During the COVID pandemic, many consumers started to read more reviews about local businesses—according to one study, up to 31% more. Even today, with business largely back to normal, shoppers are constantly looking online for a good local business or a service they can trust. And a positive review can be the final boost of motivation to go through with a purchase, reservation, or appointment.

So it’s clear that reviews matter, but keeping up with the latest trends can be challenging in today’s world. Here are three things that have changed about online reviews, and how to leverage them for your business.

1. Google is gaining popularity, while Facebook is losing it.

A survey of US-based consumers revealed that in the previous 12 months, 8 out of 10 (81%) consumers headed to Google to evaluate local businesses, in contrast with 63% in 2020. On the other hand, fewer consumers are using Facebook to evaluate local businesses. In 2020, 54% of respondents said they used Facebook to rate a local business, but in 2021, that number dropped to 48%.

Takeaway: your presence on Google is more important than ever.

If you haven’t already, claim your business profile on Google. The Google Business Profile is a free business listing from Google that allows you to turn people who find you on Google Search and Maps into new customers. You can personalize your profile with photos, offers, posts, etc., and if you run a restaurant, you can also set up your profile to let guests order online or book a table directly from Google.

Controlling your Google business profile will allow you to increase your visibility across all Google services like Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping and build trust. Make sure you are updating your profile with the essential info and show off what makes your business unique.

Claim your Google Business profile in minutes, not weeks, with SpotOn’s help.

2. Consumers aren’t just reading reviews. They’re also writing them.

In the same study, the results say that 74% of people have written an online review for a local business in the last 12 months, with about 34% leaving a review if they had a positive experience and only 7% leaving a review exclusively for a bad experience.

Takeaway: if consumers like your business, you will know, and that’s good for everyone.

First, make sure to let your customers know they’ve been heard. With review management software, you can save time and see all your reviews in one place, allowing you to easily monitor your reputation as it improves over time. What about the bad reviews? Google finds that all reviews are valuable. A combination of positive and negative reviews is more trustworthy than a business with just positive ones. So, always respond to feedback, good or bad, to show customers that you care and provide additional information or context as needed.

We've also compiled a playbook that explores how you can even utilize those online reviews to garner in more customers and maximize your potential for profits. Learn more by downloading our free playbook guide.

3. Fake reviews could be discouraging potential new clients.

Fake online reviews are now a reality. According to Trustpilot, fake reviews are among the most significant issues consumers have to deal with when shopping. This will cost the average American consumer around $125 per year. To real potential buyers, this can be enough to turn them off and to question the honesty of all your real reviews.

Takeaway: know how to identify and flag fake reviews.

How to spot fake reviews:

  • The customer user profile doesn’t have any information or profile picture and has inconsistent reviewing methods like repeat messages or zero review history
  • The review includes links to third-party websites or products to steal your customers and send them to the competition or dangerous sites
  • The reviews are non-specific, written in a different language, misleading, or nonsense

How to deal with fake reviews on Google:

Online reviews are one of the most important pieces of feedback that can help customers make good purchasing decisions. So the more you get, the more relevant your business will become, which will lead to more revenue.

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