Online Reviews

I get asked a fair amount if it’s okay to use third party reviews on your website. By that, I mean reviews that have been left for your business, not on your own website, but on another website like Google, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, etc. Can you copy those reviews and add them to your own website? After all, they are about you, right?

And that’s how a lot of people look at it, so they go ahead and copy that review and paste it right on their site. But I have a different opinion, and a few options for you. But first, I have a firm rule when it comes to websites.

You should never put someone’s name or words on your website without their express permission.

By express permission that means you asked, and they said yes. And here is my rationale. If someone leaves a review for you on Google, or on Yelp, or wherever, they are giving permission for that website to display that review. They are giving permission for their name and words to appear on Google or on Yelp or wherever. That is not the same as giving permission for any specific business to post that same review on their website.

In addition to it being a little unethical to post a review on your site that was left somewhere else, there are copyright issues to consider, and trust me when I say you don’t want to get into a copyright fight with the likes of Google, etc. Once a review is posted on these sites, it is considered the copyright of that website, and taking it and posting it on your site could be construed as a copyright violation.

(Have I ever seen this become an issue? No. I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV.)

Instead of copying and pasting

So here’s what I recommend instead of copying and pasting. The easiest way to get the review on your website is to ask the person who left it. If you see the Google or other third party review, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching out to that reviewer to ask them if it would be okay to also post that review right on your website. Once they give you the okay, you are in the clear.

Of course, that’s less convenient than just copying and pasting, so if you are about convenience, as I am, then I have a solution for you. You can try using a plugin that embeds the reviews automatically.

The WordPress Business Reviews plugin lets you pull in and embed reviews from Google, Facebook and Yelp. There’s a free version in the repository, but it only lets you pull 5 Google reviews and 3 Yelp reviews. The premium version lets you pull all the reviews and merge them into a nice looking page on your website.

Earlier I said you shouldn’t post someone’s name on your website with permission, but now I’m saying it’s okay if you use this plugin. How is that different? One is copying and pasting the review as if the person gave it to you, and the other is embedding that review straight from the source. It’s the difference between sharing something from another source and posting it as your own. I consider using a review embed plugin like having a bibliography. It’s clear that the review was left at that third party site and you are sharing that information. It may seem like a minor difference, but it’s an important one, at least to me.

Why do 3rd party reviews matter?

Third-party reviews, reviews left on other websites, are much more credible than reviews left on your own website. When you put reviews on your own website, you can cherry-pick the absolute best ones and make sure no bad reviews show up. However, you don’t have that control over third party sites, so those tend to be more trustworthy. Also, in order to leave a review, you have to have an account with that service, and they aren’t anonymous. This also lends itself to credibility. If I login to Google and see a business has 100 5-star reviews, then I’m going to feel a lot more comfortable taking the next step in the process.

Reviews matter and you should get more

Having third party reviews is a huge incentive to the person looking to hire you, and you should work harder at getting more. I have had several clients who have a policy of immediately asking for the review after they complete work, and in a not at all surprising turn of events, those clients get much, much more reviews than the ones who don’t.

If asking for reviews on your own doesn’t sound like your jam, consider hiring a service to take care of it for you. We also offer an online review service where we contact your clients after you’ve performed work and request reviews from them. It’s all done in a branded, professional way to encourage your clients to leave feedback for you. This also allows us to embed these reviews on your website through our system.

Whatever way you choose, adding reviews to your website is always a great idea.

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Amy Masson, Web Developer

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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