The Positive Power Of Reviews (Even When They’re Negative!)

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You’ve probably heard the old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity. What you might not know is how it can apply to your company’s website.

Growing evidence suggests that the presence of user-written reviews on your site – both positive and negative – is a potent conversion driver.

In this post we’ll discuss the psychology of reviews, why negative reviews can help your conversion rate (yup!) and how to start harnessing the power of reviews for your site.

Why reviews matter

So why do reviews exert such a big pull over consumers? Simply put, people trust other people like them more than they trust the word of a company.

Ninety percent of online consumers trust recommendations from people that they know, and 70% also trust the opinions of e-reviewers they have never even met. Now that’s certainly some proof that a user review is great content for potential customers.

online customer trust & e-review -Nielson report

Being able to see outside information on a product or service makes any visitor more likely to take the time to let their guard down, shop around and commit to the decision.

For this reason, many sites use customer testimonials to show visitors how highly they are regarded by prior customers.

Where testimonials fall short, however, is that they might be too glowing. So many companies are worried of putting anything less than a perfect testimony on their landing pages that they put forward just the best and brightest, only to make a visitor feel off-put by the perception of perfection.

Negative reviews can be positive

In fact, poor reviews can be a positive – as long as they’re handled correctly and don’t make up too large of a percentage of a brand’s overall reviews.

A whopping list of positive, 5-star reviews can make a potential customer suspicious. When review giant Reevoo analyzed 2.5 million customer reviews, it found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores.

While few people comprehensively read viewer reviews – just like few people comprehensively read an entire website’s content – the presence of both positive and negative reviews helps to create a sense of legitimacy and capability.

What’s more, shoppers who go out of their way to read bad reviews convert 67% more than the average consumer.

Since many customers approach shopping from a position of not having to spend money if they do not have to, negative reviews reinforce their decisions to be careful about what they do and do not pull out their credit card number for.

People who search out poor reviews are serious shoppers. They want to learn about the flaws of a product before they are subject to its merits.

So brands that allow visitors, customers and users to provide feedback will be rewarded with better exposure, trust and respect – even if all the reviews aren’t glowing.

How to treat bad reviews

When it comes to bad reviews, however, companies need to very carefully walk the line between what makes them look good and what makes them look realistic.

While users need to see bad reviews in order to trust a brand, other research says that even as few as one to three bad reviews could deter more than half of customers. But the study notes that tolerance of bad reviews varies depending on age groups – younger people seem to be more accepting of negative feedback.

Perhaps the best advice is to focus on a healthy ratio. If only 10% of reviews are negative, the overall appearance of the reviews is still reasonable.

Much also depends on the handling of a negative review. If consumers see a brand respond to negative feedback with an apology, a correction of the issue or a change in policy or services, they’re more likely to will respect the company’s willingness to address issues.

Reviews are also a great source of valuable, insightful feedback. See them as constructive and learn from them to improve your business, your product offerings and descriptions. If you respond to negative reviews promptly then

Reviews have SEO benefits, too

Not only do customer reviews offer an objective way for potential customers to research your brand, they’re also great for search engine optimization. Reviews can be a continual source of fresh, unique user generated content for search engines to index.

Make it easier for search engines to find your reviews by using the standardized markup for reviews and aggregate reviews.

Review Schema microdata

If reviews are correctly formatted with schema microdata, they’re more likely to be pulled into the search results page – where reviews have been shown to improve click-through rate, too. According to Reevoo, you can expect a 10-20% increase in CTR, depending on the amount of reviews and aggregate score.

You may also discover new keywords and phrases to optimize for as you listen to your greatest marketing resource – your own customers. As reviews add additional content to your product pages, be on the lookout for recurring phrases or even unique value propositions you hadn’t considered.

How to encourage reviews

There are all forms of helpful and specialized review sites. Rotten Tomatoes allows moviegoers to see what other people think of the latest releases. Clothing retailers like Topshop and ModCloth share customer reviews for each product they stock. offers a list of customer reviews to help site owners select the best host for them.

Topshop customer reviews

So if you want to get some reviews on your site, how do you go about it?

For the easiest way to integrate reviews, your best option may be a paid platform such as Power Reviews or Feefo.

Power Reviews - Paid reviews platform

Although you’ll have to pay, the value and ease of a trustworthy sales platform could be worthwhile.

If you’ll be handling reviews on your own, your biggest challenge will be encouraging reviews. It’s notoriously tricky to get feedback from customers.

Consider why you would leave feedback for a website, or why you have left feedback before. It may well have been because the service or product wasn’t up to scratch, but equally follow-up emails, truly superb service, or even an incentive such as a coupon can be effective in coaxing some valuable words from customers.

And don’t fake reviews – it’s not surprising that a customer would be deterred by this. I think we’ve all seen dubious reviews or questioned 100% positive feedback. It just doesn’t seem natural.

The bottom line is that any company that sells a product or service online should have a review section. Whenever your organization uses a comment system so that visitors, customers, and registered users can provide feedback, even poor reviews will help to get better exposure and win over trust and respect.