What Works Best – Online Customer Reviews or Testimonials?
I recently read an article on Search Engine Guide titled, “Reputation Management — Tips for Using Testimonials,” by Stone Reuning. I have to disagree with the idea that a business in the age of social media can manage it’s reputation by using testimonials because consumers realize that testimonials might be manufactured by the subject business, and they don’t view testimonials as credible.
Consumers also realize that any negative feedback the business might receive from customers will not be displayed on the business website as a testimonial. That consumer motivation to see the bad, as well as good feedback, has driven the proliferation of websites like Insiderpages, Citysearch, Yelp, Judy’s Book, Angie’s List and so on. I’m not saying that businesses should remove testimonials from sites, but I am saying that customer reviews and recommendations on third-party websites are much more credible and persuasive to most prospective customers.
Businesses should also realize that potential customers will never visit their websites to read those testimonials if prospects encounter lots of negative reviews during the online search process. Many small business owners are still ignorant of the relative placement of their websites and the local business listings provided by Google and other search engines. Usually those local listings, and links to reviews for each listing, are placed at the top of the first page of search engine results. Consumers will click on those reviews links and use them to decide which websites are worthwhile visiting.
So I can recommend Stone’s article for those businesses that are afraid to get involved with customer reviews and want to operate under the illusion that they still control their business reputations. However, if you realize that the social web has vastly improved the power of word of mouth, you’re much better off developing a strategy to encourage online customer recommendations from loyal clients. If you’d like to get started, IX Brand SEO Services can help you do that.