Part 1: Hide and Seek: The Importance of Online Customer Reviews

When customers are seeking a business like yours online, are they able to find you? Or are they going with a competitor who appears first (or higher up) on the page? Customers count on online searches and reviews to decide where they want to take their business. Whether it’s a restaurant, car repair shop, or electrical company, your business needs an established Google presence to appear in customer searches and outrank competitors.

Google lists the three most relevant local results first in search results—these are the businesses with the best ratings and most customer reviews. The rest of the companies follow in order of relevancy and rating. Companies with lower ratings aren’t always seen in customer searches because they are farther down on the list—sometimes they aren’t even on the first page of results.

To boost your online rankings, start by claiming your Google profile so you can gain reviews from your satisfied customers. BrightLocal—an SEO (search engine optimization) tool specialist company—recently conducted a study that reports 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. The more positive reviews you have, the higher you will rank in search results—and the more likely you are to be seen by customers. A high ranking in results shows customers your business is not only relevant, but one consumers choose to go to.

The SEO specialist also reports that 54 percent of people will visit a website to learn more about a business after reading positive reviews about it. After just one Google review, you will receive a Google star rating which shows how consumers rate your business. So if your first rating is one star, your company will unfortunately rank poorly at one star until you gain a number of positive reviews to raise your rating. BrightLocal estimates a minimum of 10 reviews are needed before customers trust your company’s reputation. These results give customers a first impression of what your business is like before they even try it out for themselves.

On top of quantity, a business needs current and ongoing reviews to stay relevant in the eyes of Google and consumers. Both look for recent reviews—posted within the last month or two—because they are more trustworthy. Google also pulls reviews from reputable sources, like Facebook, Houzz, and other online review platforms, to guarantee accurate search results and rankings. Wherever your customers are leaving feedback, it will be seen by searchers.

What options do you have if you’re struggling to attain positive Google reviews? That’s where our Rate Our Business online program comes in. Check back for part two to learn how ROB can help your business flourish online.

NOTE: This blog has been updated as of 2/16/17 to reflect Google’s most recent rating updates.