The Importance of Online Customer Reviews

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With the last several blog articles from me concentrating on the changes in Internet marketing, we take care of a lot of the aspects of it for our clients internally. However, there is one important aspect of marketing that the client must take on for themselves when it comes to gaining positive online customer reviews. Online customer reviews have gained major local online marketing importance and developing a habit of encouraging your customers to submit them will pay off dividends in several ways over time.

When it comes to what is being indexed and paid attention to online now, we've been saying for some time that it isn't so much what you are saying about yourself anymore, but also what others are saying about you as well.  Thus, the search engines are putting an emphasis on reviews as a part of being a factor for local SEO rankings.

These factors include a high number of Google+ Local reviews, whether location keywords are a part of the review, an overall positive sentiment trend coming from them, picking up 3rd party rating sites reviews and the diversity of where they exist for a local business.


The immediate benefit is what is generated at face value in line with the personalization of the Internet.  As shown in this image above, Google displays review ratings with all of their Google Places search results. Studies are showing that 88% have read online customer reviews to determine their decision to buy-contact or not, most look for multiple positive reviews when making a buying decision, and also say that the reviews help them trust a local business more. So, it makes sense that gaining numerous positive service or product reviews is a huge proven conversion factor for potential customers. As time goes on, it will continue to play more of a role in people’s buying decisions as an integral part of social networks and through personalization.

Best Sites for Online Customer Reviews

There are several primary review sites that should be a part of every customer review campaign. There are also industry or service contractor specific review site that should also be considered as follows:

Essential Review Sites

  • Google+ Local
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Yahoo Local
  • CitySearch
  • All Local or Regional
  • Industry and/or Newspaper
  • Sponsored Review Sites

Secondary Review Sites

  • Merchant Circle
  • Manta
  • Kudzu
  • Judy’s Book

Industry/Service Contractor Review Sites

  • Houzz.Com
  • Porch.Com
  • Angie’s List
Encourage Your Customers to Submit Reviews

With that being said, our clients, of course, are in the best position to reach out to their customers as they are selling their products or services to encourage them to submit online reviews.   We’ve been suggesting that they offer some form of gift certificate or discount to them after verifying that their reviews have been published.  Depending on your type of business and volume, the discount or gift can be in relation to what is fair for compensation.  Whatever you decide to offer, try to make it worthwhile as we’re finding that each positive review you can get is well worth it.

One way to make this easier is to implement a Customer Review webpage to your website.  After claiming your business in the various review sites, you can then place direct links to each one that is applicable to your business.  Give the review webpage link to your clients along with the incentive information you want to offer.  Include in the webpage instructions for them to help with your search engine marketing by being sure to be fairly specific with the words of the service you provided and to mention the city or town they live in as part of the write up.  A good example would be, "Ron from ABC Plumbing Company came to our house in Newport News to fix an emergency water pipe break issue we...".

Don’t Try Beating the System

One important factor that has been asked of us to keep in mind about submitting reviews. Each of these review sites are going to require your customer to register with them before allowing their review submission.  The IP address of the computer submitting the review also plays a factor.

So…. NO! - you do not want to have someone sit at a computer and attempt to  submit a number of reviews for your clients all coming from that one computer’s IP address. This will be picked up and most likely be penalized by suppressing the reviews and possibly blocking that IP. The IP address factor requires that each client submit it from their personal computer at their home or office. Because your clients are also going to have to take the extra time to register with each review site, make sure your incentive compensates them adequately for their time.

Online customer reviews are one of the top three Internet marketing steps you can do for local internet marketing.  Do yourself a favor and be sure to take the time to implement an effective means to make this an everyday part of your business.