What people say about a business online matters. But that they say anything at all matters even more. As we’ve seen, review sites and social media are channels that consumers use to discover, research and evaluate new products and services. But perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Not me. I use Google.”
It’s a good point. Unless we’re regular users of a site like Angie’s List or Yelp, we probably go straight to the search engines with our immediate needs. After we parse through the organic search results and the ads and winnow them down to a few top candidates, we might check the reviews on our shortlist, but it’s their visibility
Positive reviews “stick” with consumers longer than negative reviews.
in search that put them there. So instead of reviews, shouldn’t a business owner care more about things like search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising?
If you have the budget for it, SEO and paid search advertising can be highly effective channels for generating new customer leads. But they’re also ultra-competitive and therefore expensive, with high costs involved for either type of campaign to work.
Note also that online reviews are not just about influence: they create visibility, too. Especially in smaller markets, getting online reviews is one of the most effective and inexpensive SEO tactics you can implement. For example, a physical therapist in Erie, Pennsylvania just wrote us after he got his first Google+ review with BusinessRankings.org:
That SINGLE Google review finally put me on the map, literally! My business never showed up on Google maps with a little letter until that review!
As local SEO consultant and blogger Phil Rozek says, “Google wants to see signs of life.”11 A legitimate review on an authoritative, thirdparty review site is one of the most powerful signals you can send to Google. And the more reviews you have, the more visible your business listing across the Web, whether that’s through better rank in search results or more prominence on review sites themselves.
“I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so.”
— Sydney Smith