Online reviews aren’t new. Their importance has recently shot up due to their increased ease of accessibility.  With the proliferation of mobile applications and the addition of readily visible ratings in the search results, online reviews are now more apparent than ever.

Modern consumers don’t make buying decisions blindly. They first read through several online reviews, and they know where to find them: On Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Facebook.

In a bright local study done in 2016, 90% of shoppers reported having read at least one online review before deciding to visit a business.

Due to its gravity, you must come up with strategies to optimize your online presence and build a positive online footprint. Some of the benefits you gain from doing it include:

Online reviews have a direct impact on sales

A Harvard Business School study showed that online reviews had a huge impact on the bottom line of a company with brands with positive reviews recording better sales.

According to the study, improving your Yelp rating by even a one-star can lead to an improvement of 5%-9% on sales. A landmark Berkeley study found that a half-star improvement increased the chances of a restaurant filling up at peak hours by up to 49%.

The fast rule of thumb is that if readers like what they see, they show it with their wallets. So work at attracting as many positive reviews as possible.

Drive purchases using social proof

Even strangers agree that it’s better to buy when others are around. Online reviews are today’s most significant source of social proof, and when you have many of them, you can see your sales soar.

Strive to get as many reviews as possible. Use Score My Reviews to reach out to recent customers and encourage them to leave a review on Facebook, Yelp, or any of your preferred platforms.

User reviews boost your SEO

To find more about your business, potential clients turn to search engines such as Google, Bing, and even Facebook. Search engines put into consideration plenty of factors to determine how and where your business appears in the search results.

One of the factors is original, fresh content. When you regularly add reviews to your business, you increase triggers for the search engine crawlers, which keeps your brand favored by the algorithms.

The reviews also add more content to your business, which sees you ranking for long-tail searches. When you are ranking high in the search results, your brand is visible to more people, which drives more business.

You have an open line to your customers

Customers don’t post reviews to simply let others know how they feel about your business. They also expect a response to their comments. When responding, keep your tone friendly and understanding.

Personalize the message with the name if available and acknowledge the review. Once you are done, sign off with your name and position in the business.

Reviews improve your credibility

Have you searched for a service provider online and found nothing about them?  You don’t transact with such a company as you find it shady, right? The same thing happens when potential clients search for your brand online and not find any reviews.

To avoid this, you should work at getting a stream of positive reviews. When you have people talking about your brand on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and other channels, you create the impression that you are a real business, and the customers can depend on you to deliver the service you are selling.

Reviews help with decision making

A study done by social media today showed that 2/3 of people get a second or even a third opinion before they decide to hire a service provider. They first ask their friends and family about a good contractor they know about.

If they don’t find one, they turn to Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor.

When you have many online reviews, your business shows up at the top of the results pages. If you have an established reputation and you have been responding to the reviews, you have an easy time convincing the potential customers to hire your services.

You build a stellar customer’s first point of contact

Before potential customers can even find your website, they are more likely to find you on Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other established review sites. Over 64% of consumers report first visiting the review sites before visiting a business website.

You should have an account in all the business review sites, directories, local listings, social media sites, and any other sites where people can give their input.

The next step

Okay, you get it. Online reviews are a big deal, and you should come up with strategies to lock them in. How should you go about it?

Seek them: Everything begins here. Reach out to your latest customers and ask them to give you a review by using a review management system. Depending on the service you provide, be strategic on when and how you ask for feedback.

You can even give an offer to attract more people that you can in return ask to review your business.

Make it easy for the customers to leave a review. This calls for you to provide them with direct links to where you would want them to leave their feedback.

Employ tools: While online reviews are vital for the success of your business, you don’t want to spend all of your time reaching out to your customers. This is where valuable tools such as Score My Review come in.

These tools help you to automate the process letting you concentrate on activities that drive your business.

You are under review

As you work, remember that people are talking about your business. Provide stellar services, and you will have an army of happy customers ready to vouch for your business.

Make it easy for the customers to review your business using review management tools. Turn your best reviewers to brand ambassadors, and you will have an easy time building a brand that will withstand the test of time.