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on-line reviews matter for your company

New Survey Data About On-Line Reviews


Our friends at BrightLocal have kindly released their annual survey of local consumer reviews.  They usually come up with interesting results, and this year is no exception.  Marketing on the Internet changes rapidly, and it’s important to keep up with what’s important at this moment.  And, at this moment, on-line reviews have reached a remarkable level of importance.  Your business needs to pay attention to its reviews!

Here are some of the important findings:

  • 97% of consumers read on-line reviews for local businesses, 12% of them doing so every day
  • 97% of consumers say that they won’t trust a business unless it has at least a four star rating
  • Yelp, Facebook, Google and BBB.org, in that order, are the most trusted sites
  • 30% of consumers say that responses to reviews is key in judging local businesses

Using the Internet to Find a Local Business

Use of the Internet to find a local business has risen from 95% in 2016 to 97% in 2017.  Virtually all consumers are now using the Internet to find local businesses.

use internet to find a local business

It’s safe to say that the Internet has become a central method for consumers to use to find local businesses; 52% of consumers used the Internet once a month or more often to find a local business.

Now let’s take a look at the importance of on-line reviews in consumers’ search for local businesses.

Reading Reviews on Various Business Types

which businesses do you read reviews for

Virtually all significant business types are included in the use of reviews.  Take a look for your business in this list.  Are consumers reading reviews for your business?

Regularity of service use has high correlation with the frequency of use of reviews.  For example, most people are not looking for accountants or locksmiths nearly as often as they are for a place to have lunch.  Note that if your business is near the right side of this chart, then it’s particularly important for you to mind your reviews, since you will tend to get fewer of them, and it’ll be more difficult for good reviews to push a bad review down the charts.

Devices Used to Read Reviews

The desktop and laptop remain the most important reading devices, although we see steadily increasing use of mobile platforms, with the use of mobile apps for reading reviews increasing most rapidly.  This growing use of mobile platforms underscores the importance for everyone who has a Web site to be sure that it’s mobile-friendly.

Trusted Review Sites

most trusted review site

This data about trust is valuable for targeting review campaigns.  Yelp and Facebook are most trusted, followed by Google.  But then BBB.org is worth attention, too, at 15%.  Of course, if you’re in a travel-related business, this chart tells you where you want reviews.

It’s interesting that, although health care is a top subject for reading reviews, the health-related review sites didn’t make it into the most-trusted category.   If you’re in a health-related business, you’d be wise to seek reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google and BBB.org, and not focus primarily on health-related review sites.

Effect of On-Line Reviews on Opinion


how on-line reviews affect opinion

Here we see that positive reviews make consumers trust a business more.  However, on the negative side, there is growing skepticism about negative reviews, and a growing willingness to discount them.  In addition, a growing number say that they read reviews but that their selection of a business isn’t influenced by them.  One must wonder about that answer–if reading reviews doesn’t influence the choice of a business, then why read the reviews?

Minimum Star Rating to be Considered

This result shows a sharp change from year to year in the minimum rating to be considered.

minimum star rating

There is a strong shift from 3 as a minimum star level to be considered toward 4, and 4 stars is now the most-cited minimum number of stars to be considered.  This may reflect inflation in average star rating, because more businesses are paying close attention to their ratings in on-line reviews.

Currency of Reviews

This result shows that it’s not enough to simply amass a lot of reviews and then relax–consumers are looking for current reviews.  It’s important to keep acquiring reviews at a steady pace so that the review sites always have current reviews for your business.

The Bottom Line

On-line reviews matter, and they matter a lot!  You can ask your customers to review you, or you can take a more active role in providing a steady stream of reviews for your business by using a review management service line Dave’s Certified Reviews.  You can get a free report on your reviews by clicking here.

New Result–Impact of Reviews on Search Traffic

Reviews and Search Traffic

We’ve all seen the familiar arguments about how on-line reviews affect position in search results–hence, resulting search traffic.  In my opinion, it’s worth seeking on-line reviews just for that purpose.  However, recently I came across some hard data about another way that on-line reviews can affect traffic directed to your site from search engines.  And the impact is significant enough that I’m now recommending an active review campaign for every client.

The Client

The client is a health practice in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., far enough away from the city that no city dwellers are likely to be prospective patients.

I routinely study the Web marketing efforts of my clients’ competitors, both to use as a benchmark of our success and to learn what strategies are working in this particular market.  For my client, I had been carrying out a more or less conventional SEO campaign, working on tags, page titles and the like.  Things were going well, and my client was steadily gaining in search engine positions for the terms that I was working on.

However, there was one competitor’s site that was getting as much traffic as we were, although we were beating them like crazy in position in search results!  Then they had one day when they passed us in traffic.  I’d been watching them for some time–they have a nice site, but they are clearly not doing any SEO work.  And they’re trailing our search results positions for dozens of keywords!  Why are they getting so much traffic?  What is there to learn from what they’re doing?

The Data

A study of their site and positions showed that more than 75% of their search traffic came from the name of their practice, which was different from their URL.  An easy explanation would be that they had great position on the practice name because it’s in the URL, but it isn’t.  However, they did have position #1 for the practice name.

Further study of the traffic data showed that there were 2400 searches per month on the competitor’s practice name, but only 40 per month on my client’s practice name!  My client had a more generic practice name, that I’d expect to be used in search more than the competitor’s.  So what’s happening?  Why are there so many searches on the competitor’s practice name?


I ran a summary report of the competitor’s on-line reviews in a sampling of review sites, and a similar report for my client’s reviews.  This report shows reviews on just six important sites, not all the 40+ that are of interest; but for many businesses, these are the most important review sites.  Incidentally, you can run that same report, for any site you want to check out–try it for your own site and a competitor!–by clicking here.

This report showed that the competitor, in just this sample of review sites, had 240 reviews.  The report for my client’s site showed just 24 reviews for this same sample of review sites.


So what’s going on here?  What we’ve heard is true–prospective patients are searching review sites for a local practitioner with good reviews.  Then they do a Google search on the name of the practice that they decide to patronize.  That’s why my competitor’s practice name is being searched for 60 times more than my client’s.

The Bottom Line

An active campaign to obtain and manage reviews is one of the most important Web marketing efforts that you should undertake.

Of course, Dave’s Certified Reviews is a great way to conduct your review campaign, with all the hard work done for you so that you can focus on your business.


How to Deal with Bad Reviews

Why Care About Reviews?

Review sites have been called the village of the twenty-first century.  Today this is where people come together to share views about what’s good and what’s not good, which businesses treat you well and which don’t.

A new kind of Web shopping is taking place–in many cases, shoppers go to Web sites to find the companies who are candidates to deal with, then the go directly to those companies’ sites.  They may go entirely through a buying cycle and never use a search engine!  Yes, search engine position still matters for those who do search, but also it’s important to pay attention to your reviews.

Dave’s Certified Reviews

I write this, and will write more, about reviews because I’ve started Dave’s Certified Reviews, which I’ll call DCR here, a comprehensive review management service.  It helps you acquire genuine, favorable reviews, it allows you to see and reply to your reviews, and it lets you put a live feed of current, favorable reviews on your own site.

In the two years I’ve spent getting DCR ready to launch I’ve been very involved with reviews, so have some advice to share on the subject.

Ten Commandments for Bad Reviews

Moses put his operating principles for life into ten commandments, so here’s a set of operating principles for bad reviews that has just ten rules.

First, don’t panic!  As long as you have a great majority of favorable reviews, an unfavorable review won’t hurt you.  In fact, if you don’t have some unfavorable reviews, you’ll lose credibility.  Sophisticated readers of reviews know that every company messes up now and then, so if they don’t see any unfavorable reviews they will discount all the reviews they see.  So it’s not the end of the world.  But it is important that you handle it right.

1. Monitor Your Reviews

If you’re going to respond to a negative review, you have to know that it’s appeared somewhere!  At least once a month, and better, once a week, look at the most important review sites:  Google, Yahoo and Yelp.  Depending on your industry, there might be other review sites that are important to you, such as Healthgrades for practitioners in the healing industry.

You can do this monitoring yourself by just looking at the sites, or use a service to tell you when there’s a new review.  DCR sends you an email when you get a review, so that you can act on it promptly.

2. Reply

Many businesses don’t reply to reviews.  Perhaps the view is that a bad review will just go away if we pretend it’s not there–but it won’t.  In fact, if you don’t reply to it, you’re letting the criticism stand unanswered.  A reader may think that you don’t care about the criticism, or that you’re implicitly acknowledging that it’s correct.

Replying to any review, favorable or not, shows that you care what your customers think.  A good opening is to thank the reviewer for taking the time to comment, and to state how important customer opinions are, and how you value the feedback you get from reviews.

Remember that your reply is for other readers of the review as much as it is for the reviewer.  The reviewer may have simply wanted to vent, and won’t care about your followup; but hundreds of people may read your reply and used that to form opinions about your business.

3. Restate the Concern

This is your opportunity to let the reviewer know that you understand the concern.  You want to make it clear that you do understand. “It sounds as though the salesman didn’t do enough to explain what foods to serve with this wine.”

This is a good technique to use when responding to positive reviews as well.

4. Explain How You Will Fix Things

Be specific.  “We are putting recommended foods on small posters on the wall near each group of similar wines, to help you with wine-food pairing, and we are encouraging our salesman to learn about pairing wine with food.”

If it’s a problem you can’t fix, say so.  “I’m sorry that the traffic noise disturbs your meal.  A good time to come is before 5 pm or after 7 pm, when the traffic is not as heavy.”

5. Complete the Story

The reviewer may not have told the whole story.  “I brought back a carton of milk that I diddnt want and the clerk would not accept my return.” You can add that you can’t accept the return of perishable goods unless they are defective, because of the danger that they may not have been stored properly since they left the store.

6. Don’t Use a Generic Response

If you don’t have time to actually compose a response for each situation, better to not reply.  A form response, that’s repeated for a bad reviews, is a loud message that you really don’t care.

If you look at a lot of reviews (as you would if you were putting together a review management service) you’d get to experience that bad impression that’s given by companies that have standard–or slightly tailored–responses that they give to reviews, particularly unfavorable reviews.

7. Don’t Respond Defensively

Being defensive tends to reinforce the criticism.  No reply is better than a defensive reply.  Don’t say something like “You can’t be correct in this.  Everyone else likes it.”

8. Don’t Dis The Critic

The reviewer has taken the time to give you feedback, for which you should be grateful.  Being ungracious to the critical reviewer is a way to show that you can’t handle criticism, that you really don’t care what your customers think.

9. Not All Reviews Are Created Equal

Some reviews have so little content that they don’t deserve a reply.  In that case, just let it stand by itself.  Other readers will have the same view and understand why you didn’t reply.

10. Forget about Lawsuits

Don’t even think about suing a reviewer.  If a review is horrible, then take steps (like those provided by Dave’s Certified Reviews) to get more favorable reviews.  As long as you have far more favorable than unfavorable reviews, you’ll be all right.  Of course, if you’re getting mostly unfavorable reviews, then you need to take action that goes beyond review management.  You need to see why your business isn’t satisfying your customers and fix the problems.

The Bottom Line

Pay attention to your reviews, and reply constructively and substantively to those that are unfavorable and the more substantive favorable reviews as well.