By Kat Matfield
We recently started collecting reviews and social content in our 18th country. With thousands of reviews collected every week across our network, in more than a dozen languages, we’re well placed to observe some interesting trends in international review culture.
We’ve already looked at which nationalities tend to turn the air blue when they’re unhappy with a purchase. But useful insights can be drawn from a much simpler analysis: how long are reviews across Europe?
As the graph below shows, there’s quite a bit of variation across countries, with the Dutch and Irish writing almost twice as much as the average Greek reviewer.
Why does review length matter?
Most people understand why reviews are important, and why more reviews are better than fewer, but it’s a little less obvious why longer reviews would be better for online businesses. Here are just a couple of reasons:
1. Longer reviews are better for SEO
Google (and other search engines) prize pages full of lots of relevant, regularly refreshed content. A lengthy discussion of the good and bad points of a purchase will be packed with many more of the keywords that consumers search for than a page of one-line reviews.
2. Longer reviews are better for consumers… and for conversion
Consumers don’t just value reviews for the overall score (although that’s valuable too). They read reviews to get an in-depth view, to find out which features make a product (or a trip, or a service, or a vendor) stand out and which, if any, let it down. The more information in the reviews on your site, the less likely would-be customers are to leave your site, and the more reasons you provide for them to convert right then and there.
How long is long enough?
The graph below charts review length against the number of times review-readers voted a particular review helpful. As you can see, there's a lot of variation in the helpfulness of reviews of any length, but you only start getting very helpful reviews (over 10 'helpful' votes) when reviews contain over 300 characters. And extremely helpful reviews (more than 30 votes) always have more than 350 characters - about the length of this paragraph.
It’s also clear that just a small increase in review length pays dividends: increasing reviews from 20 characters to 50, 100 or 150 will have the most significant impact on how helpful readers find those reviews. I’ve zoomed into just this section of the graph to make it even clearer.
Remember – the more helpful the review, the more powerful a conversion tool it is.
How to get longer reviews
1. Experiment with your review questionnaire
Small adjustments to your review form can make a significant difference – just remember to measure questionnaire completion rate too, to make sure that your changes don’t reduce the number of reviews submitted. For example, try asking for good and bad points separately: not only does this give you more helpful feedback, and make things clearer for review-readers, but it also encourages people to write more overall.
2. Share reviews across your international sites
If you’re doing business internationally, you can take advantage of wordier reviewers in other countries by sharing reviews for the same product or service across all the countries where it’s available. We’ve had great results with companies like Sony and Get It Now from this international syndication: as well as longer reviews, it's provided dozens or even hundreds of extra reviews per product for these two companies.
Just make sure it's clear that reviews are from other countries, so any local references don’t accidentally confuse readers. And think carefully about translating reviews: we recommend machine translation tools to avoid any suspicion that negative remarks have been censored during the translation process