Trends in Google Reviews: Harness Customer Feedback for Growth in 2024

Online reviews have become an invaluable part of the consumer journey over the past decade. With the rise of review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook, customers now have the ability to easily find and read reviews for local businesses before making a purchase decision. According to research, over 99% of consumers read online reviews before patronizing a business, making positive reviews an important factor for success.

For local and small businesses, reviews act as social proof and can have a big influence on converting new customers. They help build trust and credibility for unfamiliar brands. Reviews also play a key role in local SEO and search rankings. Given the impact reviews have on reputation and revenue, it’s crucial for local businesses to understand the latest trends and best practices when it comes to online reviews.

Online Review Usage Statistics

Online reviews have become an indispensable part of the consumer journey. According to studies, over 99.9% of customers read reviews before making a purchase online . The vast majority— 96%, specifically—look for negative reviews to get a balanced perspective.

When it comes to where consumers read reviews, Google reviews reign supreme, housing 73% of all online reviews. Facebook and Yelp follow at 15% and 7% respectively. Having a strong presence on Google My Business, with many positive reviews, is crucial for local businesses.

In terms of volume, businesses should aim for at least 30–50 reviews to appear credible and established. The average number of reviews on a Google My Business listing increased from 14 in 2017 to 33 in 2022.

Consumers depend on reviews more than ever before making a purchase decision. Seventy-two% say they won’t buy from a business that has no or poor online reviews . Younger demographics, like Millennials and Gen Z, rely the most on online reviews.

Review Impact on Purchase Decisions

Online reviews have a significant influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions, especially for local businesses. According to a 2022 eye-tracking study, online reviews affected participants’ visual attention and purchase intention . The study found that positive reviews attracted more visual attention and led to higher purchase likelihood.

Additional research shows that the presence of online reviews increases consumers’ trust and perceived usefulness of the business, making them more likely to make a purchase . For local businesses, reviews act as social proof and help consumers evaluate quality and reputation.

Positive online reviews also directly benefit local SEO and reputation. High ratings and review volume can improve local search rankings by signaling relevance and popularity to search engines. Negative reviews give businesses the chance to publicly respond and improve customer satisfaction.

According to BrightLocal’s 2022 Local Consumer Review Survey, 77% of consumers will actively change their perception of a business based on positive responses to negative reviews. This presents an opportunity for local businesses to turn detractors into promoters by handling criticism professionally and working to resolve issues.

Consumer usage and expectations surrounding online reviews continue to evolve rapidly. According to BrightLocal’s 2024 Local Consumer Review Survey, the percentage of consumers who read online reviews has increased to 97%, up from 93% in 2023. Additionally, 49% of consumers now say they feel more positive about a business when reviews are written by named users, indicating the desire for transparency and authenticity.

When searching for local businesses, review usage continues to be highest on Google Maps and search engines. The BrightLocal survey found 85% of consumers read Google Maps reviews before visiting or purchasing from a local business. Search engines like Google Search came in second at 77%. However, review usage on social media sites like Facebook is also growing, up to 47% in 2024.

Consumers increasingly expect to see strong review volume and presence across multiple sites. According to ReviewTrackers’s 2022 report, 88% of consumers believe a minimum of 10 reviews is necessary before trusting a business. And 50% say seeing consistent star ratings across sites gives them more confidence.

Overall, consumers are reading reviews across more platforms, caring more about authenticity and transparency, and setting higher expectations in terms of volume. Businesses that fail to meet these evolving standards risk losing customer trust and conversions.

Best Practices for Local Businesses

Local businesses need to take a proactive approach to managing their online reviews in order to maximize positive feedback and improve their reputation. Here are some best practices businesses should follow:

  • Proactively collect reviews—Don’t just wait for reviews to trickle in. Have a system for requesting reviews from happy customers via email and social media. Tools like Podium can help automate review collection.
  • Monitor review sites—Keep an eye on all the major review platforms like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. This allows you to respond promptly to any new reviews.
  • Respond professionally to reviews—Reply to each review, positive or negative. Thank happy customers and address constructive feedback from unsatisfied patrons.
  • Use reviews in marketing—Feature excerpts from positive reviews on your website, emails, and social media. This builds credibility.
  • Improve based on feedback—Analyze review trends to identify areas that need improvement. Implement changes to address customer concerns.

By putting these review best practices into action, local businesses can build a strong online reputation and leverage reviews for growth.

Leveraging Review Tools

With the importance of online reviews, local businesses can benefit greatly from leveraging tools that help automate and streamline the process of generating and managing reviews.

Tools like ReputationStacker allow businesses to easily collect reviews across multiple sites, respond efficiently, identify unhappy customers for outreach, and analyze review trends to uncover insights.

Key features of ReputationStacker include:

  • Review monitoring across 100+ sites including Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more.
  • Omnichannel review collection via email, SMS, web prompts, and more.
  • Intelligent response assistant for drafting personalized replies at scale.
  • Prioritized list of detractors to target for recovery.
  • Customizable review sites, user permissions, workflows, and reporting.

By leveraging the automation and optimization of ReputationStacker, local businesses can maximize positive reviews, identify and resolve customer issues, and ultimately boost their online reputation and local SEO.

Case Studies

Several businesses have seen impressive results by prioritizing online reviews and leveraging review management tools. Here are a few examples:

  • Modern Nursery, a boutique plant shop, saw a 23% increase in revenue after implementing an online review strategy with Reviews.io. By proactively requesting reviews and highlighting them on their website, Modern Nursery improved search rankings and conversions.
  • Garden Street Gin Club in the UK significantly increased brand awareness and trust by responding to each online review on platforms like Google and Facebook. This personalized engagement helped turn negative reviews into positive experiences for customers.
  • A reputable car dealership saw a 15% increase in sales after using Reputation.com to manage its online presence. By monitoring review sites, responding appropriately, and sharing positive feedback, the dealership improved its online reputation and credibility with customers.

These examples showcase the tangible impact proactive review management can have for local businesses across industries. Prioritizing reviews can pay dividends through better rankings, increased sales, improved customer loyalty, and a stronger brand reputation.

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways for local businesses looking to leverage online reviews are:

  • Focus on proactively collecting positive reviews. Use email, signage, social media, and conversations to politely ask happy customers to leave reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Tools like ReputationStacker can automate review collection across sites.
  • Monitor review sites regularly for new customer feedback. Set up alerts and check dashboards so you can stay on top of reviews.
  • Respond professionally to all reviews, negative and positive. Thank happy customers and offer apologies or solutions to unsatisfied ones. Platforms like ReputationStacker make responding at scale easy.
  • Use reviews in marketing materials and on your website to showcase your reputation. Curate excerpts from top reviews in ads, email newsletters, brochures, and on your home page.
  • Analyze review trends to find ways to improve. Look at recurring complaints or praise to double down on strengths and fix weaknesses.
  • Automate review generation, monitoring, and response with a tool like ReputationStacker. Save time while ensuring no feedback goes unnoticed.

Online reviews significantly influence how consumers perceive businesses today. By focusing on proactively managing your online reputation, you can use customer feedback to drive growth and success.

The Future of Online Reviews

Online reviews are expected to continue growing in importance for both consumers and businesses in the years ahead. According to one analysis, the volume of online reviews is estimated to increase by 20% year over year through 2025. As more commerce shifts online, consumers will increasingly rely on reviews when researching purchases.

Some key trends to watch in the future of online reviews include:

  • Increasing focus on review authenticity—Platforms will implement more sophisticated algorithms and policies to detect fraudulent or paid reviews.
  • Emergence of video reviews—Short video reviews are becoming popular, bringing reviews to life in a richer, more engaging format.
  • Continued growth of Google Reviews—With tight integration into Google Search and Maps, Google Reviews are poised to overtake platforms like Yelp in usage and importance.
  • Advances in personalization—Platforms will leverage data and AI to surface the most relevant reviews for each individual shopper.
  • New innovations for collecting reviews—Businesses will have more options like QR codes, text requests, and other seamless ways to gather customer feedback.

As the digital landscape evolves, online reviews will remain an essential tool connecting consumers to businesses. Companies that embrace reviews and integrate them into their strategy will have a competitive advantage in reaching and engaging customers online.

Online reviews have become a crucial factor for local businesses in today’s digital landscape. As the statistics and trends outlined in this article demonstrate, an overwhelming majority of consumers now read and rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions. Positive reviews boost local SEO rankings and reputation, while negative reviews can significantly deter potential customers if left unaddressed. It is imperative that local business owners make online reviews a top priority by proactively collecting them, monitoring review sites, responding professionally to all feedback, integrating reviews into their marketing, and leveraging tools to streamline review generation and management. The takeaway is clear—no local business can afford to ignore online reviews if they want to drive growth, improve customer experience, and build trust in the community. The future is bright for businesses who harness the power of reviews and arm themselves with the strategies and best practices covered here. The time is now to start focusing on online reviews as a core part of your local marketing strategy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.

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