The Importance of Online Reviews

Posted by on Oct 5, 2011 in Think

As a youngster, I vividly recall the many copies of Consumer Reports magazine my father had strewn about the coffee table. From cars to stereo equipment, very rarely would he make a purchase without consulting his “bible” of product reviews. People have always looked to their friends for feedback on products and brands, and in today’s digital world online reviews have become a critical part of the recipe for success.

People are shopping smarter, not harder…

Mobile Bar Code ScannerSavvy shoppers are using the web to research products in-store and use online reviews to help influence their purchase decisions. Today, simply scanning a bar-code brings product information to your fingertips. As people do their online homework, they turn to reviews to see what others have experienced and if they should trust your company/brand. A recent study by Yahoo! and Universal McCann found that 66% of participants used online content to help guide their purchase decisions. In their key findings, it was revealed that a whopping 69% of participants viewed the internet as the most trusted and informative source of information over magazines (43%) and television (35%). Google’s most recent (and most expensive to date) acquisition of Zagat demonstrates the growing importance of online reviews.

Speak of the devil…

Another key benefit of online reviews is getting “Google juice”. Online reviews affect your search engine result placement because they can influence the click through rate to your site or local listing. They have become an important link building tactic for SEO, especially for local search results.  Positive reviews across the web will help algorithms confirm your location in local search and help you rank higher. Generally speaking, higher organic search rank = more web traffic = greater awareness.

Search Engine Results with online reviews

The good with the bad…

The great thing about online review sites is that if people had a positive experience, they’ll describe it in detail. The bad news about online review sites is that if people had a negative experience, they’ll describe it in detail. A few negative reviews are expected and can even help build credibility for other reviews, but you should stay on top of them so you don’t suffer negative consequences.  Remember, you have to take the good with the bad.  Here are a few tips on managing the bad:

  1. Look. You’ll never know what people are saying about you unless you monitor it. Set up Google Alerts to keep tabs on what’s happening. Listen to what people are saying on Twitter and other social outlets.
  2. Listen. Ask your customers how you can improve and make steps to correct them. After all, good customer service is expensive but poor customer service is more expensive.
  3. Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask people for positive reviews.  Andrew Shotland from Search Engine Land has some great tips for asking customers for good reviews here.
  4. Do. Train your staff on the importance of good customer service and incentivize them for getting good reviews.  Remove bad eggs who don’t buy into a positive company culture.
  5. Own it. If you’ve gotten a bad review, chances are something happened to warrant it. Respond and try to make it up to the customer. Attempting to sue the person that posted it for defamation, or the review site itself will just leave you with a lawyer’s bill.

Remember, it’s better to know about and address any negative views of you and your company. If you choose to ignore it, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It simply means you may have ignored an opportunity to improve your company.

Do you have any great tips for managing reviews? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear about it. Comment below, Tweet us or Facebook it!

Mike

2 comments
DigitalVisitor
DigitalVisitor

Great article, I have to say those are a few good tips on how to keep on top of your businesses reviews online. Negative reviews should be seen as constructive criticism and a good way to improve your business from the outside-in – here’s one we wrote recently about importance of online customer reviews which you may find interesting http://bit.ly/ktjW5z

d4t4d0g
d4t4d0g

More great insight, thanks for sharing!