How Having a Large Number of Customer Reviews Can Save Your Business

At Prospect Genius, we’re pushing to improve our own web presence through increased customer reviews and social media activity. As we embark on this long-term project, we thought it would be helpful to illustrate why it’s so important for your company to have a large pool of customer reviews online. In fact, customer reviews might be what save your business one day. Here’s how.

A Lot of Good Outweighs the Bad

Negative reviews are like vinegar. If a salad dressing or cleaning solution had too much vinegar, what would you do? You would dilute it. Diluting the solution doesn’t change the amount of vinegar, but it does change the solution’s overall composition so that the bite isn’t as strong. The same logic applies to your company’s reviews: While you can’t extract a negative review from your listing, you can flood your listing with so many other customer reviews that a negative one has very little effect. If you can acquire a large volume of customer reviews before a negative one hits, that’s even better. Take Conner & Sons Repair, one of our esteemed clients, for example. Serving the Detroit area, Conner & Sons has an impressive Google+ Local listing with a rating of 4.8/5.0 stars from 29 reviews. Given that the overwhelming majority of its reviews are 5 stars, one or two negative reviews read like the flukes that they are. Without 27 or 28 other positive reviews surrounding them, those negative reviews would carry more weight in the eyes of prospective customers. Note: The owner of Conner & Sons Repair actually responds to one of the negative reviews directly, which highlights the company’s attentiveness and commitment to customer service. Responding to negative reviews is actually a very smart strategy. Read more about it in our previous post, “Keep Calm and Carry On: How to Respond to a Negative Review.”

Boost Search Engine Rankings

Reviews are important as more than just a reputation defense strategy, however. They also pack a super SEO punch. According to Jayson DeMers, a contributing writer at Forbes, “Regular reviews are important both in terms of your organic search rankings and new customer acquisition. Businesses who have frequent reviews are seen positively by Google and by potential customers. Thus, a herd of raving customers is good for both sales and SEO.” In the same article, “Your Guide To Customer Reviews For Organic Search Rankings In 2014,” DeMers also adds that Google’s algorithms weigh recent reviews more heavily than older ones. He even suggests that the nature of customer reviews may soon matter, as well: “Google can measure whether a review is positive or negative. While they’re not currently penalizing businesses for poor reviews, they may in future algorithm changes.” In fact, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, recently hinted at a future algorithm update that might reward merchants with positive reviews and penalize those with negative ones. In Danny Sullivan’s coverage of Cutts’s SXSW conference panel, Sullivan quotes Cutts: “We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.”

Increase Your Reviews

We’ve written extensively on this topic before, but here are the basic ideas you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave reviews.
  • Ask for reviews directly (particularly from loyal, repeat customers).
  • Act quickly, preferably as soon as your service is completed.

For more in-depth instructions, read our full post, “Make Your Presence Known: Get More Customer Reviews Online.”

The Takeaway

Having a solid reputation with your customers is great, but it isn’t going to help bring in new business unless prospects can also find you online. Collecting more customer reviews will make your listings more visible to those who are searching for your services. And for your future prosperity, you’ll want to make sure those reviews are as positive as possible. With an update to Google’s algorithms looming in the near future, you’ll want to take action sooner than later.