Ratings and recommendations go a long way in driving decision-making among potential customers. Additionally, they affect the online visibility of each location as Google ranks review signals high in the Local Pack algorithm. In fact, review signals were among the top three ranking factors for local packs and finders at Whitespark Ranking Factors for Local Search 2023 Studies for all branches.
Today, the average person reads six reviews before visiting a business, and according to our own research, Google is the most trusted platform when consumers evaluate their local business options. Reviews are either a great opportunity or a drain on your brand—but they always make an impact.
In this post, we take a look at the impact reviews are having on four specific industries, and share more insights from our most recent Study of consumer behavior in local search. We’ll also show you why online reputation management should be part of your marketing efforts, no matter your industry, and share best practices to help you maximize that chance to shine in local search results.
These are the industries where consumers are most influenced by local reviews.
Almost half of local consumers (48%) say that a service company’s online reputation plays a role in purchasing decisions. The service industry is diverse and wide-ranging, encompassing salons and spas, fitness studios, postal services, storage facilities and more.
Service brands rely on local search to get discovered by new customers looking for their services, and it’s important to use every tool available to improve the visibility of each listing. When you respond to reviews quickly and with a personalized response, you can show other searchers that your brand actively engages with customers and cares about their reputation. You can also set up 10 FAQs as an autoresponder to messages submitted via each location’s GBP to proactively answer the most frequently asked questions. Be careful though; Autoresponders are not an alternative to active management. Google – and consumers – still expect a response, usually within 24 hours.
Local service ads can help give your sites in particularly competitive areas or those with few reviews a paid boost to increase their organic presence. With LSAs, you only pay when a customer contacts the location directly through the ad.
Use this guide to build a stronger presence for each of your locations: Local listings for service businesses [E-Book]
Reputation is important to 47% of consumers seeking financial services. This is especially true for Millennials, with 53% saying that a financial services company’s online reputation plays a role in their decision to do business with them (compared to 35% of Baby Boomers and 40% of Gen X consumers).
Trustworthiness and accuracy are essential in this space, and Google knows it. Financial services are among the “your money, your life‘ (YMYL) Topics that the search engine believes pose a higher risk to consumers and therefore require special consideration.
Misinformation can have a devastating effect on searchers, and local reviews are a way for them to confirm and verify the truth of what the company is saying. Financial brands consistently rank at the bottom of the rankings Edelman’s confidence barometerAgain, this is an area where negative experiences can have life-changing consequences.
The past few years have been a turbulent time for consumers, many of whom have been affected in different ways by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, rising housing costs and inflation. Banks, financial advisors, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, and others in the financial services industry need to leverage all the tools available in Google Business Profiles to engage consumers with a presence that inspires trust and authority. Online reviews are an essential part as people want to know more about the experiences of others.
Literature recommendations: How financial services brands use online reviews to build trust
Reviews are just as important in healthcare as they are in financial services, with 39% of local consumers searching for healthcare providers saying that online reviews also play a role in their purchasing decisions.
Nearly Three quarters of consumers use reviews to help them find a new doctor. patients are twice as likely also use digital sources when looking for a family doctor instead of referring to another doctor.
Creating helpful content is important in any field, and healthcare is no exception. Google’s helpful content system underscores the importance of quality and value in content for your SEO strategy. Health content for your local listings, local pages, and website/blogs should be reviewed for accuracy by a healthcare professional, especially if that information could be used or interpreted as medical advice.
Important business information must be accurate. Imagine searching Google for “emergency centers open now” and selecting one nearby, only to find that it’s closed for a holiday. Or if you find your insurance accepted, you’ll be told on arrival that the listing is out of date. These negative experiences impact the patient and can live on for years in the facility’s or doctor’s online review profile, suppressing search rankings and turning off potential patients.
Literature recommendations: Online healthcare reputation management tips for providers and practices
More than half of the buyers (59%) use Google to research products even when intending to buy in-store and 39% Search for retail stores states that online reviews play a role in purchasing decisions. Millennials are the most likely to be influenced by a retailer’s reputation: 42% say it’s important to them.
When a product or seller’s ratings are too low, the chances that someone will make a purchase drop drastically. Conversely, if the average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 out of 5, the likelihood of purchase increases.
Retail brands can increase sales by collecting and displaying more reviews. According to the Speigel Research CenterReviews can increase a retail business’s conversion rate by 270%. The same study also found that reviews for higher-priced products can increase conversion rates by 380%, highlighting the importance of acquiring reviews in boosting retailers’ online reputation.
Use text messages or emails too quickly Follow up with customers after purchase can help your brand get more meaningful reviews as the details of the experience are still fresh in the customer’s mind. Ask specific questions about what they liked best, what they bought, etc. to get the most meaningful answer possible. Seek Review Management Software This amplifies positive reviews on public websites and forwards negative reviews to your team for intervention.
Best practices for local reviews for corporate brands
While these industries are among those where reputation management is essential to building better customer experiences, any brand can benefit from prioritizing their online reputation. Here are some industry-agnostic best practices for reviews to keep in mind.
Prioritize reviews as both a driver of customer experience and an integral part of your local SEO strategy
Google makes it clear: “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers.” can improve the visibility of your company.” A meaningful review profile for each location not only helps with conversion, but also supports search rankings and brand recognition right from the start.
Embed dynamic reviews on your local pages so consumers always get a fresh social endorsement to help them make a decision
First-party reviews have a big impact, with 63% of local consumers saying reviews displayed on a brand’s website are likely to influence their purchasing decision.
Choose a review management platform that aggregates reviews from all relevant platforms into one dashboard
From there, your team can triage reviews, intervene quickly on major issues, and assign other local managers to provide a personalized response (even if based on a template). While Google is the most trusted review platform, consumers also share their experiences with your brand on Facebook, Apple, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and various industry-specific platforms.
Ensure teams are able to respond to reviews immediately
Again, by managing in a branded dashboard, you can see response times and receive near real-time notifications. Our research found that 77% of local consumers expect a response from the brand within 48 hours. And according to Google, companies that respond to reviews are taken into account 1.7 times more trustworthy than companies that don’t (76% vs. 46%).
Equip your brand and all of its locations to respond at scale
We analyzed the review profiles of hundreds of thousands of business locations using our platform to see how review volume varies by industry and found that each business location receives an average of 23 new reviews per year. This means that a brand with, say, 600 locations or service areas could expect to see a volume of 13,500 reviews per year. It takes one Technology solution specifically designed for corporate brands to facilitate monitoring, responding and gaining insights from assessments of this magnitude.
Reviews may have the greatest impact on sales for the four industries listed above, but monitoring online reviews is critical to business growth in any industry. To build social proof and improve your business’ average star rating, request one Free local audit by Rio SEO.