Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People, an SEO and Internet Marketing firm. Jeff moderated a panel on ratings, reviews and social media that I was on at the Search Marketing Expo and eMetrics Conference in Toronto with Gil Reich, VP of Product Management at Answers.com.
Jeff brought up one key – the intent of the visitor, something we’re always trying to understand as we work with clients to optimize their sites for search and conversions. Jeff separated the two segments into considered and impulse purchasers and discussed the influence of ratings and reviews. Poor reviews had a huge impact on purchase behavior. Jeff referenced a study by Lightspeed Research in 2011:
- 62% of consumers read reviews online before purchasing.
- 62% of consumers surveyed trusted other consumers’ opinions.
- 58% of consumers surveyed trusted opinions from people they knew.
- 21% of consumers surveyed said 2 bad reviews changed their minds.
- 37% of consumers surveyed said 3 bad reviews changed their minds.
- Only 7% of consumers turned to their social networks for reviews, the rest turned to shopping comparison sites and search engines.
You might think of ratings and reviews as any page with some stars and some anonymous responses from users… but Jeff challenged the audience to think beyond that:
- YouTube links, favorites and comments impact video rankings.
- Local business results in search engines (Bing, Google) have reviews associated. The number of reviews, recency and frequency of the reviews can impact click-through rates. Search engines also pull in ratings and reviews from other third-party review sites such as Yelp.
- Google’s personalized search feature allows you to remove a site from the search results. Will that impact a site’s ranking if a lot of people rank it low? Possibly.
Ratings and reviews aren’t all doom and gloom for companies who face some negative feedback online. 33% of those who received a response from a company due to a negative review posted a positive review. 34% deleted their negative review altogether!
Jeff’s presentation was comprehensive – speaking to mobile use as well as Google’s steps to include social media conversations directly into search results. The lesson in these statistics, of course, is to ensure that you’re working to promote your companies online. Ask your customers to provide reviews and show them how to submit them. Respond and neutralize issues that resulted in negative reviews so that you can reverse those situations.
A lack of reviews and poor reviews can turn a prospective buyer around. Look beyond your site and monitor your reputation on ratings and review sites. They will impact purchase behavior.
Today's digitally empowered customers create a challenge for organizations to sell, market and service them effectively. Expectations are higher than ever before, and customers openly share both positive and negative experiences with just a few clicks on review websites, app ratings and social media.