Why Are Local Reviews Important?

As a local business, the feedback that reviews provide can be invaluable, improve customer trust and search engine ranking. Here's why.

Most customers won't take the time to sit down and write an informative review of your business.

Or, if they do, the motivation is often frustration or anger from a poor experience.

In this first installment of a three-part series about local reviews, we'll take a look at why reviews are so critical to a local business' online marketing plan. Part two will cover how to ethically ask your customers for legitimate reviews, and in the third we'll discuss responding to negative reviews.

Why doesn't my business have any reviews?

Certain types of businesses get more reviews, like restaurants or bed and breakfasts, because they incite more emotion. Naturally, customers want to share their experiences, such as: how delicious or horrible the food was, how polite or careless the waiters were, how cloud-soft or rock-hard the beds are.

Other businesses, like insurance agencies, are left out of the feedback lime-light, and may be wondering what all the hoopla is about, or why reviews matter in the first place - especially when they could be bad.

Why should I want reviews?

  1. Trust. Like photos of your business and staff, reviews let potential customers know you've got nothing to hide. Reviews are a great way for them to feel out your business before actively seeking your services.
  2. Engagement. Reviews give you the opportunity to continue a conversation with your customers. If they leave a great review, it shows that you're on their mind, and that they may recommend your services to a friend. It also gives you opportunity to thank them and offer additional help publicly. If the review is negative, you can respond, explain the possible circumstances surrounding their poor experience, and invite them back for a second chance to prove yourself.
  3. Ranking. Googling a business or clicking on a Google My Business page will show the amount of reviews you have, your average rating through a star-system, and provide links to additional sites with reviews. Google gives reviews a lot of weight. A great way to help increase your search engine results placement is to have numerous, highly-rated reviews.
  4. Transparency. The great and terrifying thing about reviews is you have little-to-no control over what people say about you. You can respond, but other than that, customers can let the world know how you operate as a business, and if you're worth anyone's time and money.
  5. Feedback. Reviews could be instrumental in gauging your employee's interactions, professionalism and behavior with your customers, as well as give valuable insight into things you're doing right, and things you're doing wrong.

What are the best sites for reviews?

There are a lot of different sites we could list, but the answer is really very simple:

  1. Google My Business. These reviews will show up in a Google search and are arguably the most important your business can receive. Additionally, the Google My Business dashboard has a Reviews section, which allows you to view all of your reviews from other sites. It's tremendously informative and efficient.
  2. Yelp. Despite the recent controversy, Yelp remains the go-to site for user reviews. It's highly ranked by Google and, unlike a lot of other sites that you can leave reviews on, Yelp's sole purpose is to receive and display reviews.

What do I do next?

Asking for reviews can be difficult, but is important. Don't worry - we'll be covering the best ways to approach this in our next reviews series installment.

Until then, take a look at your business' Google My Business page and Yelp listing to see how you're doing.

Written by Patrick Quinn on August 15th, 2014

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