Do online reviews really matter to your business? Absolutely! Online reviews are very important to your business’ internet marketing and general reputation…two critical arms of your brand. There are numerous websites that publish user reviews like Google, Bing, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, White Pages, and many, many more.
We’re not talking about 51% or 65%. According to a survey studying the long-term effect of customer service, a huge 88% of customers say that they are influenced by online reviews. Ninety-five percent of people would review a negative experience, while less, 87% would share a positive one. Now we’ve done our research and seen lots of varying numbers regarding how many of those reviews are online reviews. No matter where we look, the number is a large proportion of customers of any business, and it seems that the number grows each year.
Think about how often people are now using the internet for everything from shopping to deciding on a restaurant to looking for a new distributor for their products. The reach of online reviews is just far too great to ignore. If most of your target audience reads reviews before making decisions about products and services, then you can’t afford to NOT have good ones.
Lots of sites exist, at least in part, to collect reviews from people. Google is probably the king of them all.
Why? Two reasons. First, because the reviews come easily considering that most people already have Google accounts via their Gmail email addresses. To leave a review on Yelp, for example, someone would have to want to create a Yelp account just for leaving reviews. Second, Google is the number one search engine used on all of the internet.
Online reviews DO affect your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your business’ ability to be found in Google searches (or Bing, etc) is driven partially by algorithms that note and react to how often people are clicking to view your website. This circles back to both points above. Google presents website options in response to a search query, but Google has gotten smarter in recent years and become concerned with providing QUALITY options. Relevant options. Authoritative options. So when people click through your website, Google takes that as a signal that your site is a good resource and is more likely to rank you higher in response. It weighs the human component of marketing into SEO with a kind of snowball effect.
Yes, you need GREAT online reviews. The trick, though, is to keep it honest. Sites like Google and Yelp have policies in place to keep you from specifically fishing for good reviews. Yelp forbids you from offering incentives to customers in exchange for good reviews. Google is smarter than you think and will notice if you have a lot of reviews suspiciously pile up at once.
Be cool. Be honest. Be subtle. Be strategic, then deposit the checks.