How does a review differ from a testimonial?

A business owner won’t post a bad testimonial on their own website. However, online reviews are populated by the consumers themselves, lending them more credibility. —Todd Sachs, CEO, DotStudio and

For a review, you send an email to a happy customer with a link that lets them post to a search engine–visible review site. A video testimonial is something you have to produce, edit, then post online with the right keywords, syndicate it, and share it. Both are effective, but testimonials require a lot more steps from an SEO [search engine optimization] perspective. —Mitch Levinson, managing partner, mRelevance

So reviews do help with SEO?

Yes. Whether they’re good or bad, when reviews are appropriately formatted, search engines will recognize them and weight them with more importance. Google might say, “‘I can see this is a review, so I’m going to return this in the search results more frequently.” —Geoff Graham, founder, GuildQuality

Another key factor that search engines look for is how recent the content is. Older content goes down in value in the search engine’s mind, so you don’t want to let your reviews get too stale. Adding new content is a good signal for Google to index you well. —Victoria Badgley, vice president of marketing, Instamonial

To stay relevant, how often should I ask customers for reviews?

Every job. Use collateral material or an email with a URL to point happy customers to a Web page with all your online accounts. Remodelers that are afraid to ask [for reviews] will be surprised by their results when they do start asking. If you ask 10 customers to do something, half might actually do it! —ML

If you’re regularly asking customers for reviews, if you do get a bad one, you can battle it back with eight to 10 great reviews. —TS

Having case studies and testimonials is always a best practice. You have to be proactively making sure your happy customers’ voices are being heard. —VB

—Lauren Hunter is senior products editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @LaurenHunter_HW or @RemodelingMag.

The Rest of April's Cover Story:

Online Review Sites topic page

Necessary?Evil?: Online review sites are here to stay

Sites for Sore Eyes: Consumer-driven sites leave contractors no choice but to play the game

Site Guide: A quick guide to the dominant online review services

I heart Angie (Not): Contractors' love-hate relationship with the online world's biggest player

Leading Lights: A shifting definition of what constitutes a lead

Friend or Faux?: Despite fake reviews, consumers are stll believers—for now

Friendly Recommendation: Word still spread quickly via the new wave of review sites that use media

Good Word: Why you should (or shouldn't) pay for positive reviews