The basic premise of sites such as Qype, Trip Advisor and Yelp is that consumers will honestly review their experiences and what these reviews lack in quality verbiage they make up for in integrity. The consumers may – or may not heed the reviews but that is not where the value of these reviews actually lies. I’d like to give you the stats on how many people are actually viewing the Brighton review websites but had best keep those facts to myself – what I can tell you is – according the metrics provided by analytical tools – search engines lead far more people directly to business’ websites than to review sites. So although a minuscule number of people may actually come to your business through a site such as Qype -review sites have a value extending way beyond the sites their own reach.
What I have also noticed is that the search engines seem to be increasing the weight that place on these reviews when it comes to placing a website in it’s search listings. If you were to google ‘Brighton Restaurants’ you would find the top slots on page one websites that – in terms of pure search engine optimisation – do not deserve to be there. For example right near the top is the Iydea Vegetarian Restaurant, their website is a three legged blind dog that needs to be put out of its misery and yet there it is, top of page one that’s the equivalent of the final at Crufts.
The only way they have gotten there is by garnering 53 reviews on these user submitted review sites. It would only take one day to write 53 reviews yet it would take many days of very expensive SEO to get onto the front page for such a competitive search term as ‘Brighton Restaurants’.
I would suggest that it is only a matter of time before somebody at Google Towers tweaks an algorithm and it will all change – but until then if you have a business in a sector that google chooses to list with the accompanying review count; then get reviewing – and don’t stop because it’s an arms race and your competitors will be doing it too.