What are the benefits & advantages of online reviews?
Google reviews can give businesses a big credibility boost without having to spend a dime. The many benefits of getting Google reviews include Google ranking for local SEO, leveling the playing field, increasing your online reputation, and helping mom and pop operations.
So what is Google Review, exactly? Google business reviews allow any good business to prove themselves to their potential customers. People are able to go online and list their thoughts about the company without having to download an app. The reviews level the playing field where marketing hype, expensive campaigns, and slick copy become less relevant.
Of course, those same campaigns and slick copy can certainly have a huge impact. But they become less relevant in the context of Google business reviews, since reviews serve as transparency and social proof rather than beautiful marketing. Any searcher can type in a search query and stumble upon businesses with reviews from actual customers and make an informed decision on whether or not they should engage with that business—with positive reviews pushing them towards conversion.
Another one of the benefits of reviews is that they provide the opportunity for a business to level the playing field in regard to local SEO. Big or small, the business who takes advantage of Google reviews is in a position to rank higher in local search results. If Google thinks that the local shop selling running shoes provides a better experience than your average retail giant, that local shop can end up higher in the local search rankings. That same example goes for the retail giant.
What I'm getting at is that on Google, positive reviews have unprecedented power. A power to influence brand trust, local SEO, and feedback. That’s why we’ve put together a list and explanation of the top 5 benefits of online reviews.
1. Google Business Reviews Increase Brand Trust
Transparency is becoming more and more relevant for consumers. That relevance (and importance) placed on transparency can largely be accredited to the accessibility to vast amounts of information on any given business. Today, it’s not uncommon for a consumer to research a business before purchasing products or services. In fact, nearly 88% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. A large part of this research is generally done through Google reviews.
To really hammer home the power of Google business reviews, the same survey reports a staggering 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more than they may have otherwise. This provides a great opportunity for local businesses to gain a competitive advantage over the next business by collecting Google reviews. Conversely, it creates a sense of urgency in dealing with negative reviews, which will further build customer trust.
2. Google Business Reviews Increase Online Exposure & Local SEO
Google’s search algorithms are complex (that’s an understatement). But, there is one thing for sure: Google reviews have an impact on Google local search. According to Moz, roughly 9% of Google’s entire search algorithm is driven by review signals like the ones you’ll find in a business’ Google reviews. These review signals are generally focused around review quantity, velocity, and diversity.
A well-balanced combination of these three review signals can help catapult your local business towards the top of Google local search results. This helps your business get found much more easily and quickly than utilizing only traditional SEO activities like keyword research and blogging. While still important, as a local business it’s critical that you don’t rely only on traditional methods and neglect other mediums like Google reviews.
With proper execution, Google business reviews can be one of your most successful marketing tactics. This is partially because Google business reviews allow your business to show up in the “Map Pack.” The Map Pack (shown below) consists of a group of businesses near the location from where you’re searching. The map pack displays the name and link to the business, the address and phone number, and the total number of Google reviews in addition to the average rating.
3. Feedback Loop and Customer Intelligence through Google Business Reviews
One of the most valuable advantages of Google reviews is the feedback loop and customer intelligence you can gain. Every Google business review you collect can, and should, serve as a customer survey response for you and your staff. In addition, each Google review will generally tell you a few things:
- Whether or not your company delivered a positive customer experience
- Where your company did an amazing or not so amazing job
- What product or service they received from your business
Customer Feedback Loop for What You’re Doing Right
Customer Feedback Loop for What You’re Doing Wrong
By reading negative reviews on Google, you can quickly see what areas you need to improve upon and which areas you should be praising. At Podium, we’ve developed a simple process for any business to utilize when looking to get the most from their feedback loop.
The first step is to monitor and watch for a Google review after a transaction has occurred. You can either use an online reputation management platform, like Podium, to monitor reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook or you can monitor these sites manually. The major advantage to using a software platform is that reviews won’t slip through the cracks and jeopardize this entire process. Rather, a good platform can inform you every time a review has gone live and allows you to respond right from the platform.
The second step is to respond to the Google review. If the Google review is negative, you should always leave a response doing your best to resolve any issue. Our recent eBook goes into great detail on how to properly respond to a negative review. In general, it’s wise to apologize and provide a way to right any wrong they believe your business has committed.
Last of all is the process alteration. This is where you can patch up faulty processes or send praise to the areas that are performing well. By altering these processes, you are, in theory, testing new processes to make your business run more smoothly and efficiently. For many of our clients, this is a major value-add and competitive advantage over the next business in their industry. Through Google reviews and other review sites alike, they are able to optimize various areas of their business to provide a better customer experience and be found more easily on Google.
4. Improve Click-Through Rates to Your Website with Google Reviews
Any smart business knows that it’s vital to get customers to click on your link when it shows up in a search engine. You may spend all the time and money in the world on your SEO strategy, but if people aren’t actually clicking on your business, all the effort is in vain. Luckily, having Google reviews is an excellent way to increase the click-through rate when you show up in a search engine. Your Google review rating will show up next to your business name in Google, so a good collection of positive ratings will increase clicks through to your site.
5. Google Reviews Convert More Customers
Once customers have clicked through to your page, you’re nearly to the end goal. Customers who come to your site need to be enticed to purchase something from your business. While a user-friendly site experience and smartly designed web page are extremely important, Google reviews can be powerful enough to do the conversion alone. For this reason, any business with a strong rating on Google should be advertising that rating all over their website. This rating will increase customer trust even if they’ve never read your online reviews.
How Real Businesses Benefit From Google Reviews
Now that you’ve learned about the key benefits of using Google reviews, you may be wondering if real businesses are experiencing these benefits. In short, the answer is yes. Here are some examples of real businesses benefiting from online reviews:
- Shannon Fine Jewelry has a 5-star rating on Google and almost 200 Google reviews, which has led to increased traffic to the site. Customers report this is directly because of the reviews they’ve read online.
- Gallery Furniture has garnered 9,517 new reviews online, resulting in a huge increase in web traffic and inbound calls from customers searching online. They spend less online on paid search results and other marketing efforts because of their presence on Google reviews.
- Zerorez carpet cleaners has greatly improved their customer service and business thanks to the feedback of 13,000+ online reviews.
- Paul’s Pest Control has grown their business into a new market thanks to all the customers who choose them because of their positive online reviews.
How to Start Getting More Google Reviews
Are you convinced to start focusing on earning more Google Reviews? If so, you probably want to get started as quickly as possible. You may even be convinced to buy online reviews just to get an immediate boost. But before you jump into action, remember that the best businesses have real reviews they’ve earned fair and square.
Customers can often spot fake reviews or incentivized reviews from a mile away, and so can search engines. Stick with tried and true methods like simply asking customers to review your business, sending email blasts, and advertising your Google Review page to customers. You’ll be glad you went the more ethical route in the long run.
Collect Other Online Reviews
While Google reviews is the main heavy hitter when it comes to online reviews, there are other platforms businesses can focus on to see the benefits of online reviews. Yelp is one such site where businesses can send customers to leave a review, whether they own a restaurant, dental office, dry cleaners, or any other service. Yelp is locally-based and introduces their audience to the best businesses in town. Facebook is another great site to focus on getting reviews, since the social media powerhouse makes it easy for friends to share their reviews on the platform.
Any e-commerce business should certainly make an effort to garner a host of positive reviews on Amazon. Many customers rely on Amazon reviews to make their purchasing decisions, even if they end up buying the product elsewhere.
Google business reviews can drive three core areas of your business: brand trust, local SEO, and feedback. If you’re not currently utilizing Google reviews, you’re potentially missing out on advantages that your competitors may be utilizing.
Google reviews are also free! For many businesses, this marketing channel can provide incredible ROI (your investment is much lower than most other channels). With little time and resources put towards Google business reviews, you can see incredible results in a relatively short amount of time.
The bottom line is, if you’re not already, utilize Google business reviews and increase brand trust, local SEO, and feedback and insights. You’ll quickly find it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to drive leads to your business and gain trust in your geographic area.