For small businesses, your online reputation can make or break you.
This is especially true for local businesses. About 88% of Google searches on mobile devices are for services or goods in the area, which means that a large number of potential customers who are looking for information on local businesses can be persuaded one way or another based on online reviews.
So, what exactly is an online review? It’s a digital rating of a business or product created by a consumer that appears on a website. Reviews can appear on the company’s own website — think Amazon – but review aggregator services like Yelp and Google My Business are just as popular. For home service providers like painters, handymen and landscapers, websites like HomeAdvisor are popular places for customers to leave reviews — good and bad.
Below are three reasons why online reviews matter, and how you can leverage them to grow your business.
1. Digital Word-of-Mouth
In the days before the internet, if you had a positive or negative experience with a business, you would tell a friend or two and they might tell a friend or two. Nowadays, your online review for a business can be seen by thousands. These ratings are an important factor in a customer’s decision on whether to hire or patronize a business.
According to one study:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews
- 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 31% are likely to spend more on businesses with “excellent” reviews
- 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 94% of online shoppers say that they will avoid a business with negative reviews
Take Action Today
Set up a Google My Business listing (GMB). It’s a free and easy way to showcase your business and provides a convenient forum to start gathering reviews. Ask customers to review you by simply sending them a brief, friendly mail and linking to your GMB listing.
If you have more of a niche business, there is likely a review aggregator website specific to your industry, like Angie’s List. Find yours, create a profile and ask customers for reviews.
2. Online Reviews are a Two-Way Street
Consumers today expect companies to respond to their comments. While no company looks forward to a negative review, it can represent an opportunity to connect, clarify or gather feedback that can ultimately help your business in the long run. Be sure to consistently monitor your online review channels and websites and take the time to respond to good and bad reviews alike.
While most websites do not let you alter or remove negative comments or reviews, they will usually let you respond. Doing so in a timely, non-defensive and cordial way shows that customer — and potentially hundreds of others — that you care and are responsive to your customers.
Take Action Today
Google yourself and your company name or go to Yelp or your industry-specific review website and do a search. Websites like Yelp allow customers to provide a review about a business, even if the business has not set up a profile.
If this is the case, you can “claim” the page as the owner, which gives you the ability to reply. Identify all the websites that are showing reviews about your business and respond accordingly. Again, be sure to thank happy customers for their review. This goes a long way when others are reviewing the comments.
If there are negative comments, do your best to understand where the customer is coming from and offer to make things right. Don’t lose your cool, as this can reflect poorly on you by others who are monitoring.
3. Increase Your Google Visibility
One of the not-so-obvious benefits of having online reviews is their direct impact on how Google ranks your business in its search engine result pages (SERPs). Google’s goal is to provide its customers (people searching online) with the best possible experiences and SERPs. To that end, it sees businesses with a significant number of four and five-star reviews as “good” and rewards them accordingly by showing those businesses higher up on the Google page.
What this means is that positive customer reviews are an increasingly important factor in Search Engine Optimization — the process of improving where your website shows in the Google rankings. All things being equal in terms of a website’s content, Google will likely show a website with more online reviews higher up than a website without many reviews. Again, Google is all about showing what’s best for the person doing the Google search.
Take Action Today
Evaluate your online presence or ask a digital marketing agency to provide an audit of your search engine visibility. Chances are you are not fully taking advantage of online reviews and their ability to help you show higher in Google searches. For example, the words that customers use in their reviews matter when it comes to increasing your Google rankings.
A review such as “John Smith company did an excellent job installing our new hardwood floors in Arlington” is more effective than “John Smith company did a great job and we are very happy with them.” Those keywords “hardwood floors in Arlington” have a benefit and signal to Google that the business receiving this positive rating performs a certain type of service in a specific location. That can help your website show higher in the Google results.
When it comes to getting more customers, what others think of you is critical. Online reviews play an increasingly vital role in how we shop, research, evaluate and hire businesses. Provide your happy customers with a means to sing your praises online and you’ll be on your way to showing higher on Google and growing your business.
If you need help with your website or digital marketing strategy, let’s connect. Dalton Digital is an award-winning Arlington-based agency that helps small businesses by designing stunning websites and driving growth through search engine marketing and sales training.
Come to our free workshop September 25th in Arlington for more information.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village