When you booked your last holiday, what websites did you use? Chances are you searched the web for holiday destinations that matched your particular needs, gathered a few locations which showed potential and headed towards your most trusted review website to check out what everyone else had to say about them.
It’s a hugely familiar pattern because, in 2019, most of us visit review websites for help on virtually every monetary decision.
Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor tell us where’s best to eat, review websites for financial services tell us which banks offer the best rates and companies like TrustPilot provide user-generated reviews for millions of websites across the world. Similarly, the user-driven and independent casino review portal serves the burgeoning online casino sector.
According to Spiegel Research Centre, almost 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase and a product with at least five reviews will enjoy a 270% boost to conversion rates.
They’re convincing numbers which point to something that we already knew – we’ve become reliant on reviews to guide our purchasing and investment decisions.
But what factors have been behind the rise of review websites? Join as we take a look.
Basic human nature
It’s not hard to solicit an opinion from somebody about a place they’ve been or a product they’ve bought. Humans are natural storytellers, and our desire to give advice on what to do and not what to do is part of why we’ve proven so successful – we communicate the safest path. Whilst that might once have meant telling somebody how to get through a forest, today it might mean the best place to get crab in your city. That instinct to discuss and instruct is something which is inherent to our species, and review websites are simply a modern extension of it.
Early review websites had a somewhat shifty history. Companies quickly figured out that they could flood them with reviews simply by creating anonymous accounts and writing positive notices for themselves.
Social media revolutionised the review website industry by tying real-life profiles into review accounts, adding accountability and dramatically reducing the chances of a company manipulating the reviews. Of course, social media websites (Facebook, in particular) have become review websites in their own right, with both formal and informal reviews populating virtually every page.
We don’t need to tell you how search engines revolutionised the internet, after all, you almost certainly used one to find this website. However, search engines have been instrumental in pushing review websites to the very top of their listings in recent years.
Changes to the Google search algorithm in the last few years have meant that, today, most searches for a business or company will show customer reviews right alongside their website, a major change which has helped transform the search landscape. More than that though, review websites have been prioritised by each of the major search engines, appearing near the top for almost every relevant search term.
Together, these changes have ensured that review websites are a fundamental cornerstone of the internet and, consequently, a huge part of each of our lives.
Do you use online review websites? Let us know in the comments below!