Consumers’ Reliance on Online Reviews, Evolving Rapidly, Is Reshaping Local Search

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For local businesses, the age-old thinking goes, there’s no stronger marketing tool than word-of-mouth recommendations passed from neighbor to neighbor.

That’s still true in 2018, but recommendations gradually exchanged in person are now flooding webpages, most notably Google’s SERPs. Twenty-seven percent of consumers are now reading reviews of local businesses every day, marking a staggering jump from just 12% in 2017, according to a recent report from BrightLocal.

Here are some other highlights:

  • Timeliness of reviews matters. 85% of consumers consider reviews older than three months irrelevant. 40% say the reviews are only relevant if they’ve been posted in the last two weeks. So, businesses stand to benefit from increased review volume, which will continually refresh the online inventory.
  • Responding to reviews is crucial. 89% of consumers read the messages business owners and managers write in response to reviews. That means responding with tact is paramount.
  • Quality service = quality reviews = more business. 57% of consumers won’t even visit a business that has an average rating below four stars. That means businesses with shabby service risk sinking themselves into a Google- and Yelp-driven hole that they might’ve withstood longer in the days before online reviews.

Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s managing editor.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]