Below is live coverage of the Ratings Reviews & Reputation: Their growing impact on search panel from the SMX West 2011 conference. This coverage is provided by Brian Ussery aka beussery and Avi Wilensky of Promedia Corp.
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Ratings, Reviews & Reputation: Their Growing Impact On Search
The Internet amplifies everything. Today, the opinion of an individual is more powerful than ever. It only takes one angry blog post or nasty review to change how people perceive your company and what the search results look like for your name. Consumers rely heavily on the opinions of their peers, and search engines â€” Google, especially â€” appear to be placing greater value on ratings and reviews as a vital piece of business information and perhaps as a ranking signal. This session looks at the current reviews landscape and offers specific tips for business owners to understand why reviews are so important, how they influence search results, and how to use reviews â€” both positive and negative â€” to grow your bottom line.
Moderator: Matt McGee, Executive News Editor, Search Engine Land
Q&A Moderator: Angie Schottmuller, Founder, Interactive Artisan
Rhea Drysdale, CEO, Outspoken Media
Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance
Gregg Stewart, President, 15miles
1:37:47 PM Avi Wilensky: Pro Live blogger Lisa Barone is sitting next to me :)
1:38:07 PM Avi Wilensky: Greg Stewart kicks it off - he's good a cool mustache
1:39:13 PM Avi Wilensky: Shows study done with comscore to see where people are finding local businesses - traditional in decline
1:39:32 PM Avi Wilensky: 40% growth Y/Y mobile, 28% social - rapid growth
1:41:21 PM Avi Wilensky: 32% of all searchers expect to find ratings and reviews when looking to purchase - on social 40% and 45% on mobile - ratings and reviews important in context of platform of local search.
1:41:51 PM Avi Wilensky: 1/4 searchers say that ratings/reviews help make decision. This is a big signal from shopper to buyer.
1:42:38 PM Avi Wilensky: Only 23% of consumers in this study said they leave online reviews. Challenge is that consumers want the info , but not finding the content.
1:42:52 PM Avi Wilensky: Best practices for creating that content
1:43:10 PM Avi Wilensky: 1) Ask previous customers to help build your content
1. Ask previous customers to help build content
1:43:40 PM Avi Wilensky: 2) Build a presence on sites such as Citysearch and Yelp
Hey Avi, sorry running a little late :)
1:44:10 PM Avi Wilensky: hey @brianussery!
1:44:50 PM Avi Wilensky: 3) Make sure you have a response plan - don't flame consumers for leaving bad reviews!
1:45:19 PM Avi Wilensky: Respond immediately, be timely, keep it brief, and take the conversation offline!
1:45:26 PM Brian Ussery: Once there is a negative response, respond, be nice and try to resolve offline..
1:45:54 PM Avi Wilensky: Shows example of poor response - pretty funny
1:45:57 PM Brian Ussery: Use the phone to solve issues like this when they arrive.
1:46:25 PM Brian Ussery: 4. Quality over quantity
1:46:51 PM Avi Wilensky: Don't make it obvious that it's you leaving the review! Consumers can see right through it
1:46:51 PM Brian Ussery: Reviews need to be unique original and authentic.
1:47:28 PM Brian Ussery: Understand the difference between ratings (stars) and reviews (written text).
1:47:36 PM Avi Wilensky: 5) Don't hide negative reviews
1:48:06 PM Brian Ussery: Don't hide negative reviews, these can help improve business process and are of value to users and your company.
1:48:14 PM Avi Wilensky: 50% of consumers in a recent survey expected to see a mixed set of reviews. People want to see merchants addressing issues. Businesses with both pos and neg get a 20% lift.
1:49:23 PM Avi Wilensky: 6) Ratings and reviews takes many forms - Facebook, Youtube, Google Maps, Yelp, Twitter, Citysearch, 4square
1:49:59 PM Brian Ussery: Ratings and reviews are all over the internet. Facebook (likes, wall comments), YouTube (comments or sharing), Google Maps (places), yelp, twiiter, four squrare.....
1:50:36 PM Avi Wilensky: Great presentation - thanks Greg.
1:51:01 PM Avi Wilensky: Next up is @rhea drysdale from outspoken media
1:51:56 PM Avi Wilensky: Going to be a long presentation, ap
1:52:35 PM Avi Wilensky: Goog assigns reputation scores to reviews and reviews.
Known signals from public search
- reviewer location
1:53:01 PM Brian Ussery: Google assigns scores to review and reviewer...
1:53:52 PM Avi Wilensky: Personalisation of profiles is important - helps connect the dots between different networks.
1:54:10 PM Avi Wilensky: User review history, location...
1:54:47 PM Brian Ussery: [burgers santa clara ca]
1:54:59 PM Avi Wilensky: Does the content of the review matter? Yes, summary and description makes a difference.
1:55:23 PM Avi Wilensky: Freshness: Really important, but other factors come into play. Even though the recent reviews are valuable - if they are from shady accounts they may get buried
1:55:45 PM Avi Wilensky: As of Feb - if logged in Google your social friends appear in the SERPs.
What drives social results - Gmail - Twitter - Flickr - Quora - Yelp - Friend's websites
What drives socila results:
friends on gmail
1:57:50 PM Brian Ussery: Google Places pages "Aspects" sentiment analytis
1:58:02 PM Avi Wilensky: Aspects: Kind of like sentiment analysis - Google pics up terms that category businesses is in
1:59:21 PM Brian Ussery: Sentiment analysis is flawed?
1:59:40 PM Avi Wilensky: Sentiment analysis is FLAWED - cant detect sarcasm for example
2:00:21 PM Avi Wilensky: Ties back to decormyeyes story and getsatisfaction.
2:01:29 PM Avi Wilensky: Do KW's influence reviews? Shows example of keyword stuffed review.
2:02:12 PM Avi Wilensky: New services which sync when you become a customer - Mint.com, SpendGo to verify that you made the purchase.
2:02:24 PM Brian Ussery: Future signals could come from serviceds like spendgo and mint.com
2:02:50 PM Brian Ussery: You don't need reviews to rank in local but they help catch users
2:02:54 PM Avi Wilensky: You don't need reviews to rank in local, but reviews catch the eyes of the users with bright yellow stars.
2:03:09 PM Avi Wilensky: Don't need hReview microformats for Google to pick up rating.
2:03:19 PM Brian Ussery: hReview? Not always but structured markup helps google associate content
2:03:49 PM Avi Wilensky: semantically rich markup rules!
Ratings use microdata
Google assumes 1 to 5
Test rich snippet
2:04:53 PM Avi Wilensky: Soliciting Reviews: How do you solicit a review? The more you talk about Yelp the more likely to get reviewed. That's what we are told.
2:05:28 PM Avi Wilensky: Don't publish own reviews - if you do - don't do it shadily. There are services like DemandForce, PowerReviews etc.
2:05:31 PM Brian Ussery: DON'T publish negative reviews to try and sink competitors...
ORM Problem Scope SEO strategy:
manage fake reviews
develop off site content
develop video testimonials
publish, publish, publish
2:07:29 PM Avi Wilensky: that is all. thanks @rhea
2:07:34 PM Brian Ussery: These resulted in top rankings and increased clients...
2:07:49 PM Avi Wilensky: Last speaker up is Chris Silver Smith from KeyRelevance!
2:09:03 PM Avi Wilensky: Interested in crossover between reviews and rankings - focus on that today.
2:10:13 PM Avi Wilensky: Tells the Decormyeyes story (if you haven't seen L&O SVU version, check it out!)
2:10:13 PM Brian Ussery: Decor My Eyes issue claimed that bad reviews resulted in better SERP position...
2:10:58 PM Brian Ussery: Google responded saying the adjusted algo but what did they do and aren't telling us?
2:12:15 PM Avi Wilensky: thats fellow live blogger @lisabarone! her fingers must be tired!
2:12:18 PM Brian Ussery: 1. Citations, negative review sites could inflate some bad business sites
2:12:39 PM Brian Ussery: @avi, she is going to kill you when she sees that photo :)
2:13:27 PM Brian Ussery: Chris thinks citation metrics have been adjusted...
2:13:58 PM Brian Ussery: Sentiment Analysis may now factor in
2:14:06 PM Avi Wilensky: @brianussery -probably :)
For example is it a positive mention or negative mention.
Google doesn't consider rankings value for rankings but Chris's observations don't seem to support this notion.
2:15:40 PM Avi Wilensky: Popular reviewers, and longer comments might help rank higher, as @rhea mentioned
Total # of ratings and freshness may factor in.
Google patents about reviewers seem to indicate some have more influence than others...
Keyword relevancy in reviews affect rankings:
illustration query ["cancer screening and the painless laser drill," san jose]
2:17:33 PM Brian Ussery: Don't coach consumers on what to say in reviews.
2:17:59 PM Brian Ussery: One company asked for reviews instead of Christmas cards.
2:19:00 PM Brian Ussery: Reviews are used in Google Shopping and Google Books.
2:19:39 PM Brian Ussery: [vibram five fingers] query illustration
2:20:33 PM Brian Ussery: Chris showing queries for [nikon coolpix camera] [pattern recognition by william gibson]
2:21:01 PM Avi Wilensky: Book reviews - Google may combine reviews into one source...
2:21:54 PM Avi Wilensky: Google pulls in info from FB pages, and counting them as reviews.
2:22:07 PM Avi Wilensky: Shows picture of the hotel standard in nyc (they have very cool bathrooms)
2:22:23 PM Avi Wilensky: (that was just my own side note personal comment, not chris's!)
2:23:33 PM Avi Wilensky: hReview microformat for rich snippets! Look at the sources Google prefers and compare your markup with theirs (ie. yelp, urbanspoon, tripadvisor)
2:23:47 PM Brian Ussery: Check out microformat being used by other sites.
Webmasters can test Rich Snippets via:
2:24:58 PM Avi Wilensky: Use the rich snippet tool to test - and the operator toolbar in FF for testing out microformat markup.
Tips for improving review profile
- good customer service
- reviews not associating on Google Places page
- Respond to negative reviews
- incorporate microformat
- check markup
2:27:38 PM Avi Wilensky: ask customers to be specific in reviews for keyword value
2:28:42 PM Avi Wilensky: Some sites allow you to claim listings and remove ratings...not typical
2:29:16 PM Avi Wilensky: Many consumers are skeptical of businesses that have all 5 starts - seems as if people are gaming the system. Having a few negs makes you look natural.
2:29:27 PM Avi Wilensky: Q&A time!
2:31:43 PM Avi Wilensky: Where should users begin? Gregg says to look at the sources at the top and widening based on category.
2:32:14 PM Avi Wilensky: Chris says to send freebies to bloggers to hopefully get reviews but dont make it conditional
2:32:18 PM Brian Ussery: Chris says to send "free samples" to bloggers and ask for review...
2:33:38 PM Avi Wilensky: Some industries naturally attract reviews (ie restaurants, some don't ie. doctors)
2:33:49 PM Avi Wilensky: Q: Monitoring reviews - what tools do you recommend when new reviews are posted?
2:34:21 PM Avi Wilensky: Chris: locationmonitor.com is one that he likes
2:34:26 PM Brian Ussery: Question, what tools can help monitor? UBL, tracker, google alert
2:34:34 PM Avi Wilensky: Gregg: Easiest is google alert, radiun6 is more industrial
2:34:36 PM Brian Ussery: radiant6
2:35:35 PM Brian Ussery: status checker plugin for firefox
2:36:24 PM Avi Wilensky: Matt likes myreviewspage.com - email alerts
2:36:46 PM Avi Wilensky: yelp.com/business lets you manage your notificatons as well
2:37:32 PM Avi Wilensky: Q: how do you use testimonials that you already have had in the past?
2:37:48 PM Avi Wilensky: @rhea: get written approval from customer to republish
2:45:15 PM Avi Wilensky: Q: how do you deal with 1 person going on a rampage on multiple channels?
Chris: bulletproof yourself with good reviews to outweigh 1 crank person
2:46:39 PM Avi Wilensky: @rhea the filters are likely to catch 1 person leaving multiple reviews
2:46:59 PM Avi Wilensky: Round of applause!
2:47:08 PM Barry Schwartz: Nice coverage guys!