The study highlights that Google is the primary connection between the business and the consumer.
In fact, 63.6 percent of consumers report they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business - that's more than any other review site. After analyzing 9 million reviews, researchers also found that Google is also the No. 1 site for online reviews. And the No. 2 site for the distribution of online reviews is Facebook.
In the last three years, more and more customers have been writing reviews on non-review sites (Google and Facebook vs. Yelp and TripAdvisor). The increase in the number of reviews on Google and Facebook increases a consumer's access to online reviews.
When a consumer uses Google for any search, even if they are not looking for a local business explicitly, Google will still display reviews and star rating. For example, if a customer is looking at where their hotel is located for a business trip in Chicago on Google Maps, the traveler might want to check out a restaurant around the hotel. Star ratings and reviews will show up whether or not the customer wants to see the restaurant's reviews and star rating.
Another highlight of the study is that customers expect brands to respond to their negative reviews, but customers say brands are not meeting their expectations.
ReviewTrackers found that 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. However, 63 percent of customers report that a company has never responded to their review.
If a customer leaves a review for a restaurant, for example, then that restaurant should respond to the customer promptly. Because customers are looking to Google for reviews before visiting a business, restaurants should work to get reviews from customers by asking for them.
Why does this matter? Because of Google's popularity with consumers, businesses must pay attention to their reviews on Google. This popularity means that companies should manage their online reviews to build and maintain a positive brand reputation and meet customer expectations.