The path from reading online reviews to purchasing from a business is short, because by the time consumers are reading online reviews, they have identified an issue/need they have, worked out what service or product satisfies that need and now want to select a business to use. This means it’s crucial for local businesses to have a positive online reputation so they convert ‘searchers’ to customers, according to BrightLocal's Local Consumer Review Survey 2013, which states that 65 percent of consumers say they are more likely to use a business which has positive online reviews (up from 52 percent in 2012).
The annual BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey shows that a dominant 85 percent of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses to determine whether a local business is a good business.
While those numbers may not be surprising to those in the online space, it may be good to know (especially in an era of showrooming concern) that 71 percent of consumers say that "Reliability" is the most important "reputation trait" when selecting a local business to use, which is higher than "Good Value" (45 percent).
BrightLocal suggests for small- and medium-sized businesses to use this insight into influential reputation traits to pitch their businesses to prospects better. For example, since consumers value ‘reliability, good value & expertise’ then businesses need to emphasize these traits across all consumer touchpoints.
And, while it's good to know that consumers - at least those in this study - appreciate reliability over value, they are more likely to recommend a local business to people they know if that company had a good value offer or discount.
The key takeaways from BrightLocal's survey results are that merchants need to not only monitor their online reputations, but also be easily found in search results, as just 5 percent of consumers HAD NOT used the Internet to find a local business in the last 12 months. One tactic SMBs can use today to improve their local SEO is to create or optimize their Google+ page.