Even though it is the digital age, word of mouth is still the primary driver of business reputation. Anyone with an internet-enabled device can talk about a company online or with other people who are not customers. Reviews are very important to local businesses because customers in the community will use them to influence their purchasing decisions. Google emphasizes the impact of reviews when it returns results on business searches. The main considerations are:
- Review volume
- Review sentiment
- Review location
- Review authority
- Review content
Online ratings and reviews will impact a local business even if the company is not actively marketing. This is because of the reach of large review sites like Avvo, TripAdvisor and Yelp. A company cannot ignore this if it wants to manage its reputation online. Yet, both small and large businesses tend to hire a professional reputation management agency to deal with customer reviews and support their positive image.
How Reviews Impact Rankings
In a local Google search, reviews account for 13 percent of rank while local organic results account for seven percent. A business should set a goal of 10 Google reviews. It is important to understand that some types of businesses will receive more reviews than others, such as a restaurant. An attorney who defends people who have been arrested for DUI is not likely to have many reviews because clients do not want to be associated with a crime. Companies should also strive for diverse reviews by encouraging customers to leave feedback wherever they feel comfortable doing so. All search engines return the most relevant results for a query. Positive ratings and reviews result in a high click-through rate and are considered relevant. Negative feedback will result in the opposite. In the end, customers will read reviews in order to find the best businesses for their needs. Higher ratings mean more visibility.
Knowing the Rules
All review sites have their own rules and guidelines, and these should not be taken lightly. Some businesses lost all of their reviews on Google by bribing customers with incentives and social media contests to leave positive reviews. This is considered to be gaming the system and will result in a penalty. It is best practice to follow the rules of each review site. For example, Yelp does not allow companies to directly ask for reviews. Instead, it asks that customers check in when they visit a particular business, then offers them an opportunity to write a review. The Federal Trade Commission considers fake reviews as a form of false advertising and will hand down fines when it happens. This can be devastating to a business’s reputation.
Responding to Negative Feedback
Positive reviews are a way to get more customers to visit a business, but companies should not ignore negative feedback. When people are unhappy with a product or service, it is crucial to find out why and fix it. This not only protects the reputation of a business, it shows that the company cares and is not just focused on making a profit. Correcting mistakes should always be a priority. This will result in more positive reviews, which will bring in more customers.
Online reputation management is more important today than ever. BrightPast has the experienced staff and tools to help businesses push past negativity and improve search engine results. For more information, visit the website or call 800-921-9704 to start an optimal management strategy.