Marketing a local business today is harder than ever for two primary reasons: trust and context.

Context has shifted too, as consumers aren’t looking for information in the same places. Where a consumer once started their search for a local business with a question to a friend or family member, they can now turn to online reviews for that same information.


Three Ways Reviews Can Help Your Business

Brand Reputation

Monitoring and responding to reviews can increase ratings over time and create a better online brand perception.

Business Operations

Your customers are offering insight into your business with every review they write. By analyzing their sentiments and understanding your strengths and weaknesses, you can take action to improve your business.

Traffic and Conversion Rates

Generating and publishing reviews to your website can help you win more traffic (we’ve seen them increase click-through-rates by as much as 153% in search results). They can also increase conversions when shared on check-out pages, in marketing emails, or in paid ad displays.

Consumers Have Embraced Local Reviews Rapidly

Shocking though it might seem, 90% of consumers say their buying decisions are influenced by reviews. And 86% say negative reviews influence their purchase choices. Today, consumers seek out 10.4 pieces of information, on average, before making a local purchase. That number doubled from the year before, and reflects the new demand for data and information about your local brand experience.

For most consumers, the decision journey for a local purchase involves multiple information sources and devices, but search outperforms any other information source by more than double. With consumers increasingly relying on reviews to make purchase decisions and search engines devoting significant  search result real estate to displaying them, reviews have become a key component of search marketing today. This has two key impacts on your brand, your marketing efforts, and your success with local search and reviews.

Impact One:

Search and map results on mobile and desktop now include star ratings of your locations. These star ratings are crucial to the search user experience. If you aren’t “starring in search,” you’re missing a major opportunity to position your locations and your brand — and you could be losing out on significant foot traffic.

Impact Two:

When consumers leave search results to dig in a little deeper on your business, they’ll often end

up on a local listings site like Yelp. There, their attention will shift from the star rating to the written

reviews of your locations. Time is most certainly of the essence when it comes to local purchase decisions, with 63% of decisions reached in less than an hour. That means local decisions are generally made quickly.

If you lose the customer at this juncture, they’re not likely to stop and come back to their decision

later on.

How to Maximize Your Digital Presence With Online Reviews

Google puts a lot of emphasis on ratings and reviews content because consumers trust reviews to help them make better decisions quickly. To take full advantage of the new ratings and reviews paradigm, you must realign your marketing efforts around three new key ratings and reviews concepts. By addressing these key areas, you’ll be on your way to mastering your rating and review presence — which is key to getting more foot traffic.

Gain Deeper Insight

Consumers shouldn’t be the only ones using your reviews to make decisions about your business. Customer reviews hold valuable insight into what people do and don’t like about your brand experience. By reading through your reviews, you’ll discover which areas you’re excelling in, and also figure out what

issues are harming your brand’s reputation.

Hug Your Haters

No matter how well you run your business, you will inevitably receive negative reviews. It happens to

the best of us. Responding to negative reviews allows you to resolve issues as they arise with the goal of winning those customers over — and making your business run more smoothly.

Encourage Feedback

Your first priority for maximizing a ratings and reviews presence on Google starts with something pretty simple: your own website. In late 2016, Google amended its treatment of markup for

online reviews and clarified what it considers a relevant review on your website.

To make the most of this opportunity, you’ll need to collect your own first-party feedback — good and bad — and host those reviews directly on your website using a tool like Yext Reviews. This ensures that you get full credit for review content on your website.