WordPress Ratings Setup

WordPress comes equipped with a built in system for readers to interact with your blog / website by allowing them to “Rate” your blog, or comments on your blog with a 5 star rating system.  With this Ratings enabled users can hover over the stars and choose a rating for your content. All ratings are then added up to give a general score for that content.

Accessing the Ratings function in WordPress

WordPress Rating Screen

One you access the Ratings screen, you will see there are two options to choose from: All Ratings and Reports.  In the above example I have chosen All Ratings, which takes you to setup of your WordPress Ratings options.  In the top red box area, you are able to control where people are allowed to rate content on your site, as well as where the rating option will appear – above or below the post or comment.  For pages you can select above or below the post, with an option to enable or disable ratings.

Posts and Comments Ratings Settings

Under the comments link, as shown above in the red box, there are advanced options to control how the ratings system is shown on comments.

Advanced Comments Ratings Settings
Advanced Settings for Comments Rating

In the above screen, Advanced Setting has been selected which expands the below blue area with options to customize your comments rating system.

Rating Type

Rating type allows you to choose from the “5 Star” or “Nero” rating system.  5 Star allows users to rate comments based upon a scaled system of 1-5 Stars, with one being Poor, to 5 being Excellent.  The Nero rating system allows users to simply give comments a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating.  In the screen to the right, under Preview, you can see what your ratings will look like on your blogs comments.

Under rating type, you will find Rating Style.  This area will allow you to further customize by selecting sizes for your ratings.  Default is 16px, with options of 20 and 24px.  Under rating style you will find Text Layout and Font, this area allows you to customize where withing the comment the rating will appear, as well as text font, text color, size and others.

Customize Labels

Under the “Preview” area in the right column, you will find Customize Labels.  This area will allow you to customize the text within each field depending on what type of rating system you are using.  Customizing these labels enables users to search through top, recently or otherwise rated material on your blog.  Under widgets, you can add the Top Rated widget to your sidebar.

Rating Reports

Once you have a rating enabled and start to collect some ratings from your readers, you can view your rating reports.

Rating Reports Menu

With these reports you can view reports for ratings on your posts, pages, and comments (if you have them enabled). You can also filter ratings by date to see what content is popular in any given time period.

2 reasons to add ratings to your blog and comments

  1. Enabling ratings and reviews on your blog and comments adds an extra layer of activity to your site.  Engaging your visitors by allowing them to get involved in the conversation, or even something as simple as a “thumbs up” if they agree with a comment allows them to interact with your site making for a richer end user experience, and hopefully keeping them on your site longer, adding a bookmark or sharing an article.
  2. Using ratings also allows you to search popular content through the reports function by time period.  Particular posts or comments that generate “buzz” may give you ideas on future content for your site.


Online Reviews Boost Rankings and Sales for Small Businesses

Back in 2007, The Kelsey Group along with ComScore compiled a study which studied the relationship between positive online reviews, off line buying and price paid for services by consumers.  Now understanding this study was done in 2007, some percentages may have changed since then, but the data complied in this study should make generation of positive online reviews a priority for any small business.

How Many Of Your Customers Look For Reviews On Your Business?people telling other people

The above study found that 41% of consumers read reviews before deciding (have to believe that percentage is higher 5 years later).  And of those, as high as 87% of polled said reviews (or lack of) had a direct influence on their decision to purchase (or not).  One of the greatest findings in my opinion was that 97% of everyone that took part in the study said reviews had some sort of impact on their decision to buy.

So the question I often ask my customers is: What is being said about your business online?  Are you making it easy for people to leave reviews on you business?  Do you engage your customers and prospects through social media, your website and in your store ask for their online recommendation?  If you’re not doing these simple things, I can honestly say you are missing the boat with your biggest fan base…your current satisfied customers.

Online Reviews Generate Sales

Notice I didn’t say “positive” online reviews generate sales?  Often I get push back about making it easy for people to leave reviews about a increased sales picturecustomers business.  I think with many small business owners there is always that fear of generating the dreaded Negative Review.  I wholeheartedly believe that the vast majority of small business owners want and strive to do what is best for each and every one of their customers.  Are there times when you’re not going to be able to satisfy every single customer?  Of course.  Is it plausible that a disgruntled customer may post something online that’s less than stellar?  Of course.  But in response to the fear of the dreaded Negative Review, I ask my customers if they were searching online and found a business that only had 5 star reviews, and nothing else, what would they think of buying from that business?  I get several responses to this question, but in general the sentiment is that they would proceed with caution before buying from that business…because as they are already well aware, pleasing everyone is impossible.

Dealing With The Dreaded Negative Review

Now that we have addressed and mostly agree that all reviews won’t be 100% positive, lets talk about how to address and take care of that negative review, if it ever comes your way.  First as a small business you need to decide where to invest in trying to get customers reviewing your business.  I typically start my customers on Google Places, Yahoo Local and Facebook.  Each one of these have functionality to be able to publicly respond as the business owner, or a representative of the business.  Responses to negative reviews should be done quickly as possible to show that you as the business owner follow up on every customer issue quickly.  There are many different software programs and platforms available to monitor your online reputation.

How Not To Respond to a Negative Review

If that negative review comes in, as a business owner you want to respond to it.  I really recommend taking emotion out of your response as it will most likely tarnish what should be a professional response from you.  Lashing out, picking apart, belittling and other such responses have no place here.  Below I have placed a screen shot of one such response I found online.  Obviously the business owner was hurt and dismayed at the review, but placing threats, or questioning someones motive should not be done here.  If I had run across this response while looking for what this business  did…I would have run the other way…and interestingly enough, 5 out of 8 people that were asked if the negative review helped them said yes.  In my eyes. complete failure on the business owners part.

negitive review response

The Correct Way To Respond

I’m not going to pretend that I know your business and how you should respond to a negative online review.  You know your customers and you know how they talk, act and what they respond to.  Obviously responses would vary depending on your business.  A daycare center would respond differently than a tattoo shop, so understand that, you as the business owner should look at your response as everyone else will…a direct reflection  on how you treat upset customers.  Going into long drawn out rants on why this particular customer was impossible to service, or attacking their credibility will do little to improve any damage that may have been done.  Instead I recommend asking details about what was wrong with the service, dates and times, who they dealt with, and personally asking them to call the business and asking for you by name will reap must greater results.  That will go miles further than the example above.  Below I have included a response from a business owner that I thought was very good.

correct review response

The business owner concluded the review by leaving their full name as well as a phone number to contact them personally.

Fake Google Reviews Will Hurt Your Business…

Recently I read an article from PPC Associates titled How To Spot Fake Google Reviews, obviously I was enticed to read the post as gaining reviews for local businesses is one of the best ways to affect rankings and help set your business apart as a trusted partner.  I often talk to my clients about the importance of reminding their customers to write reviews about the service or product they received.  In fact I had one client that took this to heart and emailed his past clients asking for reviews…and to my surprise he garnered 15 reviews which shot his business to the first page for a highly sought for keyword.  But the reason the above article caught my attention is explained below.

Fake Reviews Are Black Hat SEO


It’s can tempting as a SEO company to help your clients position out by writing a few fake reviews for them. After all you might think that your helping them get to the first page, they get business, and you look like a hero, right?  Wrong.  Fake reviews are black hat.

Earlier this last summer I met with an insurance agency that wanted to get to the first page for the keyword string “Auto Insurance Portland”.  One very well known company here in town known for their outrageous commercials and well known slogan was the first Google Places result for the search.  After looking at this company’s place page, it became pretty clear that whomever was handling their SEO was involved in Black Hat tactics to get their client to the first page.  The biggest factor was Fake Reviews.  Whomever had posted these fake reviews didn’t even try to hide the fact they were fake.  Instead of writing a review, they had just stuffed a bunch of keyword strings (keyword stuffing) into several different reviews.  Keywords such as:

  • SR22 Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Auto Insurance Portland
  • and on, and on…

were repeated over and over again in all these reviews.

So after reading the article on How To Spot Fake Google Reviews, it made me think of this well known insurance company.  So of course I went to Google to see how this companies Black Hat SEO Tactics were working.  And to my surprise, this company has been been removed completely from the results on “Auto Insurance Portland”.  I did find their Google Place Page after doing a name search and found that not only did Google remove all the Keyword Stuffed reviews, but they also placed the page back into “unclaimed” status.  One lone review still remains…and from what I saw it still stinks to high heaven, I’ll let you decide for yourself below:

suspected fake google review screen shot

I decided to block out the company’s name for obvious reasons.  But it seems to me that whomever wrote this review is trying for rankings for:

  1. Insurance Beaverton Oregon
  2. Auto Insurance
  3. Homeowners Insurance
  4. Business Insurance
  5. SR22 Insurance

Moral of this story?  If some SEO Company promises you rankings, find out how they plan to do it.  I’ve always tried to use the rule that if a Google employee asked how I gain rankings for a client, how would I feel when I told them the answer?