It’s that time of year again. Time to sit back and reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments, how you got there, and most importantly express thanks for the things that helped pave the way. Hopefully, your business has been able to take advantage of the many benefits that building and managing online reviews can bring. If not, here’s a quick reminder of seven reasons you should be thankful for online reviews.
1. Boost local SEO
The way that consumers are searching for businesses has changed drastically over the past couple of years. Searches on mobile devices now exceed desktop searches, but the method for searching isn’t the only thing that has changed. Because of how accessible a smartphone can be, consumers are also conducting searches more often. These browsing sessions are typically very quick (Google calls them micro-moments), so that’s why it’s important your business is optimized to show up when customers are looking.
There are a number of steps your business can take to make sure it’s showing up at the top of local search rankings, including managing your online reviews. Below are four review factors Google takes into account when determining rank:
- Recency: How long ago was your last review? If it was more than a month, or even more than a week ago, you should find a way to encourage more of your customers to leave a review. Having recent reviews isn’t just important for local SEO purposes. It also helps with the credibility of your reviews. A recent survey found that 51% of respondents said that reviews older than one month were no longer relevant.
- Frequency: Google also factors in how often you are receiving new reviews. If they are only coming in intermittently, your local search ranking could suffer as a result.
- Quantity: How many reviews your business has matters both for search engines and to consumers researching your business. Think about it. Would you be more willing to purchase from a business that has a 5-star rating but only a few reviews, or a business with a 4.5-star rating with hundreds of reviews? The more reviews a business has, the more certain you can be of the accuracy of its rating.
- Quality: Finally, Google takes into account what a business’ overall star rating is. The best way to ensure your business has a high star rating is to focus on delivering a top-notch customer experience, and then making it as easy as possible for customers to review your business.
2. Improve trust and credibility
Online reviews also help build trust and credibility with consumers. In fact, 84% of consumers said that they now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. Additionally, that same survey found that 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
These stats are very telling. Today’s consumers are savvy, and they will take the time to research your business online before making a purchase. If they don’t like what they see or if your reviews make you look untrustworthy, you could lose business to the competition.
3. Provide actionable insights
Collecting customer feedback via online reviews can provide your business with a treasure trove of insights. This is important because those insights can help you quickly and efficiently identify potential problem areas and enable your team to fix those issues on the fly.
The key here is you need to be listening and engaged with your online reviews. If you aren’t going to use your online reviews to improve your business and make the experience better for your customers, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
4. Lift employee morale
One of the intangible benefits online reviews can provide is a boost to your employees’ morale. Who doesn’t like receiving a compliment when they do a good job? We recently received a note from one of our customers that said he loved reading online reviews about his business for purely selfish reasons. He said, “I have a huge ego and low self-esteem. Seeing my name in positive reviews always makes my day.”
If you are actively managing your online presence, you should look for instances where stellar employee performance is called out and highlight them at your next staff meeting. You can then share that information in staff meetings as a way to highlight hard-working, top-performing employees.
5. Influence purchase decisions
A study by Dimensional Research found that 90% of consumers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. And that goes for both positive and negative reviews. A study by BrightLocal found that only 13% of consumers would even consider a business with a 1-2 star rating. Regardless of whether your reviews are good, bad, or indifferent, they are going to have an impact on whether or not a customer does business with you. As a result, you should place an increased emphasis on securing more reviews from your customers.
6. Increase visibility
When building your online presence, your business shouldn’t just focus on Google or Facebook. You should take advantage of the numerous business directories and online review sites available to you. Claiming your listings and filling them with relevant information will help increase your visibility with potential customers.
Not every customer is going to strictly conduct research on the bigger review sites. Because of this, you’ll want to be able to be found wherever the customer is looking. For a comprehensive list of business directories, check out this post on Hubspot.
7. Help you better understand customers
Finally, online reviews give you a window into what your customers like and don’t like about your business. Having this understanding and knowledge about your customers can help you make informed decisions about the direction of your business.
Additionally, online reviews can help you identify customers who are willing to advocate for your business publicly. You can then reach out to these customers and see if they would be willing to be featured in a customer testimonial or other marketing activities. As mentioned previously, consumers place a lot of trust in referrals from their peers. Anytime you can incorporate real customers into your marketing, you definitely should.
Let Podium help build your online presence
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.