As a small business owner, you know that your online presence is important. You pour time and effort into your website and social media presence, ensuring that both are updated regularly with fresh content. But what about online reviews? You may not realize it, but online reviews are just as important to your small business as your website and social media presence—if not more so. Here are the top five reasons why:

Online reviews build trust.

When potential customers see positive reviews from people who have used your products or services, it helps to build trust and credibility. This is especially true if your small business is relatively new; in this case, potential customers may be hesitant to take a chance on you without knowing what others have thought about your business. Good online reviews can help to persuade them to give you a shot.

They provide valuable feedback.

In addition to helping to build trust and credibility, online reviews can also provide valuable feedback that you can use to improve your business. Pay attention to the types of complaints or concerns that are raised in negative reviews; chances are, if more than one person has had the same issue, there may be something that you can do to resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again in the future. And of course, be sure to thank customers who leave positive reviews—they’ll appreciate knowing that their feedback is valued!

Reviews show that you’re active.

One of the first things that potential customers will do when they’re considering doing business with you is check out your online presence—including your website, social media accounts, and any online directory listings they can find. If they see that you have a healthy mix of positive reviews and that you’re responding to both positive and negative reviews in a professional manner, it will show them that you’re active and engaged with your customers—and that you care about providing a good experience for them. This is important because potential customers want to know that they’ll be dealing with a responsive, attentive business—not one that will disappear as soon as they hand over their money.

Reviews help with search engine optimization (SEO).

Good online reviews can also help with search engine optimization (SEO)—that is, making it easier for potential customers to find you when they search for businesses like yours online. Online directories like Google My Business and Yelp make it easy for potential customers to leave reviews; if you actively encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews on these platforms (and other platforms where your business has an online presence), it will help boost your SEO efforts and make it easier for new customers to find you.

They level the playing field against bigger businesses.

Finally, it’s worth noting that online reviews can level the playing field against bigger businesses in your industry—especially if those businesses have many negative reviews (which can happen even to the biggest companies out there). In this case, potential customers may be more likely to choose a smaller business with mostly positive reviews over a bigger company with mostly negative ones—so make sure your small business is getting its fair share of positive online buzz!