As an entrepreneur, you know your reputation in an invaluable asset. What people say about your retail business matters, and that’s especially true about what customers are saying online.Retailers should be listening to feedback — and that means monitoring online reviews from your customers. While online reviews may seem like a small piece of the bigger picture that makes up your online presence, more shoppers are relying on review websites when deciding what products to buy. In today’s digital age, 93% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.Online reviews are important for a number of reasons, and have major implications through their ability to affect:
- Your rankings in local search engines
- Which search results actually get surfaced (and clicked on)
- Consumer purchasing decisions
That makes online reviews as critical to your local SEO strategy as building citations and on-site optimization. In my previous posts, I covered the nuts-and-bolts of building citations, and provided a primer for local SEO to help you get started with your own local SEO strategy.
Not sure where to go from here? First, we’ll tackle how online reviews affect shoppers’ buying decisions and take a look at where SEO reviews fit into your local SEO campaign. From there, I’ll guide you through some tactics to help you acquire online reviews while also proactively managing your online reputation.
How Consumers Use Online Reviews
Before we get into the data surrounding how online reviews impact consumers’ purchases, it’s important to consider where online business reviews fit into the purchasing cycle for desired products and services.
Typically, by the time someone has started looking at review websites (like reviews on your product pages or Facebook, Epinions, Angie’s List, or elsewhere), they’ve already figured out what they need and how a business might ideally fulfill that need.
The critical thing to note is that the mental gap between reading a review and making a decision is ridiculously small — and customers typically decide yes or no almost immediately. So, as a small business, your online reputation can directly influence your bottom line.
But how many consumers actually read online reviews? According to one recent survey, 84% of shoppers said they trusted online business reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family.
But exactly how many reviews do they read before making up their mind? Luckily, the survey also had an answer to that. About 68% of consumers will read four or more reviews before they can trust a busines
Consumers are also changing their habits when it comes to reading positive reviews. After reading a positive review, customers are now less likely to go on to visit a business’ website straight away. While that affects your ecommerce traffic, customers who read positive reviews are far more likely to get directly in touch over the phone over via email, or by visiting in person.
Now, you have a better understanding about how your customers are using online reviews. Up next, we’ll look at how reviews factor into local SEO signal