The Importance of Online Reviews
Your company is online to tell a story. Ideally, you’re in control of that narrative — finely crafting a story that resonates with customers and a brand presence that backs this up with every interaction. But even if you’re diligent with digital marketing, you can only control part of the conversation. If you’re not, the story is being told online without you. Online reviews and ratings are not only a huge part of how customers see your brand, they can make or break it as well. Reviews are the new word of mouth, one that spreads at the speed of the Internet.
So why are your online ratings so important to your business?
Because people use and rely on them.
According to the 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal, a whopping 9 out of 10 consumers use online ratings to help determine whether they visit a local business or not. Even more startling is that only 12 percent do not use ratings in their decision-making process. Almost three-fourths will take action after a positive review.
Because ratings are a huge part of your online reputation, which these days is your reputation.
When people think of online ratings, they almost immediately think of Yelp. But there are a lot of other places where people can and do provide an unedited opinion of your business. The impression that people get there is your reputation.
Many businesses succeed or fail based on ratings within smaller, niche review sites dedicated to a particular industry. Houzz.com, for example, has about 20 million users reviewing only things pertaining to your house, from landscape architecture to cleaning services. There are literally hundreds of smaller review sites on the Internet.
Because ratings are a huge part of Search Engine Optimization – the primary way you are found.
Potential customers find you by searching online. Whatever pops up tells them everything they think they need to know to make a decision about your company. Review content is a highly weighted variable in search results, affecting where and how you show up. Google’s algorithm favors companies with a larger quantity and better quality of online reviews over those with less, displaying these as initial organic results. Google even includes their own reviews right within their search results.
Notice that Google then displays search results from within ratings sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor as top results. In many cases, the entire first page of search results can be dominated by content from review sites. Since users rarely go beyond the first page of results in their research, the impression they get from that search is generally enough for them to make a decision.
Because review content is syndicated to other platforms, particularly apps.
Users are affected by online ratings at almost every digital touchpoint. Reviews are not only shared extensively through social media, they are embedded in some of the most popular social platforms, including Facebook and Google+. All of these mentions are also picked up by search engines as well.
Google ratings, part of the Google+ platform, are one of the most important review destinations outside of Yelp because of their strong connection to Google’s search algorithm. And not only within its own search engine but anywhere that content is repurposed. Apps that people use everyday to find businesses use repurposed and syndicated review content, whether they are review apps such as Yelp or the map app in a mobile device. Beyond using review platforms as methods of search themselves, potential customers come into contact with review content within everyday apps. Consider the following screens from a search for “Greek Food San Diego” on an iPhone’s map app – notice the prominence of Yelp review ratings within map results. Notice also that because Meze has 636 reviews that it shows up first.
Lots of other people use Google Maps on the go, including anyone with an Android device. Let’s have a look at what happens to the same search there.
Google Maps even allows you to filter the map results by their review ratings!
Overall, most companies want to build and protect their reputation and so do we. With proprietary tools and techniques for maintaining your company’s online presence, RatingsMax is your partner in review management. Use our unique dashboard to monitor ratings, or have one of our senior staff handle everything for you. Our reports and notifications let you know immediately when you are reviewed, across multiple platforms. We have nine unique ways to drive new and positive ratings, ones that you can then share through your social media channels.
Review content is one of the most powerful mechanisms for boosting awareness of your business. It’s a huge part of your brand identity and speaks to your credibility. That’s why ratings and reviews are so important to your business.