According to a poll from Search Engine Land, 72% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% say that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
Great reviews not only drive up the click-through rate to your site, but are also listed on search engine page results (serps) and according to an extensive study conducted by Digital Marketing Works, reviews play a critical role in determining inclusion and ranking for Google's local "carousel results", that appear at the top of the results.
Needless to say, if there is one thing small business owners can't afford to ignore in the digital age, it's their online reputation.
The two core activities when it comes to online reviews are:
- Inviting people to actually leave a review
- Managing your online reputation
Getting people to leave a review can be a straightforward as having a call-to-action at your physical or digital check-out counter, or bringing it up while conversing with customers. A large part, however, of managing your online reputation is putting out fires in the form of negative reviews as soon as they flare up, and promoting your online reputation as social proof for your product or services.
Hopefully, this gets you started in thinking about the importance of reviews and how they factor in your local search marketing plan, I'll be doing a more extensive post to do the topic justice given its importance. In the meanwhile, for a comprehensive look at getting positive reviews on Google Places, make sure to read this post from Shopify.