According to the most recent local consumer review survey by BrightLocal, 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews when searching for a local business. This is beneficial for businesses that recognize the importance of reputation management and continually look for ways to improve their online reputations. For businesses that haven’t yet bought into review marketing, you could be missing out on potential customers who rely heavily on positive reviews. Here’s why…
Reviews Affect Local Search Rankings
Google loves providing its users with the most comprehensive information for local businesses in search results. Reviews, as part of that comprehensive information, have an impact on where a business appears in local search results. In fact, the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors were recently revealed, and the importance of review signals increased significantly from 8.4% in 2015 to 13.13% in 2017.
The factors Google is likely looking at when it comes to reviews and how they affect local search rankings are the quantity of reviews your business has, where you’re receiving reviews (i.e., Google, Yelp, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, etc.), your average star rating, and the rate at which you receive reviews.
Your local search ranking can benefit indirectly from more reviews because potential customers are more inclined to click on businesses with a good review profile, which will lead to higher click-through rates. Even if you’re just getting started with collecting reviews, Google recently lowered the threshold so businesses only need one review to display a star rating in local search results.
In the past year, Google recently added “reviews from the web,” which aggregates reviews from third-party sites and prominently places them in the knowledge panel. When searching for restaurants, lawyers, carpet cleaners, etc., users will see up to three review site ratings on mobile and desktop. “Reviews from the web” makes it even more important to have a diversity of sites where you’re collecting reviews.
Reviews Improve Your Online Reputation
Improving your online reputation doesn’t just happen with a snap of your finger. It takes an active approach to generate new reviews, improve your star rating, and respond to positive and negative reviews.
Generating new reviews can happen in a variety of ways. A quick way to garner new reviews from recent customers is to gather emails at the point of sale and send out an email requesting them to leave you a review. Sending a follow-up email shortly after your interaction shows customers you’re interested in their feedback.
Other ways to generate new reviews include placing a review link on your website, requesting a review on receipts, placing signage throughout your location asking customers to leave a review, or a social media campaign. Using these tactics will hopefully lead to more reviews from happy customers, an increased star rating, and more business. It’s important to keep in mind that requesting customers to leave you a review on Yelp is not allowed per Yelp’s guidelines. If you do so, you could end up hurting your Yelp rating.
Finally, responding to reviews is key. Many businesses don’t take the time to acknowledge customer feedback, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative, which can hurt an online reputation. You should always respond to the negative reviews, but positive reviews are just as important. Let your customers know that you’re aware of their reviews and you appreciate their feedback.
It’s never too late to get started or improve your review marketing strategy. Search engines will always value reviews because consumers are constantly looking for and depending on the opinions of others to make a purchase decision. Don’t fall behind. Get started on improving your reputation today!