Some companies believe websites are simply a tool for advertising their services and telling potential customers about themselves. While having a website to communicate your unique brand and services is the first step to broadening your company’s marketing efforts, online marketing is an ongoing task, and many companies fail to realize the importance customer feedback has on their online presence. Customer feedback and reviews can make or break your reputation both online and offline, and are a critical part of your online success. Read on to learn more about the importance of customer feedback, and why you should make online reviews a focus in your marketing plan.
Why Online Reviews Matter for Small Businesses
With Internet accessibility at their fingertips through their smartphones, more and more people are researching goods and services before they even leave their house. Not only are they looking at the product or service descriptions, but they are also researching reviews to make sure they are purchasing a product or service that is worth the money they are spending. An estimated 92 percent of consumers read online reviews before making purchasing decisions—an increase from 88 percent in 2014.
Positive reviews tell prospective customers what you are doing right. That could be anything from the quality of the product you sell to the customer service provided when customers call with a problem. Historically, word-of-mouth advertising has been the best marketing resource for a small business, and the Internet has expanded on that. According to studies, 88 percent of consumers consider online reviews as good as personal recommendations. This makes positive online reviews one of the best tools to increase conversion rates.
An estimated 86 percent of consumers will shop elsewhere based on a company’s negative reviews. While it’s true that negative reviews can hurt a company’s reputation and turn away customers, deleting negative reviews from your website can be a detriment to your business as well. In fact, approximately 68 percent of consumers have said that they trust a company more when they see both positive and negative reviews.
To make the most of customer reviews for your business, make sure you stay up-to-date on any new reviews that come in and respond to reviews as necessary. With our SEO packages, we offer online review monitoring so you’ll never miss a chance to engage with your customers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to having your website found. The more SEO best practices you use when creating and maintaining your website, the better chance you have at ranking in Google’s search results. For instance, keywords, links, updates and other signals are important because they help tell search engines what your website is all about. According to a study by Local SEO Guide, local SEO signals such as reviews are one of the items that has a high influence on where you show up in a search. The factors considered with reviews include the quantity of reviews, the diversity of the reviews, and the timing of the reviews. In fact, review signals ranked fifth among the most important search engine ranking factors.
According to studies, the majority of consumers want to see at least seven to ten reviews about a company before they can decide the company’s trustworthiness. The more reviews you have, the better, but beware of how quickly the reviews are posted. Too many reviews at once, positive or negative, can look suspicious. Diversity in the sites that host reviews of your company as well as the “authority” of the poster also have an impact on your SEO ranking. Having your website reviewed on websites such as Google My Business can increase your ranking dramatically.
Another factor that effects SEO is the consistency of change on your website. Static websites are those websites that never change from the original content. Search engines ignore them after a time because it is assumed no change means the information is “old” and no longer relevant. Customer reviews on your website are one way to ensure your content is constantly changing. The search engine identifies it as something new and likely relevant to today’s market. And it is. It shows that your recent customers are engaged with your business.
Positive reviews can bolster a company’s reputation, and they reinforce that the services being provided are in line with the company’s goals. Positive feedback also can inspire companies to continue developing a particular aspect of their business, especially if they were uncertain about that product or service.
While no company or consumer wants to see a negative review, negative reviews have their advantages. A company can use the feedback to improve areas that are lacking or don’t adhere to the company’s goals. Follow-up reviews after resolution of a negative review can increase the company’s trustworthiness to potential customers.
Online reviews are one of the essential marketing tools for small businesses. They can increase a company’s reputation, elevate the website’s SEO ranking, and provide valuable feedback to the company.
Interested in learning more about how to set your website up for SEO success? Contact Websites 360® today to learn more about our marketing services.
 http://www.inc.com/adam-heitzman/what-every-business-owner-should-know-about-online-reviews.html (This Inc.com article was published last month as opposed to Fertik’s article published in 2012.)