Over the years, I’ve worked with clients in a variety of different industries; medical, legal, hospitality, finance, real estate, ecommerce, you name it. For most (if not all) of these industries, online reviews have become increasingly important. It’s already difficult enough asking customers to leave reviews. It feels forced and unnatural. But some industries are trickier than others.
Online reviews have become the Achilles heel of local businesses. What people say about your business matters. I’ve seen clients lose 40 percent of their organic traffic, after a customer left a 1-star review, and tanked their average rating. I’ve even seen negative reviews force local businesses to close their doors for good. It isn’t fair, but it’s the harsh reality of owning a business in the digital age. The good news is that there’s plenty that business owners can do to reinforce their reputation.
BrightLocal recently released the results of their 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey. The purpose of the annual survey, which BrightLocal first launched in 2010, is to evaluate how online reviews influence consumer behavior, and how these trends shift over time. This year’s survey had just over 1,000 participants, and consisted of 16 questions. The 2016 data further reinforces the growing importance of online reviews, and when compared to data from previous years, you can clearly see just how much online reviews have evolved over the past six years.
It’s safe to assume that some of us – in fact most of us – search for ourselves on at least a semi-regular basis. Trakur ran a study in 2012 and found that nearly 50 percent of respondents admitted to searching for their name within the past 24 hours, and nearly 75 percent searched within the past month. Regardless what our reasons are for searching, be it vanity, curiosity, paranoia, one thing is for sure: we care about how Google sees us, because the world sees us through the eyes of search.