Do I really need online reviews?
Google says, “Yes!”
Years ago (before the age of the Internet and Google – yes, there actually was such a time) when you finally decided to buy a new car, what did you do to help make your decision as to what type and model? You had several options.
- Buy the same make as your parents.
- Buy according to the ads you saw on TV.
- Go around to all the dealers, then buy the one you liked the best, or who had the fastest-talking salesman, or gave the best deal.
- Read all the information available. (Remember! No Internet or Google!)
- Talk to your family, friends, and colleagues and ask about their experiences with the different makes and models. In other words – by word-of-mouth.
More than likely, you used a combination of all of the above. But which had the greatest impact? The most probable? The experiences and opinions of the people you talked to face-to-face – by word-of-mouth – are what influenced you the most.
But, the reality today is…90% of people use online reviews to decide what type, brand, or model they’re going to buy or who they’re going to do business with. This is now the new word-of-mouth. Do they need a new phone? They go online and read reviews. Do they need a new washing machine? Go online and read reviews. A new car seat? Go online. Questions about a toy they’re considering buying? Go online first and read reviews. You get the idea. The new, virtual word-of-mouth.
So…again the question:
Do I really need online reviews?
The answer is, “Yes!”, unless, of course, it doesn’t affect your bottom line if your website doesn’t appear in the Google Local 3 Pack…or in the local rankings on page 1 at all.
Why does Google care if you have online reviews or not?
Because Google’s main concern is USER EXPERIENCE!
And their users are looking for reviews before contacting or buying from a local business or online. And…Google knows.
In BrightLocal’s latest findings in their Local Consumer Review Survey 2016, their first key ‘takeaway’ was:
“84% of people trust online review as much as a personal recommendation.”
In other words, online reviews are the new “word-of-mouth”…at least for these 84%.
In July 2014 BrightLocal reported that 88% of the respondents to their annual Local Consumer Review Survey read “reviews to determine the quality of a local business.” This had increased by 3% from 2013. This past November, Tom Dupuis of Online Media Masters confirmed that “about 90% of people use reviews to decide who they’re doing business with.”
9 out of 10 use reviews to make decisions.
Humayun Khan in How Online Reviews Impact Local SEO and Why They matter to Your Bottom Line refers to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research:
“90% of their respondents claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions.”
“86% had responded saying that negative reviews impacted their decisions.”
So, as far as Google is concerned, if you have online reviews, then their users’ experiences must find you to be reputable, dependable, and reliable, and worthy of being listed in the Local 3 Pack. And…maybe…even in the Knowledge Panel which would include your address, hours, and photos in addition to the website and directions buttons. And…it also includes your reviews. And the only way you can be featured in a Knowledge Panel is if you have reviews.
In How Positive Reviews Improve Local SEO for Businesses, Tom Dupuis states in his opening paragraph:
“There’s no doubt reviews are a huge part of local SEO. They show up in Google Maps, when people search your business name, and they’re 8.9% of Google’s local search ranking factors.”
However, Google does not just publish Google+ reviews. (Although they list these first.) They publish reviews from other sources as well:
If you’ve not been convinced that you need online reviews, you can stop here. If you have been convinced that you need them to grow your business, you also need to know where 90% of your consumers are going to find their most “trusted” online reviews. Are you a restaurant? They’ll probably go to Yelp. Are you a hotel? They’ll probably check TripAdvisor and so on.
The next logical question is:
“How do I get reviews?”
Following is a quick list of ways various experts such as Bruce Clay have given to get reviews.
- “Find out which review sites Google pulls from your industry.”
- Invite happy customers to write and submit a review. (Do not pay for or offer rewards!)
- Ask for feedback.
- Add notices or signs in your stores asking for reviews on various sites.
- Set up a reviews landing page.
- Make sure the reviews are genuine. Don’t fake it.
As Mike Blumenthal says:
“The goal should be happy customers.”
And Google’s goal is:
Great user experience.
Statistics in Review:
- 90% – use online reviews.
- 84% – trust online reviews.
- 88% – read reviews to determine a local business’ quality.
- 90% – claim positive online reviews influence their decisions to buy.
- 86% – say negative reviews impact their decisions.