92% of Customers Read Online Reviews to Judge Local Business: How This Impacts Your Sales & Conversions

How Online Reviews Influence Your Business Performance

How many of you buy a product or hire a local cleaning agency, for example, online without checking their reviews or their star ratings? I am guessing the majority would answer with a big no. And that’s what BrightLocal's survey found out too. 92% of the people surveyed would always or occasionally read online reviews to evaluate a local business before they make a buying decision.

do consumers read online reviews to detemine if a local business is a good business

Also, Dimension Search’s survey shared similar results where 90% of the folks said that positive online reviews influence their purchase decision. Dimension search positive online reviews influence customer purchase decision Online reviews, I quote Moz’s post here, are “insanely powerful” and have a huge impact on your business conversions. They certainly have the power to influence online business reputation. So, without any ado, let’s start this post. Here’s what the post will explore.

  • How online reviews are influencing your customers,
  • how they are using it to make their purchasing decision and
  • How you should strategize your local marketing campaign to ensure your consumers are happy and leave more positive reviews.

Stats: Why customer reviews are important and do they really use them to evaluate a product or a local business?

It is clear from BrightLocal’s survey that 92% of people read online reviews but do they really use them and if yes, then how? Customer reviews, good or bad, can make or break a company. Listening to what a customer says is crucial for any business since it helps improve your product or services. Online reviews impact your online reputation too, with people trusting a business based on good value, reliability and professionalism instead of expertise. which-reputation-attribute-consumers-see-when-selecting-local-business Consumers read and use business reviews in a variety of ways as revealed by the survey. Things like quantity of star rating, reputation of the business, recency of the business review matters a lot.

Here are the stats:

Star rating is the most sought after factor when it comes to evaluating a local business. which factors-do-customers-pay-attention-to-when-judging-local-business The survey also discloses the fact that with time, consumers are taking less and less time evaluating a business. In the survey, 88% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before they formed any kind of opinion about a local business. how-many-reviews-consumers-read-before-trusting-a-local-business Local business reviews are continuously getting more and more important. That means those businesses, which still ignore reviews, are also ignoring their potential customers.

How does “more star ratings” benefit your Local SEO strategy?

I would open this with an interesting series of tests done by Casey Meraz. He tested the impact of the new 3 local snack pack and how would users react to the same. Interestingly, in the second test, people seemed to click on the local business listing with more reviews and star ratings than the one with none. where-people-click-after-the-new-local-snack-pack Moz’s local search ranking factor study also suggests that online reviews contribute to 8.4% of the total. Moz's Local Ranking factors The data from these two clearly suggests how online reviews are dominating local search.

Here’s how online reviews benefit your local SEO efforts:

Better local search ranking in Google’s local snack pack – There are literally hundreds of listing and review sites out there including Yelp, Superpages, TrustLink and what not. Apart from Google My Business listings for your business, Google considers third party sites as well. If you have great reviews in sites like Yelp, Trustlink, etc (doesn’t mean you start pushing fake reviews), Google might reward you with a visible ranking in the snack pack.

Improved ranking in organic Google listing

Increase in Click Through Rate – I am going to bring the study from Casey Meraz back again here. In all the three tests, apart from the organic listing, the local result with the most reviews and stars attracted more searchers. As a small business operating online, online reviews can help get the competitive edge. Now, we are going to put forward a few steps to get more quality customer reviews.

How to get more customer reviews without annoying them

Now when you know the importance of online reviews for a business, it is time you start getting some good positive reviews. However, this is not an easy piece of cake as it seems. You would ask a customer, they leave a happy smile emoticon with a review and you become the greatest business.

1. First, be a great business.

If you are good at what you do and if your customers are satisfied with you, they will for sure give their feedback if asked. However, you need to provide them a way to convey their feelings toward a product or your services. So, first off, finding review sites to list your business. There are plenty of the most common ones, including Google My Business and Yelp that apply to every business. Here are some great ones

However, do not limit yourselves to these sites. A quick search with “Industry + reviews” in Google will bring you more review sites to put your business on. However, don’t go for too many sites: try to list your local business on the most important ones.

2. Show great reviews on your website

Create a separate page on your website and show your greatest reviews with real people’s faces before every review. This helps people believe that you are good at what you do.

3. Asking for reviews, Great, but don’t forget to check out guidelines on review platforms.

Asking for reviews isn’t bad but some review sites like Yelp prohibit businesses from doing this. They believe that this will create a bias in the listing which their automated software doesn’t recommend.

4. Put up a badge on your website

Yelp and other review sites offer different badges to put up on your website. However, here also, Yelp doesn’t have a “we have this much rating at Yelp” kind of badge. Just login to Yelp or your favorite review site, get the badge code and put it up on your website.

5. Ask a consumer/patient for his feedback at the end of a transaction.

It is very important to take customer’s feedback after they have used their services. It helps your business to know what your strong or weak points are. After a consumer has used your services, you can ask for their rating as how they liked it or if they want to refer it to friends or other local business. Hand them out a review card or email one to them but make sure it has all the review platforms listed. This will ensure that customers can pick those sites where they are already registered. Additionally, tools like RepuGen can help you collect feedback from a consumer.

Online reviews are your customer’s voice, don’t ignore it.

Till now, you would have understood as to why you should work really hard to garner good reviews. The whole process might seem cumbersome and it sure is, but the benefits are really great. Do you have your review acquisition strategy yet?

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Ajay Prasad

Ajay Prasad is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading healthcare digital marketing agency. He guides small and medium size healthcare practices/businesses in customizing their online marketing strategy, focused on building a loyal base of patients and improving their patient acquisition. Ajay believes in an improved patient experience as the key to successful healthcare business, which can be accomplished with the right marketing plan in place.