Online reviews, good and bad, have so much influence on small businesses. Most businesses out there incorporate a good online reputation strategy to work with or combat the way consumer influence affects the standing of their product or brand. It’s safe to say that all businesses are striving for big success! It takes time and money, but it’s worth the marketing spends.
Learning how to effectively manage your business’s online reputation and customer reviews will build trust and keep satisfied customers returning for more of your business. Overall, your reviews are essentially referrals to your business and will improve visibility in local search when a consumer is searching for your products and/or services.
Here are 7 local search and online review trends to watch in 2021:
Online consumers are leaving more 1- and 5-star reviews
In 2020, Yelp Press released stats based on Yelp reviews. They found that over 51% were 5-star reviews! So, what does that say about the rest of the reviews out there? The gap between a 5-star and a 1-star review is widening. Even more sobering, the only reason that consumers choose to leave a review is if they have something great to say about your business or they are disgruntled about something. This is more incentive to be sure that you belong to the positive review camp and not the negative review camp. You must take online reviews seriously. The success of your business depends on it!
In addition to your marketing efforts, encouraging your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews can help your visibility in local search as well. See our blog, 5 Ways to Encourage Great Online Reviews.
46% of search activity on Google are for local
Local search and the visibility of your business can make or break you. Nowadays, consumers are more likely to shop or seek service from a business online rather than paying a visit to a brick-and-mortar business. Online consumerism is on the rise due to increased virtual accessibility and the effects COVID-19 has had on the world. The writing is on the wall: Your business is online. Engage with your customers. Create a buzz. Stimulate business. You do that by having a clear marketing plan to manage your online reviews and curating happy customers.
Online consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
In an online survey involving over a thousand U.S. online consumers, 79% said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Bright Local, 2020). Since 2014, there have only been a 10% decline in trust. Despite the curve, many online shoppers are taking a stake in online reviews by other people they don’t know. That being said, any business owner can see how much power online reviews have over how prosperous their business is.
Many of these online consumers fall for fake or illegitimate reviews. These kinds of reviews are often posted by your competitors, bad review bots, ex-employees, and even by individuals that have never done business with you. Learn more about Violations That Qualify Online Reviews for Removal.
We’re under attack by fake reviews!
In a report released by the FTC, a spokesman stated nearly half of Google and Yelp ratings that lashed out at online businesses were fake reviews, with a quarter of them being likely fake.
Fake reviews can be removed if they violate the community guidelines of the respective review platform (like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor). They are inauthentic and, oftentimes, are written by ex-employees posing as customers, competitors attempting to tarnish the credibility of other brands, and unreasonable customers lying about an experience.
There are many ways to challenge these negative reviews and get them removed! However, it is more efficient, both in time and money, to use a software AI platform like Company Review Solutions that will automate the dispute and review removal process. Furthermore, our team of review removal professionals will build ironclad strategies and submit your reviews directly to these review platforms. It is good to have experience and leverage on your side when trying to take control of your illegitimate negative reviews. Fight back!
67% of online consumers are influenced by the online reviews of local businesses.
Business owners need to understand that modern-day consumers rely on online reviews when making purchase decisions. When it comes to social proof – the social and psychological actions made by the mainstream – all local businesses are under stiff scrutiny by consumers. A single negative review can devastate your business. If your business has 4 or more bad reviews posted at the top of your review pages, there is a potential that it may cost you up to 70% of your business (Moz, 2020).
Still not convinced? Read our blog on why online reviews are vital to your business.
Few reviews were left in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.
Google’s 2020 spam report found that there was an overall drop in reviews while many consumers sheltered-in-place during the pandemic. The same pattern was unmistakable when analyzing Yelp’s data.
It is safe to say that COVID-19 has altered the way brick-and-mortar businesses function and have quieted the activity on review platforms. Still, consumer frustration remains due to the inflexibility of pandemic restrictions over the last year. Online shoppers still want everything right now! If a business does not meet consumer expectations, even amid the pandemic, a consumer will still leave a nasty review. Whether the review is authentic or illegitimate, it still will affect your star-rating and local search SEO.
Who’s looking up your business location on Google Maps?
According to Google, 86% of online consumers locate a business using Google Maps! Suffice to say, you must claim your Google My Business page so that your business will rank, and your customers can find you. The very moment that you claim your Google My Business page, it will increase your searchability and rank power by 14%. Make sure that your business stands out and your business information is up to date. Level up!
Are negative reviews weighing down your star-rating,
making it difficult to rank in local searches?
Do you feel that your business has been wronged by off-base online reviewers?
Company Review Solutions can help you take back control of your bottom line and get illegitimate negative reviews removed. Unwarranted negative reviews should not influence your business reputation and livelihood. We can help!
Discover how Company Review Solutions’ review removal technology is the right solution for your business.