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Having a huge lifetime review total is important, but in 2023 real review generation success is measured by review frequency. Learn more about why review recency should be at the center of your local business's reputation management strategy.
Having more online reviews than your competitors is not enough to make your business stand out. A BrightLocal study found that after star rating and legitimacy, review frequency is the most important local ranking factor, not quantity. In this article, we’ll cover the following benefits of increased review frequency:
Consumers read anywhere from one to six reviews before committing to a business. Ideally, those reviews are positive, but what if they’re not? In all likelihood, nobody’s going to hold it against your business if a customer had a negative experience in 2016 - it’s old news. However, if that negative review is the first one a prospective customer reads, it has the potential to do a lot of damage.
Luckily, Google’s algorithm favors high star rated positive reviews over negatives. Therefore, receiving more reviews on a regular basis gives you the chance to push negative feedback further down the screen and out of your customer’s initial view. We all make mistakes leading to a low rating every now and then. Having a dependable flow of reviews means you won’t have to sweat the occasional negative sentiment.
Overall, a higher review frequency (sometimes referred to as review “recency”) means you have more control over your public image. It gives you the chance to leave a positive first impression, which goes a long way in establishing strong relationships with your customers.
*While negative reviews are certainly not what you want for your business, they’re inevitable. You can’t please everyone, but you can use your negative reviews to your competitive advantage. Learn more about how 1, 2, and 3-star reviews can be valuable for your business here.
Be honest - which would you choose to buy from, a business with 15 reviews from last year or a business with 15 reviews from this week? You’d likely choose the latter, and it’s clear why.
Recent review content is more trustworthy. It’s also more likely to represent an accurate and up-to-date customer experience. In fact, over two-thirds of today’s consumers believe that reviews older than 90 days are irrelevant. Therefore, if your business has a low review frequency, it may also run the risk of seeming irrelevant.
Keep in mind - customers have thousands of options at their fingertips, and having a quality product isn’t always enough to win them over. Great service, fair prices, a positive in-store experience - all convince someone to buy, and reviews are the easiest way for potential customers to tell whether your business values these attributes.
Remember, reviews serve as a form of social proof: accounts of real-life experiences with a product or service. More than 80% of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family (social proof) before making a purchase.
People trust people, more so than paid advertisements or institutions. 81% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses because they want trustworthy proof of how your organization functions today - not how it functioned last year. Review recency ensures your business’s content stays accurate, honest, and most importantly, part of the conversation.
While the recent shift to a 50 result layout on Google desktop searches is likely to reduce this number, historically 75% of users never get past the first page (top 10), meaning that visibility is essential to success. Getting and staying visible is easier said than done.
Google determines local search ranking based on a combination of relevance, distance, and prominence. Prominence (according to Google, how well-known a business is) depends on all of the information available about a business, such as links, citations or articles. Appropriately, it also depends on reviews - so much so that they are the second biggest influencer of local rankings overall.
If you’re thinking, “...what better way to increase prominence than by increasing review volume?”, we can’t blame you. More than six times out of ten, the top Google listing is the business with the most reviews. However, there are more review factors at play here, and when it comes to long-term success, frequency and recency have the upper hand.
A higher review frequency demonstrates that your business is active - something volume alone can’t always accomplish. It also heightens engagement by giving you more opportunities to interact with your customers. As stated by Google, when you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. This level of engagement is rewarded with a higher ranking overall.
While it’s undeniable that volume has an impact on ranking, a one-time surge in reviews isn’t your ticket to a guaranteed top spot. In order to get visible and stay there, your business needs a steady flow of review content from your customers.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that when it comes to visibility, frequency and volume aren’t mutually exclusive. If you focus your energy on getting regular review traffic, it should translate to a higher volume than your competitors over time.
Review recency plays a significant role for consumers making purchasing decisions, especially at the local level. More than half of consumers are more likely to patronize a business that has received reviews within the last 2-4 weeks.
Why? 93% of consumers read online reviews to gather information about your business now, not three months ago. They want to know how your business is, not how it has been thus far. Therefore, the more recent the review, the more trustworthy and credible it will seem, and the more likely it will be to convince a prospect to choose your business over competitors.
Even if a review was posted recently, it may not contain up-to-date and accurate information about your business. That’s why review management is important to building a positive online reputation. To learn more about how review response can secure a credible and authentic reputation for your business, check out our Reputation Management Playbook.
We’ve demonstrated how a consistent flow of review content improves your reputation, ensures accurate feedback, and improves visibility. But what if you’re just starting out?
To be successful, businesses that are launching or relaunching need to build a local reputation - and build it fast. The best way to do this is through a high frequency of online customer reviews.
Take, for example, Code Style Club, a hair salon in Burlington, VT which opened in the summer of 2020. In its first three months, Code Style Club accrued 15 reviews. However, after implementing Invite, Widewail’s automated review generation software, Code Style Club’s review frequency and volume began to increase rapidly. In two months, the new salon’s numbers went from 15 to 101. That’s a 573% increase in just 60 days.
Launching a local reputation quickly via review generation proves frequency’s importance. As mentioned above, a one-time surge in review volume is not enough when it comes to reputation building. Rather, your business needs regular and relevant review content to put it on the map. Invite is the proven solution for getting more reviews, increasing review frequency/recency, and securing a long-term top-ranked spot for your business
Frequency is just a single piece of the puzzle. Download the Local Business Reputation Management Playbook for the most effective and efficient reputation management strategy on the market.
Originally from Scarborough, Maine, I moved to Vermont this past summer after graduating from St. Lawrence University, where I received my BA in English and Spanish. I have always been interested in writing and communication, which is what initially drew me to the Review Response Specialist position at Widewail. In my spare time, I can be found reading, playing electric guitar, or strolling/biking around one of Burlington’s many scenic trails. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about my work, and invite anyone with questions or comments to reach out or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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