Word of mouth used to be one of the only business marketing methods. While people will still choose one business over another because of a friend or family member’s personal recommendation, it’s very likely they may also seek out online reviews. Because of the increasing pervasiveness of the internet in our everyday lives, it’s essential that your business has an online presence and reputable reviews for when potential customers inevitably search for you online.
Potential customers also look for reviews offsite, such as on sites like Amazon, Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google when deciding whether to purchase your products or services. In fact, 90% of consumers read online reviews about a business before visiting and 88% of consumers trust them as much as a personal recommendation. Some won’t even consider purchasing a product or service if there are no reviews!
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SeoTuners offers the following 5 reasons why authentic online reviews are essential to your business strategy:
Increase Your Conversion Rate
How can reviews be so trusted and crucial to businesses when they are almost always posted by complete strangers? The key to increasing your conversion rates with reviews is to ensure those reviews are authentic, diverse, and detailed and taken from trustworthy sources.
Note that we didn’t include the word “positive” on this list. Having some bad reviews as opposed to all positive ones can actually increase your conversion rate more. Research suggests that consumers are more likely to trust reviews when there are both good and bad comments, while some even suspect censorship or faked reviews when there are no negative reviews at all.
There are services that offer ‘fake’ reviews in exchange for payment, but these can be damaging to your long-term business reputation, raise suspicion among consumers, and cause you to miss out on potential business growth and important intel.
Strive to obtain as many authentic reviews as possible and don’t worry so much about the bad ones—they will make the good ones seem more legitimate. Rather than deleting or challenging negative reviews, consider responding to them sympathetically and specifically addressing the concerns brought up to put a positive spin on the way your company handled criticism.
Improve Your Organic Search Rankings and SEO
Of course, this is our number one priority—it’s no surprise that organic reviews have an excellent effect on your SEO rankings. If you have reviews posted on your website, they are unique and informative content that will give your brand authority, relevance, and potential keyword boosts. Reviews can help your visitors find your site organically and optimize click-through rates.
External reviews on sites such as Google, Amazon, Trip Advisor, or Yelp can also boost your SEO rankings. Google’s local search algorithm incorporates all these reviews in its search result listings, and each Google update seems to only increase the weight of these reviews. There’s even a way for you to microformat reviews on your site so that Google can index and use them more effectively for search queries.
Build Trust & Credibility for Your Brand
Reviews for products and services go beyond specifics and give a reflection of the overall quality of your business brand. If you have a consistent history of generating thorough, authentic, and generally positive reviews for your products and services, you will generate trust and credibility for your brand that will span to increased conversions, SEO rankings, and client preference. Consumers are more likely to choose a business with reviews over one with no reviews and are certainly more likely to choose a business with overwhelmingly positive reviews.
However, receiving negative reviews is an opportunity to reflect your customer service skills and show consumers how you handle criticism with grace. If you have a habit of responding promptly to reviews and offering opportunities for reconciliation, you’re creating trust. Even if a customer is not completely satisfied with your services, you still want to hear about their experience and attempt to fix their issue.
Keep Up with the Competition
You need to get intel on your competitors in an ethical and authentic way. Conduct a regular audit of your major competitors online reviews including:
- The overall amount of reviews they have
- The ratio of positive/negative reviews
- The amount of detail and length of each review
- How many reviews are listed in search results
- If (and how) the competitor responds to reviews
This will give you a benchmark of what you should be looking to achieve with your own goals for reviews. But in the interest of going above and beyond your competition, you can also assess things like:
- Repeated issues, concerns, or complaints from clients
- If business is declining or increasing
- Repeated desires of clients
Determining the areas where your competitors might be lacking is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your own services. For example, if clients of a competitor repeatedly report feeling frustrated about a lack of communication with your competitor, you might consider coming up with a method to address communication with your clients that can be advertised and marketed.
You could promise new clients that if you don’t communicate with them on a (daily, weekly, or monthly) basis, you will reduce part of their bill or offer an additional service. Add a catchy phrase to it, and you have yourself a marketing strategy!
Alternatively, if you find multiple reviews wishing your competition provided a specific service, consider whether you might be able to provide that service and market to this overlooked niche.
Improve Your Business
A strategy of obtaining as many authentic reviews as possible and prioritizing them in your business strategy can not only increase business; it can also improve it.
Do not fall for the allure of paying for fake reviews—because this can not only damage your reputation but also prevent you from achieving growth from interacting with negative reviews and turning them into positive ones.
Consumers are often able to tell real reviews from fake ones, and if you’re doing your job right, you should have no shortage of clients willing to offer authentic reviews.
Encourage your clients to review your product or service honestly and assure them that you truly want to know how you can improve. Make it a priority to read new reviews that come in and consider creating a system for obtaining new ones. You might consider creating an email to go out on a schedule to current clients inviting them to submit new reviews, or earmark it as a post-service wrap-up item.
With each update to Google’s local algorithm, it becomes more and more clear that reviews are key to Google search engine rankings. If you have authentic reviews, positive or negative, the data shows that more is always better and the amount of interaction you have with your reviews matters.
SEOTuners is well-versed in SEO and can help craft a custom, affordable solution for your business to increase exposure and SERP rankings. With affordable SEO solutions that include web design, social media, custom link building, SEO penalty recovery, and more, we’re confident we have a solution for all your marketing needs. Contact us today to learn about how we can boost your Google rankings.