What Makes People Write Reviews

Understanding why people write reviews is the first step towards getting more reviews for your business.

People write reviews for all kinds of reasons.

Every business needs reviews, and it’s not acceptable just to have one or two — you need as many as you can. It’s also not enough to have hundreds of reviews if none of them are recent. A five-star review holds a lot of weight, but that weight becomes diminished the older the review is. Many consumers don’t even look at the reviews that are more than a few months old, because they no longer see those reviews as relevant.

Your business’ online reputation can make or break your success both online and offline, and it depends on your ability to get multiple positive reviews on a regular basis, and in order to do that, you need to have a good understanding of why people leave reviews in the first place. When you understand people’s motivations for writing reviews, you can fine-tune your strategy for getting lots of reviews

Seven Reasons People Write Reviews

#1. To help other consumers make the best choices.

A lot of people write reviews because they genuinely want to share their experiences with other consumers, so that they can make the right buying decisions for them. Whether that experience is positive or negative, these reviewers want to be able to guide other people to make what they see as the right decisions.

You can generally spot these types of reviewers by looking for more detailed, story-driven reviews. If someone really and truly is motivated by helping other people make better buying decisions, they’ll probably give the entire 411 about their experience, right down to the name of the person who helped them and the time of day they were helped.

#2. To have their opinions heard.

These days, it’s not always easy to get noticed or to feel heard. There are so many people out there with opinions, thoughts and feelings, and if social media is any indication, people want to express themselves! It can be difficult to break through the noise under normal circumstances, and one of the best ways to ensure that people are actually heard is to speak directly to a business via reviews.

When someone writes a review, they’re not another anonymous person complaining to customer service, and they don’t have to rely on a tech to relay their message to management. Reviews allow people to communicate directly to the business in a way that ensures that they will be listened to and can’t be ignored.

#3. To be a part of the group.

People find camaraderie in all kinds of places. You see it in fandoms all over the internet, and if you’ve ever stepped foot in a midnight showing of a movie or at your local comic con, then you know what we mean. People love to connect with other like-minded people, but that doesn’t stop with dressing up as their favorite superhero or writing fan fiction.

Reviews are a great way to make a connection with other people who share your likes and dislikes. You see this most often in reviews for movies, television shows and books, but some businesses invoke the same kind of response in their customers, particularly businesses that have a strong brand or offer unique products or services.

#4. To vent about a bad experience.

One of the most common reasons anyone writes a review is in response to what they perceive as a bad situation. Maybe they had to wait longer than they expected for the product or service in question to be delivered. Maybe the person who helped them was late or didn’t provide them with the level of service that fits their expectations. Or maybe they simply don’t accept that mistakes happen. Whatever the situation, people are more likely to spread the word after a bad experience than a good one.

Perception is reality, and even if you’ve done everything in your power to provide the best possible customer service and meet all of their needs, sometimes, you just don’t live up to expectations. And unfortunately, people are more likely to write a review when they’re upset as opposed to when they’re happy,

#5. To give feedback about products or services.

Some people genuinely want to help businesses get better! There’s no such thing as a perfect product or service, but businesses often don’t see the flaws in what they’re offering. That’s because businesses only see one side of the equation. You can’t possibly know about every potential flaw or downside of your product or service unless you are the ones using it on a regular basis. That’s why your customers’ insight is very valuable!

These kinds of reviews are incredible because they give you the ability to make changes to your products or services that can help you attract more future business, make your current customers happy and keep your current customers coming back for more.

#6. To say thank you for a job well done.

Going above and beyond in order to provide the best possible service for your customers is a surefire way to get great reviews for your business. Let’s face it, these days, customer service can be lackluster, and a lot of people are simply accustomed to service that’s less-than-ideal. One of the best ways to actually make an impact on your customers is to provide the kind of service they can’t ignore and that they’ll want to yell from the rooftops.

These kinds of reviews are some of the best any business can hope for. When prospective customers read them, they’ll be able to tell exactly how hard you work to please your customers, and about how much your customers appreciate that hard work.

#7. Because they were asked to!

There are many reasons why people write reviews on their own, as we’ve discussed in the points so far, but unfortunately, the vast majority of people don’t write reviews by themselves, at least not at this point in time. More and more people are writing reviews on their own, but until that day when it becomes second nature to consumers, your best course of action is simply to ask!

Very few people will write a review unprompted, but when asked, 70 percent of consumers will write a review! Asking for reviews is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you actually get them, and no, you don’t have to bribe people with discounts or gift cards. All you have to do is let them know how much a review will mean to you and request that they write one for you.

Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog to learn how to ask for reviews the right way!


Every business needs reviews!

Understanding what motivates people to leave reviews will help you gain more for your business, which will help you build the kind of online reputation you want. However, gaining more reviews is just the first step in the process of building and maintaining a solid online reputation for your business. The next step is to get your business listed with Top Rated Local!

Become a Top Rated Local business today!

Using Social Media to Improve Your Reputation, Part 1

Your online reputation is vital to your company’s success

By now, you have undoubtedly encountered the profile of a brand that has an amazing social media presence. You know the type: it has eye-catching content; they are engaged with their audience; they have a clear voice and tone, and they ultimately come across as trustworthy. In a world where consumers are making their purchasing decisions based on online reputation, it is more important than ever to know how to manage your own.

Social media has become an invaluable tool that can help you reach new audiences, gain reviews, manage your company’s reputation, and most importantly, it provides a space where you can instantly engage with your consumer base.

Luckily, having the kind of eye-catching and reputable social media presence that consumers love and trust is absolutely attainable to everyone, and not just to huge corporations and influencers!

To get started, we suggest first going through the following steps:

  • Find out where your reputation is at right now
  • Decide what you want your reputation to be
  • Create a policy or guide around your social media presence
  • Decide which social media platforms will help you reach your target audience

Find out where your reputation is at right now

Before getting started on the path of managing your business’ online reputation, you need to know where you currently stand. If this is something you have never looked into, it can feel overwhelming or scary to get started. Similar to a credit score or going to the dentist, ignoring your reputation and reviews isn’t going to fix them or make them go away. Also similar to a credit score or going to the dentist, if you are willing to invest a little time into educating yourself and putting in the work, you will be able to take control and get results you can be proud of. There are many sites available for the public to leave your business a review. While it may be tempting to stay in the dark when it comes to your reputation, stepping up and taking control of your listings is the first step towards showing your customers and potential future clients that you care about their feedback. We recommend getting started by claiming your business’ listings. Top Rated local is free, and is a great way to manage your business’s online reputation. It aggregates ratings and reviews from verified review sites online and then ranks businesses based on their overall Rating Score™. By using this incredible tool, you would be able to monitor and manage your reviews across a variety of sites, all from one place!

Understanding what people think about your company is a great place to start when it comes to figuring out what to do next in terms of your business’ reputation. If you go online and find out that people have had negative experiences regarding your business’ cleanliness or customer service skills, that’s something you’d want to address before you launch into a silly social media campaign.

Decide what you want your reputation to be

Using social media is a great way to keep in touch with your clients, your community, and your potential customers. With social media, you are also able to set the tone for how you would like your business to be seen by others. Do you want to be known for your unwavering professionalism, your playfulness, or maybe your approachableness? There’s not really a right answer here, but it is best to decide on a tone and stick with it.

Take Wendy’s for instance. They broke the mold when it comes to their voice on social media. They have become renowned for their quick quips and harsh humor. Their ability to snarkily torch competitors and fans alike even prompted them to create their own holiday, National Roast Day, where people, competitors, and other companies lined up for the chance to have Wendy’s throw some shade their way and publically roast them. They’ve said that they want their social media feed to be like their food — better than what you’d expect from a fast food place. And it worked! People are following and engaging with their accounts because they have used their social media to come across as more than a faceless corporation.

Now, the Wendy’s tone obviously isn’t the best model for every business, but every small business can take note when it comes to deciding what you want your voice and reputation to be, and sticking to it.

A strategy popularized by L’Oreal is to utilize its employees to highlight the company as an excellent employer, resulting in a better company culture, higher employee engagement, and doubling as a simple but effective recruitment tactic. Through the use of hashtags, L’Oreal employees are able to share what life is like in their offices, showcasing the company’s perks and culture. They are also able to share how they socialize and come together as a community, both at work and outside of the office. Any company can use a set hashtag to showcase its unique culture and community, and can use the resulting posts as free and engaging content on their own page! Does your staff always have the most impressive Halloween costumes? Do a few of your employees volunteer once a week? Do you rock a monthly office karaoke? Show it off! When it comes to forming trust in a company, there’s no better referral than authentic endorsements from its own happy employees!

By utilizing social media, you have the opportunity to show your customers and potential clients what is important to your company. It might be your awesome company culture, your commitment to customer service, your playful nature, or your unwavering excellence. Decide what that is and start to use your social media accounts to share it with the world!

Create a policy or guide around your social media presence

Once you have decided how you want to use your company’s social media accounts, you need to decide who has access to those accounts and what policies they will stick to when using them. As far as managing the account goes, it might be best to limit the number of people who are in charge, so as to best stick to your set tone and policies, and to minimize that potential for mistakes. When it comes down to making a decision about what policies to follow, start by thinking about what will help support your company’s goals, and go from there.

There is no need to overthink the kinds of policies you want to set, they can be really simple, like saying:

“Never share sensitive or confidential data with the public.”

You may not THINK that you have to lay out rules like that, but you would be surprised by what kinds of things people might not consider before sharing something on social media.

Ideally, the policies you set are less of a strict list of rules and are more of a few guidelines that help to direct you. Social media is constantly changing, so keep in mind that it would be beneficial to revisit your policies every once in a while to make sure your company is keeping up with the times. At its best, a set of social media policies is simple to understand, ever-evolving, concise, and straightforward. With a comprehensive and well-thought-out policy, you can stick to your brand identity and tone, outline how to manage social media while remaining compliant with laws regarding privacy, confidentiality, and copyright, and encourage employees to interact with and promote your brand.

Decide which social media platforms will help you reach your target audience

When it comes to social media, a world of ever-growing and ever-evolving options is available to you, so it is important to know about some of the bigger platforms and understand what each one does.

Pew Research has shown that Facebook and YouTube are the most popular platforms, and their users are the most broadly representative of the population as a whole; meaning that those platforms can likely help you reach the widest audience. Facebook’s official stated purpose is that people use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, discover what’s going on in the world, and share and express what matters to them. Based on its intended purpose, Facebook is a great tool for small, local businesses looking to connect within their own communities.

While it may sound tempting to throw your name out where the largest number of people might happen to see it, if you are trying to grow your company or drive more business your way, it might be best to focus on a target or niche audience. If you know your market, you will be more likely to find an engaged, active, and bought-in audience.

Of course, the type of business you have is another indicator of which social media site would work best to reach your target audience. Age demographics also play a role in which platform will reach the people you want to reach. Do your research, understand who uses which social media and why, and find what works for you!

Starting Your Social Media Journey

Utilizing social media platforms gives you the power to directly interact with your most loyal customers, your employees, similar businesses, and potential clients. With proper use, social media can show off what makes your business wonderful and give your customers a place where they can learn more about you.

Remember, start out by finding out what your customers are saying about you across review sites. You can do it for free right now with Top Rated Local! From there, you can start taking control of your online reputation and extending and promoting that reputation across whichever social media platforms work best for you and your business!


Don’t forget to check out the continuation of this article: Using Social Media to Improve Your Reputation, Part 2: Managing Your Profiles

Responding to online reviews without violating HIPAA

Reviews are a vital part of your online reputation

There’s no doubt that, in today’s world, online reviews are a game-changer when it comes to whether or not people will trust you with their business. A best practice for when it comes to managing your online reputation is to always respond to the reviews you receive, both positive, and negative, but what happens when you are in the healthcare industry and HIPAA is a real concern of yours?

What is HIPAA and what does it protect?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a US law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers.

HIPAA is important for patients because it keeps their sensitive and personal information safe. It prohibits healthcare providers from disclosing any of a patient’s protected information without their express authorization, which means that posting any information that identifies or confirms someone as a patient is likely a violation of their rights under HIPAA, even if that patient posted a review about their experience as your patient.

In other words, carrying out a conversation or responding to an online review could easily result in a HIPAA violation, and there are some pretty steep financial penalties for breaking HIPAA.

How to respond to an online review without violating HIPAA

The first step towards managing your reviews is to know that you have them in the first place. With so many people relying on reviews to help them choose which business is even worth going to, it is more important than ever to stay on top of your online presence. Find a process that works for you to encourage, monitor, and interact with the reviews you receive, and make reputation management a part of your routine. You can get started by claiming your online profiles, which will make it easy to spot and manage your reviews. One simple way to start monitoring your online reputation, for free, is to claim your TRL listing today!

So, what happens after you’ve noticed a review come in? You have a few options for where to go from here:

  • Ignore
  • Respond
  • Grow

We’re going to break each of these options down for you a bit more so you can feel confident in handling whatever reviews come your way.

Ignore

If you are concerned about HIPAA, ignoring a review can feel like the safest option available. If you are unsure about how to safely navigate responding to a review, positive or negative, you might want to err on the side of caution and say nothing until you have crafted a response that is both safe and effective. Ignoring reviews is not generally recommended, as receiving a response, to both positive and negative reviews, shows the client that you care about them and their experience. One of the things people look for when browsing through reviews is to see if the business is engaged with its clientele. Ignoring reviews is a temporary fix, and is not a habit you should fall into.

Respond

If you are worried about violating HIPAA when responding to online reviews, we suggest starting out by having a template. First, you need to know what you can and can’t say, and then, you need to show your clients that you genuinely care about their experience.

Remember, you want to avoid posting any information that identifies or confirms someone as a patient, so saying something like “I am sorry you had to wait longer than anticipated before being seen,” is in violation of HIPAA, as is “I’m so glad you loved your experience with Dr. Mendoza!”

Even in the case of a positive review, you want to keep in mind that while writing in a public space, you cannot confirm or give details about anyone’s time as a patient.

When it comes to responding to a negative review, you could try something more like this:

“We strive to provide our patients with the best quality care and experience, and your feedback could help us improve. Please call our office at xxx-xxx-xxxx and we will make the time to personally address any concerns.”

With this, you have shown a personal investment in the experience of your patients; you have highlighted a value that you hope to uphold or have shown your patients the way you hope to be known; you have shown that you value feedback and are open to growth; you have shown future clients that you value online reviews, and you have not violated any of HIPAA’s privacy laws!

While not necessary, you could always mention HIPAA in your response. This might serve as a reminder to the reviewer that their concerns will not be solved or addressed further online, prompting them to take the conversation offline, as requested. If you wanted to mention HIPAA, you could add to your response:

“Due to HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot address your concerns publically.”

Inviting a patient to address their concerns offline shows them that you value them and their feedback. Oftentimes, when someone has negative feedback, their bad experience comes from a place of not feeling heard or valued. Use this opportunity to show them that this is not the case. Your actions could result in the person removing the negative review, updating it, or even becoming a loyal customer.

Positive reviews deserve a little attention, too. A quick response to a positive review shows your patients that you are paying attention to their feedback and care about them and their experience. One response could look like:

“Thank you for this review/feedback. We hope to deliver the best in quality, and we love to hear about positive experiences.”

Or:

“We value this positive feedback, and love to know when we’re doing something right. We try to always uphold our commitment to offering great value and excellent service. Thank you!”

Of course, you don’t want to copy and paste the same exact response to every single review and comment you receive, but hopefully, these templates can give you a place to start, so that you can feel confident and comfortable navigating the restrictions of HIPAA online. Remember to always be polite and professional, and to set an appropriate tone to any response you give.

Grow

While receiving negative reviews can feel shocking or personal, look at them as an opportunity to grow your practice! You might notice a few reviews that address concerns with wait times. Is there a process you can change that results in decreased waits? Can you make your waiting room more comfortable and inviting? If concerns come up about the professionalism of your staff, can you have a meeting that addresses or reminds them of your standards? In any business, there is always room for improvement, and online reviews have the ability to offer you genuine customer feedback, so make sure you are putting them to good use!

The takeaway

Your online reputation is an important part of your business, and we highly recommend managing it no matter what industry you are in. There are ways to engage with your clientele online while still safely navigating the rules of HIPAA. If you can keep a cool head when it comes to reading your reviews, and can get yourself started with a few simple template responses, you can quickly become a pro at handling online comments. Educate yourself on HIPAA’s policies, and show your clients how much you care about them!

Take the first step towards being in control of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!

By now, you know that your business’ online reputation is undoubtedly linked to online reviews and the way you do or do not respond to them. Top Rated Local has the resources you need to stay on top of your reviews and reputation. Best of all, listing your business with Top Rated Local is free!

The Many Different Kinds of Reviews and How to Respond to Them

Your business will encounter all different kinds of reviews, and regardless of if they are negative, positive or somewhere in between, you should make it a point to respond to all of them.

How You Respond to Reviews Makes all the Difference

There’s just too much competition out there for your business to let its online reputation fall by the wayside. Growing your online reputation and maintaining it takes consistency, and one of the most important aspects of reputation management is responding to the people who take the time to write reviews for you.

Responding to reviews is a great way to engage your customers, and it’s important to always respond no matter what kind of review it is. Whether the reviewer is easy to please and thrilled with every aspect of your service or, no matter what you do, they’re just the type of reviewer that will never be happy, responding to the review shows that you care and helps you take control over the situation. Additionally, more and more consumers actually expect a business to respond to reviews, and quickly. According to a survey conducted by Review Trackers, more than 53 percent of customers expect a response to their review from a business within seven days, so don’t put off responding!

However, not all review responses are made equal, and if you don’t respond the correct way, you could make a bad situation even worse. That’s why, today, we’re going to break down the many different types of reviews and how you should respond to them.

The Many Different Kinds of Reviews and How to Respond to Them

Small businesses receive all kinds of reviews; here are the most common:

The First-Time Review

While the majority of people will write a review when asked, a lot of people still don’t write them on their own, and you might be surprised at how many people there are out there who simply haven’t written a review before. That means that the likelihood of your business getting a first-time review or two is fairly high. When someone who has never left a review before takes the time to write one for the first time, you can bet that it’s most likely because they feel strongly about the interaction, good or bad.

How should you respond?

Because the reviewer most likely feels incredibly strong, it’s of the utmost importance that you take your response seriously. Perception is reality, so even if you believe that the reviewer is making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s important to remember that, to them, that mountain might be as big as Everest. If you try to downplay their feelings, you’ll only make yourself look bad and make the situation worse.

If the first-time review is positive, make sure that you thank them for taking the time — for the first time ever — to write a review, thank them for their words and let them know how much you appreciate their feedback and their service.

For example:

“Dear Sam, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. It means so much to us that we are the first business you’ve written a review for, and we’re so happy that you were pleased with our services! We appreciate that you gave us a shot and look forward to continuing to earn your business in the future!”

If the first-time review is negative, take the feedback to heart, apologize and invite the customer to call you or email you to discuss the matter further.

For example:

“Dear Ashley, since you don’t normally take the time to write a review, we sincerely appreciate you giving us this feedback. Our goal is to exceed our customer’s expectations, and we apologize that our service wasn’t up to par last week. We would love the chance to make it right and talk about the issue further, and we invite you to call us or email us at…”

The Gushing Review

These are the best kinds of reviews — the ones written by evangelists for your brand who believe you can do no wrong. These are the reviews that you want to shout from the rooftops and display anywhere and everywhere you can. When customers leave reviews like these, you never have to say that you’re the best again, because they’ll say it for you! These reviews reinforce everything you’ve claimed about your business, and since it’s coming from a customer instead of from you, it’ll be more believable to all of your prospective customers.

How should you respond?

Some business owners don’t think it’s necessary to respond to positive reviews at all, but here at Top Rated Local®, we recognize the importance of responding to every single review — yes, even the positive ones. If you don’t, it’s a missed opportunity.

It’s important to keep in mind that everyone will read the review, not just the person you are responding to, and your response gives you a great opportunity to reinforce the positives in the review and subtly brag about your business.

For example:

“Dear Michael, we are so glad that you were so happy with our work! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review. It is because of reviews like that that we’ve been recognized as the number one plumber in Dayton, and we couldn’t have done it without customers like you! We can’t wait to work with you again soon!”

The So-So Review

Reviews that are so-so are typically three stars, and they’re usually positive for the most part with one or two areas for improvement. The simple fact is that, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to please everyone completely. Additionally, some people will never give a business a perfect, five-star review, even if they were thrilled with the service.

However, three-star reviews have their own unique challenges. If only the reviewer gave one more star, it would be positive, but if they had given you one fewer star, it could end up hurting your online reputation. That’s why you need to be careful when you respond.

How should you respond?

Start crafting your response by thanking the customer for taking the time to write the review, as well as for their feedback, and let them know that you’re using it to improve your service. In your response, you’ll want to accept and offer gratitude for any praise, and make sure that you acknowledge and apologize for any disappointments or negatives. Above all, though, make it a point to ensure that the customer feels heard.

For example:

“Thank you so much, Katie, for taking the time to leave us a review. We’re so happy that you loved the salmon filet and sweet potatoes; it’s one of our most popular dishes! Thank you for letting us know that the cleanliness of the bathroom wasn’t up to your standards. It is our goal to ensure a great experience all around, and we’ve doubled our bathroom checks to make sure that it does not happen again. Should you decide to dine with us again, we would love to buy you a dessert!”

The One-Star Review

Sometimes, the stars align in a way that makes everything go wrong, and sometimes, the service you provide is next-level but the customer is simply determined to be unhappy. The good news is that the mere fact that the customer took the time to write the review means that the situation is redeemable. Of course, some people just want to vent and get their revenge, but in most cases, a one-star review is like a life preserver — your one last chance at saving the customer from leaving you forever. And if you respond correctly, you just might save them.

How should you respond?

Before we get into what to say in response, make sure that you feel cool and calm before you set out to write it. Extremely negative reviews like this can often feel like personal attacks, and if you respond in-kind, you’ll only achieve making yourself look bad in front of a bunch of potential clients, as well as the very real possibility that you could lose that customer forever. So no matter how negative or inflammatory the review, take a few minutes to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts.

The first thing that you should do is apologize, even if you don’t believe that you or your team did anything wrong. Don’t try to shift the blame or sidestep it; just be accountable and approach the response with a willingness to learn and get better. If there were specific circumstances that led to the issue, be honest about them without making excuses.

Make the problem right. Again, even if you don’t believe that you are at fault, it’s important to be the bigger person and to correct any issues. And the bigger the problem is, the more you should offer the customer in order to make up for it.

Last but not least, when responding to negative reviews, it’s important not to get into an online sparring match. As we mentioned, some customers just want to vent and aren’t looking for a solution, and it’s not helpful to have a public back and forth with them. That’s why it’s important to make your response concise and to the point, and invite the customer to continue the conversation offline and in private.

For example:

“Dear Jenny, we’re so sorry that your experience failed to meet your expectations, and we want you to know that we are willing to do whatever we can to make it right. On Saturday night, we experienced an emergency with one of our service vans that prevented our technician from getting there on time. We want you to know that communication is very important to us, and we’ve done further training with our technician to ensure that, if something like this happens again, he makes staying in communication with our customers his number one priority. We’d love to offer you a discounted service for your future needs, and we’d also love to talk with you more about this one on one. Please feel free to give us a call or email us at…”

The Fake Review

Some businesses fight dirty and are willing to take an underhanded approach to get ahead. At some point or another, you’ll probably come across a fake review. Luckily, fake reviews are generally easy to spot because they often highlight a product or service you don’t offer, or you might not have a record of ever having worked with that person before. In some cases, these kinds of reviews might be written by a competitor or an ex-employee with a grudge.

When you see a review that you think is fake, do a little research. If you can learn a little more about the person who wrote the review, you may be able to determine where the review is coming from and what their motivation is. But regardless of who wrote the review — just like with any other type of review — the most important thing is how you respond to it.

How should you respond?

You should never try to out a fake review in public directly. However, you can point out that you don’t have a record of working with that individual or have any knowledge of the issue they are referring to if that is the case. Like with negative reviews, you’ll want to avoid a public argument if at all possible, so invite the customer to call or email you to discuss the matter on a more personal level.

There’s nothing more infuriating than a fake review, but if you sink to their level, you’ll make yourself look worse in the end. If necessary, take a few days to gather your thoughts before you respond to the review, or write your response and wait 24 hours and read it over once more before you publish it.

If you really and truly believe that the review was left by a competitor or someone who has never been a customer of yours, there’s a slight chance that you could get the review taken down if you report it.

For example:

“Hello Jim, we apologize, but we don’t seem to have a record of working with you. We apologize that your experience was negative, and we’d love to make it right. Please contact us by email or phone to allow us to address the issue one on one.”

Take back your online reputation with the help of Top Rated Local®.

The moral to the story is that, while you can’t control what your customers say about you in reviews, you can control how you respond to them. Furthermore, it’s how you respond in each one of these cases that truly makes the biggest difference.

If you’re ready to take control of your online reputation and manage it like a pro, the first step you should take is to claim your Top Rated Local listing. With Top Rated Local, you’ll get real-time notifications when you receive reviews, monthly updates on your overall reputation, prioritized ranking on Google and a badge that you can display easily that tells the world that you are a Top Rated Local business in your area.

Claim your business’ Top Rated Local listing for free today!

The Importance Of Reviews For Local Businesses

A lot of business owners mistakenly believe that, if they’re not selling products online, there’s no need to encourage their customers to leave reviews on Google, Facebook or any other platform. And if you’re one of them, you could be missing out in a number of ways.

The truth is, online reviews are important, regardless of whether you do business online or not.

If you don’t sell products or do a lot of other business online, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the belief that reviews don’t really matter. After all, you rely on face-to-face interactions with your customers every day. However, for local businesses everywhere, reviews are essential, and if you want your business to be a success, you need to start focusing on them.

Five Reasons Local Businesses Depend on Online Reviews

#1. Reviews help your business show up in search results.

In this day and age, most business owners realize that, without some kind of online presence, it’s impossible to stay competitive with other businesses in your industry and to attract new customers. That’s because, instead of checking a phonebook or getting a recommendation from a friend, most people look online first when they’re searching for a local dentist, plumber, etc.

Being online isn’t enough though — especially when you consider the amount of competition online today — your business needs to be able to be found by people who are using relevant search terms. According to a study conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, 67 percent of clicks go to the top five listings in the SERP (search engine results pages), and if your business doesn’t show up in the top five or even the first page, you may as well not have an online presence at all.

Luckily, online reviews can play a powerful role in your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). A key part of SEO is regularly adding new, fresh content, and posting customer reviews on your website is a great way to do that. Furthermore, customers will often use long-term keywords in their reviews, which will help your website rank better for more of those keywords. Plus, Google trusts consumers a lot more than they trust businesses, so when your customer describes you as “the best plumber in Colorado,” you’ll get much better results than if you were to claim that about yourself.

#2. Reviews are the new word of mouth.

Every day, we write featured articles for our Top Rated Local award winners across the country. Because of this, we get to talk with the men and women who own these award-winning businesses every day to find out what makes them different and how they have managed to build such a successful business. We’ve learned quite a bit in these interviews with business owners, but one of the biggest things that stand out to us is how many of them rely heavily on word of mouth for new business.

Word of mouth is an incredibly important marketing tool for many reasons:

  • It’s free! – If you have a lot of word of mouth, you don’t need to invest so much in expensive, out-bound marketing strategies that end with mixed results.
  • People trust their friends and family – Not only can advertising be expensive, but people are a lot less likely to trust ads than they are to trust their friends, neighbors and family.
  • It’s the gift that keeps on giving – You don’t have to reinvest in word of mouth to keep it going. Simply focus on doing a good job, and let your customers spread the word for you.

While word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you, online reviews aren’t too far behind. In fact, 84 percent of people now say that they trust an online review as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend. That’s staggering, especially when you consider the fact that most people these days are more likely to look do a little online research before consulting a friend for a referral.

#3. Reviews help you gain more valuable insight into your business.

Most business owners honestly and truly want to do the best they can for their customers and to provide them with the best services or products. And in order to do that, you need to pay close attention to what your customers like and don’t like about what you’re offering. Here are a few reasons as to why getting that feedback in the form of reviews is so helpful:

  • People are most honest in reviews – Most people don’t like confrontation or the idea of telling something off to their face, and when you ask for feedback in person, it can lead to dishonest or at least incomplete feedback. Since reviews don’t happen face-to-face, it makes customers feel more willing to openly communicate how they really feel.
  • Customers can take their time and organize their thoughts in a review – When you ask a client for feedback on the spot, they may not have had enough time to fully understand the product or service in question. For instance, say you’re a painting contractor. Immediate feedback is great, but if the customer has had time to truly inspect the work, it will help them provide you with better feedback.
  • Reviews allow you to revisit feedback – Feedback of any kind can be valuable, but with a review, you have a permanent record that you can look back on for references and revist when you need to.

#4. Reviews from the basis of your online reputation.

Your business’ online reputation is important for so many reasons, and almost nothing is more important for your business’ online reputation than reviews. Your reviews — as well as your overall rating score — are the first thing people see about a local business when the map results pop up on Google. And chances are, the more reviews you have and the higher star rating you have, the more likely those people are to visit your website and take advantage of your services.

With so much competition in your industry and so many consumers looking for the very best company to work with online, your online reputation could quite literally make or break your business. Think about it — if you’re deciding between two restaurants, and one has a handful or two- or three-star reviews, while the other has hundreds of five-star reviews, which one would you be likely to choose?

The bottom line is that reviews — even if the only thing consumers know about them is how many there are and what the average rating score is — are one of the first things potential customers come into contact with. When you take the time to focus on getting more reviews for your business, you can make it a point to ensure that your first impression is a good one.

#5. Reviews help to build trust with new customers!

Trust is a vitally important part of your business’ success, both online and offline. In fact, it could be argued that establishing trust is the number one reason why businesses market at all. However, trust isn’t an easy thing to develop, probably because it’s one of those rare things that can only be earned or built over time, and you certainly won’t be able to build it overnight. Luckily, one of the easiest ways to establish more trust is with online reviews.

Every business claims to be the best at what they do, and every business owner will tell you that their business is capable and able to handle anything and everything. But not all businesses are created equal, and they can’t all be the best business.

These days, consumers don’t have to take a business’ word for it. With so many reviews to choose from, they can gain insight into what it’s like to work with a business without ever having to do so themselves — or having to know someone personally who has. If a potential customer sees that you’ve had hundreds of reviews with an average rating of 4.75 stars, it will give them confidence in your service and help to establish your reputation as a trustworthy business.

Getting more reviews is just the first step.

No matter what industry you are in or how much business you do online, you should never downplay the importance of online reviews for your business — yes, even if it’s a local business. So make it a point to start asking for reviews with each and every customer interaction.

Getting more reviews is a great first step towards building the kind of online reputation you want, but you shouldn’t stop there. Take ownership over your business entire online reputation with the help of Top Rated Local. With the five-pillars of customer service behind them, customers are able to leave more helpful reviews, and businesses are able to say goodbye to common pitfalls, like fake reviews and competitor reviews.

See the difference for yourself! Get your business listed for free today!

How to Handle Bad Reviews

Online reviews can be an important part of how people perceive your business, for better, or for worse. Learn what to do when you get a negative review online.

Reviews are a vital part of your online reputation

While we all hope that everyone would want to sing the praises of our business, the reality is that, sooner or later, you are likely to be the recipient of a bad review. Getting a bad review for your business can definitely feel like a personal attack. For many small business owners, your business is your baby. It’s likely that you pour your heart and soul into your business, so it’s only natural that you would want to protect, not only your business, but also your image. Throughout this article, we will take you through six vital steps that will help you protect your reputation and learn how to deal with bad reviews when they do come in.

Step #1. Notice your reviews.

The first step towards managing your reviews is to know that you have them in the first place. More and more research shows that people rely on reviews to make decisions about where to shop and what products to buy. In fact, according to BrightLocal research, 91 percent of people read online reviews; 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 68 percent form an opinion after reading between only one to six online reviews. With so many people relying on reviews to help them choose which business is even worth going to, it is more important than ever to stay on top of your online presence. Find a process that works for you to encourage, monitor, and interact with the reviews you receive, and make reputation management a part of your routine. You can get started by claiming your online profiles, which will make it easy to spot and manage your reviews. One simple way to start monitoring your online reputation is to claim your TRL listing today!

Step #2. Don’t ignore negative reviews.

While you don’t want to be reactive, you also don’t want to shrink back and hope that a bad review will just go away, because it won’t. Oftentimes, when someone has left a negative review, they just want to be heard or feel valued, and they won’t get either of those things if you don’t acknowledge their review. In fact, ignoring bad reviews is more likely to make it look like you don’t care about your customers. Seeing no follow-up after a negative review will plant seeds of doubt into the minds of potential customers, and ultimately, makes the negative review seem more believable. Don’t forget, it’s not just the upset customer who sees their review and your response (or lack thereof), it’s also your potential future customers. People will feel reassured of your professionalism when they see that a complaint has been addressed, and it looks good when you are able to handle a potentially negative situation with humility and grace. It might feel uncomfortable in the moment, but in the long-run, you get the opportunity to display your customer service skills and your commitment to the people you do business with. This is the gift a negative review gives you, and is a great chance for you to showcase your best side in a very public space.

Step #3. Take a step back before you respond.

While you definitely want to respond to all negative comments in a timely manner, you don’t want to be reactive and jump to your own defense without taking into regard the feelings of your customer or the way your reaction will read to others. Receiving a negative review can be shocking, and yes, it can feel personal. At the very least, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a customer who is feeling hurt, unsatisfied, unheard, or somehow mistreated. It can be easy to forget that the person on the other end of that comment is just that — another human being, and not just a faceless screen set on ruining your business and reputation. Take a minute to gather your thoughts before you start typing. Maybe try to write out your response in an email to yourself, and read it out loud to see if your tone sounds balanced and professional.

Step #4. Apologize.

Responding to a negative review is a great opportunity to show yourself the way you want to be seen. In this moment, it is crucial to empathize with your customer and apologize without placing or accepting blame. Even if you feel there has been a misunderstanding, it’s likely that you really are sorry that the customer did not leave your business on a happy note, and that’s a great way to start your apology! You don’t need to assume blame; you just need to showcase understanding and care. A well-crafted apology can be an excellent way to turn a bad review around and show off your business’ credibility. According to a report conducted by Harris Interactive, business owners have an opportunity to turn an upset customer into a loyal advocate. The survey found that when customers received a reply to their negative reviews, 33 percent turned around and posted a new, positive review, and 34 percent deleted the original, negative review. Mistakes happen, and what matters now is how you take responsibility for the customer’s experience. If you accept the mistake and put your customer first, people will feel more confident about trusting you with their business. Keep your apology brief and sincere. Remember, you do not want to accept or place blame here; simply offer empathy and a chance to give the customer a different outcome.

Here is one example of a short but effective apology:

“I am very sorry that you left our business without having experienced the excellent customer service we strive to give. Our customers are important to us, and we would like the opportunity to chat about what went wrong and see what we can do to make things better. Please email me or call me at…”

Step #5. Take the conversation offline.

While it’s important to give a timely reply directly in response to your bad review, end your apology with an invitation to clear things up and rectify the situation in a private setting. If the reviewer is genuinely interested in chatting, you have a great opportunity to turn this situation around, and if they are not, you avoid a public internet showdown, which, while extraordinarily entertaining for those not involved, definitely looks bad for you and your business. Creating a space for you and the reviewer to hear each other out can give you the opportunity to give them a new opinion about you and your business. While you make a public apology in response to the bad review, always end with an invitation to email or call you to see what can be done to turn things around.

Step #6. Learn and implement change when necessary.

Make sure you are listening and learning when negative reviews come in. While some reviews might be the result of an unreasonable venting session, that won’t always be the case. Another value you might get from negative reviews is the opportunity to receive some unfiltered feedback. If the topic of customer service, or timeliness, or store cleanliness always comes up, those are things you are likely going to want to address. Hearing feedback and doing something about it is a responsible and professional way to handle your business, and customers will notice that you care about their experience. In some cases, taking a noticed negative and making a change will make you and your business look even better than if nothing had been wrong in the first place! People respect someone who can learn and change, and customers certainly want to feel heard, appreciated, and valued.


Take the first step towards being in control of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!

Your business’ online reputation is undoubtedly linked to online reviews. Top Rated Local has the resources you need to stay on top of your reviews and reputation. Best of all, listing your business with Top Rated Local is free!

How Many Reviews Does Your Business Need?

Reviews are important for both consumers and business owners alike. They help consumers make more informed buying decisions and help businesses get better and make their customers happier. But how many reviews does your business need?

When it comes to reviews, there’s no magic number.

The number of reviews you’ll need for your business to show up and stand out on review sites depends on the sites themselves. For example, for a local business, you only need a few reviews on Google in order for your star rating to be displayed in local searches. However, if you have an online store and you want your star rating to show up in Adwords campaigns, you’ll need to have at least 150 reviews. Every review platform has its own requirements and suggestions, and it’s up to you, as the business owner, to determine where your priorities lie.

How many reviews will prospective customers actually read?

When determining how many reviews you’ll need to stand out on review platforms and ensure that prospective customers choose you, it’s important to know exactly how many reviews customers might read.

Research has found that most people — 90 percent of consumers in fact — will read 10 reviews or fewer in order to make a buying decision, and 68 percent of consumers will read between one and six reviews before making a decision.

Because most consumers only read 10 reviews, it might lead you to believe that, once you have 10 reviews, you can be done with it. But that’s not the case, and when it comes to reviews, the more you can get, the better off you’ll be.

Why getting more reviews should always be high on your priority list.

#1. Consumers often look at the number of reviews a business has.

When people are reading your business’ reviews, they aren’t just reading the individual reviews; they are looking at how many reviews you’ve gotten. According to a study from BrightLocal, when judging a business, 44 percent of consumers said that they looked at the quantity of a business’ reviews rather than just the quality.

So even if you have a perfect average star rating of five-stars, it means very little to consumers if you only have a handful of reviews. The more reviews you have, the more impressive a high average star rating will be and the more forgivable a lower average rating will be.

#2. Newer reviews are more trustworthy than older reviews.

Even if you have thousands of reviews, they won’t help you much if you got them years or even months ago. Consumers aren’t just looking at your average star rating or the number of reviews you have; they want to know that you’ve gotten reviews recently. The longer you’ve had a review, the less relevant it is to consumers. In fact, according to a study conducted by Trustpilot, 65 percent of consumers believe a review is too old after one year, 36 percent after six months, and 16 percent after just three months.

In order to keep your reviews relevant, you need to constantly get new ones, which means that your focus on getting reviews should never waver.

#3. Bad reviews don’t hurt as much when you have a lot of reviews.

The first things people look at when they’re learning about your business is the total number of reviews you have and your overall average star rating. What your reviews actually say and how recent they were posted are also important, but if your rating score is too low, people aren’t likely to take the time to actually dive into your review to see what they say.

While a perfective five-star average may not be within your grasp, it’s important to ensure that your rating score is as high as possible, and when you have a greater number of reviews, one bad review won’t hurt your score as much as it would if you only had a few reviews.

#4. More reviews will make your business more visible online.

In addition to the impression it makes on prospective customers, having a lot of reviews is also important for your business’ online visibility in general. The more reviews your business has, the better your website will rank for relevant local searches. According to a study from Local SEO Guide, reviews that include keywords were the second-highest factor when determining a business’ performance in ranking among the map results in local searches.

If your business doesn’t rank on Google, it may as well not exist at all, as most people doing local searches don’t look past the first page of search results. And while there are many things that are factored in when determining your business’ ranking, getting more reviews is one of the most effective and easiest things you can do to improve your business’ organic rankings.

#5. The more reviews you get, the better your business can be.

Successful businesses aren’t out just to serve a few people; they’re out to serve as many people and as wide an audience as possible. That means that, when it comes to customer feedback, the more feedback you can get from the most people, the more information you’ll have to make your business better for everyone.

Reviews aren’t just a tool to help consumers find you online, or to help consumers learn more about what kind of service you have to offer; if you pay attention to what they say, they’re a great tool for gaining valuable insight into your business.


Manage your online reputation like a pro with Top Rated Local.

Reviews are important, and although there’s no magic number of reviews you should shoot for, the more you have, the better off you’ll be, and getting reviews should be your consistent focus. Luckily, no matter how many reviews you get, Top Rated Local® is here to help you manage your reviews and your online reputation like a professional.

Top Rated Local was designed to help consumers get down to the bottom of what working with a company is really like by capturing the overall customer experience based on five main pillars, while giving businesses the ability to overcome everyday issues that can hurt their online reputation, like fake reviews and competitor reviews. With Top Rated Local, businesses and consumers are both empowered, and you won’t find anything else like it out there. The best part is that it’s absolutely free to get your business listed, and you have nothing to lose!

What are you waiting for? Get your business listed today to become the Top Rated Local experts in your area!

How to Read Online Reviews Objectively

Reviews can be helpful, but they are incredibly subjective, and if you want to glean the most insight into a business’ reviews, it’s important to learn how to read them objectively.

Learning to read reviews objectively will help you make better buying decisions.

Whether you’re looking for the right HVAC company to fix your air conditioner or you’re hoping to make the right decision about which grill to purchase on Amazon, you rely on the reviews to help you make the right decision. However, reviews are incredibly subjective, and if you want to learn valuable information about the product or the business, you have to learn to read them objectively.

Five Tips to Help You Read Reviews More Objectively

Tip #1. Read multiple reviews.

Whatever business you’re planning on hiring or product you’re planning on purchasing is sure to have both positive and negative reviews online. If there are only one-star reviews, then that tells you a lot about the product or the business right there, and if there are only five-star reviews, it’s a red flag that not all of them are authentic.

Reading several reviews — including a good mix of both positive and negative reviews — will give you a better idea of the kind of service the business offers on a regular basis. It can be difficult to get a good idea of what working with a business is like when you read about just one customer’s experience. But when you read several, it’ll give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.

Tip #2. Check out reviews on multiple platforms.

You should never rely on just one review platform when you’re making a decision about which product to buy or which company to work with. Chances are, that business or product is listed on multiple review platforms, and if you read reviews from just one, you’re limiting the amount of information you can gain from the reviews.

Our advice is to read a few reviews from every platform the business or product is listed on. This way, if the business has focused on maintaining just one of those platforms, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of what working with them is really like.

Tip #3. Ignore reviews that are overly specific.

When you’re reading reviews, you’re trying to gain an understanding of the general experience that most people have with a business or a product. This can be challenging when you consider the fact that most people who write reviews are writing them from their own standpoint. This kind of subjectivity gets in the way and hinders your ability to make the right decision on what to do with your money.

If a review mentions a specific employee by name, it’s a big red flag that the review you’re reading isn’t objective. For one, that employee may not even work for the company anymore, or they may have even been filling in temporarily. Either way, if a review talks about a specific employee, then it can’t really tell you much about the business in general.

Tip #4. Look for themes in five-star and one-star reviews.

Reading a handful of both five-star and one-star reviews is a great way to learn a lot about a business or a product quickly, but it’s important to read several in order to gain the best understanding of what you can expect. And when you do, make it a point to look for overarching themes.

Here’s a great example:

When looking for a set of free weights online, I had settled on two different products. Both of the products had a decent average star rating with hundreds of reviews. Upon reading several one-star reviews for both products, I learned that, on product A, a lot of people complained that the weights fell off of the bar and wouldn’t secure tightly enough, and on product B, most of the complaints centered around a chemical smell coming off of the weights. While I was not willing to take the risk of weights falling on my head, I was completely willing to accept the risk that my weights might have an odor.

Tip #5. Don’t just settle for reading one-star and five-star reviews.

While it’s important that you read one-star and five-star reviews on a business or a product, you don’t want to forget about all of the other reviews in between. In most cases, if a customer is happy enough to leave a five-star review, they may be willing to overlook issues other customers may have noticed. The same goes for customers who leave one-star reviews; they are often extremely upset — too upset to leave objective feedback.

Reading more two-star, three-star and four-star reviews is a great way to get down to the brass tacks of the issue. That’s because if a reviewer is truly being objective, they’re probably unlikely to see their experience as truly spectacular or truly horrendous. In most cases, the true experience lies somewhere in the middle, in the two-, three- and four-star reviews.

Tip #6. Check the reviewer’s previous submissions.

We all have varying opinions and beliefs, and it can be difficult to trust a purchasing decision to someone you’ve never met and have no idea whether or not they hold similar beliefs and opinions. And when the most information you have about a person consists of three sentences about a business or a product, it’s not easy to tell where they stand on things.

This is why it’s important to learn more of the reviewer’s thoughts and opinions by reading more of their reviews. This is especially helpful if they’ve reviewed something you’ve already bought or a business you’ve already worked with. But in general, even if you have no experience with other business or products the individual has reviewed, reading several reviews they’ve written will help you learn if they are super nitpicky or if they are extremely easy to please.

Tip #7. Take angry or vindictive reviews with a grain of salt.

Some people review a business because they want to help others gain a good perspective on the kind of service or products they have to offer, and some people review a business so that they can provide them with feedback they can use to get better and meet their customers’ needs more effectively. However, when some people write reviews, they do so because of reasons that are a little more nefarious.

If someone has had a particularly bad experience with a business, or even if they just don’t like the business owner or the employee who helped them, they might write a review out of spite to try to make the employee or company look bad. Watch out for profane language or threats in reviews, or personal attacks on details that have little to nothing to do with the product or service the business offers. And if you do notice these things in a review, disregard it or at least take it with a grain of salt.

Here’s a great example:

One of 2018’s Top Rated Local award winners had just one or two negative reviews on Facebook, one of which was from an angry woman who was upset that the individual driving the company’s van cut her off on the road. When you’re hiring a company to paint your home, whether or not their technician has ever cut anyone off on the road has very little bearing on the type of job they’ll do or the quality of their work.

#8. Consider the timing of the review.

When you’re trying to get an overall picture of what working with a company is like, it’s important to read several reviews. However, you can’t just pick a few random reviews in the hopes that they’ll give you the information you need. Instead, you really need to look at when those reviews were left.

For example, say a business has been around for 10 years and now have different owners. The reviews from six years ago probably don’t have a lot to do with the people who work for the business now or the kind of service they provide. Things are constantly changing, and the only way to get a good idea of what it’s like to work with a company now is to read about the most recent experiences their customers have had with them.

#9. Read the response from the business.

Reviews give us a very one-sided look at what it’s like to work with a business, and while learning about one side of the story can be helpful, it doesn’t give you the complete picture that you’re probably looking for. That’s why, if a company has taken the time to respond to its reviews, it’s important that you take the time to read them.

Reading a company’s response can be especially powerful when it comes to negative reviews. If a review isn’t legitimate or wasn’t written by a legitimate customer, the company will often respond to that effect. But even in the event that the review is legitimate and comes from a real customer or client, reading the company’s response will help you learn what kind of customer service they offer.

Because companies are built and maintained by human beings, mistakes are bound to happen. When you read the company’s responses to reviews, it gives you insight into how they fix their mistakes and win back unhappy customers — which is what true customer service is all about.

#10. Watch out for red flags.

If you’ve had a chance to read our previous blog — How to Determine if a Review is Fake — then you already know that fake reviews do exist, and they are unfortunately more common than many people are aware of. It’s not always easy to tell a fake review from a legitimate one, but there are some red flags that you can watch out for, and we went over many of them in our previous blog, so be sure to check it out.

Find the right local business for your needs with Top Rated Local.

Reviews, on the surface, can give you a lot of information about what it’s like to work with a business, but it’s important to know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to read them. We hope that this blog has given you some insight into what to look for in reviews and how to make the most out of business reviews.

If you’re sick of trying to separate the myth from the legend — the authentic from the fake — you’ve come to the right place. Top Rated Local was designed to help businesses overcome everyday obstacles, like fake reviews and competitor reviews, giving customers more insight and business owners more constructive feedback. So, the next time you’re looking for a plumber, a daycare center or any other local service, start with Top Rated Local!

How to Determine if a Review is Fake

Whether you’re a business owner trying to maintain your business’ online reputation or you’re a consumer trying to get the 411 on a product or service, it pays to know how to tell the real reviews from the fake ones.

Fake reviews are not always easy to spot.

Reviews are a powerful thing. They give businesses feedback that they can use to better serve their clients, and they give consumers information that helps them make purchasing decisions and figure out which companies to hire. However, this is only true of real reviews, and unfortunately, fake reviews are more common than you might think. In fact, in February, the FTC brought the first successful case challenging fake paid reviews.

Fake reviews aren’t helpful to anyone, and when you’re searching for a good or service online, or you’re trying to determine where your business stands online, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate review and a fake review.

How to Tell if a Review is Fake

#1. Pay attention to the timing.

In general, if a higher than average amount of reviews has been published at one time, it’s a red flag that at least some of those reviews aren’t real. There are, of course, exceptions, like after a product has launched, the day after Black Friday or the day after Christmas. However, in most cases, if a lot of reviews have been published at one time for one business or product, it’s because there has been a targeted campaign to add artificial reviews.

Another thing to consider with the timing of a review is when the product or service being reviewed was launched. If there are a ton of five-star reviews for a product or a service that hasn’t even been released yet, they likely aren’t authentic.

#2. Check the username.

No matter what review platform you’re posting on, your review is attached to your profile, which is generally your first and last name, particularly on sites like Google and Facebook. One of the easiest ways to spot a fake review is by simply checking out the individual who wrote it. If the username is “John Smith” or “Jane Doe,” there’s a good chance it’s not legitimate.

#3. Check the profile picture.

Not every legitimate review will have a profile picture or an avatar attached to it, and a lack of image isn’t always going to be a red flag that a review is fake. However, a lot of times, fake reviewers aren’t from the United States, and when they pull an image from the internet to use as their profile pictures, they often will accidentally select an image of a celebrity.

#4. Keep an eye out for verified purchases.

According to a study by Fakespot, 30 percent of Amazon reviews are unreliable or fake, and an estimated 52 percent of reviews on Walmart.com are inauthentic. However, both Amazon and Walmart.com have given their clients an easy way to tell the difference between fake reviews and real ones — by making it clear which reviewers actually purchased the product. When you’re reading reviews on sites like Amazon and Walmart.com, it’s important to look for that “verified purchase” badge.

#5. Check the spelling and grammar.

Your 10th grade English teacher probably isn’t proofreading your reviews, and no one expects perfection. However, because a lot of fake reviews come from people overseas whose first language isn’t English, poor spelling or grammar could be a red flag that a review is fake.

We’re not talking about a missing comma or a misspelled word or two. Watch out for words used in the completely wrong context or big spelling and grammar errors that the average American wouldn’t make.

#6. Be wary of repeat words or phrases.

A lot of times, fake reviewers are paid to present products or services in a certain way, to use specific words or phrases to describe them or to help a page rank for certain long-tail keywords. That’s why, when you’re reading reviews, it’s important to be mindful about any words or phrases that are repetitive throughout the review.

#7. Steer clear of reviews that use a lot of industry lingo.

If a company is trying to make themselves look good by writing their own reviews, they may accidentally use industry lingo that can give them away. By “industry lingo,” we mean words or phrases used by professionals in the industry but are rarely — if ever — uttered by customers.

#8. Watch out for overly negative reviews.

While people do legitimately have bad experiences with different businesses, an overly negative review in all caps or with 15 exclamation points can be a sign that the review is inauthentic. This is especially true if the review attempts to push a different product or service on the reader as an alternative.

#9. Look at the reviewer’s profile.

One great way to tell a fake review from a real one is to do some research into the person who left the review. On many review sites, you can check out the other reviews the individual has left on the site, which can give you a lot of insight into whether or not the review you’re reading is real.

Most people aren’t all that active when it comes to writing reviews, and it’s normal if they’ve only posted one or two, or at the most, a handful of reviews throughout the year. However, if you’ve noticed that the person in question has published 20 reviews in a day, there’s a good chance those reviews aren’t real.

#10. Check out the business or product’s other reviews.

Reading some of the other reviews on a product or business can help you determine if the review in question is real or not. For example, if a business has 400 reviews that are mostly five-stars, then it’s important to look closely at the one or two one-star reviews they have. No one is perfect, and no business can please every customer, but it’s smart to take one-off reviews like that with a grain of salt. Even if they aren’t fake, they clearly also aren’t indicative of the kind of service most people can expect from that business.


Gain a better perspective and more control with Top Rated Local.

Top Rated Local utilizes five pillars of the customer experience to help readers capture the overall customer experience and reviewers to organize their thoughts in a more concise way. It was also designed to solve the problems faced by local businesses on review platforms, including fake reviews.

So whether you’re a consumer looking to make better, more informed purchasing decisions or a business owner who wants more control over your online reputation, Top Rated Local can help. Sign your business up today for free, or browse businesses online to find the right option for your needs.

Your Guide to Showcasing Customer Reviews

Reviews are a very powerful thing for your business’ online reputation, as well as for its overall success. But have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get even more out of your reviews?

Showcase your reviews to get the most out of them!

Even if you never do anything but let your reviews sit on Google, Yelp, Facebook and any other review site they were published on, they’ll do your business a lot of good. Reviews help with everything from SEO (search engine optimization) to credibility and trustworthiness, but that’s not all they can do!

With a little know-how, you can make every five-star review you get go a lot further!

A note about showcasing reviews:

A negative review can be a powerful thing, and for reasons that are both psychological and — believe it or not — physiological — people are naturally more drawn to negative reviews and have a tendency to give them a lot more weight than positive reviews. This fact alone makes taking the time to showcase your positive reviews is well worth it.

Seven Ways to Showcase Outstanding Customer Reviews

#1. Publish reviews on your website.

Your website is a great place to publish reviews you want to highlight or are especially proud of. And when you do, you may even enjoy a subsequent boost in sales, as reviews help to establish trust and give buyers more confidence.

At Top Rated Local, we’ve seen a lot of businesses publish reviews on the front page of their website, which is a great way to get attention with them, but they also work beautifully on testimonial pages, as well as relevant product pages and pages for any specific services mentioned in the reviews.

You could also utilize a positive review to give credence to what you say on your ‘About Us’ page. For example, every business says they’re the best, but when you publish a customer review also backing up your claim, your customers don’t have to take your word for it!

#2. Share reviews on social media.

If a customer has left you a five-star review on your social media page, especially if it was well-written and tells a story that tugs at the heartstrings or otherwise stirs up emotion, sharing it on social media is a great way to ensure that it gets noticed.

Posting on social media is something you should be doing on a regular basis. Luckily, posting a review every now and then will give you a break from constantly having to come up with new content to publish on your social media pages, and it gives you the opportunity to thank your client for taking the time to share their experience in a public way, as well as to brag on your business without having to be the one to brag.

#3. Utilize reviews in print ads.

Online reviews don’t have to be used strictly online! They are a great way to make any print advertising you do more trustworthy and comfortable. Regardless of whether you’re putting reviews in newspaper ads, magazine ads or even in direct mailers, they’ll go a long way toward making your business look good.

When it comes to adding reviews to print ads, direct mail may be your most impactful option. Surprisingly enough, in the digital age, direct mail is still an incredibly effective way to get your business’ name out there, and a lot of consumers have come to know and trust direct mail, even if they don’t love it. Because direct mail already enjoys so much trust, you can make a direct mail campaign even more effective by incorporating your online reviews in your mailers, postcards and other marketing items.

#4. Display reviews in your store/office.

Some reviews are so perfect that they are worth framing — literally.

If you’ve received a real show-stopper of a review, and you’d love to spread the word about it high and low, one cute and effective way to utilize it is by printing it out in a nice font, framing it and hanging it in your store or office.

Having a great review hanging in your store or office is an effective way to remind yourself of the standard of service you want to set and reach each and every day. It also shows anyone who comes into your business what kind of service you strive to offer.

#5. Publish reviews in your monthly newsletter.

Sending out a monthly newsletter is a great way to keep your customers informed about what’s going on in your business, including any promotions or sales that are coming up, any big projects you’ve recently completed, what you can help them with, etc. These newsletters are also the perfect place to share reviews that your especially proud of.

Part of your monthly newsletter should include updates on what your business has been up to for the last month, and if you’ve received a five-star review in that time, there’s no better way to showcase it than in your newsletter. Sharing reviews in a newsletter is powerful because you can give it context and add more information to help your readers get more out of it.

#6. Write about great reviews on your blog.

If you know anything about SEO (search engine optimization), it’s probably that content is king — which it is. Adding fresh, unique content to your website on a regular basis is the number one most effective thing you can do to improve and maintain your website’s organic ranking on search engines. But adding all of that content on a regular basis can get old, and it’s not always easy to think of new topics to write about. Luckily, reviews help you break the mold!

You could promote your reviews on your blog in a couple of different ways:

  • Tell the story of a great experience with one customer, highlighting that specific review. If the customer is willing, you could also ask them about doing a case study with them or interviewing them further about their experience.
  • If you’re writing a blog based on a specific product or service, you could pull a list of several reviews that you think give valuable information on the product or service.

#7. Display reviews on the shelf.

Product reviews are powerful things, but you don’t have to limit using them to online marketing and promotion! If a particular product in your brick and mortar store has a stand-out, five-star review online, you can utilize it in your in-store marketing efforts to great effect.

Displaying outstanding product reviews on shelf displays is a superb way to bring attention to products. Plus, it lets your reviewer explain the benefits of purchasing the product, which not only gives you a break but also makes for more credible and convincing claims. Having a review on display will also help to establish more trust in the product and could lead to an increase in sales!

Make the most of your online reputation with Top Rated Local®.

Building and managing your online reputation can be challenging, but when you have the right tools in front of you — as well as the knowledge of how best to use those tools — there’s nothing stopping you from building the kind of online reputation for your business that you want. Top Rated Local is here to help.

Get your business listed for free today!