How Customers are Influenced by Online Reviews

by Blair Evan Ball on October 13, 2015

Online 5 Star Reviews_Prepare1 Image

How important are customer online reviews?

Where do people go to read reviews?

Do negative reviews impact a buyers decision on you and your business?

As it turns out, reviews are very important.

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Google processed over 1 trillion search queries in 2014.

How many of you use Google for search?

Google Search continues to integrate further into our normal daily activities, and those search results become increasingly important for you and your business. More and more individuals are searching for information about a company or product.

A study was done recently to better understand just how much of an impact Google has on an individual’s purchasing decisions. A group of 1,000 consumers were surveyed. The study investigates how individuals interact with Google and other major sites during the buying process.

Do Searchers go Beyond Page One of Google?

How important is it to be on top?

In search marketing, the difference between a first and second place listing can be huge, according to new research from

Their recent analysis of “tens of millions” of consumer-generated search engine results pages from the last quarter of 2011 highlights a few interesting insights for marketers. As shown in the illustration above, 85 percent of all listings shown are organic, with 15 percent paid search listings. Overall, 55 percent of search engine results pages have ads.

When it comes to clicks on those organic listings, 53 percent go to the top result. The second sees 15 percent of the action, the third 9 percent, the fourth 6 percent, dwindling all the way down to 4 percent to round out the top 5.

Search beyond page 1 Google

People are willing to view as many as two pages of search results but rarely do so during normal search activities.

Are purchasing decisions affected by online reviews?

Google has integrated reviews into the Google+ Local initiative of (GYBO) Get Your Business Online. and often displays these reviews near the top of search results for businesses.

  • 92% of consumers will use a business if it has a 4 star rating or above.

Google+ Reviews have started a filter system for consumers to only show 4 and above, or 3 and above. So, if you are 3.9 and most filter 4.0 and above, your left out. Do they matter? Absolutely!

Other review sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, will also often rank near the top for search queries for a company or product.

Companies need to take reviews seriously. Restaurant review stories receive all the press, but most companies will eventually have pages from review sites ranking for their names. Building a strong base of positive reviews now will help protect against any negative reviews down the road.

When do negative reviews cost your business customers?

Research uncovered that businesses risk losing as many as 22% of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product.

  • Three negative articles pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2%.
  • Four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results? You’re likely to lose 70% of potential customers.

What sites do people visit before buying a product or service?

Google Search is just one of the sites that consumers can visit to research a brand or product.

Interestingly, most people didn’t seem to remember visiting any of the popular review sites. Instead, the brand site that got the most attention was Google+ Local reviews.

  • Amazon came in second, with half the selections that Google received.
  • More people look to Wikipedia for information about a company than to Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Sites visit before buying

Online reviews impact the bottom line

The results of the study show that online reviews have a significant influence on the decision-making process of consumers.

  • Data supports the fact that Internet users are generally willing to look at the first and second page of Google search results when searching for details about a product or company.

Online review sites like Google+ Local are heavily visited by potential customers looking for information, and the more negative content they find there, the less likely they will be to purchase your products or visit your business.

All this information paints a clear picture that what is included in Google search results for a company or product name will inevitably have an impact on the profitability of that company or product.

Internal marketing teams and public relation firms (PR) must consider the results that Google displays when they search for their company name or merchandise.

  • Negative reviews
  • Negative press

All this damaging feedback can have a lasting impact on a company’s ability to sell their products or services.

How to protect your company in Google search results

A PR or marketing team must be proactive to effectively protect a company’s online reputation. The following tactics can help prevent a company from suffering from deleterious online reviews:

  • First, identify if negative articles already exist on the first two pages of search results for a Google query of a company name or product (e.g., “Walgreen’s”). This simple task should be conducted regularly. Google often shifts search results around, so a negative article—which typically attracts a higher click-through rate—is unfortunately likely to climb the rankings as individuals engage with the piece. Set up a Google alert for your business.
  • Monitor and analyze the current sentiment of reviews on popular review sites like Google+ and Amazon. Other sites, like Yelp or Trip Advisor, should also be checked often, as they can quickly climb Google search results. Do not attempt to artificially alter the results, but instead look for best practices on how to improve Yelp reviews or other review sites and implement them. The goal is to naturally improve the general buzz around your business.
  • If negative articles exist, there are solutions for improvement. A company’s marketing and public relations team may benefit by highlighting and/or generating positive press and reviews about the product or service through SEO and ORM efforts. By gaining control of the search results for your company or product, you will be in control of the main message that individuals see when looking for more information about your business. That’s done by working to ensure prospects and customers enjoy a satisfying experience when interacting with your brand, whether online or offline.

Being proactive with a brand’s reputation, as viewed in the Google search results and on review sites, does have an impact on the bottom line.

As we see in the data, people are less likely to make a purchase as the amount of negative reviews increase in Google search results.

Check out this infographic about Online Reviews.


Sources: Moz




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About Blair

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social Media

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social Media

Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.

Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.

Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.

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