Consumer Reviews Reconsidered

Most businesses on the Internet today work hard to get good business reviews and manage those reviews (that are not 5 stars). Some businesses very much depend on good reviews to survive.

When a review program has its own website (and most do) that’s where the problem begins.

This is a disturbing realization. I call it the “Covert Extortion Racket”. Those are fight’in words, I know. But when you take a close look at who owns the reviews and how the reviews are handled (re. wherever money is involved), I think you can see the ugly underbelly of the business reviews “industry”. Its not much different from how drug-dealers operate. It may even be free at first, but then…

So lets reiterate the basic principals of all search marketing because they are pretty simple and the discussions about reviews gets pretty convoluted.

We want to:

1) attract as many visitors to our website as possible
2) convert those visitors into contacts (and thereafter, sales of course)

That’s really all there is to it on the surface!

Participating in review programs do not appear to benefit us in our primary objective (#1). In fact the The Review Site has great potential to divert visitors away from our website.

Specifically, by participating in the program, we help The Review Site establish a search presence in our search area. That means The Review Site will absolutely get some clicks originally destined for our website, if they were not present in the search results.

Having The Review Site appear in search results everywhere our website appears will divert visitors away from our site to theirs. That is not speculation.

Therefore look at what happens next:

a) there are plenty of competitive businesses on The Review Site which absolutely will get some of our customers, no matter how good our reviews are. Its the nature of people to look for a cheaper price, etc. Why would we want to create an environment for this situation to arise?

b) there are competitors that absolutely will get some of our visitors. There are some businesses that would consider participating a clear benefit > for attracting MORE visitors <. But an established business only stands to LOOSE visitors as far as I can tell. c) The Review Site website design does not assure that our original intended visitors will return to our website once they have visited The Review Site. I don’t see that happening with most designs.

d) play this reviews business model into the future – and this becomes even more disconcerting. What if we no longer pay for The Review Site service?

In other words, the risks out-weigh the benefits.

And better not to dance with the Devil in the first place.