How Online Reviews Help Small Businesses

Many small businesses have a love-hate relationship with reviews. On the one hand, great reviews go a long way in promoting your business. On the other hand, negative reviews can hurt the credibility of your business and keep customers away. While disgruntled customers exist and negative reviews happen from time to time, it’s a fact that the majority of reviews are positive and help grow your business. Not only is this reported by Yelp and Google, we also see it daily at ThriveHive.

Related eBook: The Power of Online Reviews (free download)


Benefits of Online Reviews

In today’s digital world, small businesses must embrace reviews. This means asking customers to leave reviews, keeping a close eye on them (monitoring your reputation), taking the time to respond to customers, and sharing your best reviews on social media. Here are the most important reasons why reviews are critical for small businesses and should be top of mind:

Reviews Help You Get Found

Reviews influence which businesses show up when consumers search for businesses like yours. In fact, reviews are considered one of the most important ways to boost your SEO ranking. Google takes review ratings from multiple sites into consideration when determining the order of businesses it returns in local searches.

When consumers go straight to Yelp and search for a local business, your ranking is also influenced by your rating, as well as the number of your reviews. The same is true for searches in Facebook. You should know that while most local searches still start in Google and Yelp, Facebook is expected to gain momentum in the future.

Plus, there are thousands of apps and services that use review data to help local shoppers make purchasing decisions. Yelp reviews alone are used by more than 100,000 developers, including Apple, Microsoft, real estate apps, and in-car navigation systems.

Reviews Give Your Business Credibility

Before spending money and time at your small business, most consumers do their research. Studies show that close to 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The more great reviews your customers leave for your business, the easier it is for customers to make the decision to try your business. Not too many consumers are willing to take a risk on a business with few, or mostly negative, reviews.

Reviews Provide Important Feedback

There is a lot you can learn from the reviews left for your business. What do your customers love about your business, and what are they not crazy about? Paying attention to your reviews helps you do more of the good and less of the bad. You can fix issues quickly before they become too much of a problem. Plus, you can use your positive reviews to confidently market what you find to be most popular with your customers.

Reviews Let You Connect with Customers

An important advantage of running a small business is that your business operates on a personal level. You are part of the neighborhood and often personally know your customers. Visits to your business are often part of a daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Reviews are a great opportunity to connect online with your customers by liking, thanking, and responding to the reviews they leave for your business. Plus, prospective customers can get a sense of your personality by reading your responses.

Reviews Facilitate Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Yes, we’ve been referring to reviews as the more formal write-ups you see on review sites and directories, but we think it’s also important to mention the smaller chatter you see on social media, the talk and commentary that’s out there about your business. Chatter generally happens over time, after your business has been noticed and you’ve got people talking about you. The more chatter—especially positive—the more word-of-mouth marketing you are getting for your business.

Here are some examples of chatter:

  • Had the most amazing date at #pizzerialocale last night. Food may have been better than the date 😉
  • You have to check in at Core Power Yoga this week! I got 10$ off my class.
  • I wish the #greatdividebrewery offered gluten-free beer!

Opportunities for reviews and chatter are everywhere, and word of mouth about your business is not new. In fact, as a small business, it is most likely your most effective marketing tool. The great thing about review sites these days is that all of this word-of-mouth talk about your business can be monitored and tracked.

So don’t be afraid of reviews. Embrace them and their power! Get listed on social media and review sites and give your customers and audience the chance to talk and learn about your business. You’ll find that you learn a lot too!


For more information and tips on online reviews for your business, download our free eBook below: