Local Google reviews are essential to helping small- and medium-sized businesses build and maintain a solid and positive online reputation. That’s a fact that’s not going to change any time soon.
In an ever-increasingly digital world, consumers rely heavily on online reviews to help them make buying decisions. Moreover, online reviews also offer unique personal insight into how well businesses serve their customers. Online reviews allow customers to leave feedback describing their personal experiences with specific businesses and even individual employees—some are good and some are bad.
Bottom line: online reviews can either make or break your business’s reputation, so it’s important to implement proper management strategies to get the most out of them.
Why Local Google Reviews Are So Important for Building Your Online Brand
Ask yourself this: what’s the first thing you do when you’re researching products, services, or even local businesses? Even before going on their website and perusing their “About Us” page or list of products and services, you most likely check out online local Google reviews just to see what other people think or have to say about them. There’s no shame in admitting that online reviews matter and that they have a significant impact on whether or not you choose to support a business or purchase a specific product.
Online reviews offer a unique insight into how a company truly operates from a customer’s perspective. But’s it’s important to be critical of the reviews you read and take them in with a grain of salt. Be a little skeptical if a business has nothing but positive reviews. A few bad reviews are a little more realistic because it’s impossible to please everyone. If you see all positive reviews, that’s a clear indication that the business is probably removing negative reviews to increase their Google ranking. Local Google reviews are important because they establish an online reputation for your brand outside of the image your marketing department strives to convey on your website and public platforms.
Local Review Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2021
Google may be the largest search engine platform that also supports online reviews, but it’s not the only one. Yelp is also a commonly used online review platform that consumers use to rate products, services, and businesses alike. Here are some important trends to keep in mind when creating a local SEO strategy in Toronto and the GTA.
User Behaviour while Reviewing a Business
An increasing number of users are leaving either one- or five-star ratings and reviews on search engines and review platforms. Fewer users are leaving two-, three-, or four-star reviews. This trend indicates that many users take an all or nothing type of approach to rating businesses online.
The reason this is a noteworthy observation is because it means that there’s little room for error when it comes to providing excellent customer service. Furthermore, it also means that mediocre products and services aren’t being tolerated as much as they once were by consumers.
A product or service is either bad or good based on specific criteria and, usually, there’s no in-between option. Oftentimes, people only take the time to review a business online when they’re either extremely happy or displeased with the service, which means companies need to strive to live and stay on the positive side of that spectrum at all times. Inching towards the other side even one iota could quickly tarnish your brand’s reputation.
Increases in Fake Reviews and Accounts
A competitor writing fake bad reviews on other business’s platforms isn’t a new trend, but it’s certainly grown a great deal over the years in spite of Google’s painstaking efforts to try to dissuade this from happening. Review platforms like Google and Yelp have specific policies that dictate what kind of user behaviour they allow on their platforms. Reviews that violate those policies are immediately removed by the platform.
Given the sheer volume of reviews that are posted on a regular basis, however, it’s impossible for Google and Yelp administrators and algorithms to automatically catch all violators. For that reason, they also have an option where users and business owners can report suspected fake bad reviews. Fake bad reviews are typically written and submitted by disgruntled current or former employees. They can also be written by employees who work for your competition or other business owners who want to disparage your business’s online reputation.
Reputable local SEO agencies in Toronto typically provide top-quality online reputation management services to help reduce the amount of potentially fake bad reviews that appear on your business listing and review platforms.
New Google My Business Review Management Tools
People often conflate the term “review management” or “online reputation management” with erasing negative reviews and feedback altogether. That’s a black hat SEO approach that some online marketers use, but it’s certainly not the standard.
Online review management is a strategy that helps you better manage and respond to reviews and ratings from legitimate customers while also boosting your Google My Business (GMB) optimization efforts. The goal is to filter the legitimate reviews from the illegitimate ones, whether they’re positive or negative. GMB allows you to remove fake bad reviews in order to maintain the legitimacy, authenticity, and integrity of your online brand image.
You can use GMB’s “Flag a Review” feature to remove reviews that contain profanity, hate speech, discrimination, spam, a conflict of interest, personal information, bullying, harassment, threats, or that are completely unrelated to the business.
Yelp Community Health and Safety Feedback Feature
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of businesses to make some necessary changes to their health and safety protocols. Yelp now allows users to rate the efficacy of specific government-mandated protocols that businesses are implementing. These protocols include mask wearing while shopping indoors, providing hand sanitizer, doing temperature checks, allowing for physical distancing, and so much more. Users can simply rate how well businesses are doing at implementing these protocols or they can leave detailed reviews with commentary and feedback.
Hire a Local SEO Company in Toronto and the GTA
Numero Uno Web Solutions provides a number of local SEO services including website building and maintenance, social media optimization, local Google review management, Google My Business optimization, and so much more. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of our services and how we can help you grow your business.