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Why Online Reviews Matter for Small Businesses

Some companies believe websites are simply a tool for advertising their services and telling potential customers about themselves.

While having a website to communicate your unique brand and services is the first step toward broadening your company’s marketing efforts, online marketing is an ongoing task, and many companies fail to realize the importance customer feedback has on their online presence.

Customer feedback and reviews can make or break your reputation both online and offline, and are a critical part of your online success. Read on to learn more about the importance of customer feedback, and why you should make online reviews a focus in your marketing plan.

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With internet accessibility at their fingertips through their smartphones, more and more people are researching goods and services before they even leave their house.

Not only are they looking at the product or service descriptions, but they are also researching reviews to make sure they are purchasing a product or service that is worth the money they are spending. An estimated 93 percent of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions (Qualtrics).

Positive reviews tell prospective customers what you are doing right. That could be anything from the quality of the product you sell to the customer service provided when customers call with a problem.

Historically, word-of-mouth advertising has been the best marketing resource for a small business, and the Internet has expanded on that. But, these days, 91% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations (Search Engine Journal). This makes positive online reviews one of the best tools to increase conversion rates.

Negative reviews can hurt a company’s reputation and turn away customers, but deleting negative reviews from your website can be a detriment to your business as well. Surprisingly enough, having negative reviews actually makes your business seem more legitimate to consumers and can build trust.

To make the most of customer reviews for your business, make sure you stay up-to-date on any new reviews that come in and respond to reviews as necessary.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to having your website found. The more SEO best practices you use when creating and maintaining your website, the better chance you have at ranking in Google’s search results.

For instance, keywords, links, updates and other signals are important because they help tell search engines what your website is all about. Local SEO signals such as reviews, are one of the items that have a high influence on where you show up in a search.

The factors considered with reviews include the number of reviews, the diversity of the reviews and the timing of the reviews. In fact, review signals are now the second-largest influencer of local search rankings (BrightLocal).

The majority of consumers (90%) will read 10 or fewer reviews before deciding whether or not to trust a business (ReputationStacker). The more reviews you have, the better, but beware of how quickly the reviews are posted.

Too many reviews at once, positive or negative, can look suspicious. Diversity in the sites that host reviews of your company, as well as the “authority” of the poster, also have an impact on your SEO ranking. Having your website reviewed on websites such as Google My Business can increase your ranking dramatically.

Another factor that affects SEO is the consistency of change on your website. Static websites are those websites that never change from the original content.

Search engines ignore them after a time because it is assumed no change means the information is “old” and no longer relevant.

Displaying customer reviews on your website is one way to ensure your content is constantly being updated. The search engine identifies it as something new and likely relevant to today’s market.

And it is. It shows that your recent customers are engaged with your business.

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Customer feedback

Positive reviews can bolster a company’s reputation, and they reinforce that the services being provided are in line with the company’s goals.

Positive feedback also can inspire companies to continue developing a particular aspect of their business, especially if they were uncertain about that product or service.

While no company or consumer wants to see a negative review, negative reviews have their advantages. A company can use the feedback to improve areas that are lacking or don’t adhere to the company’s goals.

Follow-up reviews after the resolution of a negative review can increase the company’s trustworthiness to potential customers.


Online reviews are one of the essential marketing tools for small businesses. They can increase a company’s reputation, elevate the website’s SEO ranking and provide valuable feedback to the company.

Learn how Marketing 360® can help you manage your business's reputation like a pro.