In our connected world, online reviews are crucial to the success of your small business. Clever marketing and advertising used to be enough to get a business off the ground, but more and more, consumers are turning to the internet to find out if your business is a business they can trust. Here are some stats about the importance of online reviews in the last couple years:

  • 64% of consumers seek online reviews before making a purchase.
  • 80% of consumers say that a negative review online has made them change their mind about buying a product or service.
  • 85% of consumers are more likely to buy or use a product or service if they can find online reviews.

The Yelp Filter

Yelp has had a contentious relationship with many small businesses over the last couple years and is the subject of a couple class action lawsuits. Some small business owners believe that Yelp’s filter unfairly filters out positive reviews as spam unless you agree to pay for advertising with the company. Yelp claims this will allow more people to find your page and review your business. One business owner, Jordan Shafran, claims to have over 18 “five star” reviews that have been filtered out as spam, yet only a lone “one star” review is seen when searching his business. He believes these have been filtered because he opted out of a $300 advertising deal with Yelp. Yelp claims the filter runs on an algorithm and paying for advertising has nothing to do with the results that are filtered.

Keep Positive

It is important to minimize negative reviews of your business. Here are some tips to make that happen:

  • Give your customers an easy way to complain to your business. Giving them a way to vent their frustration will keep them from going online with their complaint and will let you take care of the problem before it makes its way to the internet.
  • Don’t argue with customers online. Just make sure you provide the best customer service possible and use the motto, “The Customer is always right,” especially when dealing with customers in the public domain.
  • Capitalize on negative feedback. Don’t get angry, just use negative comments as constructive criticism.
  • Follow up with customers if possible after the sale to make sure that they were satisfied with their experience.
  • Never make fake reviews for your business. It is not worth being exposed. If you run a business the right way, there should be plenty of people ready to write a positive review for your business.

Top Places For Online Reviews

There are many places to find online reviews. Make sure you are listed on all of these local business directories and encourage loyal customers to review you on them. This will mean no matter where someone finds your business they will see something positive.

1) Yelp
2) Google Places
3) City Search
4) Yahoo! Local
5) Angie’s List
6) Insider Pages
7) Consumer Search
8) Consumer Reports
9) Better Business Bureau
10) Facebook

Take this advice into consideration when presenting your business online. You can rally your community around your business and hopefully find some new customers, so long as you can keep the reviews positive and take care of any negativity as promptly as possible.