For those of you who steer away from Google Reviews, please read and stay tuned for an update that may help or hurt your small business. Diving in… The obvious first: When comparing similar items to purchase, we’ll select the item that’s most desirable. It may be the visual appealing nature, a recommendation, or even the perceived value over the others that give you the desire to select that item.
In many ways, online selection of items has also grown this way. Without the ability to pickup and inspect a product or compare the details of a service to understand how it stacks against it’s competitors, consumers are often left comparing other variables.
So what is the major metric used to differentiate from one product versus another? The answer is both obvious, with the title of this post, and quite interesting. The answer is Trust. When shopping online for products and services, factors like return policies, warranties, and testimonials/reviews often outweigh price. This leads us to the purpose of our discussion today… Reviews. Think about how many times have you searched for a product and sorted for 4-5 star reviews. Then consider how many times you’ve inspected reviews that may be negative to see what the issue was for the consumer. Personally, I do this all the time. I also think my buying habits have changed because of the time I spend looking at reviews. Case in point… I recently purchased a new laptop for my Son. While purchasing, I shopped around through Tiger Direct, New Egg, Amazon, and Google. Price and quality were my main two factors. Taking the ability to filter my results based off of desired specifications, I then had to compare the results:
- First – I didn’t weigh any product that didn’t have ratings
- Second – I looked through the ratings for the best and worst for constructive criticism
- Next – I looked to see if the admin of the product responded to assist in addressing negative criticisms
- Finally – I looked at what I had left and compared prices
What does it all mean today? Just this week, Google has performed an update where businesses with ANY number of reviews will show up in the Map Pack. In the past it typically took around 5 reviews to show up. Referencing the pic to the right; in the past, the third business with 8 reviews stood out among the group.
For those who valued reviews in their decision making process, they were drawn to the listing with reviews over the other two businesses even though they ranked better.
Here’s the same search performed today. In this case they all have five stars, so the winner will typically be the higher ranking business. In this instance the update will hurt the third business initially, BUT… In the long run, this update will draw more attention to reviews and will ultimately help businesses with more reviews.
As Google is putting more and more stock in social signals, your business reviews are imperative if you want to maintain your rankings and ultimately get online business. Work to gather reviews! Solicit your past customers and incentivize a review! As you close current contracts, offer your customers a $10 Starbucks gift card if they write up a review for you while you’re waiting. What about negative reviews? Lets be honest, many business owners are extremely cautious with this due to the possibility of receiving a negative review. Don’t be! Lets face it, 100% approval of a product is a pipe dream and we know we can’t make everyone happy all of the time. It’s forced, un-natural, and can lead to speculation. This being said, when there’s a negative review followed by a timely response from the business working to resolve the issue, it’s typically a win for the business! It leads people to believe, even if the product isn’t perfect, the business will work with the consumer to get there. In other words: Negative reviews can equal wins for the business! Do a search for “turning negative reviews into a positive” and you’ll be shocked how many businesses actually prosper from negative reviews! Like this one. The moral of the story –
- Evaluating reviews will continue to grow as a factor for product and service selection
- Reviews are STRONG social signals for SERP rankings
- Don’t fear them as negative reviews can be turned into postive business
- The latest SERP update will draw negative attention if you have zero reviews or have few with low review scores