The importance of online reviews can’t be understated. At LinkNow Media, we specialize in the hosting, design and optimization of websites for small businesses. We don’t simply want to build your small business a website, we want to make sure it’s easily found by potential customers who will call you and give you their business. And while there are a number of factors that go in to raising your local business’s online visibility to consumers in the area that we take care of on your behalf, there is one thing we can’t control and are therefore forced to stress its importance to our customers—online reviews.

Search engines are the main way customers in your area will discover your business and the services it offers. Search engines are in the business of providing users with accurate and attractive options, but because they can’t determine one business’s value of service over another, they rely on what people say about businesses in the searcher’s area to make an educated recommendation based on what they are looking for.

For example, if someone near you is looking for a nice restaurant and they turn to Google for a recommendation, Google’s credibility will be killed if it delivers a bunch of restaurants with multiple health code violations. If Google recommends restaurants with several health code violations after someone has searched “nice restaurants,” they will probably think twice about using Google for restaurant recommendations in the future.

For this reason, online reviews are increasingly important for making your website more visible in the search results. And while it might be tempting to ask your close friends and family to review your business, this will only end up hurting your business’s online reputation. Honest representations of a customer’s experience are the only reviews that matter.

No Advertising or Spam

Whenever an online review is full of links, phone numbers or other promotional material, it will be removed. Same goes for reviews that appear to have been copied and pasted. Reviews that are all coming from the same IP address are likewise a huge red flag.

No Impersonation

Posting reviews on behalf of others or misrepresenting your identity or connection to a business is a surefire way to raise eyebrows and create suspicion whether you are trying to stack the deck in your favor.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

No business wants a bad review. But even when your business doesn’t receive five stars, take the review into consideration and ask yourself what you could have done to serve them better. If there’s nothing, then that’s just how the cookie crumbles. If there is, you are on your way to providing better service to your customers and making sure that the positive reviews roll in.
Honest, helpful and trustworthy reviews confirm that your business is run by real people and the more you acquire, the better it is for your online visibility.