Online reviews are the lifeblood of any small business. Reports show that 90% of consumers say that online reviews drive their buying decisions. If that’s true, then hopefully, one of two things are going through your mind. Do I have a strategy in place for gaining reviews and managing my online status? or ‘I guess I better get on the online review bandwagon.’
No matter which camp you are in, online reviews are important for several reasons.
- They affect your rankings in local search engines.
- Reviews determine which search results receive clicks.
- They influence and drive consumer decisions.
This makes online reviews critical to your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Let’s take a look at how online reviews impact consumer decision-making, where it fits into an SEO campaign, and how to acquire reviews all while maintaining your online reputation.
How Consumers Use Online Reviews
By the time a consumer is looking at reviews, they already know what they want. They’re just trying to make the best purchasing decision. The important thing to recognize is that the jump from reading a review to making a decision is absurdly small. It usually results in a yes or no decision almost immediately.
But how much does a review persuade the customer? According to a survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of those questioned responded by saying that a positive online review affected their buying decisions, while 86% answered that negative online reviews influenced their decision.
As you can see, from the consumer point of view, online reviews are a key factor in helping steer the buying decision.
Local SEO and Online Reviews
Consumers love online reviews, and as a result, local search engines love online reviews. Their goal is to provide accurate information to users and to help them make decisions about their purchases. The quicker the local search engine can do that then the more likely the customer is to return to them. Since Google uses online review data as part of their ranking system, it’s important to have good online reviews for local ranking.
Acquiring Good Reviews
Now that we’ve established why online reviews are important and how consumers use them, we come to the next logical step. How do you go about getting good reviews? Before we address that question though, it’s probably a good idea to determine which review platforms will work best for your company.
We can start by doing a simple search. Choose your industry then enter ‘industry’ + ‘reviews’ in the search engine. Look at the sites that show up on the first page. This will give you a good idea about which review platforms are returning the best results. As you research each platform, make sure to understand its rules and policies. The last thing you want to do is to have a platform blacklist due to a preventable incident.
Additionally, it would be beneficial to place your reviews on your website so visitors can see the feedback you’ve received from others. Make sure you provide clear cut instructions on how visitors can leave their reviews, and if you’re providing a physical good, create materials that list the many different places where a customer can provide a review.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Lastly, you want to know how to respond online professionally and respectfully. A negative review is an opportunity for a conversation. Instead of requesting the review be taken down from the platform, reach out to the customer and offer to make things right. Find out what caused the dissatisfaction. It may be that the client discovered a problem that you’ve overlooked.
View criticism as an opportunity for improvement. Brainstorm on how you can make your product or service better for the customer, and how to improve the overall customer experience. Root out potential issues and pitfalls before they receive too much negative publicity.
Hopefully, these suggestions have provided some insight into online reviews and how much of an impact they can have on you and your business. Your online reputation is important, and taking into account how online reviews factor in can help you create a local SEO strategy that works for you.
Effect helps companies like yours improve their SEO strategy so you drive more traffic and grow your business. Call today for a free ‘check-up’ session and see how your website is performing.