Becoming visible online via improving your local search engine optimization tactics is essential to directing traffic to your site and ultimately driving revenue to your business.
One way to improve traffic is through online reviews - users typically look at sites such as Yelp and Google Places to determine if a place is worthy of their business, so it's essential that you monitor your review pages and maintain an acceptable levels of stars.
Search Engine Land's Local Consumer Review Survey recently took a look at some statistics regarding consumers' consumption and trust of online review sites, and found that in general, the importance and value of online reviews are rising.
For instance, about 72 percent of consumers said they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, and 52 percent said positive reviews make it more likely that they'll visit a local business.
SEL also compared respondents' feedback to the 2010 edition of the same study, and found that consumer behavior has significantly changed.
Only 15 percent of people said they hadn't used the internet to find a local business - down from 21 percent in 2010. What's more, 16 percent said they used the internet every week to find local companies - an increase from 9 percent two years earlier.
Other findings included the fact that 27 percent of those polled regularly use online review sites to determine which local business to use, compared to just 22 percent in 2010. There was also a drop in those who never use online reviews (29 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2012).
Researchers also noticed that there's a decline in the number of reviews being read. Specifically, 65 percent of consumers read between two and 10 reviews, compared to 58 percent in 2010. This means people are forming opinions faster, leading to lower overall consumption.
Finally, in terms of trust, 58 percent of respondents said they put faith in a business with a majority of positive reviews, versus just 55 percent in 2010. A BrightLocal study of more than 2,000 respondents from the United States and United Kingdom reported similar results, also finding that 58 percent of those polled said reading positive online reviews makes them trust a local business more.
It was also revealed that the younger you are, the greater the trust. Seventy-nine percent of 16 to 34-year-olds polled by BrightLocal trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, compared to 62 percent of those 55 and over.