Online reviews and ratings have an effect on search rankings and customer acquisition. This is particularly important nowadays, as more and more businesses embark on a digital journey. The trend of digitalizing will only go up.
However, going digital means taking into account many other things – such as receiving feedback online, communicating with the customers online, and building a comprehensive digital brand.
One thing remains unchanged though. Customer feedback has always played a crucial role in the customer decision-making process. Now, when businesses move online, leaving customer feedback has never been easier.
As a consumer survey, conducted by Fan & Fuel, indicates, 97% of customers admitted that customer reviews play a role in their buying decisions, and 92% of consumers would hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews.
Rethinking the role online reviews
Google search engine has evolved dramatically over the years. What was supposedly easy hacks to rank your website in the first place, today will bring no results. One of the main reasons for the evolution of how Google indexes web pages is driven by customer experience.
Google is all about customer experience. The last thing Google wants is for its customer to spend (or rather waste) a lot of time trying to find something online. That’s why the positioning of your web page on the search really depends on the experience that the user has.
Essentially, reviews are an indication of the quality of products or services one can expect. Therefore, they start to play an important role in Google’s assessment of your business.
Moving forward, businesses should consider the relationship between marketing and customer experience. They should think in terms of reputation and customer experience management.
There are three interconnected ways that marketers should look at business reputation management online:
Be found: Google explains that high-quality, positive customer reviews will increase brand visibility and improve the chances of customers visiting your web page. This is where Google My Business (GMB) comes in critically important. Brands must ensure that the information (such as opening hours, location, contact details, etc.) is accurate, complete, and optimized. It is particularly important today, where customers like dealing with businesses digitally. If your GMB is not accurate, this may result in poor reviews, which will affect your overall branding.
Be chosen: Great reviews and ratings are amongst the top reasons why consumers choose one business over another. The same goes for B2B brands – potential work partnerships and business clients may also prefer doing business with someone who has great reviews. 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019. Nevertheless, aside from commonly known review sites, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Glassdoor, Foursquare, etc. social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) are a source of peer-to-peer reviews. Which only explains why having good reviews is essential if you want your business to get chosen.
Be better: frequently, businesses tend to ignore their ratings and reviews online as they assume the feedback given is illegitimate. “Oh, these are only my competitors writing negative stuff”, claim many business owners. But this is a wrong approach. Negative feedback can harm your business growth and the feedback shared should always be addressed. Sometimes, marketing and customer support teams work in silos, which results in the feedback seldom being shared to respective teams for further investigation. Feedback should be taken as a stepping stone for improvement.
Do online reviews affect your local SEO?
Yes, search engines will take into account the online reviews when ranking your web page for keywords. Why? Well, essentially, both reviews and SEO have the same purpose. A search engine wants to help its users to find the most relevant product, service, or information in the most seamless way possible; while reviews give an indication of good or bad and help consumers find the best business for their needs.
As a result, a search engine would take into account high-ranking, good-quality reviews. A four- or five-star review indicates to the search engine that it can confidently propose the business as premium and highly reliable.
A number of studies have shown that having a lot of positive reviews will have an impact on local SEO. The data shows that if you’re trying to rank well in local search, your business is likely to achieve higher positions if you have plenty of reviews, with both the city and keyword you wish to rank for included.
A study by Yotpo has also shown tremendous growth in organic traffic for 30,000 surveyed businesses that implemented online reviews as a marketing strategy.
The graph above is self-explanatory. The introduction of online reviews had a tremendous impact on organic growth.
However, if you need further convincing – here it goes. A site’s reputation on sites like Yelp.com, Google My Business, even social media likely plays an important role in Google’s algorithm. Even though a while ago, Google posted a rarely candid outline of how they use online reviews to assist in webpage ranking. It happened after one site was caught ripping off customers in an effort to get press and links.
How can you get online reviews?
Some business types can get online reviews very easily. In fact, the most reviewed businesses are within F&B, hospitality, health, IT; however, for some, it can be challenging. These are some of the tips on what you can do to promote your brand and get positive reviews from your customers.
As simple as it is, asking for reviews often works out. Did you have a customer who is very satisfied with your product or service, drop a message and ask to share their good experience with others. Instead of waiting for customers to volunteer a review, you can ask customers if they would like to leave one on a site of your choosing – one study found that 68% of customers will leave a review if they’re asked.
Never offer discounts or money for good reviews. This is unethical and if you’re caught doing it, it will negatively impact your brand and customer trust.
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