What A Brand’s Really Worth: How Reviews Affect Your Ranking and Brand Reputation

By Shannon Correia on 19 September 2023

A brand’s reputation and perception are essential for its success. There are many contributing factors that affect this. Not only is this an external reflection of first-hand experiences, but there are also many different platforms for people to share their experiences. Let’s take a look at the all-important reviews for customers, online optimisation, and reputation management.

Reputation Management

Online reputation management covers paid, earned, shared, and owned media. Gaining reviews, responding to them, and monitoring brand mentions forms part of earned media – it’s organic and outside of your direct control or influence (think of it as an extension of earned media). This can be closely linked to shared media (user-generated social media) as well, since users can upload imagery when leaving a review or repurpose this content in personal posts.

When managed well, it can increase trust and authority in your brand, therefore, helping you grow in both presence and sales. It centres on reviews online, which sets it apart from the other side of the coin known as public relations which deals with external brand relations. Both reviews and PR are neceasary to create a positive brand perception.

Review Platforms

Let’s take a look at the most popular platforms for consumer reviews. These are the big 4, accounting for 88% of all online reviews, detailed as follows:

  • Google Reviews: Google surpasses the rest, accounting for 77% of all reviews. When searches are made, organic results show a snippet of the business’s rating, which is the go-to source for potential customers browsing the web. 
  • Yelp: Holding 6% of all online reviews with over 244 million submissions, Yelp is used for a range of industries. It is also reported that consumers who use this site are highly likely to come back and leave their own review for others. 

The following review sites hold 3% of total reviews, though they are still very influential among their specific segments:

  • Trustpilot: A public platform where consumers share reviews to help businesses under a wide range of categories to improve customer experiences.
  • Tripadvisor: Lauded as the world’s biggest travel review site with airline, accommodation, experience, and restaurant reviews. Businesses who attain high rankings often advertise this in-store, as it’s a go-to source for travellers. 
  • Facebook Recommendations: According to Hootsuite, two thirds of Facebook users visit a business’s page once per week, where these reviews are visible. 

Reviews are also crucial for businesses selling products on Amazon, one of the most popular eCommerce sites globally. In fact, 72% of shoppers saying they read the Amazon reviews before making a purchase. Positive reviews can increase sales, build trust, and improve your search rankings.

Getting a Clear View of Your Business’ Ranking

As we can see, there are multiple ways that people can leave reviews on their experiences with a brand. Brands need to monitor these multiple platforms and respond as is good practice. Having a handle on all brand mentions is important, which goes for social media too. 

Why Reviews Matter

Review content can also be a springboard of insights, as it can indicate the keywords being used and associated with your brand, for example. Here are two other ways that review content makes a difference.

Social Proof 

Let’s begin with the nature of reviews: it is a form of social proof. People generally trust the first-hand experiences of others and use these in the deciding process before making a purchase. Much like the visual form of this in user-generated content, reviews often take the form of the written word. Many brands have realised the importance of these, and even include ratings on their websites where customers are encouraged to share their thoughts. In essence, reviews can work wonders!

The stats speak for themselves:

In short, reviews are effective. They could even be as effective as offering discounted deals. 

SEO

While SEO is ever-changing, reviews are likely to have an effect on your rankings, as search engines include external channels as communicators of authority, relevancy, and trustworthiness. The quality, quantity, and source of reviews matters. As Kyra Sammis, Customer Success Manager at TrustPilot explains, “Reviews are a powerful marketing engine in their own right — they’re a way to build trust in your brand.” Bad or mediocre reviews matter too. These create a balanced overview and provide your business with an opportunity to show how you handle and come back from criticism. 

NB Online reviews are often considered as good as personal recommendations. Be sure not to overlook perceptions that exist outside of this in the public domain, with the likes of personal advocacy (word of mouth) and editorial mentions (in blogs and newspapers, for example) playing an important role as well. 

The Issues With Review Sites

Here are four common issues related to review sites. 

  • Intentions: It is worth noting that people often take to review sites for one of two extremes, either having a fantastic 5-star experience or a platform to rant about a negative one. There are some mediocre reviews, and some who were pleased, but don’t award full star ratings. 
  • Fakes: The business of writing fake reviews is rampant. These can take the form of obvious bot responses, or sophisticated reviews which companies underhandedly hire writers to create. However, there are various systems in place to remove these, so reviews generally remain highly trustworthy in the eyes of your audiences.
  • Widespread: As mentioned above, having so many outlets where people can share their reviews makes it difficult to get an overview of a brand. Often, Google Reviews are regarded especially highly as they are prominent and easy to see when searching for a business. 
  • Lasting: Reviews are rarely edited, so the impact of a negative review can be long-lasting on your overall ranking.

Tips for Reputation Management

Keep these tips in mind for effectively managing your brand’s reputation online. 

  • Provide prompt and personal responses.
  • People can easily distinguish generically meaningless or emotionally driven responses, which may as well be left blank. Have a planned response strategy which reflects your brand voice and communicates that you value your customers.
  • Have a template for certain themes, and manage negative online reviews. 
  • Monitor brand mentions regularly and audit your online reputation regularly. 
  • Consider using online tools to help you manage the reviews..
  • Create an account on relevant third-party sites to provide verified responses. 
  • Encourage customers to share reviews online. 
  • Follow-up on reviews where necessary. 
  • Monitoring reviews and testimonials of your competitors can also provide you with a wealth of insights and opportunities. By cross-checking this, you can also get a good look at customer sentiments at an industry-wide level.

PS Reviews are not only for clients! Potential shareholders and employees are just as interested in word on the street. 

That wraps up our guide to the world of online reviews. With so many platforms and your brand’s reputation on the line, being able to monitor and manage the ratings you receive can make all the difference in attaining lasting success. 

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