Branding

Online customer reviews are essential for your business

By Mark Ainsworth

Part One

There are a lot of things that make up a great business, from the perfect business idea to a solid marketing strategy. However, the positive effect that online customer reviews have on your business cannot be overstated. This effect is part of the reason that most businesses now have multiple social media accounts. Your online presence makes you accessible and personable, and your reviews represent an ongoing conversation you and your customers are having.

Some businesses feel uncomfortable with the idea of online reviews, as it is a side of their business that they cannot directly control. Studies have shown that 86% of consumers will think twice about using a business if they find a negative review, and this is obviously a concern for businesses, particularly when starting out. But it is possible to turn negative online reviews around, and even use this interaction to promote your company, so it is always worthwhile allowing your customers to post publicly about you.

Why are customer reviews good for business?

Reviews give customers a voice

Being allowed to post public responses about a business helps consumers to feel heard, not only by the business but also by other consumers. Knowing that if they do have a bad experience they are able to publicly call your company out on it can help them to feel safe in their purchase decision. It also helps to improve your conversion rate and turn potential customers into customers, as they know that there are consequences for both of you if the transaction goes badly.

Reviews help to boost customer engagement

Review sites and comment sections offer customers the chance to form a sort of community based around your business and products. Internet users enjoy the social proof that comes from chatting with others about a shared experience, and this goes for reading and leaving reviews of a service that they have used. Around 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member, so building and maintaining this online community could be key to your success.

Visible reviews encourage other customers to write reviews

An example of online herd mentality, it is a known phenomenon that the more reviews you have, the faster you will find customers adding their own reviews. This is important for SEO reasons (as will be described later) and also adds to the feeling of being part of an online community.

Reviews help you to understand your customers

Although it is possible to get an idea of what your customers don’t like, thanks to a solid complaints procedure and customer service team, it isn’t so easy to get an idea of what you are doing right. Being able to look at online reviews helps you to get a good idea of the good and the bad, so you can capitalise on the things that you are doing well, and work with your customers to cut out the bad.

How do reviews boost your SEO?

Search engine optimisation is one of the most important marketing techniques for any growing business. Having your company pop up on the front page of search engine results is a huge boost to business, as not only do 90% of consumers go online to read reviews before visiting a business, a huge majority of online adults use search engines to find out information online.

Studies have shown that most internet users will not look past the second page of Google results to find what they are looking for, so it is key to get your SEO strategy down.

Reviews boost Google rankings

MOZ’s Local Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey found that online reviews make up around 10% of how search engines rank search results on their pages. This might not sound like a lot but if you consider the wide range of information search engines have to take into account, 10% is significant.

Google considers consumer reviews an important source of valuable and authentic information about a business, meaning that reviews from all over the web regarding a business are collated and measured when deciding where to place a result. Google tends to choose review ratings from:

  • Google customer reviews
  • Google shopping research metrics
  • Ratings collected from Google Consumer Surveys
  • Shopping reviews for your business domain, including reviews collected from trusted third-party reviews sites.

Trusted third-party online review sites that Google collects information from include sites like Yelp, Facebook, Trustpilot and VerifiedReviews.

Boosting your Google rankings is even more important for small businesses than national ones, as it helps to place you in what is known as the ‘local pack’. The local pack is the list of businesses which appear under the map in search results when you search for a type of business. It has been found that 50% of users performing a local business search on their smartphone will visit one of the businesses in the local pack within 24 hours, meaning being placed here is crucial for new businesses.

To put together the local pack, Google considers a number of factors. These include:

  • Location. Google is dedicated to providing users with useful results, meaning that results will tend to favour businesses in close proximity to the user’s location.
  • Reviews. The more reviews your business has, the more authentic Google considers it to be, and a review on Yelp is just as important as a review on your own pages. Meanwhile, the more good reviews you have, the more likely it is that a consumer will choose your company. 92% of consumers say that they will use a local business that has at least a four-star rating.
  • How many SEO terms are used in your reviews. Google also trawls reviews for keywords to make sure that results are tailored to the search that the user has performed. The more keywords your reviews have, the more likely it is that your business will be displayed.
  • How SEO-friendly your website is. Google also wants to ensure that it is sending customers to sites that are user-friendly and popular, so it is crucial to have an optimised and accessible site for your results to send potential customers to.

Look out for the second part of this article for more information about the SEO benefits of customer reviews, and how you can use these interactions to boost your business.

Get in touch

Online reviews are proven lead generators, and are essential as part of your online visibility strategy. Talk to one of our account managers to see how we can help with promoting your website and company. Give us a call on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk to find out more.

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