Reviews and Brand Reputation
Reviews are absolutely critical in showing up at the top of local search results. And more than that, they are a key driver of business. Some 90% of people check reviews before they come to your place of business. 72% say they trust businesses with plentiful and good reviews more, with 88% saying they trust online reviews as much as they would a recommendation from someone they know.
Two Kinds of Reviews.
First-party reviews are reviews that you collect on your own website. They influence consumers by showing that other people have done business with you and are willing to share their (hopefully positive) experience with other. Search engine algorithms look at these reviews the same way—proving you have happy and engaged customers. What matters is how you gather those reviews. Google can figure out pretty well if you are posting fake reviews for yourself. Using a review system plug-in on your site that has built-in SEO helps Google assess your reviews and show them in search results. Having five stars by your listing dramatically increases clicks for more visitors and hopefully more sales.
Websites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s list and reviews on a social media profile are considered third-parties. Reviews on these sides add credibility because you have little control over what is said, offering an objective view. Most review sites have algorithms that rate the quality and trustworthiness of reviews. They are just as good as Google at spotting fake reviews or companies trying to game the system. Google gives special weight to third party review sites, often putting your page on such sites within the top ten search results. It is vital that you take an active role in managing third-party reviews.
How Potential Customers Use Reviews
Customers are as savvy as third-party sites and Google when assessing the objectivity and trustworthiness of reviews. You even see people can review and rate the reviews! Customers don’t just look for five stars. They want to see lots of reviews that come in at a steady rate. Seeing a bunch of five star reviews all posted at once is pretty fishy.
The majority of searchers look at third-party reviews first, but a full 47% also look at reviews on your site. They should be in harmony. A bunch of positive reviews on your site are not as believable when third party sites give you three stars. That can seriously harm your credibility.
Customers don’t just read the reviews—they look for how you respond. Did you respond to a negative review? Did you help that customer or try to tell them how wrong they are? A negative review can have positive effect with the right response. Think of reviews as a way to communicate one-on-one with customers—but with an audience. Be helpful, positive, and responsive—really try to fix the problem and avoid being defensive. You might inspire a customer to change their review—it doesn’t hurt to ask. Try to stop bad reviews in the first place. If you suspect you have an unhappy customer, address them directly and immediately. You could turn that potential one star into five.
The thing with reviews today, someone or something is always watching. Google, Bing, and Yahoo bots are tracking your reputation as closely as your customers. Take an active role in listening, responding, and, indeed, asking for a positive review.