Online Reviews: The New Word of Mouth
Ask local business owners what their most important marketing tool is, and you'll mostly get replies based around the idea of "word of mouth".
It's true: referrals will always be an important way to gain new clients. But the way in which businesses can gain referrals is changing with evolving digital technologies. In fact, according to industry leader Search Engine Land, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
These days, when customers are looking for a local service, they don't ask their friends or family for advice — modern shoppers want answers immediately. Instead, they go right to their smartphones because it's easier, faster, and more convenient.
Benefits of Online Reviews
Thanks to mobile devices with built-in GPS, search engines give instant access to a list of nearby businesses and recent reviews from customers. It's essential to have a high overall rating to stand out from your competition and gain new clients, because research by marketing experts has shown 87% of local customers won't even consider a business with low ratings.
Building a strong online reputation is proven to positively impact local businesses in a variety of ways:
- Ranking Improvement - Reviews are a meaningful ranking factor within the local search algorithms of major search engines like Google and Bing. Think about it this way: search engines want to show users the best possible options for what they need. This means they are much more likely to show reputable businesses that have a better chance of providing searchers with an excellent experience. A large amount of positive reviews and a high overall star rating will help give your rankings a boost in the local and map results, while getting your business in the eyes of more nearby customers.
- Local Authority - A series of in-depth, glowing reviews does wonders for establishing your business as an authority in the area. Within your field or product specialty, there are dozens of competitors attempting to gain the loyalty of the local market. Fostering authority in your niche will create an image of expertise, giving customers a sense of trust in your business and reason to give you a call.
- Click-Through Rate - Ultimately, the goal of improving your online reputation is to increase the click-through rate to your website. With a handful of positive reviews, your business will be given a bright, attractive star rating in search results. This instantly gives you the ability to stand out from the other bland listings and grab the attention of customers skimming the page. By gaining a high star rating, your website will have greater visibility with a better chance to be clicked — providing increased traffic to your site and an opportunity for new customers.
Imagine you see three local businesses in Google's search results: one with no reviews, another with two '3 star' reviews, and the last with 14 reviews and an overall rating of '4.7 stars'.
With no other knowledge of the three businesses, which listing will draw your eyes? Which will you be more likely to click?
The answer is obvious and shows the true power of online reviews to generate new leads, improve sales, and impact your bottom-line.
Need help with your online reputation? Our digital marketing experts will implement a variety of strategies to gather positive reviews for your business and manage your reputation across all online platforms.
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