Word of Mouth in the Digital Age: The Importance of Online Reviews

August 24th, 2015 by Search Influence Alumni


Having just moved, I’ve spent a lot of my free time shopping on Amazon. From new bathmats to nice wine glasses, a majority of my paychecks have gone towards furnishing my new house. One thing I really needed, though, was a solution to the rock of a mattress that came with the apartment. I needed a mattress topper. Since it was something I would use every night, I wanted the ability to test out the feel of it first. The only negative of Amazon is that you can’t do that. So, whose opinions can I trust other than my own? Fellow customers.

I spent all night (on the rock) searching through different mattress toppers. I didn’t look at the actual toppers as much as the reviews, though. “This one’s too lumpy,” or “This one smells funny” were the words that guided me to finding the perfect topper. And now, I’m sleeping like a queen, thanks to my fellow customers.

In this scenario, I was the customer, and the product was the business. I passed up on a lot of toppers that were probably just as good as the one I ended up getting. Having a lot of bad reviews or no reviews at all were the deciding factors for me, and these things can be the deciding factors for whether or not your business succeeds online.

Consumers Trust Online Reviews Statistic Image

Why Reviews Matter

According to a study done by BrightLocal, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” Reviews can greatly impact consumer decisions, showing how valuable positive reviews are to local businesses. In the same study, “72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.” Thus, positive reviews increase conversions.

Negative reviews can hurt business and prevent a potential customer from converting. However, negative reviews can also be a positive thing. Negative reviews give a business unique insight in the ways they can improve, and they can also help eliminate consumer suspicion if there are too many positive reviews. A study done by Econsultancy found that “68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.” Overall, businesses should leverage the value of negative reviews by working to enhance their business and improve customer relationships.

SEO Benefits of Reviews

Not only do consumer reviews enhance customer experience, but they also provide some SEO benefits:

  • Improving local rankings by showing Google that people are engaging with your brand on third-party sites like Yelp.
  • Adding new content to your site. Search engines like to see unique content being added to a site regularly.
  • Increasing chances of ranking for long-tail keywords. Users reviewing your business tend to use the same terms that other potential customers may use when searching for your business.
    • Add reviews to many pages on the site in order to increase the amount of pages ranking for long-tail terms.
  • Adding schema markup for reviews, which enables rich snippets.