By Ankit Kharola

Whether you are looking for a new smartphone, choosing a beauty salon, looking for a bank branch or a restaurant, studying reviews is an obligatory step of the user “path” before buying or contacting. Moreover, today it is easier than ever.

Map users (Google and Bing) readily read reviews left by other users. Why not, because it’s convenient. I found a company on the map, plotted a route, looked at the photo, then immediately went to the reviews tab.

For companies selling goods, a few bad reviews may not affect the brand’s reputation, but for a business that provides services (banks, hairdressers, cleaning services, medical centers, etc.) reviews, and at the same time the brand’s reputation, have a direct impact on the loyalty of future customers and profitability in general.

In this article, we will tell you how to motivate customers to write reviews, what benefits can be derived from this, the relationship between the number of reviews, the rating of the company and the position taken by the company in local issuance.

All of the data below is based on BrightLocal’s large-scale feedback study, which involved more than 93,000 local companies from 26 different industries.

Number of Reviews By Industry

As for the distribution of reviews by industry, the top three are restaurants, bars, and hotels. Next up are local stores/points of sale. It is about them that users leave comments on the network most often.

There is a logical explanation for this. First, their “density” in a city/district is higher than, say, real estate agencies or cleaning services. In addition, people go to cafes and shops much more often than resort to the services of other companies or contractors.

Regarding the number of reviews in popular industries, the graph above shows that the top again includes representatives of the hotel and restaurant business, as well as local stores (they have ~ 117 reviews on Google).

74% of companies with physical locations have at least one Google review.

Motivating Customers to Leave Feedback

Every year, reviews become an increasingly important ranking factor (the company’s position in issuance) and play an important role in promoting the company on cards and organic issuance.

This means that it depends on them how often competitors of your business will appear in the top local delivery, which gives an absolute advantage in attracting leads.

Keep in mind that when ranking, Google also takes into account reviews/ratings of other sites. Therefore, it is important to work with all sources.

Moreover, Yelp sites often fall into the top of organic issuance – for example, the corresponding sections and, at the same time, company cards receive traffic.

And one more thing: when registering on relevant sites, backlinks to the company’s website are created. The build-up of high-quality link mass (citation signals) is also positively perceived by the search engine.

Having found out why it is important to encourage customers to leave feedback, we will return to the results of the study and establish whether their number and rating affects the ranking in local results.

The number of reviews and the Google rating depending on the position in the local SERP

According to the study, in order to qualify for local packs, companies need 47 Google reviews on average. With only 7 reviews less, your business runs the risk of falling to lower positions and not “showing up” in the top 3.

Regarding the average ranking of Google depending on the ranking in the local search results (including companies with one review, at least), the graph below shows that the difference is insignificant. Those at the end of the top ten have an average of 4.45 stars.

On the other hand, although the “star” gap between those who occupy the first position in the SERP and the tenth is only 0.2, being in the first three (local pack) gives a huge advantage and increases the chances of getting leads.

Therefore, every review left is important, which can “raise” your rating by only 0.1, thereby “moving” the company, say, from the fifth position in the local issue to local pack.

In general, an increase in the “star” rating by 1 point increases the company’s annual revenue by 5–9% – not bad, agree.

Working with Your Reviews

Respond to incoming comments, questions, and negatives, as well as motivate writing.

1. Register accounts in Google My Business and Bing Directory

By marking all the points of your company on the cards, you can not only become “more noticeable” for customers who are looking locally, but also receive numerous reviews, and most importantly – quickly respond to them.

If the company is represented by numerous branches, it is necessary to create a separate card for each of them, adding contact and other information. So users will be able to choose the location they are interested in and leave a review about a specific office/point of sale, and not about the company as a whole.

2. Provide users with a platform

For example, a special section on the site or directly below the product description. It is important that leaving comments is convenient and does not require unnecessary actions. You can connect special services for writing reviews.

3. Create a motivation system

For example, a discount or some kind of bonus for the left review. For example, a cafe often offers a compliment in the form of free coffee for a recall, a taxi gives a discount for the next trip, and many services offer points that can be “spent” the next time you call.

The draw format is also gaining popularity among users who have left feedback.

4. Integrate with social networks

For users, this is an interactive opportunity to share their experience or receive “verified” information from “real” customers.

In addition, if a company representative takes part in such discussions, this additionally encourages users to comment and ask questions. It also increases brand credibility and favors an adequate assessment.

5. Do not delete negative comments

It is much more important to quickly establish feedback with the client, apologize, and discuss possible solutions to the problem. The presence of extremely positive reviews undermines the brand’s credibility and may lead users to suspect that you are deleting the negative or that the reviews are “bought”.

If you have a misunderstanding with a client for some reason, but in the end, the company’s employees resolved the issue and the client was satisfied, unobtrusively ask him to leave a review.

It is noted that such messages have an impact on the loyalty of future customers: the question of the dissatisfied customer is resolved – this is a kind of guarantee that any such conflict will be resolved.

6. Use personalization

Consider the possibility that the buyer who leaves a review, can add your photo (synchronization via social networks). This will cause more trust among users than anonymous messages.

7. Get recommendations from bloggers and opinion leaders

Reviews of goods or services on the pages of their social networks always favor discussion. Users will definitely join the discussion, share their impressions.

As the practice of companies providing professional solutions for working with reviews shows, no more than 10% of organizations work quality with reviews. On the one hand, this is a technical issue: it is difficult to keep track of all the comments randomly coming from relevant sites.

On the other hand, the problem is much more serious: often business owners do not even assume that this tool can not only affect loyalty but also expand the customer base and increase sales.

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos