In our last few posts, we got a lay of the land in terms of what your online reputation is and why it matters, and what sort of things impact it. Before you can put meaningful effort into improving your online reputation (we’ll cover that in our final post), it’s helpful to set a few goals. For that, we’ll need to identify a couple of metrics. But first, let’s quickly review the real point of this exercise.
It’s easy for businesses to get excited about improving review scores and totals, but the point isn’t to have a higher number. These numbers are effectively meaningless if your business isn’t genuinely providing excellent service. Can a business fake their way to a higher star rating? Sure. Will it pay off? Not in the long run. Certainly, the metrics we’ll explore offer some insight into how you’re doing, but as we’ve noted in previous articles, the real purpose of our efforts isn’t just to look good online, it’s to actually be a better business. With that in mind, Let’s dive into some numbers you’ll want to track.
The numbers to track relate to your average review scores (both on individual platforms and as a combined average on all platforms) as well as the overall number of reviews. Let’s look at each.
According to Harvard Business School, increasing your star rating by a single star can improve your revenue by 5-9%.
This means that an easy way to literally make more money is to improve your star rating. Remember that because you might appear on multiple platforms, your star rating may differ from one place to another. Let’s say you have 100 reviews on both Google and Yelp. And let’s say you find that you have a great 4.7-star rating on Google, but a mere 3.0 on Yelp. This would put your average star rating at 3.85 (assuming they’re equally weighted). Not as great as you thought, huh? For many businesses, it’s wise to use a growth tool like Swell, which helps you aggregate your review scores across platforms so you can see where you’re looking good and where you’re lagging, with the ultimate goal of bringing up your average across the board.
With that in mind, what score should you aim for? Interestingly, a perfect star rating actually might seem too good to be true for some customers. Instead, some studies show you might be best between a 4.0 and 4.7.
A score in this sweet spot proves that your business is high-quality, but also shows it’s authentic. Scores as high as 4.8 and 4.9 are also great but should be supported by a large volume of reviews. If you have a fantastic score but only 3 total reviews, you won’t look as credible as someone with more reviews—popularity matters.
Having a larger overall number of reviews will do a few things. For one, it’s evidence that a lot of people frequent your business. Popular businesses tend to attract more people. Second, you can prove that not only do lots of people visit your business, lots of people have a fantastic experience there, which as is a powerful way to bolster your online reputation. Remember to not just focus on review totals for one platform—you’ll want a solid number across all the platforms you appear on.
So, the question is how many total reviews should you have? This depends on your industry. A dental practice won’t have as many regular customers as a popular restaurant. But for most businesses, if you don’t have over a hundred or so reviews, you can be doing more to look reputable online. As you set goals, you can always use your competitors as a baseline and set a goal to beat their total.
While not metrics per say, the following are also important when it comes to reviews. It’s not just about having a great score or a lot of reviews: authenticity and consistency matter, too.
Have you ever looked at a business or a product with loads of stars, but the reviewer didn’t actually write anything in the review? That business or product might look a little sketchy. That’s why you don’t just need more reviews you need more authentic and high-quality reviews. It’s hard to select an exact metric for this, but your goal should be to have most of your reviews high-quality reviews. Blank ones just aren’t as effective.
We’ll explore how to aim for quality in the final post of this series.
Some businesses will put lots of effort into getting more reviews then take their foot off the gas when they hit a certain amount. There are two problems with this. For one, you need fresh reviews. If you haven’t had a good new review for months, it’s easy for prospects to assume something is wrong. Fresh reviews show you’re continually providing customers with a great experience. Second, your reviews are a form of feedback that help you constantly improve and find newer, better ways to dazzle customers. Stop getting reviews, and you aren’t as in-tune with the evolving needs of your audience.
One of the toughest things about goals isn’t necessarily setting them, it’s tracking them. With growth tools like Swell, you can get a baseline of where you’re at today and monitor your progress over time as you get more reviews and improve your overall score.
On top of that, Swell makes it easy to reply to new reviews you get so you can engage with and thank people for leaving reviews, or address issues quickly if you ever have them. Check out this page for more info.
At this point, you should have a few goals to hit as you begin improving your online reputation. Be sure to use a tool like Swell to help you track these metrics carefully. Once you have that, you should begin seeing improvement to these numbers as you employ the strategies we’ll explore in the final post of this series.