online-reviews

As a business owner you may have seen the term “reputation management” being bandied about recently. Basically, reputation management refers to methods of influencing and controlling an individual’s or business’s reputation, an increasingly important factor when it comes to ranking high in online search results - Google and other search engines love a good reputation. Most consumers nowadays research online and read customer reviews of products or services before committing to buy.

Research shows that there is a close link between great customer services and brand loyalty and just one bad customer experience is enough to make a customer shop elsewhere. In fact, a massive 70% of customers say they stopped doing business with a particular brand following a poor customer experience, and 73% of consumers will recommend a brand to others if they have had a satisfactory customer service experience. Half of all consumers are more likely to use a company more frequently following a positive customer experience.

We’re living in the Digital Age and the Internet allows unhappy customers to publish their complaints online. If you’re wondering how reviews affect your company’s search engine ranking (and your business as a whole), according to a Salesforce Research report, online reviews are the most popular method of researching a brand or product before buying and this is true of consumers in all age groups.

The online review has become the most effective, trusted method for consumers to check out companies and products before purchase. Online reviews have such a powerful impact on purchasing behaviour, so let’s take a look at what this means for business owners.

Conversion Rates Impact Rankings

The more people who trust a company or brand, the more likely it is that conversion rates will increase.

Conversion rate is factor search engines use when ranking websites. A drop in your conversion rate due to negative reviews or an increase in your conversion rate resulting from positive reviews have a corresponding effect on your search engine rankings.

Interactions And Engagement Impact Rankings

In addition to the effect that reviews have on your conversion rate, the total number of reviews also has a direct impact on your rankings.

The more review sites that feature your company, the more backlinks your website attracts.

Spending time responding to reviews and communicating with customers increases engagement and brand mentions, resulting in a positive impact on your search engine rankings.

Review Sites

With so many review sites online, registering on all of them would be a full time job. As a business owner whose time is at a premium choose the review sites that are most relevant for your business. Let’s take a look at which would be the most useful for you.

  • AMAZON – With so many similar products from different sellers on Amazon, you need to stand out from the crowd. Shiny gold stars and great customer reviews are the key to doing this. Amazon operates a five-star rating scale governed by the percentage of reviews per star, followed by most helpful and most recent customer reviews.
  • GOOGLE MY BUSINESS – These are the reviews that show on the right hand side of Google’s search results. Google’s Pigeon algorithm update uses location and distance ranking criteria to improve local search results. As a business owner, you should ensure that your website is correctly optimized for search with verified accounts on local directories, most importantly Google My Business. A verified local Google+ page enables you to respond to reviews while reviews, comments, images, etc. boost your search rankings. The bonus is that the Google Maps app uses the information and reviews, so the more content, the more reputable your business will appear.
  • YELP – This is a free review site where consumers rate businesses on a five star scale. Businesses and consumers (Yelpers) register free of charge on this platform that allows businesses to respond to comments from consumers.
  • WHICH? – Which? Is an independent consumer review organisation that tests products in order to review and describe them. The reviews are written by the Which? Team (rather than consumers) and Which? undertakes consumer surveys on the best and worst products and services.
  • YAHOO LOCAL LISTINGS – This is similar to Google My Business and enables users to post reviews of businesses using a five-star rating system.
  • FACEBOOK RATINGS AND REVIEWS – You can find this on the left-hand sidebar on your Facebook Page. Any Facebook user can post a rating or review (making it visible to their friends), which the Page owner cannot remove or edit.
  • TWITTER – Although users may not search Twitter specifically for reviews (unless you encourage them to do so by posting a review hashtag) Tweets are indexed in search results, which means that positive and negative comments/mentions could appear in SERPs when somebody searches for reviews of your business. Use this to your advantage by “favouriting” positive Tweets so that they are easy to find in future and use them in your marketing campaigns. HubSpot recently published some tips on using the very latest new Twitter features to make the most of this popular platform.
  • YOUR WEBSITE – B2C product or service reviews help increase conversions, particularly when used at strategic points in the buying process so hosting a Review Section on your website makes perfect business sense. Research shows that a great product review posted next to the “Buy Now” CTA button can help to bypass the final “Should I buy this?” hurdle. When it comes to B2B clients, Testimonials and Case Studies are an effective method of demonstrating your expertise in a particular sector, providing potential new clients with confidence in your ability to deliver the kind of project they are seeking and a person (or company) they can call for a reference.
    If you host a Review Section on your website, then it’s vital that you use schema so that Google can read, understand and use the content easily.

Obviously, some review sites have more impact than others. However, when it comes to social media platforms, Facebook really does stand head and shoulders above the rest. In fact, when it comes to mobile access (and mobile has overtaken desktop as a method of browsing the internet), Facebook dominates the social landscape, with a massive 63% of users who have accessed the mobile Facebook app, as opposed to just 17% who have accessed the Google+ app.

Conclusion

As a business owner you should have an ongoing Review Acquisition Strategy in order to generate reviews and you’ll need to set aside regular time to respond to comments (both positive and negative) so that your customers feel that they have a voice – a great way of building brand loyalty.