How Local Business Reviews Affect Consumer Behavior

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How Local Business Reviews Affect Consumer Behavior

When it comes to building a strong online reputation and presence for your business, understanding the impact of local business reviews is key. And there are several surveys that are conducted on a regular basis with the main purpose of determining how consumer use of local reviews evolves over time, how customers use local reviews to choose local businesses, and what local businesses can do to better manage their online presence and reputation through the use of consumer reviews.

With over thirty per cent of searches having local intent, it’s no secret that local searching is now quite a big part of SEO. Of local searches, over twenty percent of consumers will either regularly or occasionally see online reviews of local businesses. Sixty percent of consumers say that they would not engage with a business if they found too many negative reviews when searching online, which just goes to show how much of an impact reviews can have on a local business in any industry. More than twenty percent of consumers say that Google reviews are the ones that they view the most, making these reviews especially important.

What is Local Search?

Local search involves submitting geographically targeted search keywords against a database of local businesses such as stores, hotels, restaurants, and services for example. Most local searches are not made with the intention of seeking general information. Instead, the main purpose behind these searches tends to be either to find listing details such as store contact details or opening hours, or reputation data from reviews, star ratings, and more.

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When it comes to local search, there are now more people using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for making these searches. The majority of searches are made through an internet browser such as Google Chrome or Safari, while a small percentage of searches are made through apps like Google Maps.

How Many People Search for Reviews?

Today there is no denying that online reviews are often one of the first things that people will look for when researching and evaluating a local business. Research by BrightLocal from 2020 found that over 90% of consumers will either regularly or occasionally read online reviews, while over 60% of consumers will search specifically for online reviews using a search engine such as Google. Almost forty percent of consumers go directly to a review website, such as Trust Pilot, to find online reviews for their research.

The Impact of Reviews on Consumers

How many reviews your local business has, and whether they are positive or negative, can have a significant impact on consumer behavior towards your company. Research has found that almost 74% of consumers will put more of their trust in a local business if they find positive reviews online. On the other hand, sixty percent of consumers don’t want to engage with a local business that they find negative reviews for. Only five percent of consumers say that reviews don’t matter that much to them.

Around ninety percent of people will read up to ten reviews before they decide whether or not to trust a business. Almost 70% of consumers will read between one and six reviews before they form an opinion of a local company.

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When they find excellent positive reviews about a local business, customers tend to spend more than 30% more on the products and services that the business offers. Over 80% of customers say that they trust online reviews of a local business more than they would trust a recommendation from somebody that they know. Just one negative review could cause local companies to lose more than 20% of customers who have not yet made a purchase. In general, consumers will be more hesitant to purchase from local companies that have a lot of negative reviews, or no reviews at all.

Does Your Business Have a Lot of Negative Online Reviews?

If your local business has a lot of negative online reviews and you are losing customers as a result, there are several things that you can do to turn this situation around. One of the simplest steps is to ask your customers who are happy and satisfied with the service they’ve received from your brand to leave a review. Research has found that around half of customers who are asked to leave a review about a business, service or product will go ahead and do it.

Make it as easy as possible for your satisfied customers to leave a positive review of your business by providing them with a link that takes them directly to the website where they can write and post their review.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

While you cannot remove negative reviews from the internet, except for in some cases if the review is not truthful or you can prove that it has been left by somebody who is not a customer of your business, the good news is that you can turn negative reviews into a more positive signal for potential customers by the way that you respond to them.

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Many consumers say that the way a business has responded to negative online reviews can change their opinion of the business. Because of this, it is important to carefully craft your replies to any negative online reviews that you get. How you deal with unsatisfied customers and negative reviews can help you turn the situation into a positive one. For example, a customer who has previously left a negative review of your business online may be inclined to return and update the review to be more positive if you respond in a way that helps them with their problem and rectifies the situation for them. Public responses apologizing for the experience that has led to the negative review, and offering to rectify the situation for the customer provides a positive impression to potential customers that your business is working hard to learn from mistakes and turn things around, which could lead to them giving your brand a second chance.

Online reviews are one of the most important things that consumers will look at when researching and choosing local businesses to support.