More and more, online reviews are becoming a far greater part of online marketing than some are aware. The infographic, thanks to 540SEO, below shows statistics proving that online reviews play a huge role in customer decisions.
Those are some big numbers. The fact that having a good number of positive reviews can increase your business by potentially 50% or more is definitely something to consider. Here's another infographic on how positive and negative reviews seen online can affect your business:
That last point about being on good terms with your competitors is important. It's quite easy for negative reviews to come out of seemingly nowhere, and in fact, from people who've never even used your service! That's why it's important to maintain the best possible positive image you can, because those random negative reviews aren't going to be taken nearly as seriously.
Next, let's see what the most important review sites are to watch:
As you can see, having a strong number of reviews helps your product or service to rank highly on Google Places for local SEO. Having at least 25 reviews seems to be the trick to rank in the top several listings locally. It's also important to note that Yelp and Citysearch reviews, as well as Google Places reviews, are the most visible to consumers online, so it's important to watch these particular sites and be sure that you're able to promptly respond to them.