It’s getting hard to ignore; you do an online search for a Chinese food restaurant and with every listing for Chinese food there is a rating. When you go to book a hotel for a trip, you get to see reviews on the hotels. When you go online to purchase a computer, you can see comments from other buyers. Even a simple search for your hair stylist’s phone number turns up comments about the salon. From your computer, tablet, and especially now from your cell phone, those reviews are turning up all over.
Still not sure they matter? Here’s a little exercise:
Do a Google search on any established local business, and take a look at the search results page. Do you see all those yellow stars showing up? You will quickly see results from kinds of websites; Google Reviews, Yelp, Merchant Circle, CitySearch, Yahoo, Urban Spoon, Foursquare and even Yellow Pages websites. They are all over the the web; reviews about your business. They are more important to your business than ever before and they directly affect how you get customers. Let me show you how…
More reviews boosts your search engine rankings.
This wasn’t always the case. When Google started “blending” their results with both organic and local listings over a year ago, we suspected that reviews were playing a large part in rankings. While we aren’t Google, and they don’t share with us exactly what goes into those rankings, we do have a recent study from Bizable and surveys like the Local Search Engine Ranking Factors 2012 that tell us a couple of key things:
- – 5 or more Google reviews (with text) boosts rankings
- – The quantity of third-party reviews from other sites boosts rankings
If you look at the survey you will see there are many other factors involved, but in the last few years the number of reviews has grown significantly as a contributor to better search engine rankings.
Claiming your listings helps get you found.
There are dozens of websites your customers can review you on (we’ll be putting together a list for a future article.) Every time you claim an online profile on a review site, you are creating more online “citations” and inbound links to your website. Many of these sites have high authority, which means you are building the authority of your web site with every link. The higher the quality of the review website, the better (there are some very poor quality sites out there.) We know high traffic sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon are great – lesser known, lower quality sites don’t give you as much help.
The profile you fill out on these sites is important too. The more information you provide the better, especially when you use your target keywords in the description about your business.
Online reviews influence buying decisions.
According to Search Engine Land, 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 52% surveyed said that positive online reviews make them more likely to trust a local business. The article goes on to say that 65% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews before buying.
As companies have integrated reviews into their websites, it’s easier than ever to see how they measure up. Add to that the use of mobile devices, and now you have reviews in the palm of your hand whenever you want to make a buying decision. Mobile is quickly becoming more popular than desktop computing, so it’s not uncommon to see someone looking at movie reviews while standing in line at the theatre or while standing in front of washing machines, deciding on which to take home.
Customer reviews give you valuable insight into your customers.
Many companies don’t have a way to collect regular feedback from customers, yet this is the simplest way to get insight on what your customers really think about you. By putting a regular process of collecting customer reviews in place, they can tell you how you are doing in a transparent way that helps you both. Your current customers can tell you how you’re doing, your future customers can see how you’re doing and make an informed decision, and you get very valuable information on what you are doing right and what you can improve on.
Managing your online reputation is easier than you think.
You can manage your reviews easily with a good strategy that includes claiming your listings, monitoring your reviews, and communicating with your customers on a regular basis. In part II of our Reputation Management series, I’ll talk about strategy in detail, and a simple checklist for helping you manage your reviews. You’ll love the difference it makes on your bottom line.