It’s easy to become nervous about the idea of online reviews. After all, these reviews are in the public eye and there is nothing you can do to control them.

However, reading online reviews is a key part of the buying process for customers these days. And reviews can have many benefits for your business-even negative reviews.

Here are some of the main ways that reviews can be great for your business.

The Benefits of Online Reviews

There are many benefits of online reviews, and it’s worth remembering these before you get unnerved by the fact that people are leaving reviews of your products and services across the internet in a way that you cannot control.

Free and Effective Marketing

Reviews are a form of free advertising for your business. Think of a positive review is a mention of your brand by a customer as a free ad, spreading the word about your business and getting you mentioned where you would never be able to otherwise.

This can increase your exposure to new customers and provide mass exposure in some cases, which may be more than you would perhaps be able to afford with advertising alone.

Powerful Social Proof

Online reviews are one of the most powerful forms of social proof that you can use. Social proof is an incredibly persuasive factor for any business. We listen to other people’s opinions when we make a decision whether to buy a product from a business, and if lots of people recommend that business, we are more likely to do business with them.

Online reviews are uncontrolled when they are on third-party sites. Because you have no control over what people will say, this makes them much more authentic than testimonials you’ve added to your own website.

Improve Visibility in the Search Engines

If you place reviews on your own website, this can be a source of unique content that is constantly updated. The reviews are also likely to include important keywords that your customers will use to search for the types of products you sell. User-generated content can be great for SEO, so this is a good reason to display reviews on your site.

Demonstrate Your Customer Service Skills

You may not have any control over customer reviews, whether customers leave these on a third-party site or on a social network. But you can control the outcome through your responses.

Always try to respond quickly. Use a specialist tool like to help you seek out reviews as soon as they are posted, then leave a response as soon as you can. With positive reviews, thank the reviewer and leave a few positive words about how you’re happy to help. For negative reviews, offer your apologies and attempt to resolve the situation if possible.

Other people will see how you respond, and they will see that you take your customer service seriously, which can encourage them to do business with you.

Develop Closer Relationships

Good business is all about building relationships, and you can do this through reviews. By responding personally to reviews, you can get a better dialogue going with your customers. They will appreciate the personal attention they are receiving, and it’s a great way to build up better relationships over time.

Boost Conversions

Another one of the benefits of online customer reviews is that they can increase conversions, especially for ecommerce sites. If people visit your store and like a product, they may still be put off from buying if they don’t know your brand.

But if other people have left positive reviews of a product, you can position these near to the “Add to Basket” button to give them more confidence and get rid of any doubts.

Boost Your PPC Ads Performance

If you have a PPC campaign running, you can use reviews to increase your clicks. For example, if you have an AdWords campaign that shows ads in Google results, you can choose to display your average review score as a score out of five stars. This is only possible where you have reviews from third-party review sites.

The gold stars can make your ad stand out even more from the competing ads, getting more clicks, as well as giving searchers more trust in your business before they have even landed on your website.

Enjoy the Benefits of Online Reviews

Online reviews have many benefits for businesses of all sizes. Rather than worry about what customers might be saying about your business, enjoy all the benefits that reviews can bring you.

You cannot control everything that people say about your business, but you can react to reviews appropriately and use them to get more customers. So start working on getting more reviews, and enjoy the benefits they provide.

Collin Holmes, founded Chatmeter, Inc in 2009 and serves as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Holmes is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside and graduated with an MBA from San Diego State University. Prior to Chatmeter, Mr. Holmes served as Vice President of Product Management and Director of Product Marketing for xAD, Inc. (LocalAdXchange) (also known as V-enable). Mr. Holmes comes with a couple decades of overseeing and developing product roadmaps, business development and managing the process of driving applications to market.