5 Undeniable Benefits of Online Reviews: Why It Just Keeps Getting Better
56 percent of consumers select a business if it has positive reviews/ratings in the local pack, writes Sherry Bonelli. And that's just the beginning.
Over the past few years the topic of reputation marketing has really taken off. Many businesses are finally starting to realize that getting online reviews from happy customers has many benefits – and that list of benefits keeps growing.
Ever since Google started showing those little stars in search engine results pages (SERPs), people started to take notice – consumers and business owners. Businesses began to ask themselves: Does my business have any online reviews? How many reviews are online about my company, products, services – or even my staff/team? What are my customers saying about us – is it good or bad? What is my company’s overall star rating on Google My Business, Yelp and other popular online review sites?
And these reviews – or lack of reviews – show up front-and-center for all to see (especially potential customers) whenever someone does a search for a local business or industry on Google. Seeing those stars and reading the various online reviews make it easier for consumers to quickly compare competitors, get a feel for whether a business can be trusted and if their products or services are bad, ho-hum, good, great or awesome! (Okay. “Awesome” isn’t really a choice when leaving online reviews, but ‘Awesome’ would be a 5-star review in my opinion….)
Reading online reviews has organically become part of the customer’s buying process. In fact, 56 percent of consumers select a business if it has positive ratings/reviews in the Google Local Pack:
When Google began showing third-party reviews in September 2016, that’s when the industry really stopped in their tracks and sat up straight in their seats and took notice.
Displaying these third-party reviews on Google showed all of us just how important Google thinks reviews are to the overall “healthiness” of a website. And unlike many review sites (e.g. Yelp), Google actually encourages businesses to ask customers for reviews.
In fact, Google just started sending out printed handouts to Google’s Get Your Business Online (GYBO) partners for them to distribute to workshop participants. One side of the handout is only about how businesses can “connect with customers through reviews”:
In my opinion, this innocent looking little piece of paper is signficiant – probably more significant than it seems at the outset. Since Google took the time to design, print and paid to send out these flyers to GYBO partners to pass out at their local workshops, it means that Google thinks reviews are important – and you should, too!
So if you own a business, you should train your team how to ask for an online review — because 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if they’re simply asked. That makes it simple; right?
Now Is The Time To Get Reviews For Your Business
The social proof in reviews and star ratings helps shoppers shortcut their research and make decisions faster and with greater confidence than ever before. A positive reputation is one of the most powerful assets a business has, and those 5-star reviews can help influence new customers to buy from you.
According to BrightLocal’s latest Local Consumer Review Survey, 91% of consumers actively read online business reviews. This means more and more people are searching for and reading reviews on a regular basis. Consumers are proactively looking for reviews – which is great for businesses that have a positive online reputation.
A positive reputation can do so much for a company. Here are five reasons why proactively getting 5-star reviews can help your business.
- Rank Your Business Higher On Search Engine Results
Reviews and ratings help a business rank higher on the search engines. Two recent studies by Moz and The Local SEO Guide show the ranking factors that influence local search rankings. They both found that online reviews can help a website rank higher in the Google Local 3-Pack and in organic local search results.
If a local business wants to rank higher on Google, having reviews is the fifth top ranking factor to getting a business listed on Google’s Local 3-Pack. So if you want to try and rank higher on Google, start getting those reviews!
- Reviews Improve Click-Through Rates
One of your main goals as a business is to get searchers to click on your link when you show up in the search engines. A recent study showed that 56 percent of consumers click on businesses that have online reviews:
Star ratings in the Local Pack results generate higher CTR than organic search results. In this study, it was also discovered that showing a positive star rating of 3+ stars has a positive impact on click-through rates. The higher the star rating the more clicks a search listing received from Google’s Local Pack.
It’s simple: Negative ratings reduce clicks and positive ratings increase clicks.
3. Positive Reviews Build Trust With Potential Customers
Almost 9 out of 10 consumers determine whether or not they can trust a business after reading 10 reviews. But don’t just stop with ten reviews! Getting online reviews must be an ongoing process for your business and should be built into your selling and follow-up sales processes. Ask your customers for a review when they’re at their happiest moment in the buying process.
Did they just buy a new car and they have the keys to their shiny new car in their hands? Ask to take a picture of them in front of their new vehicle to post on your social media page – and ask for a review before they drive off. Did your customer just get a relaxing massage that made them feel amazing? Ask for a review as you’re checking them out. If you sell a product like hearing aids, wait an appropriate amount of time for your new patient to get used to their hearing device and then email them or send them a postcard thanking them for their business and giving them direct links to a few of your review site listings that they can leave feedback on.
You can never have too many reviews. Remember, just like SEO and other digital marketing strategies, your competitors are going to try and one-up you. They are always going to try to get one more review than you! Keep going…Push forward.
Research has also shown that 8 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. What does that mean to you? If you think getting personal one-on-one referrals are good, just think about how much more leverage and power you’ll have when you get hundreds (or thousands) of people reading those online “referrals”? The power is endless!
4. Improves Landing Page Conversions
In digital marketing you’re always trying to get better conversion rates — more clicks on your organic rankings, more clicks on your paid-for ads, enticing potential buyers to click on a link to a product page in a blog post you wrote, etc.
A recent survey was done to see how promoting a 5-star reputation impacts landing page conversions.
In this study, 6,283 North American consumers were surveyed and asked to imagine they were searching online for a local plumber, florist or realtor. They were then showed two different landing pages – one landing page highlighted an actual customer’s review about the business and another page where the business said they were the “dependable” company:
What were the results?
83 percent of the people thought the business with the user-generated review on the landing page was trustworthy. Additionally, 15 percent of the people said they did not find the business without reviews to be trustworthy.
The consumers were then asked how likely it would be for them to contact the businesses. Of the businesses with reviews on their landing pages, a whopping 74 percent of people said they would contact the business!
5. Customer Feedback Can Help Improve Your Business
Both positive AND negative reviews can help you improve your business. For instance, do you have a few negative reviews online? If you do, take a look at what the reviewer has to say. Is there a systemic problem with a product that you should evaluate? Do you have an employee that is consistently getting mentioned in negative reviews? If so, you may want to spend extra time coaching him. There can be a good side to negative feedback because those poor reviews may uncover a business issue, process or employee problem that would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed.
The growing quantity of online reviews and review sites covering more industries and services, provides huge benefits to both consumers and the businesses that fully embrace reputation marketing.
What Does Your Reputation Look Like?
Before you venture into reputation marketing it’s good to get a baseline as to how your current reputation and online reviews look. If you’re not sure if your business has reviews (or whether they’re good or bad) you can run a free reputation report to find out.
The Bottom Line?
In a world of mixed messages, multiple options and overwhelming data, getting online reviews is a great way to differentiate your business from your competitors in the market.
**Sherry Bonelli is the Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She leads BrightLocal’s Research & Content programs and champions the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry
has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications. In her “spare” time she is a volunteer mentor for the SCORE East Central Iowa Chapter where she coaches small businesses on how to use digital marketing effectively. Sherry frequently gives workshops and speeches on digital marketing topics to local business owners. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.