Reputation is a priceless asset for the entrepreneur, the business owner, the artist, the blogger, and anyone else with an online service or product. What people say about you doesn’t always matter, but in the retail or service industry? Word of mouth has an immeasurable impact on you and your business. Entrepreneurs need to listen to feedback, myself included. That means monitoring the reviews that show up on LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and so on.

93% of customers have said that they base their decisions on online reviews. Research by Review Trackers found that 49% of consumers often check online for reviews to base their decisions off of, and Search Engine Land furthers this with research that found 72% of online customers place trust in reviews just as much as they trust referrals from friends and family.

In short, you need to know how online reviews affect local SEO and how to apply reviews to your business to make it better.

Online Reviews Make You Local

One of the most sought-after places in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) would be the local group, a set of highlighted Maps-based results that are high-ranked businesses with excellent reviews. In 2017, Moz released a “Local Search Ranking Factors” report that looked into the review signals that determine where you business gets listed in the local pack, including the quantity, diversity, and frequency of reviews.

Reviews Are In The Top Ranking Factors

While reviews and the quality of them can make you a more desirable local business, reviews are also factored into organic results. Localized organic ranking factors include link signals, on-page signals, personalization, My Business signals, review signals and more. Google even made a statement: “Review count and score are factored into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.” And how does this help you? High ratings and consistent testimonials of satisfied customers will be persuasive enough to make potential buyers click and convert.

Reviews Build Brands

Receiving reviews gives you a chance to do some spectacular with that feedback. You can reshape your business to become a brand with superior performance. Here are some things that show up reviews that you should keep in mind:

  • Rating scores
  • Review quality
  • Review quantity
  • Date and frequency of reviews
  • Review diversity, such as showing up on different review sites
  • Authority of the sites where the reviews of are present

Therefore, if you have a significant number of reviews that are 4-5 stars (or an equivalent) spread across a number of high-authority review sites, you will have a better chance of being found by your target audience.

Not only that, but the rating scores that other consumers have given you has power. Low rating scores can dissuade people from buying from you. Conversely, high ratings will convince people to give you business. According to Search Engine Land, only 13% of online customers will buy from a business with a 1 or 2 star rating or equivalent. Additionally, 1 in 3 diners will not eat at someplace rated below 4 stars. You might not be in the restaurant business, but this is significant.

People aren’t going to waste their time and money on a brand that has left many others dissatisfied. Consider this: Sprout Social found that 4 in 5 consumers reverse their purchase decisions after having read negative reviews.

As you can see, your credibility and reputation is dependent on how the target audience sees your business. Having a number of reviews will boost credibility, but you also can’t have thousands of sub-par reviews. That said, having reviews that show honesty and transparency is better than no review at all. This means that if you receive negative feedback, you need to address that publicly. Let other potential customers see that you took responsibility for the bad review.

In conclusion, online reviews shape your brand by influencing how people see your brand. The quality, quantity, and other factors also have an impact on local search rankings. It’s critical to your business to invest time in boosting your visibility, credibility, and reputation by managing reviews and getting that positive feedback.