Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal if you’re running a business. Word of mouth remains powerful due to the way you can now capture and show it to your target audience using modern digital marketing tools. Working with the right marketing channels, you can easily expose the positive reviews your business has collected to other potential customers and help build confidence in your products or services. Online reviews are today’s word of mouth marketing and they can make your business grow faster compared to those without feedback to work with.## Why Are Online Reviews so Important? Crowd-sourced online review portals like [Yelp](https://yelp.com), [Google MyBusiness](www.google.co.uk/Business), [Google Maps](http://maps.google.com), [Yell](https://yell.com) & [Checkatrade](https://checkatrade.com) play a crucial role in determining the successs of your business. Your potential, current and loyal customers are using them daily to make their decisions. Why?
Online reviews have become easy to discover, thanks to search engines, mobile apps and the introduction of review features into social platforms like Facebook.
Reviews for a business become visible to potential customers before they even click a link. For example, if you perform a search for “conservatories Christchurch” the results show the following. As you can see the ratings for each business are included in the results:
The Importance of Online Reviews
On occasion results will even include a snippet from a customer review. Once again, this is before the potential customer has even clicked on a search result.
How Online Reviews Help Your Business
Exposing positive information about your business online isn’t the only benefit of reviews. Read more to learn about the ways that reviews can help you in your digital marketing efforts.
Search Engine Optimization
Search review sites like Checkatrade and Yell have been around a long time and have exstensive databases of information. Search engines like Google give favor to sites with a presence like this, so it’s not uncommon for a small business’s Yell or Checkatrade or even Facebook page to rank higher in search results that it’s actual website.
Even if your company page doesn’t rank, your company name might still show up as part of a list. For example, performing a search for “worktops cambridge” yields the results below. The top hitter, Cambridge Worktops comes up first and shows the feedback left directly by customers which is great exposure for an up and coming business. Sometimes to get the first page, all it takes is positive reviews.
The Importance of Online Reviews and Listings
This is perhaps the biggest factor in the important of online reviews. The more reviews you can get on websites like Checkatrade, Google MyBusiness, Yell, the higher chances of your business showing up on the first page of Google.### Buyer Decision-Making
Online directories and review sites have continued to change over time into exstensive platforms that aggregates a wide range of data from multiple sources. With so much information, these sites have become more credible to consumers than reviews from professional critics. In fact, roughly 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This is gigantic. As such, potential customers aren’t just stubling upon online reviews in their online endeavors; many are intentionally heading to directories and review sites to scope out the businesses that are right for their needs and make purchasing decisions.
Potential customers look at star ratings, the total number of reviews and basic business info. After that, the next place they look are the indivudual reviews to learn what to expect from a business and whether or not they should use their services. Overwhelmingly positive comments on a nearby dentist? Worth a call. Lots of similar bad experiences with service at a restuarant in towm? Not worth visiting. Expectations set.
The Influence of Online Reviews
To get a grasp on how to understand the value of online reviews, let’s look at Checkatrade specifically. On Checkatrade, each review contains a whole star rating, and a breakdown of the different aspects which fed directly into the star rating. If a business provides an estimate but bills for more, this is all laid bare and captured in the total star rating. Every aspect of the service delivered matters and the different half a star or poor experience can deter potential customers picking up the phone.
Reputation Management Best Practices
By actively monitoring and responding to online reviews, you can influence the decisions of prospective customers and turn your online reputation into an asset for your business.
Don’t Let Reviews Scare You
There will always be negative reviews and you can’t please everyone, but that’s okay! Having balanced reviews makes your business look legitimate, and consistent, quality responses to reviews will show you care about your customers.
If you do your best to provide excellent service, good reviews will outweigh the bad ones and your business’ review pages will be a useful tool for prospective customers to find you.
While we don’t know what the future has in store for review sites, we do know that they’ll continue to play an instrumental role in attracting (or scaring off) new customers. Online reviews and review sites are only gaining more and more traction in the world of digital marketing, so take advantage of the opportunities they provide and start actively working on your online reputation today.