88% Of Your Customers Trust Online Local Customer Reviews As Much As Recommendations From Friends

Local Customer Reviews Count Big Time!

Local Customer Reviews Will Grow Your Business

How’s your Local SEO and local digital marketing strategy working for you these days? If your business is dependent on local business, be it from local residents, nearby communities, or tourists, Local SEO should be the #1 priority in your digital marketing strategy. In today’s article, you and I will discuss local digital marketing, local search and how local customer reviews are essential to building your local business.

How To Do Local SEO Yourself

Local SEO is a topic I’ve covered quite a bit on this blog. Our digital shop offers Local SEO services to business in Niagara Falls, the Niagara Region, and Buffalo, NY, USA, through to Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Toronto and the GTA. For further Local SEO strategies, articles such as 7 Easy Local SEO Tips for Website Optimization and how to Destroy Your Competition With Your Google+ Local Page will get you primed with serious Local SEO tips and tactics for your businesses Google Local Page optimization.

You should start by claiming your businesses Google+ page and optimize the hell out of it, completely. Ensure your businesses information is complete and consistent across all web platforms, especially Google+. Add photos, videos, social urls, as well as a well optimized, keyword rich company description.

Last but not least, be sure to verify and link your Google+ Local Business Page to your company website. Do not forget this very important step.

If you need a hand sorting any of this out, reach out to me and I’d be happy to help.

Local Customer Reviews

Online reviews are probably one of the most important and least prioritized digital marketing tactics for most of the businesses I meet with. Everyone wants good reviews, and for the bad reviews to be ‘pushed down’ the list. I’ve even met with a few businesses that asked if VPDM Digital does fake reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp. For the record – we most certainly do not, and never have. Ever.

If you’re not getting fabulous reviews, you need to look at your product offerings and your customer service. A decent digital marketing agency should be able to get the word out in a major big way, but when customers walk through your door, it’s all up to you, the business owner, to overwhelm them so much that they are compelled to share your content and write a review.

A company called BrightLocal, who offers local SEO tools to digital agencies and SEO consultants, recently released findings from their annual Local Consumer Review Survey. This study has revealed what many digital marketers already knew: the growing importance of online reviews in the customers purchasing decision.

What is the Local Consumer Review Survey?

“This is the 4th year we have conducted this study into consumer usage and attitudes toward online reviews. In May-June, we sent a questionnaire to our local consumer panel and received 2,104 completed survey responses. All respondents are from the USA (90%) and Canada (10%).

The purpose of the survey is to understand how online reviews influence the attitudes of consumers toward local businesses and how they directly influence the purchase of local business services.

The survey includes 13 questions. The following 4 charts represent some of the key findings of the survey. Full survey findings and charts can be viewed on BrightLocal.com.”


88% of Consumers Read Reviews To Determine The Quality of a Local Business

local customer reviews and local SEO are essential

Main Takeaways:

  • 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)
  • 39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
  • Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)


Summary Analysis:

Almost 90% of your potential customers have read reviews online when researching the quality of local businesses like yours. Even more important to note is that 39% of these potential customers so this on a regular basis.

From the chart above, it’s clear to see that this approach is trending upward. Meaning more people are regularly reading online reviews. This is a bright warning sign to any local business to actively promote new reviews and ensure you have a qualified social media consultant or agency actively managing and monitoring your online reputation.

It’s also interesting to note how the “No” column is trending downwards. Customer attitudes towards online reviews are improving.


85% of Consumers Read Up To 10 Reviews

local customer reviews are essential

Main Takeaways:

  • 67% of consumers read up to 6 reviews (vs. 77% in 2013)
  • 85% of consumers read up to 10 reviews (vs. 92% in 2013)
  • 7% of consumers read 20+ reviews (vs. 2% in 2013)


Summary Analysis:

It seems that most consumers need to read about 10 online reviews to make them trust your products or services. What may be surprising to you is that a greater number of consumers read more than 20 online reviews. It seems customers want to read as much positive as they possibly can.

This should signal local businesses to engage much more with online reviews. Particularly for small and medium sized businesses. You must have at least 10 positive reviews in order to please 85% of your potential customers. It’s the only way to build trust with the public.


72% of Consumers Say Positive Reviews Make Them Trust A Local Business

local SEO along with positive reviews are essential

Main Takeaways:

  • 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more (vs. 73% in 2013)
  • 10% of consumers don’t pay attention to online reviews (vs. 12% in 2013)


Summary Analysis:

At least 70% of users will tend to trust a local business based on their positive reviews. I have to say that we have found this with a couple of our clients. Brand new winery and restaurant in Niagara Falls, Weinkeller, has a slew of positive reviews on Trip Advisor, Google, and Yelp, and these reviews have clearly helped build their business to reach the #1 spot on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Niagara Falls.


88% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Recommendations From Friends

local SEO local positive reviews

Main Takeaways:

  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from close friends (vs. 79% in 2013)
  • Only 13% said they do not trust reviews as much as recommendations from close friends (vs. 21% in 2013)


Summary Analysis:

When 90% of users trust online reviews, from anonymous, yet somehow ‘trusted’ sources, more so than personal recommendations from close friends, it clearly shows that word of mouth is still alive and well in the world of marketing. In digital marketing, social media and online reviews have taken over as the new exponential word of mouth.

Before we get too excited or perplexed, let’s qualify the claims above. Search Engine Land says: “this trust comes with a caveat. There is almost a 50/50 split in what drives trust for this 88% of consumers. For one half, this trust will only be granted if there are multiple reviews to read. For the other half, this trust is dependent on the reviews being authentic. In this case, quality is equally as important as quantity.


The Wrap

This was an interesting study for me. We work with many hospitality and tourism clients over the years, including hotels, attractions, and restaurants in one of Canada’s tourism centre’s, Niagara Falls, Ontario. We really know how important customer review sites like Trip Advisor, Google, and Yelp are to the success and reputation of our local client’s businesses.

The study qualifies the value that users place in online reviews and how that impacts their purchase decisions and actions when looking for a local business to fulfill their need and/or solve their problem.

If you operate a local business, be sure to take the tips in this article seriously. A well-researched Local SEO strategy including an optimized Google+ Local Business Page are a must.

Executing and managing a program to actively solicit customer reviews on Trip Advisor, Google, and Yelp, is absolutely essential. This trend will only grow as we experience the proliferation of the ever-ubiquitous internet.

Wanting to improve your local customer reviews? Are you looking to step up your local SEO? VPDM Digital offers you a complimentary website marketing, SEO, and content audit to show you were you’re at and where you need to be to reach your goals. Get your FREE website audit today.


* Featured Image Source
* 4 Charts From BrightLocal