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Business reviews — whether positive or negative — are crucial in whether or not a consumer will decide to purchase from you. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Online reviews are a key part of your business’s success. Businesses need to have plans in place for encouraging customers to leave reviews, monitoring all reviews left and managing any negative ones. Here are three things you need to know about managing online business reviews in 2019.

Google is the most trusted source for business reviews

A number of websites now show online business reviews, so it can be hard to actively monitor each one.

Most of your focus, however, should be placed on monitoring reviews on Google. After it started showing online reviews in 2010, Google soon beat out companies like Yelp and Facebook for consumer review popularity. According to this report, six out of 10 consumers turn to Google for online reviews.

With such a high number of consumer visits, this gives the company a clear advantage over other review sites. So when consumers search for business reviews, Google pulls up its own star reviews first before showing competitor reviews.

Make sure you claim your Google My Business listing and actively monitor those reviews to help your business’s rating. And you don’t have to wait for customers to post an online review, either — more than 60% of customers will leave an online review for a business if asked.

[Read: Adore Me Uses Machine Learning to Turn Customer Reviews Into Insights.]

You can use negative reviews to help your business

Your goal should be to get as many five-star reviews as possible, right? Actually, maybe not.

A study by Power Reviews emphasized the importance of online reviews. More than 95% of consumers will read a product review before making a purchase. And 89% consider online reviews as an essential tool in the buying process.

If you’ve been hesitant to ask your customers for business reviews, it’s time to start taking action.

But customers aren’t just looking for positive reviews — they’re looking for authenticity. To make an informed decision, 85% of consumers, likely in the 18-29 age bracket, intentionally look for negative reviews to make sure they know what could go wrong. Too many positive online reviews can seem fake, causing some customers to doubt your business.

Plus, customers learn a lot about your company by the way you respond to negative reviews. And since 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews in less than one week, be sure to have a plan in place for responding to these reviews in a favorable manner.

Online reviews can boost your company’s SEO

If you’ve been hesitant to ask your customers for business reviews, it’s time to start taking action. Many companies are afraid of receiving negative reviews, but having no reviews at all can actually be worse.

That’s because most businesses find that the more online reviews they receive, the more their search engine ranking improves. This has proven to be especially true for local business searches.

Over 200 factors go into Google’s search engine algorithm and nearly 10% is determined by online reviews. Google evaluates the quality, volume and variety of the reviews in its ranking score.

Click-through rates are also an important factor for Google’s local search rankings. Customer tend to spend more time reading through company reviews, so the click-through rate is higher. So if you have a large number of quality online reviews, your business should rank higher for your products or services.

Online reviews are an important metric that customers use to determine your business’s credibility. The more high-quality reviews you have, the better your search engine ranking will be, which will add to your business’s credibility.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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