What is a Customer Online Review?

An online review is a short write-up or a rating provided by a customer based on their experience with a particular business.

Online reviews are powerful social proof and play a large part in the development of a business’s online reputation. Reviews are also often the main source of a company’s online reputation management and crisis management issues, because a single negative review in certain circumstances is sufficient to effectively jeopardise the online reputation of a small business.

Today, reviews from total strangers are powerful because consumers tend to take the word of a previous customers rather than yours.

Reviews are highly regarded as a major asset for online businesses. According to research, 70% of global customers trust online reviews. Consequently, the more positive reviews your business is able to get, the more prominent your business listing will be in local searches on search engines like Google, Google My Business, LinkedIn, Yelp, Trip Advisor, CitySearch, etc.

In addition, consumers today are savvy shoppers, and will often base their purchasing decisions on reviews. People tend to search for reviews when they are ready to spend, and a 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey revealed that 52% of consumers are likely to use a local business based on the amount of positive reviews they have.

Furthermore, eMarketer reports that information on social networks are considered by 65% of consumers aged 18-24 when making a purchasing decision. It naturally follows then, that more reviews leads to more customers.

Impact of Reviews on Search Engine Optimisation

Good user reviews and ratings are one of the most significant factors that influences ranking in a number of the local search engines such as Google Maps.

When ranking your business, Google looks at the quantity and quality of reviews you have earned around the web.

Google Maps aggregates ratings from a diverse variety of sources to get a universal rating for a business. Consequently, strong reviews on sites like Google+, Judy’s Book, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Trust Pilot, CitySearch, SuperPages, YellowPages.com and others will significantly increase your chances of ranking higher in the search engines.

The review sites that appear to be most active in your locale will be most relevant to you. For example, in Northern America, Yelp and Trip Advisor are the most active review sites, while TrustPilot or Which are the more popular review sites in the UK.

In any case, the idea is to get your business profiled anywhere that your prospective customers might leave a review so that you are gradually developing a broad, web-based positive review-portfolio over time.

The number of reviews you get on your Google My Business page influences your search ranking more than reviews you might earn on other review platforms. You can easily see how many reviews you have by clicking either on the “reviews” link on your Google My Business link in the main search engine results, or by visiting your page directly.

Quantity of Reviews

As a local business, it is important to be proactive about getting online reviews. In terms of exposure and search engine optimisation, it only makes sense that you should want as many reviews for your business as possible. This is because search engines notice when people talk about your business, and it makes your business seem more relevant to the online community.

Accumulating positive reviews can also act as a buffer against the odd negative review. Also, customers who are researching your business on review sites will undoubtedly consider the number of reviews as an indication of your credibility (even though it may have nothing to do with your level of service). This is the concept of social proof. For these reasons, it is a good thing to have many business reviews.

The Importance of Getting Quality Reviews

Quality reviews are those reviews that provide lots of detail about the customer’s experience with your business. A high quality review gives users a strong idea of what it means to shop at your place of business, and encourages potential customers to give your business a try.

Even though you have no control over how people are going to review your product or service, your aim should be to try to get as many satisfied customers as possible to review your business.

Some of your customers will be more articulate than others, and from time to time, you will get a truly excellent review. A study by Havard Business School discovered that a restaurant can see increases in revenue of 5 to 9 percent if it increases its Yelp scores by just one star.

Online reviews provide an opportunity to add influential user-generated content on your sites that search engines will love and your users will appreciate. Reading about the positive real-life experiences of past customers is compelling social proof, and can be a powerful influence to the purchasing decision that a prospective customer is thinking about making.

Whether you build this facility into your site directly or you embed one of the many third-party review solutions, you’ll never get any reviews if you don’t ask your customers for them. This is why it is important to encourage as many of your happy customers as possible to review their experiences with your business on major business listing websites such as Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Citysearch, and more.

Regardless of how you get them and share them with your prospective customers and target audience, reviews are great opportunities to build powerful content and social proof to your pages that will help people find you with the search engines, and then help them along the path to conversion when they get there.

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