Like a prediction straight out of a 80s sci-fi movie, everyone from teenagers to adults is constantly connected to one another these days via mobile phones. Over the course of the last six years, the prevalence and speed by which Blackberries, tablet PCs and smartphones have spread have become increasingly pronounced. As I discussed several days ago, the mobile market is one that everyone is trying to tap into at the moment. Yet at the same time, there are far more ways to become noticeable to mobile users than simply being SEO-friendly and active on social media.

A new study published by the Pew Internet Project shows the importance of something business owners may ignore: customer reviews. According to the survey, a number of mobile phone users were asked about the frequency of their just-in-time search engine use. The results of the study claim that 30% of those people surveyed looked up reviews and other online content before deciding to patronize a restaurant or business. Although most companies take the time to market themselves directly and organically, more small business owners need to realize the importance of the sort of content that these last minute look-ups can provide.

Five Stars in Two Searches
While the average desktop PC user may spend long stretches of time researching a company or business exhaustively, mobile phone users are more accustomed to hitting only a handful of links or sites in their searches. Because of this, they often rely more heavily on those networks that list customer reviews. In particular, sites such as Yelp and Google Places are incredibly popular with the mobile user market at present as they give ratings, a business’ operating hours and other relevant information. It’s on these sites that business owners need to establish themselves in high regard with users.

A Loyal Customer Base Can Spread the Word
Although a company should never artificially inflate its rating on these sites, it should always motivate its regular clientele to go online and review the business. Friendly reminders and requests from a company’s staff can be all that’s needed to incentivize in-store customers to rate them online. Likewise, a business can also collect any testimonials for its own website. This can be a great way to increase the size of a site and add to its SEO-friendliness with relevant keywords found in the body of reviews (such as products the company sells).

Of course, efforts to improve a business’ customer rating should always be secondary to any central SEO or social media optimization work already being performed. For answers to additional questions, I can be contacted at jwersits@webimax.com