If you are asking yourself whether reviews are important to your business, the answer is without doubt a resounding YES!
Since I travel a great deal, websites like "Trip Advisor" and others have had a significant impact on which hotel I select for a business trip or holidays. The same is true when I want to purchase something. I cannot tell you how much reading a negative review has caused me to select a different product.
When it comes to retail, consumers appreciate validating their potential purchase by reading what others have said about the product. That even includes getting the assurances ( what I call the warm and fuzzies) about the retailer from which they are contemplating making that important purchase.
In a recent survey, an overwhelming 90% of respondents recalled that reading positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86% said that their buying decisions were influenced by negative reviews. Retailers now have the power to create a form to attract positive reviews online while addressing any negative ones that may surface. Retailers should focus their energy on taking control of their online reviews.
As a retailer, when selecting a platform for your web site, make sure you facilitate the process for your customers to make reviews, and that you do not limit the review section the product itself. Allow for the purchase experience to be reviewed, the delivery, the install ( if selected) so you can get an accurate measurement of your ranking.
It is quite obvious that Google is beginning to put more importance on the use of reviews. It is all about trying to narrow that gap between the social web and ecommerce, where sales themselves are becoming more and more social.
External reviews: They are important, and many small companies encourage their customers to hop onto sites like Yelp or Reseller Ratings for their opinion on the service/product. This is a good idea for small businesses, as customers are more likely to comment when they have positive experiences, unlike many large corporations that find themselves with reviews only when the customer is unhappy.
Fake reviews: Some people reading this are already tempted to begin what many companies do, which is purchase fake reviews. This is a mistake, since Google is working overtime to quell this phenomenon, as are the third party sites that reviews are hosted on.
What do you see when you put your company's name into Google? What you see is what your customer sees. You should address this and see whether or not you have a positive or negative impact on your customers. Reviews are a big deal on Google now, and user experience data is crucial for the average ecommerce site. There is a right way and a wrong way to use this tool, and you should prevent making a misstep. Luckily, the ranking benefits far outweigh the risks.