How Important are Local Online Reviews?

By Veronica Davis
Veronica Davis
Veronica Davis
Veronica is a wife and work at home mom. Her and her husband live in Missouri with their three boys. She has been a freelance writer for over fiver years, and has since ventured into many areas of working online and marketing online. She loves being in the kitchen, discovering new dishes the family loves and hopes to go to culinary school some day. A former Marine and ex-whitewater rafting guide, she loves the outdoors and sports.
September 3, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Consumers are turning more and more towards online reviews before purchasing a product or service. That can be both good news and bad news. If your business keeps up with local SEO and the impact it can have on your bottom line then you’re probably devoting the resources necessary to take advantage of this. If not, then your competitors are likely leaving you in the dust.

Checking online reviews has become the norm and more people trust them ever before. It doesn’t matter if they’re looking for a nice family restaurant to dine while on vacation, looking for an accountant or a clown for a birthday party. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in – you need to have a strong presence online, be easily found and have plenty of reviews to steer potential customers your way.

Some of you may be well aware of the importance of local SEO, but have neglected the review side of things. If this is the case, you need to make some adjustments. Now. Think about it… people who are searching for reviews have already decided that they want to purchase your service or product. They’re prime potential customers. You don’t have to convince them they need your service – they’ve already decided that. All you have to do is make sure you have positive reviews that they find fast, so you can turn those searchers into real customers.

They Have to Find Your Reviews FAST

Having many positive reviews won’t do any good if they find six of your competitor’s reviews first (assuming the majority of their reviews are positive). People are short on time and make up their mind quicker than they did just a year or two ago. They’ll read reviews from only a few businesses typically before deciding who to use.

On top of that, they won’t dig through your entire review history. They’ll normally only look at a handful of the most recent ones.

  • Nearly 100 percent of consumers will turn to the internet when seeking local services
  • Nearly 100 percent of them will choose a business they find on the first page of search  (Just another reason David Markovich always recommends having a company website)
  • Nearly 70 percent of them will read less than six reviews before making a decision
  • Over 70 percent say they believe businesses with positive customer reviews are more trustworthy
  • Less than 15 percent of people completely ignore online reviews

The traditional word of mouth recommendations are still a strong factor. But you may be surprised that today, nearly 80 percent of people put as much weight on reviews as they do personal recommendations (More info from SearchEngineLand)

That means you need to be proactive and make sure those first few reviews shine, whether they’re positive or negative. Yep, you read that right. A negative review is not a shot in the foot. That is, if you handle it effectively.

If a negative review makes it way onto the page, don’t ignore it. Don’t bash it, make excuses or blame the customer either. You want to openly acknowledge what went wrong or may have went wrong and do something to make up for it. If someone had a bad experience at your restaurant, offer a free meal on the house and promise this visit will be better. Apologize and be transparent. Potential customers who see this will likely feel comfortable using your business, as they see that even in the small chance something isn’t perfect – you’ll make it right. They see that you care about them, as your customer.

On another note, search engines like Google love fresh content. If you have a policy in place to respond to new reviews as they come in, you’re constantly creating new content that will attract attention. So not only do you need to be getting reviews, you need the time set aside to actively manage those reviews.

Akila Madusanka of BrisbaneSEOPro, which offers a free guide to managing your local business online, recommends paying special attention to three important things in regards to getting your much needed positive online reviews:

  • Choosing which product to focus on for reviews is vital. Pick only your best product or services. If you can obtain a hefty amount of positive reviews, it can really improve sales.
  • Don’t be afraid to blatantly ask for the review. If a customer is directly asked, by email or phone, they’re normally more than happy to do so.
  • If blatantly asking for a review isn’t up your ally, do it in gentler, indirect way. Send them an email thanking them for their purchase. Use this email to also highlight reviews from other people and let them know that feedback is always appreciated.

 

 

Veronica is a wife and work at home mom. Her and her husband live in Missouri with their three boys. She has been a freelance writer for over fiver years, and has since ventured into many areas of working online and marketing online. She loves being in the kitchen, discovering new dishes the family loves and hopes to go to culinary school some day. A former Marine and ex-whitewater rafting guide, she loves the outdoors and sports.