JoyHawkins

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I really liked this article by Greg Gifford: Forget Your Testimonials Page, 2016 Is The Year Of Reviews

I always ignored testimonials pages and looked for real reviews instead so I think this advice is spot on. Like Chris Ratchford said: "It's like having your mom as a reference on your resume."

I also loved his reminder about not asking for Yelp reviews on your site with a badge as it will most likely lead to them being filtered. I would recommend the Yelp widgets which specifically don't ASK for reviews but highlight the reviews you've already received.

I'm curious if any of you see actual traffic to the testimonials pages for your clients/business?
 

mborgelt

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I agree they are usually the last to get indexed in my experience and the one that skew traffic stats (bounce, time on site) which has led me to getting into the habit of advising clients to either re-purpose the page or scrap it all together. Thanks for sharing Joy!
 

Phil Rozek

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Testimonials pages are not useless. They pull their weight when at least one of the following is true:

1. If your online reviews (Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.) are overwhelmingly positive. Of course, 5-star testimonials are useless if you've got a 3-star reputation on third-party sites. But testimonials are useful if there's no mismatch - if they paint the same picture as your off-site reviews.

2. If you showcase your off-site reviews on your testimonials page. They won't get filtered. There's benefit in doing that, because some visitors might not have seen those reviews.

3. If you can use that testimonials page to rank for review-related search terms (e.g. "Boston cosmetic dentist reviews"), and maybe to get your rich-snippet review stars showing in the search results. That's another possible doorway into your site. Even if your testimonials page doesn't rank for those terms, it may rank for brand-name searches, which is another time you really want to impress people.​

It's not an either/or proposition. Have strong online reviews and an impressive testimonials page.
 

heckler

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It's not an either/or proposition. Have strong online reviews and an impressive testimonials page.
Yup! Also - some people hand write thank you letters to businesses; testimonial pages are a great place to put those.
 

JoyHawkins

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LoL I wasn't suggesting they are never helpful but the "normal" testimonials page that Greg is referring to generally lists random reviews that aren't anywhere else online. The article also explains that highlighting reviews from other sites is a great idea like you mentioned Phil.

However, I'm not sure hand-written testimonials copy and pasted onto the site have much credibility. As a user there is no way for me to know if the business faked them or not unless I can verify that a user (not the business) actually posted them.
 

Phil Rozek

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Hey Joy,

Greg rocks, and I'm generally a huge fan of his advice (and yours!), as probably everyone here knows by now.

But there are several points in the article that just don't square with my experience:

a. "Your Testimonials Page Does Nothing For You"
By itself, I agree. But it's useful as part of a larger strategy, as I described.

b. "Customers want to read honest, unbiased reviews on third-party sites."
Who said reviews on these sites are honest and unbiased? Except on Yelp (which has its own quality-control problems), it's the Wild West. The only way customers will get an honest, unbiased view of your business is by reading feedback from many sources. Why shouldn't your site be just one of them?

c. "Don?t forget that it?s a bad idea to link to your Yelp listing"
Not true. Yelp's own reviews widget links to your Yelp reviews. Then there's this answer from Yelp: Can You Repurpose Customers? Yelp Reviews on Your Website? An Answer from Yelp HQ | LocalVisibilitySystem.com - where they say nothing against linking to your reviews. They just don't want you asking for reviews.

d. "Instead of a testimonials page that no one reads..."
People who are already on the site might be interested. Especially if it's where you link to and showcase all the sites where you've got reviews. Not even the knowledge graph or page 1 of your branded search results will show people all 5 or 10 sites where you've got reviews. You can't assume people have already seen all the reviews they want to.

e. "Instead of a testimonials page that no one reads, you?ll have a reviews page that customers find incredibly useful."
You can have both - a dual-purpose page. You tell customers to go there and check out your reviews, and to consider leaving one of their own.​

Testimonial pages are always useful. The big question is whether you've worked on your online reviews enough for them to be useful. Most business owners don't bother with that because it's hard, so of course their testimonials page just looks like a compliment from mom.
 
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I read this post on SEL yesterday and disagreed, in one major area, with the conclusion that testimonials are useless. As I recall, author stated that no one reads testimonials - that users only trust reviews. I would suggest that testimonials are one of the BEST ways I can think of to differentiate content between cities in a multi-location or multi-SAB model. For example, a user targeting house painting in Santa Fe and house painting in Taos. Landing pages contain project showcases for jobs completed in those cities. Testimonials, on those pages, from the happy customers featured in the project showcases not only differentiate content (as Joy suggested as being quite important in her recent Moz Blog post) but also help to tell the end of a good story of a job well done.

So, while I felt some of what the author wrote was important and good, I wouldn't advise pitching testimonials overboard as a valuable source of UGC.
 

heckler

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Good points all.

@Miriam

We find a decent amount of traffic flowing to testimonial pages from searchers; which isn't a page we build by default (they are only added on client request). What is interesting (to me) is that user-behavior shows some importance in those pages.

Most flows involving testimonial pages look something like this (search entrance):
(root) -> service_page -> about_us -> testimonial -> about_us -OR- contact_us

I don't really care if Google thinks my testimonial page is useful, that's what the rest of the website is for. The testimonial page really is a soft-close (IMO).

Not everyone is a sleuth that crawls the web looking for information about a business before making a buying decision. Some searchers will take your testimonial pages as gospel if your website doesn't look like something out of the red-light district.

The flip-side of that is if your testimonials are suspect (superfluous and potentially not legit) and a user does look at 3rd party reviews and doesn't find parity, you'll lose that conversion.
 

Jon Hall

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I trust that Greg is being intentionally provocative. (His point about Yelp may be off, but anyone here can understand not wanting to touch Yelp with a 10-foot pole, LOL.)

Easily-won testimonials stroke the ego of business owners and create a false sense of security that they're on top of things. The article reads to me like Greg grabbing the complacent by the lapel and giving them a firm shake. Thus, it's more than a bit over-simplified--as demonstrated by this awesome thread.

Greg's fight here used to be a daily and personal fight for me because so many "review management" platforms trade on the emotional rewards of easy feedback and testimonials and peddle them as the solution for "building an online reputation."

But I've learned that alongside the perspectives of our "rational marketer" and "rational customer" we have to make room for the perspective of the "completely irrational bat-s#*t crazy business owner" (a category I regard with affection and in which I regularly include myself).

As a peddler of review tools, I consider "review acquisition" to be the most powerful and valuable service we offer. But we've discovered that our stickiest tools are the ones that gather clients' existing positive reviews from around the Web and amplify them via their websites and social media profiles.

So, in addition to the many ways in which a testimonials page serves the customer journey--whether by making the business more discoverable in search or soft-closing the customer far down the conversion funnel--we shouldn't lose sight of the value it may have to our (or our clients') psychology. Like mom's unwavering encouragement, it might just be what keeps us slogging away some days. (Thanks mom!)
 

JoyHawkins

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I'm loving this discussion so far. I pulled some stats from some of our clients' testimonials pages to see how much truth there was to the idea that no one visits them.

It's *sort of* true in the sense that these pages really don't get much traffic in comparison with pages like the homepage or the services pages or the About Us page. Here is what I found.

The first is how many unique visitors went to that page from the last 30 days, the second is how much time they spent (avg) on the page.

Private Investigator
Testimonials Page: 8 visitors, 29 seconds
About Us: 30 visitors, 1 min 2 seconds

Mattress Store
Testimonials - 56 visitors, 1 min 59 seconds
Why Us: 106 visitors - 37 seconds

Realtor
Testimonials - 16 visitors, 46 seconds
About Us - 41 visitors, 1 min, 42 seconds

Dentist
Testimonials - 1 visitor, 5 seconds
About Us - 27 visitors, 1 min 36 seconds

Personal Trainer
Testimonials - 14 visitors, 1 min 45 seconds
About - 80 visitors, 20 seconds

Party Rentals
Testimonials - 33 visitors, 55 seconds
About - 134 visitors, 59 seconds

Security Company
Testimonials - 2 visitors, 29 seconds
About Us - 17 visitors, 26 seconds


So it is true that for the most part, only a small fraction of the traffic these guys get even look at the testimonials page. I'm not agreeing that they're useless (I used that as the title of the thread to kind of summarize the article) but I do agree with the main point that people don't look at them nearly as much as most business owners think. After reading it & discussing it I am planning on making the following changes:

1. Make sure reviews on the testimonials pages are able to be validated. I don't necessarily need to always use reviews from other sites but even linking to another site from the person who left it is more credible (like Bright Local does - https://www.brightlocal.com/)

2. Add 1 or 2 reviews (from Google or Yelp widget etc) to the About Us page since it gets so many more eyeballs

3. Make sure if you're linking to the Yelp profile you use the widget that highlights your reviews but does not say "Leave us a Review on Yelp" as that can lead to filtered reviews because Yelp considers it a solicitation.
 

Linda Buquet

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FYI just to circle the wagons...

I had shared that post from SEland in a review round up Monday AM.
Then Tues Joy reshared this one and Ajay reshared the review post from Mary at Moz.

Lessons Linda learned?

1) Don't do a roundup 1st thing on a Monday after a Holiday, no one will read it.

2) Don't do a roundup on important posts that should really have their own thread.
Joy, so glad you reposted this and got such a great discussion going!

Here is my original thread just to tie things all together:

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/local-reviews/39102-local-reviews-reputation-mini-roundup-start-new-year-off-right.html">Local Reviews & Reputation Mini Roundup - Start the New Year Off Right!</a>
 

Jon Hall

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Nice stats, Joy! Love it.

To me, those numbers are surprisingly good--I'd leave my testimonials page intact if I were any one of these businesses! Except maybe the dentist ;)

In addition to your excellent takeaways about integrating testimonials into "About" pages and attributing/linking to third parties, I'd reiterate Miriam's point that testimonials/reviews make compelling and "free" content for all landing and conversion pages.

Using review content in this way lets you expose all prospects to targeted "social proof" at just the right time in their journey. I like this example of a roofing client who has local reviews integrated into each individual market landing/conversion page (although they're not using the schema marked-up version):
Kansas City Roofing | Premier Roofing of Kansas City

I think that if you can put in front of all of your prospects targeted and recent reviews vetted by trusted third-parties (Google, Yelp, etc) and potentially written by their neighbors, then you're really killing it. You don't need a testimonials page, per se.
 

Phil Rozek

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3. Make sure if you're linking to the Yelp profile you use the widget that highlights your reviews but does not say "Leave us a Review on Yelp" as that can lead to filtered reviews because Yelp considers it a solicitation.
Great points, Joy, but one comment on the above point:

An asked-for Yelp review won't get filtered if you ask an active Yelper. 80% of what determines whether a review gets filtered is how "trusted" the reviewer is. Everything else matters very little.

Once it becomes clear to Yelp that a person writes reviews habitually - and not just when a business owner asks him/her to - Yelp stops scrutinizing that person's reviews. (They'll only get removed if they're flagged for over-the-top vulgar or un-PC language.)
 

Eric Rohrback

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The big thing that I always remember when reading articles like that is that no one can really tell you what will and won't work for your business. Greg's article is very subjective and is obviously made to fuel debate (guess he won b/c of this thread!), so no one should really take it as the ultimate word. There are some awesome ideas on this thread how to use testimonial pages, and the biggest thing is to be unique with it. Test and study attribution paths, use a unique call to action on the page to get users to convert, share a resource, create UGC by allowing users to leave a review directly on your site, etc...etc...

I think testimonial pages have their place if used uniquely to the business they're trying to serve.
 

Marie Haynes

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I thought I'd give my two cents. This is a client of mine with a really small business. They add new testimonials to the page a few times per month. Here is GA data for the last year.

testimonials-ga.jpg

So, in the last year they've had 475 people look at their testimonials page and they spent time looking at it too. I'd say that's worth something.

But here's the thing that makes me say that testimonial pages are important. Google doesn't give us a lot of information on how specifically to improve our sites, but have you seen this guide they have produced on how to create a quality site?

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6001093?hl=en

It specifically says the following:

Show your site?s credibility by using original research, citations, links, reviews and testimonials. An author biography or testimonials from real customers can help boost your site?s trustworthiness and reputation.
If Google tells me that testimonials are helpful to improve my site's quality, then I'm going to have a testimonial page for sure.

testimonials-ga.jpg
 

Greg Gifford

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Miriam - that's a perfect example of when they work - but in those cases, you're using a single testimonial related to the project you're showcasing...

we've had a lot of discussion about this on Twitter since it published, and Phil's definitely right - testimonials CAN BE/ARE important when used correctly...

The point of the article was that a standalone testimonials page that simply lists out all glowing 5 star reviews in a vacuum does nothing for you...

On my company's websites (for car dealers), we pull in dealership reviews on the inventory pages, so on the actual product page, there's social proof that it's a dealer with a good reputation that people would want to buy from... BUT - that's not a testimonial page, it's a product page with a few reviews on it...

huge difference!
 

Tim Colling

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I realize that I'm very late to the party on this thread, but I think it's worth saying this too (if someone else hasn't already said it):

This is my own subjective point of view as a web user, not just an SEO practitioner: when I'm comparing websites for a product or service that I want to buy, I look for a testimonials or reviews page on each site and glance through it. If a site does not have any such page, I wonder why not.

This applies more to small, local businesses than to big national brands, of course.

Your mileage (and your opinion) will probably vary. :D
 

theitsage

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I fully agree with Tim. "Trust but verify" is how most people work. This is my thinking when I decided to show reviews on my website:

1. Tell the customers they should go with you because you're the best.
2. Show testimonials from other customers saying you're the best.
3. Link to 3rd party review sites with customers confirming you're the best.
 

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