Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Site Reviews - Do You Tell Your User Experience?

The Internet is great, we all know that; but we also know the Internet can be a very dangerous place with all the dodgy individuals and ‘companies’ online. After all, it only take a few minutes to buy a domain name, get a website up and running and next thing you know, you’re in business of having an online business. The right online business can save cost on renting and maintaining an office space with all the tax involved in it. On a good day, this has a positive effect on the price of products as we the users don't have to pay for the overhead charges.

Now when you think about it, online shopping is brilliant too, I enjoy it and it makes my life easier. A number of times I've been able to get great discounts because I shopped online. Yes, if I'm clothes shopping it might be hard because I want to try it on, but not all the time. If I don't like it when I get it, I post it back, simple. Needless to say, I'm sure a lot of us have mastered the art of knowing our sizes so we don't really need to try it before buying it, so it just makes life easier...
But I'm not talking about buying clothes right now, I'm talking about User Generated Content (UGC) and Site Reviews. I bet you're wondering how this connects to online shopping, well it does, a great deal. Recently, my sister and I had a bad experience while shopping online, yes it was a great deal but their customer service was just so wrong. I wondered if anyone else had the same issue we had so decided to do a search online for the website and what do you know, we weren't the only ones who had received a horrible customer service. There and then I thought to myself, if I knew about other people's experience I wouldn't have made a single purchase there. But it was done already, so I figured the next best thing to do was to write our own experience and include it to the long lists of complaints, knowing that someone else would see this and not make the same mistake we did.

Now that is customer/site review, although a bad one. Just think what it would have been like if it was a good review, more customers possibly? And a better brand name? They say people who have bad experiences tell 10 people but someone who has a good experience tells only 1 person. So that's why we need to go out there and share our experience. Although it can be said that some of those experience and 'reviews' are written by the companies themselves, but you'll be surprised at the number of actual user who drop reviews online. I know I do, because I believe they are still worth a great deal.

Getting users to help generate content for your business website is great. These contents could be found on facebook pages, twitter conversations, and consumer review sites like Ciao and Review Centre. Some websites like Amazon and Ebay also try to keep reviews in-house by leaving review pages for  products and services, which is once again great for generating fresh content from your user - hence the name User Generated Content.

From a SEO point of view, User Generated Content are great for building links to the original website and also creating a buzz for the brand which would eventually lead to more goal conversions. A website like Ciao needs to link to the website or product page of what they are reviewing right? That's a free link which you don't have to make much of an effort towards getting. Also, when people are looking to drop a review for your website, they would such for terms related to your brand name, thereby creating a mini buzz for your brand name. All these are great ways to increase online visibility and success for a SEO project. Lastly, site reviews create fresh content for web pages, something which search engines love and this can lead to an increase in ranking for keywords related to these products.

The question now is how do you get people to drop reviews? Not just bad reviews which I'm sure a number of us don't have any problem dropping but good reviews, reviews which could attract more customers?

I guess what I'm just trying to say is that dropping product reviews and website reviews are great. Not just bad experiences but good ones as well. And companies should encourage their customers to drop reviews as well. I see it as a win-win situation, because customers get something out of it, hearing other customers' experience which could make or break the product for them and companies get customers to build natural links for them, create content for their business and create brand awarness online. Of course, as a business you have to be sure of your products and know its worth, or else you will get nothing but horrible reviews.

But hey, this is just my opinion. What is your opinion on dropping reviews online? Do you read other people's experience before making a purchase or do you avoid shopping online although? I'll love to hear your take on it. Please send me an email or drop a comment to hear your views on site reviews and shopping online.

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