November 12, 2014 | Marketing

How Online Business Reviews Make or Break Local Business

Put yourself in this situation. You’re new in town and you’re looking for a good place to eat. In any given city, there are hundreds to thousands of restaurants. You could narrow down your options a bit based on price, cuisine, etc. However, you’re still going to be left with a choice. How do you decide where you’ll be spending your money? The answer: you use online business reviews.

How Online Business Reviews Can Make or Break Local Businesses

Most people don’t realize how frequently they use online business reviews to make decisions. When you’re browsing the app store on your phone or computer, do you get the app with 3.5 stars or 5 stars? When you’re shopping on Amazon, do you get a product with 5 stars and 10 reviews? Or the one with 4.5 stars and 205 reviews?
Every consumer is always looking to get more “bang for their buck”, and online business reviews are changing the way they calculate how to do that. It doesn’t matter what industry your business is in. The same logic that applies to the app store and to Amazon also applies to businesses, especially local ones.

Online Business Reviews & Internet Marketing

When most people search for something on Google, their location is automatically set to give local search results. This is extremely important to realize. To take just one example, search “Delray Beach plumber“. After the paid advertisements (which always show up on the top), the second result is a Better Business Bureau page. The third result is a Yelp page. After the local listings (the ones shown on the map), there are pages from Yellowpages, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, and Home Advisor.
To put this in perspective, 6 out of ten results on the first page of Google were either sites that incorporated online business reviews or sites that were dedicated to customer reviews.

How To Optimize Your Online Business Reviews

There are many different review sites, and some operate differently than others. However, they all have similarities that you can use to optimize your online business reviews.

  • Claim your business. Most online business reviews require you to “claim” your business and create a listing for yourself. After all, you can’t be reviewed if customers can’t go anywhere to review you.
  • Ask customers to review you. Don’t hesitate to do this, especially the more popular ones such as Google Places and Yelp. It’s not unprofessional at all. If you give your customers excellent service, they will be happy to do so.
  • Learn from negative reviews. To be fair, some negative reviews might be false or unwarranted. However, if a customer has a legitimate complaint, use it to learn better customer service. Then, you will start getting positive reviews that will overshadow the negative ones.
  • Use Social Media. Some of the most popular sources of online reviews are actually social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, and FourSquare. The larger your social media presence, the more likely people will see your reviews.
  • Update Your Location. If your business moves, make sure you update your location everywhere it is listed (from Google to Facebook to Yelp). If you’re a restaurant based in New York but you move to Philadelphia, you won’t show up for the Google search “restaurants New York”.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, DO NOT POST FAKE REVIEWS. Almost every business that has done this has gotten caught and penalized. It’s simply not worth it. As long as you engage your customers and offer excellent customer service, you won’t need fake reviews.

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