Do reviews impact your online reputation? The short answer is: definitely. Online reviews build trust, help with search engine optimization (SEO), and contribute to your company’s digital portfolio. Since more than 88% of online shoppers use reviews before making shopping decisions and even Google searches of your company or product now include reviews and ratings, it’s obvious that reviews are something that can no longer be ignored.

We’ve compiled statistics from multiple studies to help us navigate the world of online reviews. Here are our takeaways:

According to BrightLocal (2016), 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Since word-of-mouth is still the most influential way to gain a customer, that’s a powerful statistic. It means that an online review holds the power of trust and credibility. How many reviews will it take for a solid opinion to form about a company or product? Ten, according to 90% of consumers.

A star rating is now the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business. Don’t panic if you have a negative review, though. Consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews if they don’t see bad scores…95% of them, as a matter of fact. While having a negative review isn’t a destructive force on its own, ignoring them can be. Responding to negative reviews in a customer-service-friendly way can work wonders in gaining a new customer base.  Invesp created a great infographic that lists several ways to manage negative reviews. We have a few suggestions based on our experience working in social media marketing.

Most customers who leave negative reviews do so because of poor customer service. The words “rude” or “friendly” are common search words you may want to check out. Reliability, expertise, credibility, and professionalism are the most important factors they consider when making a purchase or selecting a service.

Weber Shandwick’s case study showed some interesting information. As sponsored content and reviews are on the rise, consumers are putting more trust in consumer reviews (77%) over expert reviews (23%).

If you’re a brick and mortar business, it’s essential that you keep your eye on independent review sites like Yelp, since a majority of those users will make a purchase based on those reviews. In this mobile culture, a consumer is 80% more likely to check Yelp or another review site before even stepping inside your store. When you consider that 98% of Yelp users make a purchase from a business they found on Yelp’s local search, you can see how important those reviews can be.

Online reviews are critical to sales. Since 92% of consumers won’t do business with a company or select a product with less than a 4-star rating, you need to pay attention to what people are saying about you online.

Do reviews impact your online reputation? The answer is yes. Can you do something about it? Definitely! If you’re not sure where to start, contact us for a free 30-minute audit of your online reputation.