Are Online Reviews Still Worthwhile?

Online reviews can have a huge impact on small businesses, especially businesses that provide a service (like tree care companies). If you want to build trust with potential and returning customers, you’ll need to proactively manage your online reputation. Plus, online reviews help make you more visible in local search results (they’re a local SEO ranking factor).

But recent research shows that things are changing…

  1. More users are leaving extreme reviews (1- and 5-star reviews) and fewer are leaving more measured 2- and 3-star reviews. (Yelp)
  2. Fewer people report that they “trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.” (79% vs 88% six years ago – BrightLocal)
  3. Fake reviews are on the rise. (Search Engine Land)

Why Should You Care?

Reviews are still a huge influencer of online purchasing behavior. So, if more reviews are fake, extreme, or untrustworthy, that will affect the number of calls and new customers you get.

The various review platforms are working hard to combat the issues with fake reviews and regain consumer trust. The problem is that legitimate reviews often get caught by the AI used to filter out spam reviews. As a result, those reviews won’t appear on your Google Business Profile (GBP), Facebook, Yelp, Angi, etc. listing.

What To Do

Even if customer sentiment regarding reviews is shifting and some reviews go missing, you cannot ignore the weight that reviews still have in the local search results. To combat the changes, you need more and better reviews. Here’s how to get them –

Ask for Reviews

People usually only take to Yelp, GBP, or Facebook reviews when they’re either highly satisfied or pissed off. But customers who are happy with your tree care services often don’t think to write an online review. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to set up a review program to solicit more reviews from people who may not have thought to leave one before.

While it’s against the terms of service of most platforms to solicit only positive reviews, asking all your customers to rate your business is not against the rules. Ask everyone!

Reply to ALL Reviews

While trust in online reviews is trending downward, the number of people who still trust what others are saying about your tree service business is pretty high at almost 80%. And one of the factors that influences trust is a timely reply from the business owner. Reply to ALL reviews, whether positive or negative.

Report Fake Reviews

Fake reviews are generally considered to be those left by employees (don’t ask your crews to write you a review!), business owners, customers who are lying, vendors, and former employees. Here’s how to report fake online reviews –

  • Reporting Fake Google Reviews – Report it on the Google My Business forum. In my experience, you need a lot of evidence to get Google to remove fake reviews.
  • Reporting Fake Yelp Reviews – Report the review by clicking on the small flag-shaped button in the bottom right-hand corner of the review. The review will then be reviewed by Yelp’s user support team.
  • Reporting Fake Facebook Reviews – On your business page’s “Reviews” section, click the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the review you want to report. Then choose “Report Post.” Unfortunately, Facebook is a flawed system so there’s no guarantee that fake reviews will be removed (but it’s still worth reporting them).

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