Before We Start…
Before we get into first and third-party online reviews, let’s take a quick look at exactly what they are.
First-Party Reviews: reviews collected and presented on your own website.
Third-Party Reviews: reviews collected and presented on a third-party website, such as a directory listing or social media profile.
Back In The Day
A few years ago first-party reviews were used mainly with products on eCommerce websites, giving companies a competitive edge to stand out and rank higher in search results, giving consumers first-hand information about a product.
Third-party reviews were understood to be a way to lend credibility to companies from an outside source and were helpful to both consumers and search engines. Directory listings such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Yellow Pages are examples of third-party review systems and have long been the go-to for consumers looking for local service companies.
So What’s Changed?
First party reviews are as important for a service industry professional as they are for an eCommerce store. From the consumer’s perspective, a first-party review on your website shows that you have a product or service that others have actually purchased, experienced, and (hopefully) enjoyed.
The same goes for search engines. Collecting and displaying reviews on your website gives you a different kind of credibility than third-party reviews. It shows visitors and search engines that you have customers on your website, using your services, and sharing their experiences directly with your business and fellow consumers. That direct engagement says a lot, particularly when customers want to gauge a company based on what it has to offer at the source.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that search engines have become extremely smart contextually. Search engines are continually getting better and better at understanding the context of your website.
Another key feature to a properly built first-party reviews system is that it will have SEO tools built into it, including the ability to let Google and other search engines show star ratings of your reviews in search results. When stars show up in search results, click-through-rates increase, which means you will have more visitors on your website and more potential leads.
While first-party reviews can and should be genuine, taking the company out of the equation (for the most part) with a third-party service gives a different kind of perspective. There is no denying that a presence on a third-party platform says something about your company’s reputation in the world outside of your own immediate circle.
Third-party reviews lend a different type of credibility to your site in the eyes of consumers, mostly because people perceive a third-party review as more objective and less likely to be manipulated.
Another reason why third-party reviews are crucial to your online presence is that the relationship of search engines and third-party review sites has changed dramatically in recent years. It will likely come as no surprise that when you search for a service online the number of directory listings and profiles on the first page of results can be significant. Popular directories such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Yellow Pages are now much more heavily weighed by search engines than they were in the past. This means that it is more important than ever that you are aware of and actively managing (as much as you can) your third-party reviews.
What Does This Mean?
All of this information points to one fact—it is essential that businesses seek and manage both first- and third-party reviews. You can stay ahead of the competition with an engaging and effective website that helps make collecting and presenting reviews easy while at the same time understanding which third-party review systems are most important for your business.
Are you staying ahead of the competition?
Managing all of this, especially when you are trying to run your business is a lot to handle! Our team of experts can help coach you on effective ways to gather reviews on multiple platforms, including your own website. If you are ready to get on a path where your online reviews are working for your business contact us today!
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