Testimonials or Reviews are what we call “social proof”.
They are a powerful element and every site should have them inside the site itself.
Besides the obvious cheese factor, no matter how you say “I’m the best, you should use me“, we trust what others say about you so much more. Having someone else say “Mike Mueller is the best, you should use him” is so very much more powerful.
I’m going to show you how to better show testimonials on your site (and more importantly where).
Let’s look at a few of the inherent problems first…
THE OUTSIDE REVIEW
Reviews on outside sites (think Yelp, Zillow, and even Google) are great. How many times have you searched the internet for something, found a few stores with the same thing, and decide to go with the one with the most reviews? I do it all the time. If you have more reviews than your competition, and your next potential client sees that, hopefully they’ll click to visit your site. Hopefully.
Reviews help potential clients pick the right path. Good reviews will drive more people to you. That’s plain and simple.
Should a past client decide to leave a review (I like the word ‘testimonial’) it’s very hard to control where that is going to be. If they are a regular Yelp user, they’ll probably use that. Might they do it on Google? Linkedin? Zillow? Facebook? Yes, yes, yes and yes! The fact is that while you might hope they’ll do it where you want it to happen, they’ll generally leave it where they feel most comfortable.
Problem #1: We have an issue with the review existing on a site that we don’t have control over. We don’t own it. If that site changes, goes out of business we’ve lost it.
Did you know that if you are not a regular Yelp’r that review you just left won’t likely show? Yelp has an algorithm that determines what shows and what doesn’t to the public. They are trying to reduce the outliers.
Problem #2: Outside Reviews don’t show up on our website.
Yes, there’s a plugin for that. Something that’ll pull in snippets of your latest reviews and put them on your sidebar. You can have one for Yelp, one for Google, one for Zillow, one for Real Satisfied and so on and so on. Which one(s) are you going to use? All of them? That’s a lot of widgets and plugins. That’s a lot of sidebar.
Speaking of sidebar, there’s also the issue that since most of your traffic is mobile, the sidebar isn’t visible (unless they scroll past the content).
But we know that we need reviews on our site. Done right, they’ll be seen just when the next client is ready to make that critical decision.
THE INSIDE REVIEW
What if you had a form on your site that allowed people to submit testimonials or reviews on your site? That seems like a good idea, right? Yes and no.
Problem #1: People are good for 1 shot. If they fill out your form you pretty much can guarantee that they’re not going to then go do the same at Yelp or Google. Those super fantastic, uber cheerleaders (outliers) aside, they are only good for one good review.
Problem #2: If it happens on your site, your not adding to the reviews you need on all of those outside places.
There’s no perfect solution.
You want reviews and you need them both outside as well as inside your site.
Here’s what I do. I suggest you help people leave reviews where they want to leave them, when they do, you can cut and paste the review over to your site and have the best of both worlds. I do this on my “Add Your Testimonial” Page. There’s 5 different options; Yelp, Google, Linkedin, Facebook and of course my own form.
They can click on any one (you can do that right now) and they’ll be magically whisked to that site. When that happens, I’ll be notified that someone left a review.
I’ll then cut and paste that outside review and put it on my site. Plagiarism? I guess you could call it that but I’ve never heard anyone complain about this.
DISPLAYING YOUR REVIEWS
Like I mentioned before, we want the reviews to show up on our site. There’s a couple of ways to do that.
Option 1: The Single Page
You could create a single page for reviews and just add a new one to the page when you get them. I do that on my “Mike Is…” page.
One problem is that ALL of the reviews are there. If you are in real estate this would be both BUYER and SELLER reviews. This can be a source of confusion if a BUYER is looking at the testimonials and most all of them are coming from SELLERS – “Well, which one do you excel at? Am I going to be the focus of your business or not?” – right? The fix for this is to create a single page for Buyers Reviews and another for Seller Reviews
Another problem with this is that they (your site visitor) needs to migrate to that page to see those reviews. If you have a page with a call to action (like a SELLERs Page that contains your unique selling proposition) you don’t want them clicking away from that. You want to keep them on the page.
And yet another problem I see is that sidebar issue. When the site is in mobile mode, the sidebar is still there, it’s just at the bottom of the page under the content. Nobody is going to a review on your sidebar when it’s down there.
Option 2: The Custom Post Type
In a standard WordPress website you can create a Page or a Post. That’s it. Pages are meant for permanent items, while posts are meant for timely things. (this is a post).
I started creating the ability for site owners to create a 3rd item, what is called a Custom Post Type. It’s like a post. It can have categories, a title, subject matter, images and everything a normal post would but the magic part is I can then embed this CPT into Pages and Posts. I can do fancy things like showing them as a slideshow. If I apply a categories to them (like BUYERS or SELLERS) I can also just show a single category.
This means that you can have a page like your page describing everything you’ll do for a Seller, have just the seller reviews show up inside that page, and still have your call to action. Everything where they need it, all on one page, with the correct social proof right there when they need it most! We’ve just helped that potential client take that leap of faith.
You can still have that single page of reviews as well.
Want to see that in action?
Here’s a few of the latest people to leave me a review after my building their site. I’ve embedded the custom post type into this post.
Isn’t that cool?
Now know how to better use and place testimonials on your website now. Don’t just let reviews happen haphazardly and then do nothing about them. Used right, they can be your best sales tool.
The Custom Post Type thing is pretty cool and I would recommend that you incorporate that into your site. It’s a bit of coding for you to DIY but I build this feature into every one of my Managed Websites. 🙂
He's an avid hockey fan, rides a mountain bike, sometimes rides a road bike, has a few motorcycles (he had a really fast one, bought a cool orange one, rode a really slow one, and wants a really small one). If that isn't enough, he makes cheese and sourdough bread, loves strong beer and good red wine, and poorly plays the Mandolin.