User Reviews and Local Search: Great Together

Filed in Local Search, Word of Mouth by Matt McGee on November 27, 2007 1 Comment

After every trip, whether for business or pleasure, one of the first things I do when I get home is get online and write some reviews. I review the hotels and restaurants I visited. If I used a shuttle service or visited some other service business, I might review them, too. I’ll write my reviews on Yahoo Local, Yelp, sometimes on Travelocity, and more recently, on Open List, which just recently began accepting user reviews. (Disclosure: my employer owns Open List.)

What I’m doing is bringing two of a small business’s most powerful marketing tools together: local search and user reviews.

Two things:

1.) I’m apparently not alone in this kind of behavior.
2.) This doesn’t just apply to the travel industry.

The evidence is in a Bazaarvoice/Keller Fay study of 1,300 people who had just written an online review. There are all kinds of interesting bits of data in the study, but this one practically jumped off the page at me:

…over 65 percent of reviewers have returned to the retailer’s site to leave an online review about an offline purchase.

We know that online shopping is primarily a search online, buy offline model. That’s why local search is so important. Now, if the study is taken at face value, we see a third piece to the equation: search online, buy offline, review online. That’s why user reviews are so important. And that’s why user reviews and local search are so great together.

If you want to dig into the study, you’ll find some more interesting bits specific to understanding user reviews and what motivates people to write reviews:

  • 90 percent write reviews in order to help others make better buying decisions
  • 70 percent want to help companies improve the products they build and carry
  • 79 percent write reviews in order to reward a company
  • 87 percent of the reviews are generally positive in tone

All of this fits in very well with what I’ve said before about the impact of user reviews on small businesses, and with my SES San Jose presentation on user reviews. Small businesses just can’t underestimate the impact of online reviews; you do so at your own peril.

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