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Biased or Unbiased: Why Not Judge Online Reviews By Its Words?
By Jessica Blunt | January 20, 2016


The internet has an immense contribution for enhancing the way people use it to perform daily activities like searching for information, shopping, engaging in social interaction, etc.

Quite interestingly, this has resulted in the expansion of horizons beyond the real world and the coming together in sync with the virtual experience. So, standing in the twenty first century; no one can quite confidently think of building just a plain brick and mortar business place. Everyone has started to live simultaneously on both sides of the world. Be it the information directory where you can look up for almost anything in this cosmic world or the center hub of dynamic activities that your business seeks…the internet has become an essential part of your daily life built for the people and by the people. People can not only find information but also give information and that means, everyone can now read or write informative blogs, reviews, comments and anything like products, services, trips, experiences, preferences to name a few. With the increase in the number of smartphone users, many have begun to rely upon the internet more than ever before, while deciding on their first move.

The current market scenario finds consumers to take online reviews as personal recommendations. A look at the following data of consumer behavior can explain better how internet usage has changed over the last few years for better –

4 Changes You Are Likely To Witness Over The Internet Today


#1- Looking Up The Internet Daily

*15% of consumers say they do not need to look up the internet to find a local business
*16% of consumers look up the internet every week to find a local business

#2 – Reading Online Reviews for Opinions

*24% of consumers never read online reviews
*27% of consumers take a business decision after reading an online review

#3 – Reliance Based On The Number of Online Reviews

*65% of consumers are satisfied after reading 2-10 reviews
*7% of consumers are determined after reading as many as 20 reviews

#4 – Factors That Determine a Local Business Decision

*52% of consumers trust a local business that has positive reviews to show
*28% of consumers make a business decision after studying factors such as price and location

Nevertheless, even after going through such elaborate list of convincing data; many of us would continue to question the integrity of online reviews.

How to Judge Online Reviews

For that sake, studying the market would tell you that 72% would read an online review before they decide to purchase. Other than this, about 58% of the consumers will likely to trust a business if they find other consumers have something positive to say about it. A close look into the data explains the importance of positive reviews for building up a business reputation both online and offline.

But the above data comes insufficient, given that good online reviews now come with a price tag attached to it. Cove, one of the high end English hotel came to the news headlines for soliciting guests with a 10% discount offer for reviews that are ‘honest but positive’. Fiverr, a help-for-hire site, had some entrepreneur seeking to offer the service of providing two great business reviews at the cost of $5.

Online reviews have become the essential pitch to market a business service now. However, while customers tend to value them more, businesses realize the potentiality that online reviews can bring to their revenue. As a result everyone tries hard to modify their brand image by generating authentic reviews. And it does not matter if they receive it from anyone with a genuine opinion, for they are willing to go to the extent of hiring someone who could do the job for them.

So, should reviews actually deserve the same place as personal recommendations?

Yes of course! They become a buyer’s best friend. Prospects can learn a lot about a product or a service from them than just going through a business website. Besides, online reviews can not only affect the consumer behavior but also the ranking position on the search engine results page. Moz survey chart shows the review signal as an important search engine ranking factor that does influence your business position on the results page.

What Makes The Review Signal an Essential Factor For Building Consumer Trust?

Review Signal an Essential Factor For Building Consumer Trust

Review Signals look into the different aspects that make a company’s online review profile. It includes

Review Quantity

How many number of reviews should a company have in minimum? BrightLocal survey suggests having a minimum of seven to ten reviews. According to TripAdvisor, consumers read at least a dozen of reviews before they decide upon something. They not just read them but even compare them before finally trusting your business. Hence, the more number of reviews you have; the better you stand a chance in the consumer’s eyes.

Review Velocity

Consider the velocity at which your reviews get posted. While too low a pace might make things slow, too fast can however knock you out.

Review Diversity

The best advice that marketeers are likely to give consumers is make a comparison of various reviews posted on multiple sites before forming an opinion about a particular business. Customers will check out your service in different places.

Quantity of Traditional Third Party Reviews

Do you have any business reviews on third party sites other than those owned by Google?

Reviews from Authorized Third Party Sites

Google authorizes certain third party sites to present quality reviews.

Velocity of Native and Third Party Reviews

You can calculate the velocity at which businesses accrue reviews on both Google and other third party authorized sites.

Volume of Review Testimonials

This refers to the volume of reviews used in the form of rich snippets.

Diversity of Reviews on Different Third Party Sites

As mentioned above, people check reviews posted on different places before making a decision. How many review posts does your business have on individual third party sites?

Relevant Keywords in Reviews

Inserting relevant keywords in reviews make them easily accessible to people who look up the internet in search of information related to a particular keyword. However, make sure you do not overdo it.

Quantity of Authorized Reviews

Reviews published from Authority Sites help to build search engine ranking. However, reviewers of sites like Yelp cannot post anything less than five.

So, there you have everything you need to know about review signals and the extent of their relevance in making a business to grow.

However, given the growing dependency on them by consumers and industries alike, one feels uncertain to talk about the extent to which one can completely rely on them. “Now we’re communicating in these virtual ways. It feels like it is much harder to pick up clues about deception…”, observed Jeffrey T. Hancock, Professor of Communication and Information Science from the University of Cornell.

Understanding the reason behind the creation of manipulated reviews

“Who the heck would bother to write a review except to complain?”, explained TripAdvisor chief Executive, Stephen Kaufer. Negative reviews will abound the web alongside positive reviews. Everyone wants to reach above average and outdo each other. Composing manipulated review can prevent a business from getting scarred for life.

But why not make good use of these negative reviews instead of trying to hide from them?

Despite the fact that online reviews can be manipulative, they are usually identified as the goldmine of valuable information about a particular company and its services. Organizations can capitalize these resources to improve the consumer experience and brand reputation. Just like positive reviews, negative reviews too have their valuable insights that can highlight the principle cause of customer dissatisfaction. Companies can make use of these data to get down to their core problems and troubleshoot in order to derive better solutions. Businesses can use negative reviews to draw a line of measure that will help initiate a change towards progress. Unfortunately, many companies fail to realize this. Instead, they try hiding without checking the value that lies within.

Besides, customer relationship management finds the key strategies for building good business reputation for both online and offline marketing. A business success comes not just by counting the number of positive reviews a business has but also understanding what makes customers unhappy.

This kind of approach might appeal to some of you or might not. However, negative reviews can also have the potentiality to harm a business ranking and its reputation. A bad review can bring a scathing 60% drop in the search engine rank of a business in certain cases. How do you tackle that?

The answer – get reviews posted on some of the best industry related consumer sites.

But posting on relevant sites will simply not do alone. Given the number of fake reviews that are now so much common online, the next question that you have got to answer – Which one can your consumers rely on the most? Reputed sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor receive over million reviews. Checking out so many business reviews can become tremendously overwhelming for people. Consumers can follow some of these quick tips when looking up multiple consumer review sites –

#1 – Studying reviewers a little bit more

A site might get plenty of reviewers who are likely to post either positive or negative reviews. But how much can you rely upon them? Check out the other review posts previously published by the same person. Be wary of first time reviewers. You can google them out or find them on social media platforms too. Certain sites require people to post a review comment from their social media profile.

#2 – Reading at least a dozen reviews help

Fake reviews seem as good as real ones. So how can you distinguish between the both? By reading out as many reviews as possible before buying a particular product or service. Most consumers tend to purchase immediately after reading as many as seven reviews. Well, the more you compare the better your purchasing decision gets. So reading a dozen reviews continues to remain one of the best guidelines for a consumer.

#3 – Watching out for similar wording reviews

A number of companies hire bloggers and writers to write reviews for them. These writers try to insert certain keyword specific word that a buyer happen to usually search for. If you come across a reviewer who tends to use the same type of words wherever he posts, then you know better what to do.

#4 – Ignoring reviews that tend to exaggerate

Some people would love a particular restaurant or a hotel and some may not. Whatever they may feel, satisfied or dissatisfied reviewers have plenty of reviews to shower. However, if a reviewer tends to exaggerate beyond, then mark his/her for he/she might be one of those paid writers hired to type down words to make consumers believe. Avoid falling for their words.

Sounds too much of work, all for the sake of digging out reviews that you can trust. Well, maybe that could be one of the reasons why many companies like Amazon, TripAdvisor, Hilton and others are trying to approach critical algorithms that would limit the spread of bogus consumer reviews and to bring better user experience to consumers. Big data is a big time advantage for businesses to gain maximum satisfaction benefit. Extraction of consumer behavior data from mediums like the online platforms and social media sites can help businesses influence consumer purchase decision. And this is what sites like Vintelli are putting to their best advantage. How?

With a unique algorithm called the Customer Satisfaction Index

Big digital marketing experts would advise you to read a dozen reviews before purchasing something. Consumers, however, tend to look for the simplest way out. They instead prefer checking out the number of star rates that each business gains online. While this is a quicker method, certain businesses tend to fall subject to abuse despite providing top class service to consumers. With the Customer Satisfaction Index algorithm, local businesses can filter out fake, biased and polarized crowd sourced reviews before presenting consumers with accurate listings and product ratings. Consumers need not waste time reading and analyzing reviews posted on various sites. They can make a systematic search and select out the best local business in town, all from one central point on the search engine.

About the Author

Jessica Blunt works as a Local Business Reputation Manager at Vintelli, a next generation mobile and web directory application. In her 7 years of experience in Reputation Management, she has partnered many local and small-scale businesses to help them attain a high level of online visibility and recognition. Jessica is an expert at creating an impressive image of local businesses in the minds of their audiences.

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