At this point, you should know one of the keys to succeeding in business is to have positive reviews of your work. Even before the Internet, word-of-mouth reviews helped to generate buzz about a company.

Now, with Yelp, Google Reviews, and even Amazon dominating so much in our lives, these reviews are more important than ever. But, like all content that is out there on the Internet, your reviews have to be current if they are going to have an impact. In fact, the recency of your reviews may actually be more important than you think.

Recent Study Shows Most Recent Reviews Give the Most Credibility to Consumers

A recent study of online reviews has revealed fascinating data. While most people would think that the overall star rating is the most important piece of information a person looks at when choosing a business, that particular category comes in a close second to recency (58% to 57%).

Why are newer reviews more important than good reviews?

Partially because of quality over time. Businesses may start with an A-Team crew with the best customer service and as time passes, a newer team takes over and begins to slack off on service.

Some customers may even wonder if you are still open for business if the last review was posted over a year ago.

Another possible motivation behind this push for recency comes with the fourth category customers look for—legitimacy (49%). Most savvy customers know that some businesses promote themselves with fake reviews. This is usually right after the business opens to get customers in the doors.

Once the initial flurry of reviews is done, there should be more accurate reviews that are more recent. But, if you don’t have a lot of recent reviews, customers may think that those first ones were fake.

What else can set you apart from the pack with your reviews?

One of the easiest things you can do to make reviews stand out is to engage with comments. If a person had a bad experience with your business, address the issue with them publicly through the reviews. Don’t get defensive or accusatory towards the reviewer. Address the problem and offer to rectify it. Most customers appreciate that mistakes may happen, but if you are willing to fix the mistake, you’re more likely to be deemed as a company worth doing business with.

If you’re stuck with a lot of old reviews, there are some things you can do to fix this.

First, simply ask for reviews. Many customers don’t think of leaving reviews, but they will if you let them know you’d appreciate their honest input. Your regular customers would be especially great to ask so they can tell people why they keep coming back. Another idea is to incentivize your customers. Offer a ten percent discount (or something similar) off their next purchase if they give you feedback in the form of a review.

Keep a Steady Flow of Reviews for More Customer Conversions

Over half of Americans between 18 and 54 read online reviews of local businesses and use these as a tool for choosing a company. Because of this reliance on reviews, it is imperative that you make sure yours stand out from the crowd and give the customers plenty of new information to make an informed decision.