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Skepticism Continues to Grow As Users Become More Reliant On Local Reviews

While business reviews are becoming much more valuable to users when it comes to local search, these users are also getting smarter and displaying a increasing amount of skepticism when it comes to their authenticity.

This according to a recent consumer reviews survey conducted by BrightLocal.

The survey, which polled over 1,000 U.S. adults this past November, found that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds indicating that they always read reviews.

In fact, reviews have become so important that users are spending more and more time reading reviews before giving a company their business.

The survey found that the average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading at least 10 reviews before they can trust a business.

BrightLocal Survey results chart

Source: BrightLocal

What Are Consumers Looking for In a Review?

The number of stars left for a business is one of the most important factors users consider, with only about half of the survey respondents stating that they would consider a business that had fewer than 4 stars.

Consumers are also on the lookout for recent reviews and are less likely to place value in a review that has been up for longer than one month.

So, how recent should your reviews be? The sweet spot according to the survey is anywhere between two weeks to one month.

The Importance of Keeping It Real

In the past year alone, consumers have demonstrated a higher awareness when it comes to fake reviews, with 46% of respondents believing that they have read multiple fake reviews in 2019. This is a 13% jump compared to the 2018 survey results.

BrightLocal Survey results graph 

Source: BrightLocal

Why Is This Important?

Over the last decade, online reviews for local businesses have played an increasingly significant role in consumers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, a large chunk of survey respondents agreed that both positive and negative reviews had a huge influence on where they decided to spend their money.

This means that even a single poor star rating or piece of negative feedback can easily derail a consumer’s ability to trust your business.

Consistently positive reviews, on the other hand, have been shown to drive almost immediate conversions, with the most common next steps being visiting the business’s website, searching for more reviews to make sure they are making the right decision, and finally, visiting the business in person.

So, the takeaway here is to focus on building your organic reviews by asking customers to leave them (in an ethical way, of course) and responding to any negative reviews in a positive way.