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Making Online Reviews Work for Your Local Business

online reviews

With an increasing number of consumers relying on the Internet for purchases, online reviews are more important than ever. As many as 91% of consumers (aged 18 to 34 years old) trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. Additionally, as many as 95% of that demographic read reviews when considering a purchase of goods or services from local businesses. Local businesses need to take advantage of this information to grow their clientele base and increase growth.

Because they can be so effective, online reviews are considered an important part of a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. What exactly can you get out of these posts and how can you use online reviews (both good and bad) to your advantage?

How Do Online Reviews Help?

Online reviews provide social proof, which can significantly influence the buying decisions of other customers (and the way the public views your company). Here are some of the advantages online reviews can offer your business:
• Build your reputation
Reputation is a vital aspect of any business. This holds especially true when a business’ reputation relies heavily on word of mouth. Online reviews help build trust among existing and potential customers and establish you as a reputable provider of goods or services.
• Rank higher on search engine results
Expertise, authority, and trust (“E-A-T”) are three factors quality raters (e.g. Google) use to determine the value and reliability of a website. Positive online reviews contribute to the trustworthiness of a business, enhancing its E-A-T. Client reviews can boost your brand’s ranking on search engine results and get your business more online visibility which, in turn, increases online traffic.
• Receive more online traffic
In addition to raising your website’s ranking through search engine results, favourable reviews encourage customers to look into your business a little more closely. Through previous customers’ testimonies of your business, potential clients can see a glimpse of how your business operates, and your brand’s philosophy. This motivates them to seek out the products and services you may offer.
• Increase brand loyalty
In general, people like the idea of being heard and knowing that their opinions matter. Online reviews give customers the opportunity to provide feedback. It helps a consumer establish a relationship with a business, fostering loyalty and increasing the number of repeat visits and sales.
• Attract new customers
Consumers prefer tried and tested brands with a proven track record of successful transactions. Akin to word of mouth advertising, online reviews act as referrals, providing potential customers with a view of your track record. As mentioned before, people trust reviews and are likely to choose a brand recommended by others.
• Improve sales
Positive ratings (higher than or equivalent to three stars) positively impact clickthrough rates for a website. The more click-throughs your site generates, the more the chances for conversion and sales. The brand loyalty encouraged by online reviews can also increase sales since existing customers tend to spend 67% more than new ones.

How Do You Take Advantage of Online Reviews?

The next step is to determine how to acquire and make the most of online reviews. Consider these tips when planning your strategy:
• Ask for detailed reviews
Star ratings can only do so much. Effective reviews must include the description of your product or service, benefits, disadvantages, customer service, and other salient details. According to Fan & Fuel, 73% of consumers place a higher value on written reviews over star or number ratings.
In order to get positive reviews, a business needs to provide what they promise or surpass expectations. It’s simple: take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
Though it is likely you’ll encounter a few negative reviews, they’re nothing to be worried about. No business (no matter how successful) can perfectly satisfy every single customer. As long as the majority of your reviews are positive, negative reviews can be used to your advantage (see below).
• Get as many reviews as you can
This is one case where quantity is just as important as quality. The number of reviews is directly proportional to the perceived credibility and trustworthiness of a business. As few as 10 reviews can significantly boost lead conversion; but don’t stop there. Aim for 50 reviews or more; this number can increase sales to as much as 4%.
One way to get what you need is to send an email with a survey after every purchase. You can use data gathered from the surveys as testimonials for your site (with your customers’ permission, of course). Alternatively, you can send clients a link/s to review platforms and request that they leave a comment describing their experience and satisfaction. You can pay for reviews, but the costs likely outweigh the benefits. Consumers have become hyper-aware of such tactics, and could respond negatively.
• Turn negative reviews into assets
Bad reviews may (at first glance) seem problematic. They can, in fact, be transformed into great opportunities. You may be attempted to delete bad reviews: Don’t. Bad reviews make a business appear authentic. If consumers see only five-star ratings, they may doubt the honesty of the reviews.
Respond to any criticism positively and professionally. Do not wait long to reply to a negative review. When you do respond, thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention and reply professionally (don’t be defensive). Suggest solutions or offer to resolve their problems. Ask them to contact your customer service team to create a solution. (Advise your staff to expect that call/email/tweet/etc.) When the issue’s been addressed, you can ask the customer to change their review or write another reflecting their satisfaction with your response.
89% of customers read a company’s response to reviews. Acknowledging a negative comment in a professional manner shows potential customers you care. Opportunities like this allow your business to remedy problems, improve your operations, and satisfy existing clients.

• Flaunt reviews in various platforms
Increase the visibility and reach of your business’ reviews by placing them in different platforms:
• Your company website
• Google
• Online directories (e.g. Yelp, Homestars, Clutch, Better Business Bureau)
• Social Media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
• Independent Consumer Review Sites (e.g. Which?, ConsumerReports, and Angie’s List)
To make the most out of reviews, you can also repurpose them. Locate reviews from the different websites (including the more obscure ones) and embed them on your website as client testimonials.
Make sure to choose only the best feedback (i.e. those that are relevant and specific). If you plan to feature them up front and center on your homepage, shorten them. Delete irrelevant details, highlighting only the most important parts. After all, you only have a few seconds to impress a visitor to your website.
It’s best to select reviews that were not posted anonymously. Adding names and faces to a review can boost credibility.
Another option is to turn these reviews into case studies. These can demonstrate how your company was able to remedy problems and challenges faced by your clients.
Quality reviews are valuable. Online reviews are a small part of an effective SEO campaign, but they remain a crucial factor for the success and growth of your business. If you need help building strong Internet marketing strategies, turn to SEO experts.

If you are looking for an SEO company in Scarborough, Local SEO Search is recognized by Clutch as a top SEO agency in Canada. Check out Homestars and Yelp for a list of other SEO agencies near you. Choose a company that will partner with you and put your priorities first.

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