The Importance of Online Reviews for Small Businesses

Olivia Garrison

People love reading online reviews, plain and simple.  Long gone are the days where consumers need to go in blind on any business when websites like Yelp, Amazon, and Google provide a platform to review just about any product or service.  Needless to say, online reviews have become an incredibly important factor in increasing your company’s conversion rate and small business owners especially should embrace them as a necessary element in their search engine optimization efforts.  Here, we will cover the impact of online reviews, how to ask your customers for reviews, and how to handle negative reviews like a pro:

Reviews by the Number

Based on a 2015 study conducted by Invesp:

  • 90% of consumers will read online reviews before making a purchase or calling a business
  • 92% of consumers will choose a local business if it has at least 4 out of 5 stars
  • 86% of consumers reported being hesitant to reach out to a business with negative reviews
  • 72% of consumers reported trusting a business more if it has positive reviews versus no reviews
  • 31% sales increase reported for businesses with 5 star reviews
  • 10% of your business’s local search ranking is influenced by online reviews

The SEO Effect

Aside from being a potential deal breaker in clinching a sale, online reviews have a significant impact on your business’s search engine ranking.  While neither confirmed nor denied by Google, data suggests that having reviews listed will likely rank your business higher in their SEO algorithm than a business without reviews.  For example, when searching for “Web Design NJ,” our agency with 17 5-star reviews ranks higher than other nearby web design agencies with none.

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The Art of Asking for Online Reviews

Now that we’ve established the power of online reviews, the next step is to create a strategy to actually get your customers to post them.  Here are a few tips for getting reviews without being pushy:

  • Just Ask!: Sometimes the simplest option is the best option. Explain to your satisfied customer that reviews really help your business and they should be more than happy to tell other consumers about their positive experience.
  • Make it Easy: Provide your customers with direct links to the places they can leave reviews. The quicker and easier you make the process, the more likely they are to leave a positive review.
  • Gather Testimonials: Send out follow-up emails with former clients. If they reply with glowing compliments, ask their permission to quote them for a testimonial section on your website.
  • Incentivize: Many retailers and restaurants offer coupons and contest entries to customers who complete a survey. This serves as a win-win scenario for you both – they get a reward while you get the SEO benefits your business needs.

So, You Got a Bad Online Review

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As your company grows and your demand is higher, you may be hit with a bad review every now and then.  While this is a less than desirable situation, this will not ruin your business if you know how to manage it.  Here is how you can handle negative reviews with professionalism and class:

  • Leave it Up: Believe it or not, deleting negative reviews could damage your business’s reputation more than leaving the review on your page. You do not want your business to be known for what might be seen as a shady practice, so reviews should stay put unless they are outright defamatory.
  • Be Polite: Despite any instinctual need to protect your business, this is neither the time nor place to get overly defensive. Thank the reviewer for their feedback and apologize for their negative experience.  This can either be done publicly or privately depending on the severity of the review.
  • Change Their Mind: Take the conversation offline and offer to make changes to appease the disgruntled reviewer. They might be so impressed with your company’s willingness to improve their experience that they will delete the negative review or give you a higher rating.
  • Treat it as a Learning Experience: If you are getting repeat comments about a certain aspect of your business, this might be a great opportunity to make the changes needed to enhance your company from a 3-start to a 5-star organization.

The thought of a bad online review can be scary but the way you handle it can make you a rock-star. Excellence customer service goes a long way so take the risk! Ask your customers for feedback because it can only better your business and SEO. Creative Click Media specializes in all forms of internet marketing. We’re here to help with all your local SEO and reputation management services; just give us a call.

About
Olivia is Director of Communications for Creative Click Media, Communications degree holder from Rutgers University, and lifelong lover of words, syntax and grammar.

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