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The ultimate guide to online reviews

The best ad campaigns in the world will not matter if the first thing customers see when they Google you is bad reviews. The solution: Get more reviews. Here’s how you can start collecting reviews & improving your reputation today.

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In this guide, you’ll learn:

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  • Get reviews on the sites you care about
  • Increase traffic and sales with online reviews
  • Get insights into customer experience
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In today’s world of digitally connected customers, traditional advertising messages are drowned out by customer voices, which travel further and faster through increasing avenues of communication. When deciding which product or service to purchase, customers consult the source they trust most: other customers. 

93% of customers will read reviews of local businesses to determine its quality. Online reviews play a major role in the customer journey, influencing everything from initial online search results to last minute in-store evaluations. 

To succeed in such a landscape, businesses must: 

1. Develop a deep understanding of their customer’s wants and needs 

2. Address all customer issues immediately 

3. Ensure happy customers’ voices get heard. 

How? By harnessing the power of online reviews with a comprehensive online Experience Marketing platform. 

The role of customer reviews in Experience Marketing

Before we dive into the role of customer reviews in your marketing strategy, it’s important to first understand what Experience Marketing is all about. 

Experience Marketing is an efficient, sustainable and scalable growth methodology for modern businesses. It focuses on creating customer happiness through great experiences, and then using happy customers to amplify brand messages and attract new leads. 

Online reviews play a pivotal role in an effective Experience Marketing strategy. They let prospective customers know that your business delivers a superior experience, attracting new leads to fill your pipeline.

How do online reviews work? 

Online reviews are a form of User Generated Content (UGC) that current or past customers can share on public sites such as Google and Facebook. These sites typically structure feedback as open-ended commentary alongside a rating from 1-5 stars.

After a customer posts a review for a business, it’s tied to that business’s profile and visible to the public. Any potential customers who visit that review site can see all the reviews posted for that business, both positive and negative. In most cases, reviews cannot be deleted by the business; they can only be removed by the review site itself if they violate the site’s policies or if it is removed by the reviewer

Why are online reviews important for a business?

First, online reviews are displayed in search engine results and have a huge impact on local Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Local SEO is a primary driver of customer acquisition: 76% of people who search for a business nearby visit within 24 hours. When it comes to reviews, having a high volume of positive ones works wonders for your local SEO. 

A substantial portion (13%) of the 200+ factors in Google’s search engine algorithm involve review signals such as: 

• Review Quantity (number of reviews) 

• Review Velocity (how frequently reviews are posted) 

• Review Diversity (the breadth of sites reviews are posted on)

Both Google and customers value online reviews, and the proof is in the numbers: 

This means that businesses with fewer locations can compete against national chains on a local SEO level — and potentially win. In addition to their marketing power, online reviews also provide invaluable insight into brand perception and the quality of overall customer experience. We’ll cover how to use online reviews to drive customer experience improvement later on in this guide.

Focus on the sites most important to your business

In our report The 2021 state of online reviews, we found that 67% of online reviews are written on Google. Google reviews have the power to bring your business to the top of search and Maps results. 

Our research also found that in the last decade both Facebook and Yelp have been losing ground to Google in terms of online reviews. From 2013 to 2014, Google reviews grew by 80%. The next year it grew by 114%, and from 2015 to 2016 this growth sped up to an incredible 278%. 

In late August 2018 Facebook decided to change their reviews from “ratings” to “recommendations”. This move from a 5-point rating system to a binary yes/no rating system appears to have impacted how reviewers and consumers seeking to read reviews perceive Facebook. Birdeye research data shows that in 2020, 22% fewer reviews were written on Facebook compared to 2019. 

It appears that consumers are slowly moving away from viewing Facebook as a review site and seeing it more as a social media platform. So where else do customers write reviews?

Vertical-specific sites are gaining prominence 

While Google is definitely the go-to site for authentic reviews, there are some key authoritative sites for each vertical that consumers are turning to when choosing a business in a specific industry. Industries such as home services, automotive, restaurants and healthcare seem to have a sizable portion of their reviews on niche sites. 

Here is a list of some top authoritative sites where consumers write and read reviews:


DealerRater, Carwise, Cars.com, Carfax, Edmunds


Lawyers.com, Avvo, Martindale

Property Management 

Apartments, Zillow, Houzz, ApartmentRatings, Rent


OpenTable, Trip Advisor, Zomato, GrubHub

Home Services 

Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Realtor.com


Credit Karma, LendingTree, WalletHub, Home Warranty


Healthgrades, RateMDs, ZocDoc, Vitals 

More in this guide to online reviews inside : 

-How to ask for online reviews 

-Review management guide 

-Driving the customer experience with reviews

-Choosing an experience marketing platform 

-Experience marketing software capabilities 

How Birdeye can help 

Birdeye helps companies seamlessly manage reviews at scale. Our all-in-one Experience Marketing platform integrates with over 200 review sites, centralizes all customer reviews into one platform, and enables your team to manage them with a comprehensive suite of solutions. These are just some of the many reasons why more than 60,000 businesses use Birdeye to get more reviews and new customers. 

Download the complete guide to read on. 

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