Study shows people just read reviews and may not even visit your website

Key Takeaways
• 17% fewer people say they visit the business’ website after reading a positive review than in 2016
• 10% more people say they visit the business in person after reading a positive review than in 2016
• 7% more people say they contact the business directly after reading a positive review than in 2016
In Bright Local’s latest Local Consumer Review Survey, published last week, we asked over 1,000 consumers in the US to tell us what their typical next step is after they read a positive review of a business online. The results show an emerging pattern of confidence in reviews, and, crucially, a trend suggesting business websites are becoming less relevant to consumer decisions. More and more people just look at the reviews and contact the business right away.

Let’s focus on that first aspect to start with: why are 17% more people now happy to visit or contact the business directly after reading a positive review than in 2016? This change would certainly suggest that the trustworthiness of review profiles has increased in the last year. Couple this with research recently performed by Local SEO Guide which shows that reviews are now the second-biggest ranking factor in the local pack, and you get a strong picture of reviews becoming the de facto factor in choosing a local business to use.
This shift to validating choice with more reviews suggests that businesses now have a far lower chance of getting customers through online reviews if competitors have more favorable reviews. It looks as though consumers used to take the time to shop around, but these days that’s becoming less and less the case. This means that having a great review profile could be all a local business needs to win customers.

Why you still need a good quality, optimized website
A strong website is essential for ranking high in search results. Without a website you can’t rank at all. Your website is the most important local citation that Google uses to confirm your location and phone number. Without a website, Google is less sure of your location and this will hamper your ability to rank for relevant local searches.
No website = no content = no links = no organic rankings and no local rankings!
Most local businesses have a lot to say about who they are and what they offer, and this information is important to Google and to consumers. Google My Business listings or social media profiles don’t give you enough online space to present your business in the best light possible, but a fully-fledged website does. Your website provides a platform for you to exhibit all your customer testimonials, case Studies and customer feedback; these are valuable forms of social proof that convince potential customers to trust you.
I’d recommend focusing on claiming online directory profiles to boost your rankings and making sure you’re delivering an excellent service to reap the rewards of reviews. After all, did we mention people trust reviews more these days?
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