Friday, May 11, 2012

How To Link Your Tea Company Website to RateTea And Other Sites

This page, continuing my series of best practices for tea company websites, is about linking your tea company website to RateTea and similar sites, including Steepster, group review blogs like Teaviews and Tea Review Blog, or even individual tea blogs.

The above image shows a few examples of social networking icons, discussed below, which you can use to link to RateTea. A skilled graphic designer can also easily make a logo, like the square RateTea logo on the left, into an icon in the style of your website. You can feel free to do this, or Sylvia, RateTea's graphic designer, can make one for you. Sylvia designed most of the icons above.

Why link to RateTea and similar sites?

I see three direct benefits to linking to RateTea and other review sites:

  • By encouraging your existing customers to rate and review your teas, you will gain greater visibility for your teas, and you will reach new customers. For smaller companies, reviews on RateTea are highly likely to reach an audience who may not even know of your company. For larger, more well-established companies, such reviews will help you maintain your brand visibility.
  • By linking to existing reviews of your teas on RateTea, Steepster, group review blogs, or even on personal tea blogs, you are more likely to convince to potential customers that your reviews are authentic, because these sites are independent of your company. RateTea in particular demonstrates this because the site (1) requires an actual written review to post a numerical rating (2) does not allow companies to review their own teas (3) screens reviews to prevent spammy and fraudulent reviews (4) identifies on the review the number of teas reviewed by a given reviewer, including teas of a particular style, as explained on how many teas like this have you tried?.

Why RateTea in particular? A lot of companies already link to Steepster, alongside a number of different social networking presences (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, some even have Youtube channels). RateTea stands out in that it is integrated with informational articles about tea varieties and production, and that it provides live links directly to the product pages on your website, not only from the page for each tea, but from the page for each tea review as well. Reviews on RateTea can not only provide free links to your website, boosting your teas' visibility in search results, but can provide direct traffic to your site and help you make more sales.

Indirect benefits of linking to RateTea:

There are also some very powerful indirect benefits of linking to RateTea:
  • Because RateTea is independent (i.e. not owned by your company), by linking to RateTea and other external review sites that you do not directly control, you will send a message of business confidence, that your teas are high-quality and that their quality speaks for themselves.
  • The information on RateTea is of much higher accuracy than the typical informational sites about tea on the internet. By linking to RateTea, and to other high-quality sites, you will both help to promote truthful and accurate information in general and you will show your customers that you know how to discern high-quality information from low-quality. This last point may seem silly, but I have lost count of the number of times I have seen otherwise reputable tea companies link to low-quality, self-published articles on the supposed "health benefits of tea". Needless to say, this sort of thing does not convince me to make a purchase.
  • RateTea is committed to sustainability, and goes to great lengths to highlight companies doing things to promote sustainability in the tea world. This includes highlighting fair trade and organic certified teas, as well as drawing attention on the main page for each brand to things that each company is doing to promote sustainability, which can include both the sourcing and production of their teas, as well as things like packaging, green certifications, and donations to sustainability-promoting projects.

And lastly, I want to point out:
  • I'm easy to access if you want me to update the page on your brand in any way. My goal is to be a resource for tea companies, so I want to write an article that will highlight the best aspects of your company. If you don't like the blurb currently written about your company on RateTea, and you have either a correction, or additional information you'd like to add or you'd like us to highlight, you can get in touch with me. And keep in mind, you can also manage and edit the listings of your company's teas directly, without requiring a RateTea admin to make changes, so you can always keep your listings on the site 100% up-to-date.

Several options of how to link:

  • Linking to RateTea's page for your brand, using social networking icons.
  • Adding generic text links, linking to the page for your brand.
  • Adding buttons or text links to your pages on individual teas, linking them to the corresponding pages on RateTea or other sites, which house reviews of that specific tea.
  • Writing a blog post or newsletter in which you let your customers know about RateTea, and encourage them to rate your teas.

Each of these approaches have their relative benefits.

Social networking icons:

Social networking icons, like the ones pictured at the top of this post, can easily be added to every page of your website, in the site's header or footer. These icons can be formatted in the visual style of your website, and they are unobtrusive and look professional. These icons are probably the simplest and least time-intensive way to link to RateTea, Steepster, and any site that has a recognizable logo that can be easily made into one of these icons.

Text links:

It has been my experience from RateTea that companies that add text links tend to generate more reviews from their customers than companies adding social networking icons. I think this is likely because the text of the link can be used to encourage the customer to write a review. For example, you can say: rate this tea on RateTea or share a review of this tea on RateTea followed by a link to the page for that tea, or you can use a more generic rate our teas on RateTea which links to the page for your brand.

For best results, link each tea directly to the page for that specific tea on RateTea. If this seems too labor intensive, you can get in contact with me; I would be glad to provide you with a way to automate this process if you so desire, such as by importing a table of URL's into your database, corresponding to each of your teas. However, if this is too much work, you can also link to the page for your brand, and your customers can find teas to review by searching or browsing as other RateTea users would.

I can't say anything about the effectiveness of "Rate this tea on" buttons, or similar buttons including both images and text because we have yet to have any company use such buttons. My intuition, though, would that these images would probably be as effective as the text links, possibly more effective, and more effective than basic social networking icons.

Linking in a blog or newsletter:

Linking to RateTea in a blog or newsletter provides a very different way to generate reviews. This sort of attention tends to result in a burst of reviews, but is unlikely to provide any later reviews once the initial burst of views of the blog or newsletter has passed. However, even this sort of burst of reviews can still help you, because once a review has been written, it can be viewed many times over a long period of time. Look at the following graph:

The above graph shows a review of Typhoo tea that was written in August of 2010; it continues to receive fairly regular views over time.

This graph is typical, not atypical, of a review on the site. I also want to note that this graph underestimates the number of people viewing the review, because it does not include the views of the tea's page, which shows this review alongside two others. Because of how the site is structured, most reviews do not receive an initial burst of traffic, but they receive sustained traffic over time, as users find reviews through the search and browse functions of the site.

More ratings and reviews lead to more visibility for your teas:

Also, when your teas receive more ratings, they appear higher on "most often rated teas" lists, which appear on dozens of pages throughout the site. So, suppose you sell a dragon well green tea which receives a lot of favorable reviews. It is likely to appear not only under "most often rated dragon well tea" but, if it receives enough reviews, it may also display on the page for Zhejiang province (assuming, like most dragon well, it is produced there), and, if it makes it into the top tier, the pages for China and the master page for green tea. Even if it does not make it onto any of these lists, reviews boost your tea's visibility in search results, as teas with more reviews are returned first in search results.

So, even a short-term, one-time endeavor like writing about the site in a blog post or newsletter can result in sustained benefits for your tea company.

Let me know if you have any questions:

Let me know if you have any questions about how to link your company to pages on RateTea, such as needing any graphics beyond those displayed here, or questions about how to link things up. If you don't have my email, you can easily reach me through the contact form on RateTea.

1 comment:

  1. This is really good info - I've just put a request in for my company so can't wait to take all this info on board if we get approved to be on Rate Tea!