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November 5, 2015

Business Reviews the Future of Digital Marketing

Author: Valerie Baker

Every month we do training. This last month we learned about some Responsive Design trends, and the world’s profound shift to digital. Some shocking statistics include: On average people check their phone more than 150 times/day. 91% of people turn to their phone for ideas [and help] while in the middle of a task. 82% of people consult their phone WHILE they’re looking at a product IN A STORE! And much more…


Thanks to Think With Google for compiling the amazing information. But, the big take-away is:

Users are increasingly using the web – and Google – to find, evaluate, and re-evaluate, their decisions, actions, and all kinds of major life goals. And they are doing this on mobile devices more than ever. So the question becomes – in part – how do you get found? How does your business get seen by these searchers?

Well at least 1 part of this equation, we believe, are reviews.

Business Reviews

Business reviews, have in one form or another, been around since the first business. Slowly older, slower, and more manual review processes have been translated online, and there are now whole sites for business reviews, and even whole sites for particular kinds of businesses (AngiesList, Houzz, TripAdvisor, etc.). Before jumping into the importance of reviews, let’s take a step back…

Keeping in mind user behavior as a context and Google more specifically – users have flocked to Google in mass – because it is arguably  “the best search engine.” This idea, and how Google has achieved, maintained and grown this idea (and market share) has, we believe, come down to a number of things, most importantly, user experience. Since day 1 Google tried to “organize the world’s information” and this has evolved over time. This is most clearly evidenced by it’s advertising platform – AdWords. As Rand Fishkin, the head of search tool giant Moz, eloquently put it at MozCon 2015 – the best online services have a habit of embracing (or at least looking at) the next big thing that will kill their business – and investing in those things, even when it detracts from their own revenue model. And that thing for Google? Absolutely User Experience.

For years AdWords advertisers have understood this concept, as they’ve been forced (or incentivized :)) to provide the best experience to searchers. We’re rewarded when our ads match our keywords, when they’re well written – and now more progressively, rewarded when the site we send them to is highly optimized, fast, etc.

Google is pushing EVERYTHING in a user-experience direction. Take the “mobile-geddon” situation we reported on back in March… where Google announced it would promote sites that were mobile friendly and responsive, while (potentially/eventually) demote sites that weren’t – ultimately using the information on each page as the true metric to balance everything out (what use is an amazingly optimized website if the content sucks or doesn’t answer anyone’s questions?!).


What Is User Experience?

In the web design world we deal with the two words “user experience” quite often. Development snobs would have you believe UX (short hand for User Experience) is a sub-section of design dealing with the interaction between a person and a tool (website, application, device). This is true from a strict development standpoint, but from a larger picture user experience is EVERYTHING. Google’s unlocked this mystery. They’ve realized that being the best search engine is all about helping users answer their questions the fastest and presenting information that makes sense.

Let’s look at User Experience from your perspective as you’re looking for a place to eat tonight.

  • You search for something like “best restaurant” the following happens:
  • As quickly as possibly you’re presented with a list of relevant results (including from their immediate geographic region) those items are ordered appropriately (magically) and then the user clicks on each – finds on each website they need to make a decision on where to eat – and books a table.

Boom, pretty simple. Google is working hard to extend “user experience” in evaluating website design (see “Google Mobile Update“), page load times, time-on-page, bounce-rate, etc. all in an attempt to connect users with the best pages (that will answer their questions or help them with their immediate needs). Google’s becoming your best friend…

Google’s My Best Friend, My Go To Guy – Business Reviews Help

Years ago we had a potential client who wanted to create a network – the “GoToNetwork” – a spin on BNI – where by people would meet, talk business, and refer each other business. Because, the founders explained, everyone has their “Go To Guy… that guy that knows exactly where you should go, or how to fix your problem.”

Google is becoming our “go to guy.” By knowing all of the website’s on the web, and analyzing millions of data points, Google is able to quickly pull back results for you as you search for “best restaurant” one Friday evening as you look for a place to eat.

But Google’s getting far smarter. Our Go-To-Guy is getting craftier. Wouldn’t it be cool if our Go-To-Guy had actually gone to the restaurant in question and had some impressions about the spot? Sounds a lot like Google Business Photos and Google My Business reviews doesn’t it?

In fact, there are even rumors that Google is analyzing the layout, interior, and decor within Google Business Photos and matching it up with pictures you’ve pinned on pinterest.1

For sometime it’s taken social connections into account, now, as we demonstrated in our Local SEO post – Google’s now taking reviews into account.

Business Reviews – The Final Chain in the “Circle of Life” of Digital Business

So how do you extend this “user experience” beyond the browser, and beyond the digital world, which Google already has it’s tiny pigeon paws sunk deep into? We believe reviews. The future of many business will be in reviews. As many businesses’ digital presences have coalesced around  mobile, bootstrap, and other similar frameworks, a big differentiator for businesses moving forward will be how they actually treat customers and how those customers report that experience online.

Many in the construction home service business have already caught on. Doing a quick search for AC repair – our local providers have over 80 reviews a PIECE! That’s crazy. But they know great service = more reviews = more trust = higher rankings = more business. The circle of digital business in the future.


Business Reviews What To Do?

So what’s a business to do? We’re a fan of context and then simple take-a-ways. As we’ve shown in the past in our Local SEO analysis – reviews matter. Consult that post for some specifics on guidance when it comes to Reviews’ impact on search but our intent for this post was simply – more broad than how to rank locally. We feel that user experience, in all it’s forms, but particularly in the form of reviews is the future of search. How can Google know what experience you had at that restaurant? Reviews.

In the future with partnerships, acquisitions, and tracking of location – they may even prompt you to review your experience as you’re leaving the restaurant.

So, start building processes around making each customer interaction amazing, and providing a framework for soliciting your customers or clients for reviews. Just be a great business! In a follow up post next week we’ll be going through an actionable list of how to get more reviews, some guidelines you’ll need to know from various IYP and social providers, and templates for getting more reviews.

1. By using the word “in fact” I actually mean this is not a fact, but could one day be possible…

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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