Every business owner knows that having a well rounded online presence is important. With 85% of consumers going online to find local businesses, reviews posted on local review websites such as Yelp, Yahoo!, Google+, or Angie’s List can be the deciding factor whether or not a potential customer decides to choose your business over a competitors. Local review websites are not a new concept. With people actually preferring consumer reviews over editorial reviews, there are many opportunities for word of mouth to work to your advantage.
Chances are, if a customer is reading reviews, they have already identified a particular item or service they are in need of. There are not many steps between reading reviews and making a purchase, so it is crucial for businesses to have a positive online reputation to transform the people reading the reviews into customers.
Studies show that consumers trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. While reading about someone else’s experience in a restaurant, office, hotel, etc. the consumer feels comfortable with their decision to either choose your business or not, based on the review. Many see online reviews as opportunities to educate oneself before making an important decision; we trust others’ opinions when we are indecisive. All of this shared information also appears to have a positive effect on search engine rankings. With that being said, the more positive reviews you have, the higher you will appear in the search results. Rankings, along with raving reviews, create a positive impact on potential customers.
Consumers form opinions quickly, typically reading six reviews or less. This means that business owners need to carefully manage their online reputations. Responding to feedback, whether negative or positive, can make quite a bit of difference. Interacting with a negative review might not completely fix the issue, but it shows that you are willing to help resolve problems and that you genuinely care about your customers.