Online reviews are based off experiences from your customers. It might seem crazy that one experience can make or break your business growth, but it’s true. Online reviews actually matter, and here are four reasons why you should pay attention to them:

1. Reviews are like Close Friends – They’re Trustworthy

People who leave reviews have nothing to gain or lose. They had an experience, good or bad, and want to share it. And guess what? People are going to listen. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation from someone they know. And, review sites have made an even bigger push to keep reviews unbiased in recent years. For example, Yelp now displays a little warning on a page that they’ve found to be soliciting reviews from customers. If you are encouraging customers on your site to leave reviews, you will receive a solicitation penalty warning for having untrustworthy reviews. To get this warning taken off, you will have to submit a compliance verification form for review. Yelp doesn’t tolerate anything less than authentic, and that’s probably why so many people trust strangers to make purchasing decisions for them!

2. Review Responses are Important

Not only do people pay attention to what others say about your business, but they are also watching how you handle it. Whether they are positive or negative reviews, does your business take the time to respond? 78% of consumers feel that a business cares about their consumers more if they respond to online reviews than if they do not.

So, how should you respond to reviews? Some important things to keep in mind include:

  1. Draft a response on a separate Word document to proofread before posting to keep your response cool, calm, and collected.
  2. If you’re responding to a negative review and there is an issue, take the review offline by inviting the reviewer to contact you directly.
  3. Follow up by talking with the reviewer or finding a way to improve your business in the future.

Your response to your reviews and how you handle them can be just as important as the reviews themselves!

3. Reviews Influence Search Engine Visibility

When you search for a business, it won’t take you long to find what others have to say about it. According to LocalSEO Guide, online reviews and specific keywords influence local search engine visibility more than any other factor. How? Well, reviews create content that’s user-generated which means it’s beneficial for future customers. They were first buyers of your product, so they know what future buyers want to hear and the questions they will ask. This puts your target audience on a consistent flow of keywords and, if those reviews are positive, will help boost your social reach.

This also plays into your overall web presence. You don’t want incorrect or outdated information about your business floating around the web – you want your prospects and customers to have a good experience with you no matter where they’re interacting (or trying to interact) with your business. And, keeping your name, address, and phone number consistent across the web not only presents a consistent presence for your consumers, it can also help your business perform better in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

4. Reviews Impact Purchasing Decisions

There’s just something about reading insight from someone’s experience at a business before you try it out yourself. 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. Before buying a product, eating at a new restaurant, or doing business with a company, people read reviews from competitors and take them into consideration.

Think about it: You’re visiting a new city for the first time and turn to your closest friend for a lunch recommendation (that closest friend being no other than, you guessed it, Yelp). You narrow your choices down to two Italian restaurants that are equal in the number of positive reviews, but only one restaurant took the time to respond to the positive feedback. And because 78% of people think review responses are important, I think we both know which restaurant to choose!

So the answer is yes, online reviews actually matter and can be the deciding factor between you and your competitor. To grow your business and maintain a positive reputation, keeping up with the online presence of your business is crucial. If you’re unsure how to get started, contact LOCALiQ. We’re here to help!

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