Trust Optimization: How to Maximize the Value of Your Online Reviews

January 21, 2019 Phillip Long

online reivew

At last year’s State of Search, the first session I attended was Trust Optimization hosted by Aaron Weiche. The session was about reviews, which I have always been a big proponent of. It ended up being my favorite session of the conference.

I talk a lot about how to get reviews, and what they mean for your SEO and your brand. But, the phrase Trust Optimization stuck with me. Reviews are signs of trust from people that had contact with your business. Reviews are hard enough to get. So how you optimize those reviews is essential to maximizing their value.

Reviews are funny when it comes to insurance. Everyone needs insurance, so everyone has an agent or agency they work with. So why is it so hard for agencies to get reviews when everyone could leave one? The short answer is if you are trying, you aren’t trying the right way.

Let’s dive in how to gain reviews, where to get them, and how to maximize their value.

Why Reviews Are Important

ITC knowledge graph

Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review survey found 91 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. When consumers look for a product or a service, they either ask someone or start an online search.

Think of Google as a second homepage for your website. Now, when someone wants to go to a website they type the business name into Google.

This means your knowledge graph panel, with  your agency’s reviews, is how someone knows you. Since users can get what they need this way, clicks to websites could be down.

What to Know About Reviews

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal.” I’m here to tell you all reviews are not. Not even close.

A few things can make reviews more valuable than others:

  1. Keywords: Say you are trying to rank for auto insurance, and you have reviews that talk about auto insurance. You are sending good signals to Google about your business. You want this to vary across all the lines of business you have.
  2. Geo targets: A review that mentions the city you are in helps clue Google into where you want to do business.
  3. Length: A longer review is better than a short one. It shows more thought and consideration, and Google likes that.

Be careful, though. Too much of a good thing can look suspicious. Don’t ask people to mention specific things, or to make it a long review. When you ask someone to leave a review, word it in a way that encourages them without being so blunt.

Ask someone, “If you don’t mind, could you leave a review about our service for your auto insurance policy?” Don’t ask, “Please leave us a lengthy review that mentioned auto and home insurance.”

How to Get Reviews

Now you know what works best in a review, how do you get them? This is the hard part. The most convenient way would be to use an automated email marketing tool. There are also a lot of review generation companies out there.

Regardless of if you keep the project in house, the formula to success is the same. It’s called The Human Ask + Timing. Let’s break that down.

The Human Ask + Timing

The human ask is straightforward. You need to train your staff to ask for reviews. Consumers get slammed with email every day, and all those emails are the same. Check out our sale! How did we do? We miss you, come back to us! Your email will get lost in the shuffle.

Timing ties in to how likely someone is to leave a review when you ask. Did you save someone money? Ask. Did you fix a huge headache for them? Ask. Don’t wait two days for your email system to see a price decrease to send out an email asking how you did for them. That’s too late and your customer has moved on.

Now, put them together. Say you are doing a policy review for a customer and you show them how much they can save. Ask them while you are on the phone if they would be willing to leave a review. Then, you should immediately send them a link to where they can leave a review. All while on the phone. This can also add a little pressure to get them to do it on the spot, which wouldn’t hurt.

How to Optimize Reviews

If you followed the ideas above you should have some good reviews now. But, you can make them even more valuable.

You should aim for a good mix of first- and third-party reviews. A first-party review is a review on your website. A third-party review appears on an external website like Google or Yelp. A good mix looks more natural to searchers and to Google. Typically you will get more first-party reviews since anyone can leave one. On Google you have to be logged in, and same for Yelp. So, focusing on third-party reviews might make sense for you.

You should also markup your first-party reviews with schema. Reviews with schema drive more traffic than reviews without. They can also show up in the search engines like this…

with schema

Instead of this…

without schema

Which one of those would you click on? The one with reviews.

You should also use your reviews on more than your testimonials page. Reviews can help influence a prospect or customer on your About Us page or line of business pages. Or, if you a multi-location agency, on your custom location pages. They can also be used in your marketing if you have permission from the client.

If you want to build reviews, and build them the right way, follow the information above and you will be on your way. Reviews aren’t easy to get and it is common to get discouraged. But, if you stick with it, you can generate some extra business while making your agency look good. 

About the Author

Phillip Long

Phillip Long serves as the primary contact point for all of ITC's search engine optimization clients. As the internet marketing product manager, he coaches and guides insurance agents throughout the SEO program, ensuring they progress smoothly. Phillip's specialties include conceptualizing marketing campaigns, SEO, and customer service. He has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at Arlington with a focus in management and communication.

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