Reviews – The Backbone of Searching for Businesses Online

We’ve been looking at social media and reviews quite a bit in recent articles. It is becoming much more important and if you don’t think about this you could find your business left behind.

I recently found an excellent article by Trond Lyngbø that comprehensively discussed the link between social media, local search engine and public relations. I’ve pulled out some of the key information that is particularly relevant to people running small and medium sized businesses.

“A major shift has taken place that alters the way you’re doing business online”

Now that’s a powerful statement. What the author is referring to is the need to gain trust. You can’t just get trust, you have to earn it. How? In the digital era start by embracing change, because you must evolve to survive.

social media petalsLet’s start by looking at local search. Have you taken a look at Google search results recently?  If you have, you might have noticed that local search results – those with pins that link to maps are now displaying higher on the list, often at the top One reason why is that Google is putting people first.

Local search results are significantly influenced by 2 things:

  1. The number and tone of reviews from local customers (tone being positive, negative or neutral)
  2. The citations your business has received

Citations could be directories where your business is listed. These are important, but it is social signals via positive reviews from  other people that really implies trustworthiness. So reviews are where the biggest change is happening. Convincing satisfied customers to post good reviews is the name of the game.

How Social Media Influences Search Results

The example of local search shows that there’s no getting away from the fact that social content is ranking well. Social content comes from social platforms –  sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs and discussion forums. Anywhere where you can meet existing customers and new prospects is a potential social platform for you.

You don’t have to look far to see how social signals work. They’re everywhere. Trond Lyngbø’s article gives two examples. If you have travelled, you’ve probably heard about TripAdvisor. People use TripAdvisor before they go on holiday to help them decide where to stay and what to see. Yelp, a business directory, is the other example. People use Yelp, along with other directories to help them choose a local business. These are social signals in action.

“What people say about your business — their feedback, the ratings they leave — everything — is publicly accessible to your prospective buyers.”

That’s food for thought.
So instead of avoiding or ignoring social media, embrace it. Yes, it does take time, but ask yourself if you can afford not to. There are businesses who can help you. Once you embrace it, you may find it presents opportunities you never knew existed.

So back to reviews – the backbone of social search today
What do you need to do to encourage people to review your business?

  • Businesses with a reception area can place a sign at the entrance or on the counter.
  • How about putting a link to your Google+ Local listing or your Facebook page on your invoices with a nice little message?
  • Take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing.
  • Get online and see what other ideas you can find.

Whatever you do, do something because these days trust is won by proof – social proof.

Related Articles:
On-line Reviews and Why You Should Care About Them
Do I Really Need Google+ For My Business?
The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly