- Potential customers look for businesses with lots of reviews
- Recent reviews are key; old reviews don’t count in consumers’ minds
- To get more reviews, just ask… but do it the right way
Online reputation management is not a one-and-done exercise. It requires ongoing attention because your online presence is always changing as customers post new reviews about your business.
The good news is your efforts won’t go unrewarded. Online reputation management is the most important investment a local business can make to get more customers. And, the most important aspect of online reputation management is getting a steady flow of reviews coming in. We’ll explain how to do that, and why it matters, in this 7-minute read.
Why do you need to get more reviews?
Every single day, people search online for local businesses when they’re looking to spend money. In fact, 20% of Google searches are related to location. The results that Google and other search engines pull up in consumers’ internet searches determines where shoppers’ dollars go. Online reviews make up at least 10% of Google’s search criteria, so you won’t get found if you don’t have reviews.
Put another way, online reputation management is the most effective marketing you can do because people are already looking for businesses like yours. You just need to show up—and show well—in online searches. It’s impossible to check those boxes if you don’t consistently get more reviews.
Consider these facts:
- 98% of consumers read reviews for local businesses
- 90% say their buying decisions are influenced by reviews
- 94% will use a business with a rating of at least 4 stars
If you get and maintain a 4-star rating on key review sites, you’ll get more customers without even trying. The best way to make that happen is to get more reviews, but how you get those reviews is important. We’ll cover those ground rules in the last section.
How many reviews do you need?
There’s no standard answer, but in general potential customers will be use a business with 300 reviews over one with 30. More reviews sends a signal that the business is popular, and right or wrong, consumers put their trust in the masses.
You need reviews on every relevant site, not just one. About 3 in 5 people will research multiple review sites before forming an opinion about a business. If you have a good showing on Google but not on Yelp, for example, you run the risk of losing customers whose shopping journey begins elsewhere. Beef up your online presence by getting more reviews on all the major sites.
What if you have a high star rating but not many reviews? Is it worth getting more reviews? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Do old reviews count?
Sort of. Any review you receive increases your total review count and impacts your star rating, which are important parts of the equation. But, consumers probably won’t actually read your older reviews. In fact, studies show that customers read fewer than 10 reviews before forming an opinion, and they think reviews older than 90 days are no longer relevant. That’s why recent reviews matter.
It makes sense if you think about it. If it’s December and your last review was in April, people researching your business might wonder if you’re not that popular or if you’re even still in business. That’s especially true if a similar business has more reviews and more recent reviews. Sometimes, that comparison is the only thing that matters to a potential customer choosing between two places to spend money.
Can I buy reviews?
There are lots of shady companies promising to sell you positive reviews. Don’t do it. These tactics are bad for business and could hurt your reputation. Also, most review sites have strict rules and penalties to prevent it, and the FTC even has guidelines against it. You should only get reviews from your actual customers.
Don’t ever buy reviews. It might seem like a harmless way to give your online business reputation a boost, but it’s bound to backfire. There are better ways!
Go deeper: Should you pay for positive online reviews?
So, how can I get more reviews?
This is actually more simple than it seems. Just ask!
Research shows that 7 in 10 customers will leave a review if you ask them to. There are several ways to do this:
- Put up signage, including official stickers from sites like Yelp, encouraging customers to leave a review
- Make a verbal request while the customer is at your place of business
- Email your customers a link to review your business after they leave
You’ll get better results if you have a plan. If you have customer email addresses, for example, if makes sense to send electronic review requests. If not, you should consider finding a method to collect customer contact information.
No matter how you approach it, there are some things you should never do or you could hurt your brand and get in trouble with review sites. Don’t:
- Trade positive reviews for discounts or gifts
- Ask customers to leave you a 5-star review
- Threaten unhappy customers who might leave a bad review
The most important thing you can do to attract more customers is to get and maintain a 4-star rating on key review sites.
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