By Kim Chhang, Marketing

Over the years, online marketing has evolved and now offers many options for generating publicity for local businesses. The online image or “reputation” of a business is increasingly influenced by real customers via online reviews and ratings. This transition from promoting your own business to having others promote for you can generate a positive online reputation for your business if you manage it correctly. Today, potential customers will often make their final purchase decisions based on business reviews, as it reflects a better idea of what to expect. With this development, consider three ways in which business reviews can benefit your online marketing strategy. It is important to keep these concepts in mind when using the Internet as an advertising channel.

#1 – Business Reviews are Publicly Listed in Search Results

When strong competition is prevalent, your business should stand out as much as possible. Due to Internet search advancements, your business can now be seen directly linked to your ratings and reviews in search listings. Websites such as Yelp, Rate it All, and CitySearch display star ratings and comments provided by the public about your business. Other online directories, such as Superpages and MerchantCircle, also list your profile information and reviews on their site; allowing anyone to view the comments. Both positive and negative reviews are publicly viewed.

#2 – Business Reviews Improve Online Exposure

Reviews increase exposure and awareness for your business. For instance, a search on Google for Belmont Pets & LaunderPet, Long Beach, CA shows a Yelp listing as the third highest search result, with 42 reviews and a 4 ½ star rating for this business.

To the viewer, this business may seem very appealing. This business listing is more likely to be featured in search results and have improved visibility on search results due to the high activity of reviews and ratings. As more and more people click to the business and read the reviews, the business gains online popularity.

Google and other search engines monitor every search (impression) and click-through rate (CTR). As a result, these search engines interpret the results and provide the rankings for each business available. A lower CTR decreases your business ranking relative to other businesses, while a high CTR improves the chances of being listed near the top of the search results. The higher your search ranking, the more customers will find your business online.

#3 – Encouraging Business Reviews from Customers Will Increase Business

With business reviews, you have the opportunity to further promote your business and increase the amount of links to your website or online profile. Customers who post positive reviews will help develop your customer base. On the other hand, having too many negative reviews can have the opposite effect. Therefore, encouraging customers with positive experiences to post reviews is beneficial to your business.

It is easy to generate business reviews. The simplest way is to staple a business review card to every receipt that is handed out. Visit, for useful information and free postcards provided by Local Splash. The site includes popular business review websites and free, downloadable business review postcards. On the card, customers will receive instructions to post comments and rate their experiences on specific business review sites. As an extra incentive, you can provide customers with a discount or reward for taking time to write a review. The extra incentive can make a big difference in getting more reviews and growing your business!