Customer online reviews are creating a new field in marketing and communication that bridges the gap between traditional word-of-mouth and a viral feedback system that can influence consumers’ choices.
Getting reviews for your business is important for various reasons. Perhaps you already collect customer reviews about your services and respond to their valuable feedback, but let’s take a step back and enumerate some of the reasons you should get reviews and why they are important for your local digital marketing/ SEO strategy.
What are Online Reviews?
The term “online reviews” refers to customer or visitor comments about products or services. These reviews, often called ‘social proof tools’, are essential pieces of User Generated Content (UGC) that businesses can use to establish an online reputation and gain trust from their audience. Instead of providing feedback during the online marketing funnel, online reviews are typically left after the user completes the purchase (e.g., after the item is delivered). Review topics are usually related to products sold in a webshop, the webshop itself, or the shopping experience.
For example, when you buy an item on Amazon, you will often receive a follow-up email from Amazon a couple of days after your purchase, asking a few questions about the item and/or the delivery process as part of the online review management.
Do Online Reviews matter in Local SEO Strategy?
Quite significantly! According to a survey on Local Search Ranking Factors, reviews play a key role in 16% of search engine decision-making processes for local SEO. That’s a substantial number! Review impact on local SEO goes beyond just this. However, reviews have many tangible benefits, including the following:
- Google reviews of four or five stars result in more click-throughs to your main website, resulting in more growth for your business.
- A Harvard study suggests that a one-star improvement in Yelp rankings can increase sales by 5-9%.
- You’ll get higher SEO rankings by having high reviews on your site as Google will trust you more – but also local customers will approve more of you!
- Online reviews are trusted by 7/10 customers, proving their value.
Google Business Profiles display reviews instantly, so customers close to you can compare your business with others who have already interacted with it. It affects your business’s appearance on the Map Pack and your local search engine results pages.
Google has acknowledged that reviews are impacting local SEO strategy and rankings, proving that reviews are important to SEO in local areas.
Local Map Pack
This is Google’s way of providing a brief overview of businesses in your neighborhood. The window typically displays the business name, reviews of their products, a short description of their services, and contact information (such as their address, phone number, and website).
Read Also: How can Google Maps help your Business?
SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages, ensure you only see the data you’re interested in without any irrelevant information. When you search for “Corner Store,” these are the only business profiles that appear near you.
Map packs and SERPs contain similar types of information, but SERPs are the actual results of the search and become the basis for the Map Pack to function, whereas Map Packs use the results themselves to assist the online review sites search.
Benefits of Online Reviews
Reviews Create Engagement With a Brand
Engagement is a two-way street. Getting customers to leave reviews is one of the biggest challenges businesses face. The report found that 77% of consumers would leave an online review if given the opportunity. Businesses have reported missing out on a major opportunity by not engaging customers to leave reviews.
The easiest way to encourage customer reviews is to make it easy for businesses. Your website can include feedback buttons, offer loyalty programs to encourage reviews, send an email request after purchase, and manage communities or forums dedicated to gathering customer reviews.
A poor customer experience can also be rectified through reviews. When you respond to a negative review, you can restore customer trust and improve customer experience. According to another study, 30% of consumers become optimistic about a brand after responding to online reviews.
As a result, your brand, product, or service will also be exposed to new customers. If someone leaves negative feedback, listen to them! Information like this is as insightful and informative as positive feedback. Your brand will benefit from it.
The search results rank content based on Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, often referred to as E-A-T.
A page will rank higher in search results if all three criteria are met. The goal is to provide searchers with content backed up by expertise, created by a reliable source, and as trustworthy as possible.
Online customer reviews can significantly improve the E-A-T of your website. It gives Google a good sense that your brand has a good reputation when it sees numerous positive reviews on multiple third-party sites.
These signals will increase the ranking of your site on Google.
A Higher Number of Reviews Affects the Credibility
When evaluating a business, customers also consider the number of online reviews and the overall star rating. What is the ideal number of reviews? According to Salsify, consumers are more likely to trust a business with an average of 112 online customer reviews.
Business owners like you should continuously and actively encourage your customers to share their experiences about your business, as consumers prefer businesses with a higher volume of reviews. Consumers are more likely to trust your business if you have more reviews. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can easily ask for reviews. Your social media channels and email should also ask for reviews.
Review sites such as Facebook, Yelp, and Google My Business are all important for collecting customer feedback.
Online Reviews Validate Expertise
Prospective customers also rely on online reviews to validate their expertise. In addition, they demonstrate that your expertise has resulted in high-quality products (or that you have helped others overcome a particular challenge).
Any company or person can claim to offer an amazing product or service, but that doesn’t mean it is true. By providing online reviews, you demonstrate your expertise and authority.
Effect of Negative Reviews on Your Business
Before spending their hard-earned money on a product, service, or experience, people want to know all possible flaws. Often, people tend to look more at the negative side of things than the positive side. According to this survey, nearly 55% of people are more likely to read a negative review than a positive one.
The presence of customer reviews could result in losing 8 out of 10 customers for your business.
Buyers can make a more informed decision by comparing different products and services. A survey found that 90 percent of respondents read the responses to negative reviews by business owners. It is possible to maintain a customer if the business owner responds to the bad review quickly and efficiently.
A business shouldn’t worry if there are a lot of positive customer reviews, as consumers trust a collective opinion. Businesses don’t always run smoothly, and what one person believes may not be the same as what another believes. The same can be said for a few negative reviews. It may give shoppers a more accurate picture of the company. Still, brands need to respond appropriately when they receive truly impactful reviews.
Nevertheless, companies must maintain honest, positive consumer reviews to stay competitive and attract more consumers with reliable online reputation management.
How Can Cheenti Help?
The reputation of your brand is more important than ever before. Regarding brands, people buy from those they trust and tell others about those they don’t.
Your brand’s reputation is even more important regarding online reviews. Customers’ purchase behaviors are influenced by them, as well as search engine rankings, the perception of your authority, and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Cheenti is an ORM agency for global enterprises and local businesses that invest in their online reputation. We ensure that the searchers can find nothing but positive information about your brand, product, or service when researching it. In our experience, positive online reviews for businesses significantly impact the customer’s decision to buy since they are powerful motivators.
The experts at Cheenti analyze your brand, product, and services on social media and other digital platforms to determine what your customers are talking about, writing, and exchanging. Our strategy and ORM services are designed to help you fill in the gaps of any negative comments/publicity you may have received in the past.