At ReachLocal, reviews are an important part of what we know impacts a small business and their online marketing efforts. As consumers have grown more accustomed to using the internet to research their purchasing decisions, reviews have become an increasingly critical factor in the local consumer buying journey.

But, how much do reviews really matter for your business? And what can you do about them? Check out these five important stats local businesses need to know about reviews today, along with some takeaways for your business.

1) 74% say positive reviews increase their trust in a local business.

When it comes to local businesses, according to a 2016 study by BrightLocal, positive reviews can have a positive impact on consumers. Increasing trust with consumers is critical to winning their business, and positive reviews can help you move the needle on this goal.

The Bottom Line: You need to build positive reviews for your business online.

2) 56% of consumers say search engines are the top source they use to look for reviews about businesses.

So, if positive reviews increase trust with consumers, how can you know if consumers are seeing them for your business? Search engines are the most important place to start. According to a Trustpilot survey, consumers use search engines more than any other source to find company and product reviews, coming in higher than visiting a company’s testimonials on their website (22%), going straight to direct third-party review sites like Yelp (12%), or reviewing an accredited industry source like consumer reports (9%).

This means that search engines must be a component of your online reputation strategy. It’s a good idea to regularly search for your business reputation keywords online as what shows up can change constantly. And, since reviews on different websites can pop up in your search results, it’s a good idea to generate reviews across a variety of sites in order to own the search engine results page for important reputation and review search terms.

The Bottom Line: Consumers turn to search engines to find reviews about your business. You should too.

3) 90% of people say online reviews influence their purchase decisions, according to a Dimensional Research study.

Knowing this, it’s important to consider: What are people actually saying about your business online?

Take some time to dig in to the reviews you do find when you search your business so that you can identify themes that you may need to address from a customer service, product, or consumer perspective. Taking stock of the content of your reviews can be an invaluable market research tool that can actually help you improve your business.

The Bottom Line: Consumers are influenced by reviews in general, so let the feedback of reviews influence the way you approach your business as well.

4) 70% of consumers say they will leave a business review – if you ask!

If your business is struggling with reviews online, there’s good news! The same BrightLocal study found that 7 out of 10 consumers would leave a review of a business, if they are asked to.

This is the kicker for many businesses – they may have an extremely happy core client base, but happy customers tend to keep this feedback to themselves, unless they are prompted. A few unhappy customers can easily stain your online reputation with negative reviews, but thankfully, approaching your core client base and asking them to leave you reviews can help you balance out the feedback about your business online.

The Bottom Line: Putting a process in place to regularly request reviews from happy customers can make a huge impact on your reputation and your business.

Managing your online reputation is important for your business’s overall web presence. Learn more about how reviews affect your business on the ReachLocal blog.