Not only do your customers read reviews online to decide whether or not to shop and buy from you, there are three specific reasons online reviews are vital for a healthy business.
#1 Hear from your customers
Reviews are your best bet for hearing honest, blunt feedback about your business. It allows you to hear how your employees operate when you’re not around, identify gaps in quality and understand what your customers look for when they visit you. The only thing worse than bad feedback is no feedback.
Listening to your customers helps you make decisions. Perhaps you received a slew of 5-star reviews when you began carrying a new product line or stayed open later on a Saturday night. Your decisions can be guided by the words and feedback of your customers.
#2 Beat your competitors in search results—for free!
Online reviews boost SEO, or search engine optimization, meaning your business appears higher in search results, allowing your customers to find your business first. In fact, Moz’s 2017 study suggests that online reviews count for as much as 10% of how search engines rank search results. Many people spend thousands of dollars to reach the front page of Google without realizing a major front page factor can be achieved with free input from customers.
“...the overall trend is clearly moving towards businesses who are investing time and energy into their review strategy. Reviews = trust and increased CTR (click-through-rate). And just put yourself in Google’s shoes for a minute. Do you feel there is more value to the searcher (and to Google’s own interests) in showing them a listing with no reviews, where the user needs to go to Yelp and other places to get more information to make a decision? Or is it more valuable to show a listing that has a “story” about that business in the form of reviews, which allows the user to get all the information they need to either choose or not choose that business?” - Colan Nielsen, Sterling Sky Inc., 2017 Local Search ranking Factors
If you want your business to be discovered before your competitors, you cannot ignore where your business falls in search results.
#3 Prove that you walk the walk
Online reviews build credibility. Your ads, social media and promotions can make your business sound fantastic, however, without the social proof provided by online reviews, this is merely marketing.
According to a 2017 BrightLocal study, 73% of consumers trust a business upon seeing positive reviews and they read an average of 7 reviews before they feel they can trust a business. If your customer reviews match the customer-focused, well-run business reputation you’ve shown in your marketing, you’re on your way to being seen as a credible, trustworthy business—vital for customers to give you with their money and time.