|Using review sites for Local SEO|
Foursquare, TripAdvisor, etc
What do people think about using hotel/restaurant/office review sites as part of an SEO project? You may say that the links don't always pass PR, while others might say that they serve as citations. Then there's always the angle of getting the review page to rank (with your added effort) because it might send a referral visit to your website.
Which review sites have good intrinsic SEO101 in place?
Do any still pass PR?
What are you thinking specifically?
From my own tiny foray into lodging, the review sites are essential, but essential for driving traffic and leads, not for SEO per se.
My general feeling is that working on your listing on review/listing sites (e.g. Trip Advisor) pays far bigger benefits than working on your own site unless maybe you're the Hilton.
All things being equal, it's better to get people to your site where they aren't being distracted by other, similar offerings. If you can get them to pick up the phone, ping you on live chat or even email you their phone number, you're halfway to conversion.
That said, a review site like Trip Advisor has two huge advantages.
1. It already ranks for thousands of searches so it has tremendous domain authority.
2. It has an internal search engine. The biggest bang for your search optimization buck is making sure your listing is friendly to *their* search engine, rather than trying to improve the Google ranking for your listing on Trip Advisor.
So TA does the heavy lifting of getting rankings in Google and then you piggyback off that and work on ranking well withing the TA universe (or whatever site).
And the best thing is they tend to be more transparent than Google about what your ranking factors are, so you know what to work on (reviews, completeness, etc).
For us, "SEO" has a strict definition - optimising sites for ranking in search engines. For site owners, SEO means more visits/sales/conversions. If the visits are referrals from well-ranking Local sites (sites that rank for location terms), they don't mind.
So I took a look at TripAdvisor and used its internal search for "<placename> motels" for a small town in NSW that has about 20-30 motels.
TA has over a thousand results for it. The default results are not ranked by:
- Star rating - the first result has four stars, then some five stars, a three star and so on.
- Recency of reviews - the listings were from the last three years.
- Number of reviews
I tried a Google search for the TA domain and the same query. Most of the first 10 results are generic pages and only two specific motels, neither of which were in the TA search result.
The TA page code does not validate, but shows some minor signs of SEO. Extensive atructured data tags exist in the form of rdfa, which helps with location based queries.
I didn't check the number of backlinks to individual TA results.
The only conclusion so far is that TA and Google have different ranking algos, so if you don't rank in one, you might in the other. :)