It’s no shock that COVID-19 has completely changed the way we do business. Foot traffic is down, and as people have been forced to retreat into their homes to hunker down during the pandemic, they are turning to the internet to do business. Even in “the before times,” online reviews were critical. 90% of consumers say that online reviews impact their purchase decision. However, now that COVID-19 has forced us to be online more than ever, online reviews are vital.

There are six reasons why online reviews should be one of your business’s highest priorities during COVID-19.

1. As Businesses Adapt, Those Without an Online Presence will be Left Behind
If a brick-and-mortar business changes its hours, how will anyone know about it unless it’s online? People aren’t driving around checking out businesses right now, and simply walking into places poses a risk on its own. Those businesses that aren’t adapting to have more of an online presence risk losing business altogether.

2. Word-of-Mouth Referrals Aren’t as Effective Right Now
Despite the rise of the internet, word-of-mouth referrals – people merely asking for recommendations from people they trust – have remained one of the healthiest sources for businesses across all industries. But now people aren’t talking to their neighbors and friends as much due to social distancing. Instead, they are turning online to seek out reviews of others to vet businesses.

3. Before Risking a Trip Out, People Want to See How Your Business Operates
In a pandemic, every trip to the grocery store, a restaurant, a shop, or another business comes with inherent risk. That risk increases significantly when a company doesn’t have proper social distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitization policies in place. Understandably, people want to know how your business operates before they go to your location so they can minimize the risk of contact with the virus. When they go to investigate, they will also see your reviews. Having reviews specifically about how you conduct business during the virus can be the clincher for whether someone decides to do business with you – for better or worse.

4. People Have More Time on Their Hands to Read Reviews and Responses
Because people are spending more time at home and many people are either working from home or unemployed, they have more time to read reviews and responses. Whereas someone may have read four or five reviews about your business before COVID, now they may take it upon themselves to read even more. If you have fewer reviews than your competition, this will put your business at a disadvantage. And perhaps even more of a disadvantage is having reviews without responses. If someone reading through your reviews versus your competitor sees that your competitor is more responsive, they may decide that their business is trustworthy. If a company resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers return to that business.

5. Having More Reviews Means Showing Up Higher in Search Results
By having more reviews, you trigger the Google algorithm to cause your business to appear higher in local search results. Reviews are especially important for local searches as they influence up to 10% of the ranking. This fact means a much higher likelihood that new leads will find you and choose you first.

6. How You Do Business Now Will Impact Your Business Post-Pandemic
Not only will online reviews get your business selected more, but you will also know why people are choosing to do business with you. Through reviews, you get direct feedback to improve your business and thus increase your bottom line. Plus, as we come out of the pandemic, you will have a record of how you handled business during the most prominent global crisis of our lifetimes. If you can prove your business is adaptable and practical during the worst of times, imagine the potential for business growth as we come out of the pandemic.

Work with a Review Management Partner
While you can ask your loyal customers to leave you reviews to build your credibility online during the pandemic, it helps to work with a business with the experience and know-how to grow your reputation online. The Green Hills Group offers review management services to help you gain positive reviews and get a second chance at negative feedback. We can help you improve your online reputation. To get started use our free listing scanner tool to see how Google and users perceive your business online.

Ready to go viral for the right reasons? Get in touch with us!