Reviews and Search Traffic
We’ve all seen the familiar arguments about how on-line reviews affect position in search results–hence, resulting search traffic. In my opinion, it’s worth seeking on-line reviews just for that purpose. However, recently I came across some hard data about another way that on-line reviews can affect traffic directed to your site from search engines. And the impact is significant enough that I’m now recommending an active review campaign for every client.
The client is a health practice in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., far enough away from the city that no city dwellers are likely to be prospective patients.
I routinely study the Web marketing efforts of my clients’ competitors, both to use as a benchmark of our success and to learn what strategies are working in this particular market. For my client, I had been carrying out a more or less conventional SEO campaign, working on tags, page titles and the like. Things were going well, and my client was steadily gaining in search engine positions for the terms that I was working on.
However, there was one competitor’s site that was getting as much traffic as we were, although we were beating them like crazy in position in search results! Then they had one day when they passed us in traffic. I’d been watching them for some time–they have a nice site, but they are clearly not doing any SEO work. And they’re trailing our search results positions for dozens of keywords! Why are they getting so much traffic? What is there to learn from what they’re doing?
A study of their site and positions showed that more than 75% of their search traffic came from the name of their practice, which was different from their URL. An easy explanation would be that they had great position on the practice name because it’s in the URL, but it isn’t. However, they did have position #1 for the practice name.
Further study of the traffic data showed that there were 2400 searches per month on the competitor’s practice name, but only 40 per month on my client’s practice name! My client had a more generic practice name, that I’d expect to be used in search more than the competitor’s. So what’s happening? Why are there so many searches on the competitor’s practice name?
I ran a summary report of the competitor’s on-line reviews in a sampling of review sites, and a similar report for my client’s reviews. This report shows reviews on just six important sites, not all the 40+ that are of interest; but for many businesses, these are the most important review sites. Incidentally, you can run that same report, for any site you want to check out–try it for your own site and a competitor!–by clicking here.
This report showed that the competitor, in just this sample of review sites, had 240 reviews. The report for my client’s site showed just 24 reviews for this same sample of review sites.
So what’s going on here? What we’ve heard is true–prospective patients are searching review sites for a local practitioner with good reviews. Then they do a Google search on the name of the practice that they decide to patronize. That’s why my competitor’s practice name is being searched for 60 times more than my client’s.
The Bottom Line
An active campaign to obtain and manage reviews is one of the most important Web marketing efforts that you should undertake.
Of course, Dave’s Certified Reviews is a great way to conduct your review campaign, with all the hard work done for you so that you can focus on your business.