Why are online reviews important? One word (well, acronym, if you must): SEO.
Impact on Local Search Results Ranking
Online reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings. Even if your website and other online content are up to SEO standards, negative reviews can hurt your rankings. The quality and quantity of reviews on Google is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO.
Aside from Google reviews, online reviews can be made on a lot of platforms - on social media, online directories, Yelp, Amazon, and TripAdvisor, among many others. All of these make an impact on your search rankings. These reviews will help Google determine how your business is perceived and how well it is doing. The more positive reviews you have, the more Google will likely to recommend your business and put you in the top spot.
Impact on Purchasing Decisions
90% of consumers read reviews before making a buying decision. Nothing is more influential than testimonials and reviews. They are honest statements from third-party users and are generally unbiased.
Think of online reviews as online word of mouth. If you come across a product or a brand that you don’t know much about, do you instantly trust it? Before making a decision, you will want to read about it and find out if it’s any good and lives up to its promise.
As an example, from personal experience, last year, I was booking our holiday to Bali. I knew the location we wanted to stay in, but it was somewhere we hadn’t been before. I had certain criteria I wanted in a hotel and narrowed down the options to four hotels. I then took to Google and TripAdvisor to look at the reviews. The good, bad, and indifferent reviews helped me to finally select our hotel.
The bad reviews aren’t ultimately a deal breaker to me, because it depends on what was being complained about in the review and how well the hotel responded. In the end, the hotel we stayed at was perfect and had everything we wanted.
Impact of Negative Reviews
You risk losing up to 22% of your customers when they read one negative review about you. And that’s just one! Three negative reviews may result in losing about 60% of your customers. Four or more negative reviews that will appear in Google search results may cost you 70% of your potential customers. With how easy it is now to share information online, and with everyone being on social media, word of mouth spreads more quickly than ever before.
Even a successful business can be easily ruined by one negative review. This can lead to more irate customers agreeing with that one review and add their negative experience. Not only will this hurt your SEO ranking, but your sales and reputation as well.
How to Get Positive Reviews
First and most important of all, make sure that your products and services are great to get the reviews you want! This includes providing great customer service to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers and gain new ones.
Encourage your customers to leave their reviews by providing a link via email after they have purchasing a product or service. Enable the review function on your social media pages and you can also include it in your website.
A Word of Warning
Don’t buy fake reviews or have friends and family create them! Doing this isn’t just unethical, but Google will also find out if you have fake reviews and will remove you from local search results.
Furthermore, there are also many countries where fake reviews are illegal. In Australia, businesses with fake reviews risk breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The damage this will cause to your reputation will be heavier than the temporary boost in ratings - definitely not worth it.
Ultimately, reviews increase sales, build credibility, improve SEO, and drive traffic to your website.