In a global e-commerce economy where it often seems like quantity rules the roost, Google appears to be taking the road less traveled when it comes to local search engine rankings. Instead, Google is emphasizing quality in determining how local businesses are ranked in its search engine results.
Not surprisingly, Google has chosen to use customer reviews to determine which local businesses fall where in the overall rankings.
Google’s reasoning seems plain enough. Current statistics suggest that up to 90 percent of customers will read other customers’ reviews about a business before choosing to do business with that company. Therefore, using this metric should deliver reliable search engine results that dovetail with customers’ own independent ranking strategies.
In this article, learn about the increasing impact online reviews have on Google’s local rankings for your business.
One Metric With Many Names
What used to be called “reputation management” might now more accurately be called simply “online reviews management.”
To understand why, it helps to take a look at the known overall impact when a customer has a good experience with a company and when a customer has a bad experience with that same company.
For starters, both customers – the happy one and the unhappy one – are likely to write about their experiences in the form of an online review. But it is what occurs once they do that is really interesting in terms of reputation management.
70 percent of customers state they will terminate their relationship with a company after having a single bad experience.
73 percent of customers state they will recommend a company to their networks if they have had a single positive experience.
These statistics indicate that the impact of a negative experience and a positive experience is nearly equal in terms of customer reaction after a single sales experience!
The Measurable Impact of “Best” and “Worst”
Rewind just one decade, and only about half of adults were using the internet regularly in any capacity. Today, that number has skyrocketed to nine out of every 10 adults.
But there is another difference as well. Adults today are also more stressed and more time-crunched than ever before. This likely explains the rise in emphasis on reviews with words like “best” – or, conversely, “worst”. Another way these words can be expressed is in star ratings, with reviews in the 4 to 5-star range capturing the “best” category and reviews of 3 or below heading towards the “worst” category.
What does this mean for your company online? Any potential customer researching online for which company to use for what is now looking not just for “good enough” but for “the best.” Therefore, reviews that include these terms (in stars or words) are likely to get more clicks/conversions.
Viewed another way, up to 88 percent of customers relate to an online review just like they relate to a personal recommendation from a friend, and 72 percent say that reading positive reviews boosts their trust in a company.
So the shift towards search engine queries with terms like “best” also makes solid logical sense from this perspective. Local customers need to find a trustworthy business quickly, and strongly-worded online reviews (i.e. “best” or “worst”) are more likely to deliver click-throughs/conversions.
A Word About Independent Review Sites
Should you register your business? Why or why not?
When social media first exploded in popularity, many companies rushed to reserve their business name on every single platform. The outcome was predictable: most of these companies didn’t have time to maintain an active presence on each platform. This worked against them when their customers used these platforms to sing praises, resolve complaints or simply interact in meaningful ways and were met with only silence from the company’s end.
The same holds true for online review sites, which are just now coming into their own as true reputation managers and influencers in the global eCommerce marketplace. Register your business on too many of these sites and chances are good both positive and negative reviews will fall through the cracks, rendering the value of the positive reviews down to nothing and magnifying the potential impact of negative reviews left neglected.
Rather, pick just one or two of the most promising review sites to start with and really commit to being present on those sites to interact with customers. Then you can expand with additional listings as your marketing wisdom dictates.
Picking Your Online Reviews Battles
As an entrepreneur or company executive, you are probably already wearing far too many hats.
If you wanted to, you could pick any one of those hats and devote all of your time to just that task and you still wouldn’t even scratch the surface of its true marketing potential. (If you doubt this, check out Moz’s recent list of all the potential search engine ranking factors you could be focusing on right now!)
All that to say, when it comes to managing your brand reputation via online reviews, the same philosophy holds true. You can’t do it all – it just isn’t possible. So pick your battles strategically.
Remember, Google is now focusing on quality, not quantity. The new online ranking keyword is “best,” not “most.” So do what you do better than everyone else. Be the best of the best, and then let Google take care of the rest.