First, online reviews are very important to some customers, no question. Heck, even our research validates this to a degree (look at your Marketing Dashboard), and so does pretty much every collision marketing article written this year. In extreme cases, some even think that it’s the silver bullet to increasing sales. Not to temper the excitement, but it’s important to note, that while our data does identify an increase in customers finding online reviews important, many more indicate they were not at all important to their decision.
But, why not just copy reviews from other sites?
So, what if you simply copied the reviews already posted on Google, or use the ones collected through 3rd party widgets like the Carwise review widget that so many shops have on their site? That’s nice, and provides your site visitors context, but it’s not content that you own. Which means Google sees nothing more than a link and some scrolling text blocks. This is why asking for reviews yourself through email or text messages with the intent to have them live on your shop’s website, and the publishing them on your own website, not on Google or Carwise is so much more beneficial to marketing your collision repair business.
Unlike 1st party reviews, you do not own the reviews found on other websites, such as Google, Yelp, or Carwise, which are referred to as 3rd party reviews. Having these reviews on your site don’t helps you rank higher, it just helps provide potentials customers with social proof, in the unlikely case they search for keywords like “collision centers near me”.
Unfortunately, this means that your site will appear on these 3rd party websites along with every other shop in the area, and that your reviews will be lost in a sea of other customer testimonials. Not only does this blur the visibility of your brand, but it also opens the door for customers to look at other potential shops.
So why is this important?
In a nutshell, our research of over a 160 collision websites search consoles find that the majority of online traffic for collision shops is coming in from “branded searches”. This means that people are not finding you with “collision shops near me” searches as much as they are finding you by entering your shop’s name and your location into search. Quite simply, people are searching for collision shops they’ve heard of through friends, family, and insurance companies. If you don’t believe me, check out your own Google Search Console.
What this means for you is that the amount of money shops put into digital SEO is excessive. Since there is a small percent of customers “shopping” for collision centers, you can save money by leveraging the reviews you put on your website to ensure you rank higher in the infrequent case of people actually shopping for local collision shops! Now… This doesn’t mean that 3rd party reviews don’t matter, because they do, but only 1st party reviews matter for local SEO.
In essence, collecting 1st party reviews sets a precedence for a shop right out of the gate. It shows prospective customers that you have certain expectations and standards for the business and its employees. You can also leverage this content to help in marketing your collision repair business digitally.
How & why this works?
For over a year now, search engines have been using original content such as 1st party reviews to rank businesses in local search results.
These 1st party reviews have a secret that many body shops miss out on: they provide incredibly rich and relevant content for your site. And what’s the one thing we know Google loves? Rich and relevant content!
What’s even more compelling is that these reviews provide your visitors with the information they’re interested in – information you can easily use to rank higher in the search results. Combined, this will greatly improve your website’s SEO and recognition!
Does this work in real life?
It works even better than expected!
We have tested this with over 50 large and small shops. With a simple review generation process, and by adding customer reviews to these websites, these shops have seen an average of 154% more traffic!
The key takeaway? Consider this a green light from search engines to shift your focus away from only relying on 3rd party reviews, and focus on brand authority by leveraging 1st party reviews on your website.
And since we know the majority of your customers are looking for you by typing your name in the search engine, why not provide everything they’re looking for on your own website? That way, they won’t come across any of your competitors on those review sites, or feel tempted to take their business elsewhere. They’ll take their business to you.