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The Importance of Online Reviews for Small Business

A few stars and a couple lines of angry text can make or break a business. Sound crazy? Well, it’s true. Reviews posted about your business can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Why? Here’s why.

Online Reviews Tell You What You’re Doing Right (And Wrong)

First and foremost, reviews are feedback for your business. We’ll talk about the other ways they affect your business, but first let’s state the obvious. If you get a hundred reviews, and sixty of them say that service was great, but the person arrived late, you know it’s a problem.

Secondly, if twenty reviews mention wanting a specific feature, you’ll see that as a hint as to what you might be missing. Not every review is going to have a wealth of information but stepping back to look at the bigger picture helps. You’ll see the patterns emerge for your business and how you can improve. So make sure to actually read your reviews.

People Read Online Reviews All the Time

Before people actually visit a business, 90% of them have likely read online reviews. But when it comes to local business? That number jumps even higher to 97%. With so much information at their fingertips, people know they should be able to find out about your business. The good, or the bad.

In fact, they’re reading reviews about your business inside the store. A report by The ROBO Economy (Research Online Buy Offline) found that 82% of smartphone users will consult their phones on a purchase they’re about to do inside the store. (Have you ever done that?)

Reviews are Considered Trustworthy

84% of consumers will trust an online review as much as they will a friends’ recommendation. That sounds insane! Except it does not. You see, it’s not one online review vs. your friend. It’s dozens, maybe hundreds or thousands of reviews.

As to how many reviews you need, the more the merrier. In a study of 400 million consumers by Northwestern University, that the number of reviews it’d take for consumers to be more likely to purchase would be around 20 [and running up to 50].

They’re Everywhere

Seriously. Online review sites are everywhere. And they’re in more places than you think. Three of the most popular places to review small business online are Google, Facebook, and Amazon, which many small businesses are turning to.

Here are other notable sites that small businesses should monitor: Yelp, Yellow Pages, BBB, Manta, Foursquare, and Angi. These sites combine for over 400 million hits every month in the U.S. That is a ton of people looking to connect, learn more, and find out about who they may potentially shop from. Be smart! Connect your business with all these sites so that you can closely monitor what the online sentiment of your business is.

Reviews Affect your SEO

It’s true! In a yearly survey done by Darren Shaw of Whitespark, he assessed the most important local ranking factors. 15% of search ranking factors was estimated to come from review signals, including quantity, diversity, etc.

And it’s not just the reviews on Google either! That long list of review sites we mentioned earlier? Yep, those are included in the search ranking factors as well.

Online Reviews Connect You With Your Customer

But wait there’s more! Google has also confirmed that it’s in your best interest to “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”

They Can Bring in Big Business (Or Lose it)

There are communities built around reviewing local business. Yelp is the most prolific of these communities, with a vibrant base. Yelp’s community can be a blessing or a curse for a business, depending on how it is reviewed. A one star increase (going from an average of 3.4 to 4.4 out of five, for example) on a business’ Yelp page can result in a 5-9% increase in revenue according to a Harvard Business School review. That probably comes from how 98% of people who use Yelp (Yelpers, if you will) make a purchase at a business they found on Yelp.

Reviews can make or break a business. Make sure that your business is asking satisfied customers to post a review about your business, and track your progress. And while we're talking about progress, make your business progress to new heights with naturalForms digital forms.

naturalForms — Smart Forms for Smart Business

About naturalForms®

naturalForms is an innovative software company based in Dayton, Ohio USA and is the leader in natural input technologies and provides an end-to-end mobile data capture platform that automates the collection of natural input (such as handwriting, photos, notes, drawings, and signatures) instantly at the point of entry. Information captured with tablets or other mobile devices is immediately converted to digital data and seamlessly integrated to backend systems. Straight-through processing eliminates cycle time delays and human data entry errors, creating unsurpassed workflow optimization and significant cost savings. naturalForms’ solutions are used around the world, delivering value in multiple industries. To learn more, visit


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