How Online Reviews Help Local Businesses (and 4 Ways to Get More)
Online reviews can play a crucial role in the success of local brick-and-mortar businesses. With more people relying on the internet to find information about products and services, online review hubs can provide valuable insight into the quality of a brand’s offerings. Reviews can build trust and credibility with potential customers and offer an opportunity to address any issues.
In addition to providing social proof, online reviews can impact a business’s visibility on search engines. Platforms like Google and Bing account for the number and quality of reviews when determining the relevance and authority of a brand’s website. This means that businesses with a positive online reputation and presence are more likely to appear at the top of search engine results, making them more accessible to potential customers.
Reviews can be a powerful tool for brick-and-mortar businesses looking to attract and retain customers. By encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and addressing negative feedback, companies can build a positive online reputation that translates into real-world success. Read on to learn more about how these review platforms can help your business and ways to get more reviews below.
How Online Reviews Can Benefit Your Business
Provide Social Proof
When potential customers are considering buying a product, they often look for proof that others have had a positive experience with the same brand. Reviews are a powerful tool for providing social proof, as they allow previous customers to share their thoughts with others.
Displaying positive reviews prominently on your website or social media channels can help build trust and credibility with new customers or clients. In many scenarios, seeing that others have had a good experience with your business can be the extra nudge someone needs to make a purchase.
Build Brand Credibility
Online reviews also help establish a brand’s credibility. When you respond to reviews – both positive and negative – it shows that you care about your customers and their experiences. Responding to negative reviews in a professional and helpful manner can even turn a negative experience into a positive one, as customers will see that you want to do whatever it takes to make things right.
Having a higher number of positive reviews than your competitors in the same space can help your business stand out. If someone is comparing your business to another, seeing that you have many more positive reviews and have helped resolve any customer issues in the case of negative reviews can make a huge difference.
Speak to Your Customers Directly
Finally, online reviews provide a valuable opportunity to reach customers where they are. Reading and responding to reviews will enable you to gain insights into what your customers like and dislike about your business and use that information to improve. You can also use reviews to highlight areas where your product or service excels and resolve common concerns.
Notable Online Review Sites
To improve the online presence of your business, as well as its reputation, you need to be where your customers are. While there are several different industry-specific platforms, there are three that remain a top choice for users looking for general information about a business close to them. Read more about the big three review sites for local establishments below.
Google offers Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) as a tool for businesses to manage their business listing and get more reviews. On the platform, you can enable direct messaging, answer customer questions, and respond to reviews. Google is currently the most popular review site by volume and usage, so it goes without saying that you should have your business listed on Google and work on consistently getting Google reviews from your customers.
Yelp is another platform that all local businesses should keep an eye on. Yelp is one of the original review hubs and remains a popular source for people looking to get the lowdown on businesses near them. However, you should know that Yelp’s review filter is notoriously strict and tends to promote negative reviews, so getting Yelp reviews from your happy customers consistently is critical for your business’s online presence.
Facebook’s review platform has changed over the years. The tab is still called “Reviews” on your business page, but not long ago, they switched from the standard 5-star system to a thumbs up (“recommend”)/thumbs down (“don’t recommend”) system. Since most people have an account and actively use it, it’s relatively easy to use Facebook for business and get reviews for your local business to boost its presence.
4 Ways to Get More Reviews and Improve Your Online Reputation
Being proactive can help you shape the way people think and talk about your business, and it starts online. Here are four ways to put you on the fast track to getting more reviews and improving your online reputation.
1. Create a New Website (or Update Your Existing Site)
If you don’t already have a website, you should make one as soon as possible. Having an online presence is essential to a good SEO (search engine optimization) strategy and makes it easier for potential customers to find out about your business. Typically, the more traffic your site receives online, the higher your website will rank in local search engines, meaning that when customers search for a business like yours, your website will be high in the list of search results.
If you already have a website, think about updating it to give it a fresh look. Keeping your site both current and functional is important for users. Additionally, having fresh content can help you rank highly in search engine results as well. Once you have a functional site, share the link on your business social media profile. Again, this makes it easy for potential customers to find you. As mentioned above, you’ll also want to include your website link in your business’s online review sites listings, such as Google Business Profile and Yelp.
2. Optimize Your Profiles on Review Sites
According to a recent survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, so you must optimize your presence on review sites.
Look at the major online review sites (Google, Yelp, Facebook) as well as any niche review sites for your industry (Avvo, Angie’s List, Healthgrades, etc.), but don’t feel obligated to create a listing on every review site. The three majors and any important niche review sites related to your industry of business should be your focus.
Claiming your business page (or creating one if it’s not already there) is the first step.
By proving that you’re affiliated with the business and authorized to post on its behalf, you’ll gain access to your business’s page on these review sites. From there, you can edit the page and, in some cases, respond to customers who post reviews. Additionally, if someone posts something that’s offensive or untrue, you’ll have the standing to try to get the post removed.
3. Manage the Conversation
It’s a good idea to visit review sites to check for any new activity regularly. On sites that allow you to respond directly to reviewers, leave a quick note of thanks under positive feedback to reinforce the idea that you’re committed to customer satisfaction.
You may occasionally receive some lukewarm or negative reviews. Decide whether you’ll respond to negative feedback and commit to that decision. Addressing each negative review may help you convert unhappy customers into happy ones – but this task can be time-consuming, and you must strike the right tone to ensure you don’t come off as flippant or cold.
If you’re a medical or healthcare professional, you may want to avoid responding publicly to any online reviews to avoid any risk of breaching patient privacy laws.
It’s also a good idea to monitor your reviews so you can look for any that are inaccurate or include offensive language or personal information. Depending on the review site, you may be able to get a review removed.
4. Systemize the Approach With ReputationStacker
Creating a site (or keeping your existing site updated), optimizing your review site profiles, training your staff, and responding to customer feedback can take a lot of work and coordination. After putting in the initial set-up of your online business profiles, you can make the process of maintaining a positive online reputation easier by using an automated system like ReputationStacker.
With ReputationStacker, you can sit back and watch your customers respond to a single-question survey via email or text. The survey automatically directs them to the online review sites that are most important to your business so that they can post a review. Automatic email and text reminders are sent to your customers who haven’t posted a review to ensure you get the most reviews possible.
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.