How Can Online Reviews Impact My Business?

Reviews have always been extremely important for local businesses. Imagine a friend tells you, “Avoid that restaurant – I saw a mouse run across the floor.” You probably wouldn’t go there anytime soon, would you? But if they say, “I had the best meal of my life there!”, you might look into making reservations that weekend. This says a lot about the power of reviews. Of course, we’re comparing recommendations from a friend versus online reviews – there’s a huge difference between those… Or is there?

In this blog, we’ll explore how online reviews have become the number one trusted source for local business recommendations for tens of millions of consumers across the United States – and how you can leverage that into success for your business. 

How Have Reviews Changed Over the Years?

Woman leaving a review for a local business

The biggest change in the last thirty years is where people get reviews. In the pre-internet days, you might read reviews in books, magazines, or newspapers. Maybe you’d look into your town’s local Better Business Bureau. Let’s say you were looking for a reliable plumber. If you knocked on your neighbor’s door seeking a recommendation and they had one for you, you were likely to take it. Why? Because you trusted your neighbor.

These days, most people get their reviews from the internet. And when we say “most,” we mean pretty much everyone. According to some researchers, up to 97% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses.

This is the type of stat that should give you pause. 97% is an astounding number. You couldn’t get that many people to agree on whether cookies smell delicious coming out of the oven. In a world where it’s nearly impossible to get nearly everybody to agree on anything, online reviews are a rare common denominator.

Google Wants to Be Your Trusted Neighbor

Google has stepped in and taken the place of the trusted neighbor. Instead of giving you a single recommendation that’s intended just for you, they’ll give you a list of businesses that fit the parameters you’re searching for, allowing you to choose the best fit from there. But here’s the thing – hardly anyone reads beyond the first page of search results, and Google knows this, so it always puts its best recommendations at the top of the results.

How do they go about picking the best recommendations? Since Google can’t experience getting a leaky pipe fixed or the joy of tasting a delicious pizza, it can’t make firsthand recommendations. The best it can do is secondhand recommendations. Yep, reviews.

Broadly speaking, the local businesses you find on the first results page are the ones that are closest in proximity and/or have the best reviews. Feel free to experiment and see for yourself. Search “restaurant” or “dentist”, then switch to the Map view. You’ll see the businesses on the first results page are either close in proximity, or if they’re a little bit further, they have very good reviews. Click to Page 2 and you’ll notice the businesses are a little bit further away or the reviews are worse. Page 3 and 4 quickly turn into a wasteland of sketchy businesses that make you want to say, “Maybe I don’t need this.”

Google has a vested interest in making sure the best businesses are at the top of rankings. If not, searchers would lose trust in Google and its traffic would drop. And trust me when I say Google does not want its traffic to drop.

Why Online Reviews are Even More Important Than You Think

One great review doesn’t mean much. One bad review doesn’t mean much either. But if Google sees that a restaurant gets four and five-star ratings night after night, month after month, it can surmise that, hey, this restaurant is really good and maybe you should check it out sometime.

Yes, you need great reviews. You need lots of reviews. You need lots of great reviews. This is how Google gains the confidence to recommend your business to thousands of local searchers in your area.

Better rankings through better business reviews - City Ranked

And not only do you need lots of good reviews to give Google the confidence to recommend you, you also need lots of reviews to convince customers too. According to a survey, the average consumer reads ten online reviews before they decide to trust a business. Also, consumers can have different opinions on how to use online reviews. For example, many consumers will filter by negative reviews first to get a sense of the business’s weaknesses – and what the negative reviews say can be even more important than what the positive reviews say. Additionally, some consumers won’t trust a business if it doesn’t have a proportionate number of negative reviews. So, there’s no reason to be concerned about any kind of review – positive or negative – and all the more reason to try to get as many reviews as possible.

The Positive Review Success Loop

Here’s the best thing about online reviews. Once they start rolling in, it can turn into a positive feedback loop that will put your business over the top – and keep it there.

Here’s how it works:

  1. A critical mass of positive reviews will start pushing your business up the search rankings.
  2. More people see your business because it’s higher in the rankings and more people do business with you because your rating is high.
  3. With more new customers, it’s much easier to acquire more positive reviews, which will continue pushing you up the rankings, and ensure your business is seen.

Summit Makes Acquiring Reviews Easy

Some businesses will rise to new heights of success because of online reviews, and some will struggle because they were too slow to realize how important online reviews should be to their marketing strategy. Here’s the hard truth that some businesses are failing to grasp at this moment. You can’t opt out of online reviews. If you try to ignore them or pretend it’s not happening, all you’re doing is handing your competitors a huge advantage. 

The best thing you can do is take control of your narrative by taking a bigger part in collecting reviews. Summit gives you the ability to do just that. Call us today and learn how Summit can transform how your business is seen online.

How Can Online Reviews Impact My Business? in Vancouver WA - Portland OR - Nationwide

City Ranked is a Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency with Clients in Oregon, Washington & Select Industries Nationwide:

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