in the local search algorithm. Google dedicates valuable real estate and various SERP features to the display and promotion of any and all reviews — not just Google Reviews. This is a clear sign that Google wants diversity.

This may have you asking, “Which review sites should I try to get reviews on first?”

Setting review priorities

We recommend this simple process for determining which review sites are already boosting your rankings and which review sites you might need to focus on:

  1. Search for your company brand name.
    This will pull up your branded “Google home page.” See what review site listings appear on the left in search results and which reviews appear on the right in your Google Business Profile.

  2. Search “[your company name] reviews.”
    This is another great place to explore which review sites are already showing up for your business.

  3. Search key services and geography.
    Perform a search like “attic insulation easton md” to see how you’re ranking and how reviews may be contributing to those rankings.

  4. Take a look at Google Analytics.
    This can tell you which review sites are already sending traffic to your site.

General priorities, for most businesses

In general, these are the review sites you should focus on:

  • Google
    Google simply has more clout in influencing search rankings. Keep in mind that with Google, maintaining a steady stream of new reviews is important.

  • Facebook
    Facebook continues to maintain prominence.

  • Yelp
    Yelp has the potential to send high quality leads to your site, but keep in mind that it is also a site where negative reviews tend to show up the most.

  • Priorities based on your research
    Your own research may reveal other third party sites like Home Advisor and Angie’s List as priorities.

Once you have your prioritized plan for review management in place, you can begin to offset negative reviews and solicit positive reviews as permitted.

Not sure where to get started with your review management strategy? We can help. Get in touch with our team of marketing professionals.

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