Customer Testimonials: The Good … AND the Bad?

Filed in Web Site Content by Matt McGee on May 16, 2006 0 Comments

Nick Usborne shares what many will consider a fairly radical idea in this week’s installment of his Excess Voice newsletter: If you’re including customer testimonials on your web site, include the good comments and the bad.

“…here comes the scary part…publish the criticism as well as the praise.

The web has always been a networked community, right from the beginning. And with the huge growth of social networks like, more and more people are using the web as a means to share honest, forthright views and opinions.

In time, those web sites which only publish glowing testimonials will be seen for what they are – guarded, insecure and manipulative.”

His premise is a good one — namely, that a page full of nothing but glowing reviews can appear very suspicious. Chances are you’ve seen such a page, and if you’re like me you found yourself wondering … Are these real comments from real people?

At OWT, we often recommend the use of testimonials as a way of creating unique, keyword-rich content for search engine crawlers, not to mention good pre-sale support for people reading the testimonials. Here’s one recent client doing exactly that, and I can vouch that every testimonial listed there is legitimate.

On the other hand, we had an old client (who’s no longer with us) who sprinkled glowing testimonials across their company site — and not one of those was from a real person.

So, how do you convince readers that the feedback they’re looking at is real? Short of posting full names and email addresses so the reader can personally verify the comments, it’s a hard sell. Maybe including negative comments would help. Nick also mentions a site called as a way to do this. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of this company, but it looks like something to investigate.

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