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    The importance of online reviews and how they affect your business

    21st August 2017

21st August 2017

The importance of online reviews and how they affect your business

Online reviews are important for a number of reasons and have major implications through their ability to affect your rankings in local search engines and consumers purchasing decisions. 90% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. This makes online reviews as critical to your local SEO strategy as link building and on-site optimisation.

How consumers use online reviews

Typically, by the time someone has started looking at reviews, they’ve already decided what they want and are now in the process of selecting a business to provide this for them.

The gap between reading a review and making a decision to purchase from a business is ridiculously small, and typically results in a yes/no decision almost immediately. So as a small business, your online reputation can directly influence your bottom line.

How online reviews impact local SEO

Local searches are highly impacted by online reviews for one primary reason, consumers love online reviews. Search engines strive on providing people on-the-go or at home with the most accurate information to help them predict and make decisions around their future purchases. The faster they can do that, the more consumers will turn to them time and time again.

According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Here’s a pie chart they provide to visually break down the different variables:

Online reputation management

You’re probably wondering how to respond if you happen to get a negative review, but before that I recommend getting set up on a service like Google Alerts to get notified every time your business is mentioned online so you can take a more proactive approach to online reputation management.

Your first instinct might be to contact the review platform and request that they take down the review, but before doing that, it might be worthwhile to listen to what Deanna Yick, spokesperson for Google Places has to say about that:

“Reviews are a form for users to share both positive and negative opinions. We do not arbitrate disputes and more than not, we leave the review up.”

Instead of allowing your emotions to cause you to react, take a deep breath, and deal with negative online reviews like you would with any general criticism.

It is advisable that you treat the review as a conversation where you can diffuse the situation and offer to make up for whatever their dissatisfaction was, and of course, end with highlighting the positive when possible and point to more positive reviews and ratings.

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on how what online reviews are and how they influence consumer decisions, hopefully, this gets you started in thinking about your online reputation more seriously and about how online reviews factor into your local SEO strategy.