The In Search SEO Podcast
Novel Ways to Repurpose Your Google Reviews & Beyond: Summary of Episode 85
GatherUp CEO Aaron Weiche joins the podcast to share novel ways you can repurpose online reviews!
- How to repurpose your reviews in ways you never thought of
- How to get smart with repurposing the right reviews at the right time
- Where you should be showcasing your Google reviews and how to do it
Plus, why the age-old advice of writing content for Featured Snippets might not be the best idea.
When Writing for Featured Snippets Makes No Sense [03:48 – 19:33]
How to Repurpose Online Reviews: A Conversation with Aaron Weiche [19:33 – 46:39]
SEO News [47:06 – 50:52]
When Writing for Featured Snippets Makes No Sense [03:48 – 19:33]
If there is one central topic in SEO it is Featured Snippets and writing content to capture the Featured Snippet spot. And Mordy believes that writing content for the specific purpose of capturing a Featured Snippet might be killing your content. Crazy, right? Well, let’s run this through. If you were asked what to do to target and win a Featured Snippet, in terms of the writing process, what would you say you should do? How do you write for Featured Snippets?
- Write content that answers questions
- Write answers that have a lot of details – good quality (not thin content)
- Utilize headers
- Create lists
So let’s put this to the test. Follow that advice and try writing an article that answers why string theory and quantum physics do not align? Too hard? There’s the problem! All of the above is great advice when applied to top-level content and to basic topical material, but you can’t follow that advice for deeper topics, it doesn’t work.
True “deep” content can’t be written this way, it’s not possible. Part of that stems from our idea of “deep, authoritative, nuanced content” and what is truly “deep, authoritative, nuanced content.” We as SEOs use the term “deep content” for an average web page or for an average simple topic but applying that same standard to say academic content, you’ll find that it is totally not deep and authoritative in relation to academic content. So it’s important to realize high-quality content is relative to the topic or question being asked.
Simply put, you have to be careful with the idea of writing for Featured Snippets. You have to think about if that process works for the type of content you’re writing because it might not.
Here’s a quick example. Mordy ran a search for how to teach kids to read and he got a list Featured Snippet from readingeggs.com that said:
Here are 10 simple steps to teach your child to read at home:
- Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness. …
- Make simple word cards at home. …
- Engage your child in a print-rich environment. …
- Play word games at home or in the car. …
- Understand the core skills involved in teaching kids to read. …
- Play with letter magnets.
As you would expect, each one of these list items represents an H3. Let’s read through the entire content under one of the H3s here:
1. Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness
Children’s songs and nursery rhymes aren’t just a lot of fun—the rhyme and rhythm help kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read. A good way to build phonemic awareness (one of the most important skills in learning to read) is to clap rhythmically together and recite songs in unison. This playful and bonding activity is a fantastic way for kids to implicitly develop the literacy skills that will set them up for reading success.
It’s good content, right? Clearly, they followed all of the above advice. They answered a question, offered details, it’s high-quality, etc., but let’s dive deeper. The paragraph here mentioned phonemic awareness. Phonemes are the sounds that make one word distinct from the next. Now let’s say you did a search for the role of phonemic awareness in learning to read. You get a Featured Snippet that reads: Phonemic awareness teaches students to both hear and manipulate sounds, and to understand that spoken words are made up of sequences of speech sounds. Through my research, I learned that students who were able to identify phonemes rapidly were able to read more fluently because of this rapid processing.
The role of phonemic awareness in the reading process. There are pages and pages of research on it. It’s not the kind of thing you can answer with a nice paragraph under an H3 and in this case, Google takes this from a blog, not a very long blog, but a very detailed-oriented research-based blog from scholastic.com. One read of this blog, and it’s very clear that none of the typical Featured Snippet writing advice is applicable. And Mordy can even prove that Google agrees with him.
Google knows it can hone in on the headings and the format of content when it comes to choosing a URL for a Featured Snippet for some types of content and for some types of queries. Google also knows that in many cases it can’t, which is why it uses BERT to help pull content out for a Featured Snippet. BERT’s advantage isn’t where you have a clear set of H3s that tell you about the steps of teaching a kid to read. Not that it doesn’t help, but that’s not where BERT shines. It shines where that structure doesn’t exist, where it has to pull an answer out from a less structured environment. This applies to a topic matter that is a bit deeper and where the structure we advocate for when writing for a Featured Snippet doesn’t and can’t exist. Google gets it. They need a device like BERT to help in these cases so maybe we should get it too.
How to Repurpose Online Reviews: A Conversation with Aaron Weiche [19:33 – 46:39]
Mordy: This is another In Search SEO podcast interview session. Joining us today is a fellow podcaster. He’s literally traveled all over the US speaking about local SEO. He’s spoken to jacuzzi dealers and propane leaders. He knows everything about local SEO and then some. He’s here to help your business harness the power of reviews. He is Aaron Weiche.
Aaron: Thanks for having me on.
M: My pleasure. So you’re the CEO of GatherUp, which we’ll talk about in a second. But what really struck out to me is that you’re a Twins fan.
A: I am. I’m a born and raised Minnesotan. Some of the best years of Twins baseball was ‘87 and ‘91 when they were in the World Championships. I got to go to some of the World Series games. I love and currently miss Major League Baseball and watching Twins baseball while I work every night.
M: Yeah, I share that bond with you being a Twins fan. While you were going to the games and watching Kirby Puckett hit home runs, I was going to the games as a Yankee fan throwing batteries at Kirby Puckett. Not literally, figuratively. Well, though, people were actually throwing batteries, but that’s New York for you.
So tell us about GatherUp.
A: GatherUp for most people would qualify as a reputation management solution. We help customers gather, manage, and market their customers’ experience, which most often translates into reviews. At the end of the day, what we really want to do is help a business listen to their customers. We’re a little bit more on the customer experience side of things. We see it as it doesn’t matter where your customer posts it, you need to understand what your customer thinks about your business. But it obviously publicly translates really well into Google reviews, Yelp reviews, Facebook reviews, and things like that.
We give businesses the tools to inquire to those customers and find out exactly what they’re thinking and capture customer experience data like Net Promoter Score, review ratings, survey questions, content on how they felt, and make it easy for that customer to go and leave a review at a third party site.
M: Yeah, you should totally check out GatherUp because literally some of the biggest names in local SEO are part of the GatherUp team like Mike Blumenthal, for example. How is that by the way, working with Mike?
A: I would sum it up as I’m blessed to work with Mike. We’ve had a friendship for over 10 years now between conference speaking, we’re part of Local University, and now getting a chance to work together. I love the man dearly and he has elevated my lines of thinking so many times. He thinks and sees things on a different level and it’s very rewarding and very eye-opening to spend so much time with him.
M: Mike is definitely an all-star. Today, we’re going to be talking about repurposing reviews today, which is a mind-blowing concept that I did not hear about until you brought it up to me. Please lay it out for us as you’re basically repurposing reviews like you would repurpose content.
A: Absolutely. The analogy I use to try to hit home with people is to consider it like the bookshelf you have in your house. You acquire books, you get them, you read them for the first time, then you put them on the shelf, and maybe all they do is gather dust. They now become like a visual part of the room but the content inside is never utilized ever again.
Reviews can be much the same way. Companies gather these reviews and they’re trying to bolster their quantity count and their star rating which I call scoreboard metrics because they’re there for everyone to see them. But I firmly believe and have been able to prove outright that these reviews are actually massive assets that you can utilize over and over again, especially within your own properties because they’re micro-stories of that customer working with you. They both provide you with content that’s strategically beneficial and tactically beneficial in SEO, but also bring along trust, conversions, and those types of elements.
What we’re going to talk about today is breaking that down and helping people get ideas on how to not let these reviews just sit in your Google My Business profile or on Facebook, how to extract them out of there, and put them to use within your own digital properties, social accounts, and things like that.
M: I really want to get into some examples with you. But before that, it’s a really fascinating concept. How did you come to think of it?
A: I guess it gets back to what we hit upon before where it’s more important what your customer says than where they post it. It was continually looking at how we’re going through all this effort just to get a customer to talk to you. And when they do, that’s gold. It’s this prized possession, especially when they give you more than just a rating or the words, “Thanks, it was great.” It’s when they go into detail about why they chose you, what stood out differently, or an employee that made a difference. These are things that as a business owner or as a marketer you want to shout from the mountaintops.
Instead of getting excited when we go from 42 to 43 Google reviews with another five-star rating, I look at how we take this wonderful thing that someone is talking about us and we get them to talk to more people over and over again. Then we place it in a way where it’s on tap when new prospects come our way or come across some of our digital properties. It’s looking at how to unlock the full potential of this thing that was hard to get and very valuable.
M: It almost sounds like it bothered you to get somebody to leave you a nice review and to then do nothing with it.
Let’s go into some of the examples of this. How do you do this? What have you done with this?
A: I basically broke it into five different ways to utilize those reviews. It is easiest in our world when we summarize things and put them into a concept. I’ve called it the FiveX review strategy. It’s looking at how do I take this review and get five times the value out of it, then for it to just sit there. At a high level, we can go into detail on some of these, but, for now, here’s a brief breakdown.
One is how do you use that summarization on your own site to greet any website visitor with how many customers have talked about us and here’s the level rating that they’re willing to give us.
The second is recency. Studies have shown over and over again that we live in a world of “What have you done for me lately” reviews. Studies have shown overwhelmingly that people care about reviews within the last 90 days or the last 30 days, far more than a review you earned five years ago. So find ways to display your reviews with recency at the top of it.
The third is reviews by location. If you are a location-based business or you have multi-locations, then one that I think is the biggest that has so much untapped potential is theme reviews or keyword reviews. The quick example is, say you’re an auto repair shop and you have a bunch of reviews mentioning your brake service. Well, likely on your webpage, you have a page dedicated to your brake service and you’re likely not segmenting any of those reviews and displaying dozens of reviews about your brake service on the brakes page. You’ve just set up one page with reviews. So if you have people talking about a specific keyword, a specific theme, a specific service type, or it could even be a specific employee, parsing those out and putting those on that page to add more content and to add trust to it is a huge untapped area.
Lastly, businesses are always scrapping for social media. Take those reviews and reuse them on social media. Especially when you consider a way that you can do it with removing the date and the timestamp. So take that review you got from five years ago and share it on Twitter today. This is what the customer has to say about us, I don’t have to tell you that it’s from 2015. But the same things might still be true of your business. Dust off that book from five years ago and put it to use today. And guess what? Your tweet has a shelf life of 30 seconds, so you can go and use it again next week or next month and repeat a cycle with a number of those.
M: Let’s say you’re an auto dealer and you’re great at training brakes but suck at changing transmissions. You have wonderful reviews for brakes and you have horrible reviews for transmissions. Obviously, a weird case but this is just for argument’s sake. Do you post reviews on one page than not on the other one? I don’t want to post my transmission reviews because that would be stupid but, on the other hand, it would look weird that there’s only reviews on one page and not the other.
A: I think you can in situations like that because, if you look at the crossover, you have to ask yourself what is the likelihood that somebody is getting their breaks and transmission done at the same time and they’re cross-referencing both of those? Now, in a business where you are looking for bundled services that can be a little bit more difficult. Or, especially when you’re newer or you haven’t done as much with a strategy in reviews, you just don’t have enough reviews. You might have 80 reviews about your brake service, but only have two reviews that mention transmissions. There I would just cherry-pick and throw them on the page as a couple of testimonials or even just throw one testimonial on the page and make it much larger, as compared to utilizing something that might display 20-40 reviews that they can tear ourselves through.
M: So when you don’t have a lot of reviews, which I would imagine is true for a lot of businesses, especially if you’re starting out, and you post that you have a 4.8-star rating, then that user sees the review on the homepage, but then they go to your Local Panel on Google and notice that you only have two reviews. What then?
A: The biggest thing I would tell people is that reviews are a long term game. You want to look at this like exercise or working out and at least get off the couch and get going with it. Be wary of the thinking of needing steroids or whatever else. Too many people race to do that and there are consequences. I would go more from the standpoint of what we can implement so we can start asking our customers for how we did for you.
There are many ways to crawl, walk, and run through that scenario. Specifically, if you see you have a crazy low Google review count, you could research what personal relationships you have with customers where you could send them an email and say, “Hey, we’ve realized we need to show our customer experiences in a better light. You’ve been a customer of ours for four years. Here’s the link with where you could go write a Google review.” Do it as a personal reach out before you step into an automated piece of software to help do those kinds of things.
M: Jumping back to sharing reviews on social media, how do you set the right tone? I can imagine it’d be very easy for a business to go too far with that almost like you’re gloating by bloating. I would imagine that that’s not the right tone to take in most cases.
A: I follow the practice of humble bragging. We built a feature in GatherUp for social sharing that turns that review into an image. It overlays the text over a color background, a logo background, and a photo. Social media is a visual platform across Instagram, Google posts, Twitter, and Facebook. So we’re creating that image and then using the content in your post. What I usually like to do is call out whatever that user has talked about or said great things about and reinforce that that’s what’s really important to the core of your business. If they’re talking about the fact that the customer service here was excellent, then state that this is exactly what we strive for and we’d love to deliver the same for you. Instead of saying, “Look at me, I’m number one,” it’s more that we’ve achieved this with this customer experience. This is what we want to do every time and this is what we want to do for you. That positioning where you get to reinforce what matters and also be very humble about it works extremely well.
M: Yeah, because it’s more about giving than taking in a lot of ways.
It sounds great but are there ever cases where you wouldn’t want to repurpose a review? Assuming that the review is good. Obviously, if it’s a bad review, don’t repurpose it.
A: I wouldn’t exactly even say that. Having some bad reviews out there humanizes the business. It shows that, yes, things can go wrong. We’re not perfect. What’s more important in those scenarios is that you’re showing that you’re listening and that you responded to that review. That shows the customer that if things don’t go perfect, we have a way to talk to this business, they’re actually listening, they’re willing to respond, and they care to make it right. I think in today’s world, that’s far more important than trying to sculpt a perfect review rating.
To me, it’s the reason why consumers actually seek third-party content and reviews. You will see an auto-suggest on Google of people typing in your brand name and the word ‘reviews.’ They want to skip past the content you’re writing because of course, you’re going to say that you’re great and awesome. They want to go to the public opinion of this business. So even as yourself, you’re going to come across far more authentic and trustworthy if you have those variations. By far the best organizations we work with embrace that. They say, “We’re going to show all of our reviews but we’re also going to respond to every bad experience that’s out there.”
I would say don’t shy away from it. If you have more bad reviews than good reviews, that’s a business problem. You need to fix something. I tell people all the time that I’d already be retired on my own private island somewhere if because we asked for reviews with a beautiful email or a text message, it turned a one-star experience into a five-star experience. That’s not what our tool does. All we do is capture exactly what happened with the business and the customer.
M: That’s a good point. When I look for reviews, particularly on Amazon, I’m looking for the bad reviews because I want to see how bad they are. If they shipped it in this box and the box is totally messed up I can live with that. So long as the product itself is fine.
A: And I do the same. Here’s the easiest way to put it. You want to see that the great things about the business are a trend and that happens every time. And you want to see that the bad things are one-offs. If everybody’s talking about the communication being terrible, you’re going to skip purchasing that product because you see that problem on repeat. That’s the same thing we’re looking for. I do the same if I go to buy a TV. If I see everyone saying the picture isn’t sharp, I’m on to the next TV because it’s consistently delivering that same fault.
M: I know this is an SEO podcast but I’m also aware there are other platforms that do exist aside from Google. Where do you prefer to pull your reviews from? Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, etc. or it doesn’t matter?
A: I’m going to start with one area where I think people completely overlook for a number of reasons because it doesn’t have the same sex appeal of someone else’s logo on it and that’s a first-party review. Overwhelmingly, the numbers are off the charts. On the low end, somewhere between four to ten times the amount of customers will give you a direct review over stating it publicly. We are not all wired to say, “Hey, world. I’m willing to stake my opinion on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or anything else.” I tell people, the bottom line, if you really want to hear from a lot of your customers, you’re going to want to ask them to directly give us a rating and give us your feedback. As an SEO, that’s just more content. Do you want one content writer writing for you or do you want 500 writing for you?
If you care about knowing more about that customer, you will make it so that they can talk to you. Talking publicly is a choice. It’s so foolish to say I only want to hear from you if you’re willing to say it here. After that, I would say Google reviews because of their massive visibility on search, the doorway they have, and everything else.
Next, I would say Facebook, which Facebook actually switched a couple of years ago from five stars to a yes or no recommendation. With COVID and everything going on, people having conversations about you is super important. Mentions are your best marketing right now. Facebook recommendations are highly elevated with more people on Facebook. They’re looking for ways to support businesses, to write reviews, and to write recommendations. And Facebook recommendations can be more of a conversation where it’s not just static. Here, anyone can chime in on the recommendation. They can second it, like it, share it, and do whatever they want.
After you get past that, then it is vertical sites. The biggest thing that I tell people to do is to take your brand name and type it in Google with the word ‘reviews.’ Any site that appears on that first page is a site that you should care to at least have a handful of reviews on.
M: I don’t think people do that enough.
A: No. And those are the sites that have enough authority to rank. It might be the BBB, it might be yp.com, etc. Depending upon the vertical, there are likely four or five sites that pop up for your business. Put the lion’s share of focus into the main ones, yourself, Facebook, Google, but definitely get a handful of positive ones at the other sites that appear there.
M: How do you do this at scale? I’m assuming that’s where you guys step in because it sounds like this can be completely overwhelming.
A: Yes. And this is so fun too. When you consider the flywheel of what you can build in this, this is what we’ve worked on automating and creating that efficiency inside of our products. At the very start, you’re automating requesting reviews. You’re either using an API or using Zapier (we have an app out in Zapier) and we’re connecting to your billing system, a POS, or a CRM. So we know a customer experience has happened and it’s automating sending the customer into our system. That’s automatically going out. We’re sending reminders, we’re capturing the feedback, getting the information, then we’re automatically monitoring reviews. So whether they talk to you directly or they leave a review at Facebook or Google, we’re capturing that and bringing that into our system.
Then we’re automatically segmenting them by location because that’s how the local world works. And our review widget will automatically stream those reviews up to your site. You can choose in your settings to show every review, just reviews from these sites, just reviews of this rating, etc. It’s a completely no-touch situation.
One of the things I really love is we have a feature called auto-tagging. In the auto shop example, you can set up a keyword list and if they say brakes, then we can build out a list and we’ll tag everything with ‘brakes’ if they say brakes, brake pads, pads, rotors, or any of these 10 words will trigger this tag to be ‘breaks.’ Then we can build another widget called a tag widget and say anytime this tag fires, then send this review specifically to this page in this way.
When you see all that happen and you realize you can watch it like a TV show and you don’t have to do anything, it’s awesome. You’re just feeding hundreds of keywords on some amount of frequency automatically up to your website and up to pages.
Optimize It or Disavow It
M: If you had to repurpose a review, would you put it on some obscure piece of documentation or a totally irrelevant social media platform? Think Google Plus when that was still around.
A: I would choose an obscure piece of documentation because who knows when you can use that piece of documentation again, but for social shelf life, unless you have a massive audience, it’s just here and there. I’d take the documentation, and then I’d be thinking about how I can use this documentation more and to make it more valuable as evergreen content, instead of just a one and done.
M: That’s true. Documentation ranks really well for a lot of queries.
Aaron, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.
A: Thanks for having me.
SEO News [47:06 – 50:52]
New TikTok Video Carousel: Google is running a new video carousel as part of an organic result that shows a series of short video clips. In the case spotted, a result for a specific TikTok account showed a carousel of the creator’s video clips.
New AdSense Reports: Google is giving AdSense data a bit of an overhaul. The Adsense reports page is getting a more visual look to make data more accessible. The changes have already begun to be rolled out and will be finished in the coming week or two.
Search Console Showing Featured Snippet Performance Data: It seems Google is showing the scroll to text highlight parameters that it uses for Featured Snippet URLs inside of Search Console which means you might be able to identify Featured Snippet URLs with a bit more ease.
Tune in next Tuesday for a new episode of The In Search SEO Podcast.