By now most of us know how influential reviews are in the buying decision of today’s consumer. Many people Search for reviews. According to Podium, a reputation management site, 93% of consumers are influenced by reviews. This is true of B2B purchases as well as B2C. As a business owner, your reputation is one of your most valuable assets. And what potential customers learn about you from reviews has become more important than ever. Learning how to generate powerful reviews impacts your bottom line.

A recent study indicated that people read an average of 4 reviews before making a decision. After reading positive reviews consumers are now less likely to go the company’s website, going directly to the business via phone, email or personal visit instead.

Reviews also play a powerful role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors online reviews are thought to make up as much as 10% of local search results for Google and other search engines. Why? Because people love to read reviews and Google loves to give people what they want. The following suggestions will increase the number and quality of reviews for your business.

The most obvious way to increase the volume of reviews is to ask for them. The optimal time for the request is after someone has purchased from you. Train your staff to ask for reviews. It does not have to be high pressure, just a pleasant request. If you are unable to request personally provide a flyer or handout that follows up the sale and makes the review request. If this is still too brazen for you follow up with an email or letter, thank them for their business and ask for the review.

As search plays an important role in buying decisions. Send people to the major review sites like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and YP. Because Google is the biggest search engine by far, steer people to review you on Google My Business first, this will give you the greatest SEO boost. Another tactic is to have a review page on your site or imbed a review widget. If your website is a central part of your marketing mix this is worth the time. You can also purchase the service from outside vendors such as Trust Pilot, Podium, Kudobuzz and others. Generate powerful reviews and then leverage them.

Stay consistent with the practice of review collections. According to Search Engine Land ( 69% of consumers will discount reviews that are over 3 months old. A continuous stream of reviews shows potential customers that you are an active business with steady customers. Make sure that you are monitoring reviews and responding. If you receive an unfavorable review address it immediately. Thank your customers who leave you good reviews. This shows potential customers that you take your reputation seriously. Learning how to generate powerful reviews should not take up a lot of your time if you stay consistent. It is an easy and proven way to help your business grow.