6 Reasons Online Reviews Are Crucial for Your Business
Word of mouth has always been one of the biggest factors in deciding who to hire, and that certainly hasn’t changed with the onset of the internet age. Here’s a look at just how much online customer reviews can do for your business.
They add to your credibility
These days, chatting over the fence and recommending the business that did your patio is a very small slice of the pie. Everybody finds the businesses they need on the internet now, which means that positive online reviews are absolutely critical for helping new customers make their buying decisions. If you offer the same services as a competitor with glowing reviews, while you don’t have any kudos to your name, a prospective customer is far more likely to choose the business they believe they can trust based on other people’s experiences.
To give you an idea of just how important reviews are for your online reputation, let’s look at the stats: 88% of Aussie consumers read online reviews, and 84% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So, it’s safe to say that they’re a basic component of online marketing that every business should take advantage of.
They positively impact local SEO
SEO (search engine optimisation) covers a variety of topics, but it basically basically boils down to tailoring your online content and website so that rank as highly as possible in search engine results. Importantly, search engine algorithms take online reviews into account when ranking local businesses, meaning you’re likely to show up higher in local search results. Local results are based on relevance, distance, and prominence. That means Google might decide that a business with great reviews that’s farther away from a user’s location is more likely to have what they’re for looking for than a business that’s closer – and therefore rank it higher in local results – purely because reviews add to its credibility.
What’s more, online reviews don’t just make it more likely people will see your business; the presence of reviews for your business in your search results will also improve the likelihood that people will actually click on your search result. There’s more on that below…
They increase clicks to your business
We’d like to throw a lovely little phrase at you now. Ready? Here it comes: ‘rich snippets’. Isn’t that nice? It sounds like a good name for a rapper, or perhaps a coffee table book about famous literary quotes. It’s neither of those things, however, and actually refers to a line of text included in all search result listings. Rich snippets, also known as structured data markup, are pieces of code added into any website’s HTML by the site operator. When they show up in search engine results, they can take the form of product prices, special offers, recipe nutritional information, and so on.
Most importantly, rich snippets can also feature star ratings based on accumulated reviews and little snatches of the reviews themselves. Let’s say somebody googles “PC repairs Paddington” and ten different businesses pop up, but only one has a result with a review snippet. The star ratings will have a huge influence on which one they decide to click on. After all, 54% of people will visit a website after reading positive reviews, which means they can have a direct impact on how many people are taking another step towards choosing your business.
They affect your bottom line
We love a good statistic, so here’s another one for you to digest: 90% of customers who have seen reviews say this information impacts their buying decisions. This is a huge deal, and really hammers home the enticing power of online reviews. The gap between seeing a positive review and making a booking or purchase is slim. Reviews directly affect the number of sales you make, which means they can seriously impact the profit your business makes.
They provide valuable customer feedback
You can’t evolve as a business if you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, and customer reviews are a goldmine of constructive feedback regarding the quality of your service. In this sense, negative reviews can be just as useful as positive ones. They’ll tell you exactly what areas you could be improving on, and also give you the opportunity to go above and beyond in resolving individual customer’s problems in a public setting (great for PR).
Customers are savvy, and they can offer genuinely useful ideas for bettering your business practices and expanding your range to include new products and services. Just think of directory listings like True Local as your own personal (not to mention free) think tank!
They help you connect with your customers
Online marketing is all about forging strong relationships with old and new customers alike, and especially so for smaller businesses who can take the time add a personal touch. Replying to both positive and negative reviews demonstrates that you’re interested in everything your customers have to say, and that you genuinely want to engage with them as individuals. People are more likely to hire a business they feel they ‘know’ in some way, and you should never discount the impact of casting aside your professional business mask and revealing the warm humanity within.
As you can see, there’s definitely something valuable in the world of online reviews! We’ve got loads more advice to help you navigate the wonderful world of online marketing, so swing by our business blog.
 Lonergan Research Report 2015