When you search for a restaurant, a product, or some local business, you might already have an idea of what you want to buy or who you want to work with. But what if you run to a string of reviews with a common theme—would a ton of highly positive reviews make you more confident in your decision? Would a ton of highly negative reviews make you run away, never to look back?
Online reviews have as much power today as visibility in organic searches—and to make the stakes even higher, reviews can directly influence your visibility in organic searches. Accumulate enough positive reviews and you’ll never have a traffic problem again, but with too many bad reviews, your reputation can utterly sink.
Obviously, it’s in your favor to ensure you get as many positive reviews as possible, but that’s harder to do than it seems on the surface. Third party review sites like Yelp explicitly forbid companies from buying or directly influencing user reviews, and no matter how tightly your business operates, it’s impossible to please everybody all the time. Rather than depend exclusively on general business improvements, it’s in your best interest to better understand the audience who’s actually writing them.
Local reviews are more than just surface-level pieces of information that occasional users use as guides to make purchasing decisions. Even users who never explicitly read reviews can be indirectly affected by them:
Not everybody writes online reviews—in fact, only a small percentage of consumers ever take the time to write a positive or negative review about their experience. So who is it, exactly, that’s doing all the writing of these reviews?
According to BrightLocal’srecent survey of local review writers, the answer is more straightforward than you might have imagined. The survey broke down participants into three distinct age groups; one between 18 and 34, one between 35 and 54, and one 55 and up. Consumers under the age of 35 were far more likely to write reviews than the other two age groups. Perhaps for the same reasons, young consumers were also more likely to read online reviews before making a purchasing decision, and more likely to trust the reviews they read.
Knowing that younger audiences are far more likely to write reviews gives you a critical opportunity to use this to your advantage. Young consumers are easily identifiable, and have certain key traits that you can exploit to earn more total reviews:
Of course, none of this is to say that you should give better service to young adults, or if your business caters to older consumers that you should shift demographics. Instead, these small steps can help your business appear more favorable to the type of people who are most likely to write reviews.
Local reviews aren’t going away anytime soon. They’re a permanent fixture online, even if the providers of those reviews might eventually change or transform. The reputation, visibility, and traffic benefits of local reviews are unparalleled, so attracting greater volumes of positive reviews should be a top priority; the sooner you start, the more you have to gain.