In today’s competitive market, the power of online reviews can’t be ignored. They’ve become an essential part of the buying process for tech-savvy consumers and, as a result, a critical part of managing a brand’s online reputation. Is it an area you’re taking enough control over?

The findings of BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2017 demonstrate why it’s an area you need to be investing in:

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.
  • Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business.

With this in mind, it’s critical that businesses take steps to manage their online reputation and the perspective that information seeking consumers are given.

We’ve got four ways for you to build up a trustworthy and reliable reputation online:

  1. Increase the number of recent reviews – How many reviews a consumer reads before trusting a business has increased by one this year, to seven, highlighting why it’s important to focus on building up recent reviews. It can be surprisingly easy to grow this. The BrightLocal results show that two thirds of consumers will leave a local business review when asked, giving you an instant boost.
  1. Consider industry-specific sites – Understanding where your potential customers will be looking for reviews is important. Once you’ve established a strong presence on Google reviews, it’s time to expand. For example, consumers expect to be able to find travel related businesses on TripAdvisor. If you’re missing from these industry platforms it can unwittingly give you a distrustful feel.
  1. Remember social reviews – With dedicated review sites, it can be easy to forget about social media. However, Facebook, along with Yelp, was named the most trusted review site, even beating the likes of Google. It’s become an important part of your online reputation and gives you an opportunity to raise engagement and improve brand awareness too.
  1. Don’t be tempted to post fake reviews – When you’re trying to create a database of positive reviews, it can be tempting to post fakes. But they’re often easily spotted. Almost eight in ten consumers said they have read a fake review in the last year. Choosing to slowly and steadily build up your authentic reviews is a much better way forward.