Online Reviews, Why Should You Pay Attention to Them?

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If you’ve heard us talk about online brand strategy, you know we put a lot of emphasis on customer reviews.

Word-of-mouth and customer opinions have always had a large impact on a business’ success. The thing that has changed is how those opinions are shared, and today that’s done online.

Scroll through any social media feed and you won’t have a hard time finding someone spouting off … we mean sharing … their thoughts on something.

The internet is the number one tool people use to find information. According to a BrightLocal survey, 99% of people researched local businesses online in the last year and 81% of those people — they’re doing their research on Google.

You cannot understate the power of Google reviews. Maximizing your business reviews provides several advantages. Here are the top 3 compelling benefits.

1. Online Reviews Build Trust and Credibility

When people research a local service or product, online reviews play a key factor in decision making. In fact, 98% of people take the time to read online reviews when searching for local businesses.

Another report notes that 9 out of 10 people are more likely to select a service or product after reading a trusted review. This stat alone underscores why you cannot ignore customer reviews.

Online reviews provide a transparent, unbiased look at your company. And with the craziness of the past two years, more people than ever are going online to find that social proof. We’ll go so far as to say that customer reviews are one of the most effective ways to build confidence in your business.

But don’t just take our word for it. Almost half of U.S. internet users say that third-party reviews are the number one way to increase their likelihood of using your business or buying your product.

Brian Solis, world-renowned digital anthropologist, puts it this way:

“Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”

But the importance of Google reviews doesn’t end with building trust. Reviews are also an essential ranking factor in local SEO.

2. Online Reviews Positively Impact SEO

According to Google, local search results are based “primarily on relevance, distance and prominence.” Prominence is where reviews come into play.

A business with more highly rated reviews will likely outrank a local competitor that has fewer reviews and lower ratings.

Online customer reviews show expertise and authority, sending a strong signal to search engines. Whitespark’s recent local search study states that reviews account for 17% of the formula for how Google ranks a local business.

As mentioned above, third-party reviews build trust. The more someone trusts your business, the more likely they are to click through to your website. This increase in traffic tells Google your website is reliable, and you’ll rank higher in search results.

Google wants to show the most relevant and beneficial results for local searches. Remember what we mentioned in an earlier post? Google’s entire business hinges on people trusting the information they receive. Which is why Google will use how you’re perceived by others to help determine your relevance and trustworthiness. It also looks at how many reviews you have and how often you receive them.

Google also considers the words and descriptions within online customer reviews when applying its search algorithms. Just like keywords are important on your website and Google Business Profile, they’re also valuable within reviews.

This boost in SEO can help your business land in the local map pack at the top of the search results page, a coveted spot!

3. You’ll Improve the Customer Experience

Google Reviews – both positive and negative – are a great way to better understand how you’re doing. It’s a cost-free opportunity to learn first-hand what you should keep doing, as well as how to better serve your customers.

It’s important to read each review and pay attention to what they say. You should respond to every review in a thoughtful, considerate way. Doing so helps develop the customer relationship and — back to my first point — builds trust. Your responses show you’re dedicated to providing exceptional customer service.

Additionally, responding to each review in a timely manner signals to Google you’re an active business. This in turn improves your search rankings. As you can see, everything related to customer reviews is interconnected.

Now that you understand why online reviews are vital to the success of your business, stay tuned for next week’s blog. We’ll walk you through tips and tricks on receiving and responding to your Google reviews. Plus, we’ll share how to turn a negative review into a positive experience for both you and your customer!

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