The news that visitor numbers are dropping after reading even positive reviews might sound alarming. But don’t panic, it simply represents a shift in how consumers are connecting with businesses. Getting to grips with the changes now could put your business and marketing strategy in a good position moving forward.

The Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal set out to find what the typical next step is for a consumer after reading a positive review and compared them to last year’s results. In 2016, some 54% of consumers would head straight to their business’ website but it’s a statistic that’s fallen significantly to 37% this year. So, does this mean you should give up your effort to grow your reviews? Not at all.

Firstly, reviews are now the second biggest ranking factor for local SEO and they play a vital role in reputation. It’s an element that more branding companies London need to be considering to make reviews a core part of a business.

Secondly, visitors aren’t moving away from the advice of positive reviews, they’re simply changing how they respond to them. After reading a positive review just 10% of consumers will continue to search for other businesses, a drop of 7% on last year.

After visiting the business website, the next most popular activity is to continue searching for reviews to validate the choice. It’s a step that more than a quarter of consumers are now taking after reading an initial positive review, signalling the need to build up a database of reviews that are continuously updated. Interestingly the other two steps that have grown show a shift away from what has become the traditional digital customer journey.

Last year just 7% of consumers went on to visit the business but this has grown to 17% – validating local businesses’ efforts to use reviews to their advantage. Furthermore, more consumers are taking the time to contact the business, with one in ten consumers now feeling confident enough to initiate direct contact after reading positive reviews. The change demonstrates the importance of creating a brand identity and customer service level that’s consistent both online and offline.

Despite the changes working with one of the excellent branding companies London to craft an optimised website is still an essential.

An optimised website isn’t just the place for those reading your reviews to land, it’s necessary for SEO, gives you credibility, and it’s still the number one way for digital businesses to connect with consumers to drive sales. The findings of the latest study do not mean you should be giving up on your website but updating the metrics you use to measure the success of your reviews.