The review sites mentioned below are so popular that you’ve probably heard of them all or even used some yourself. The public is becoming more and more dependent on such sites for information about how good or bad a business really is. If you want to give your business a quick online reputation audit, then start by checking out how your business fares on these sites.
Yelp is probably the most popular free review site on the internet which allows consumers to rate businesses on a 5-star scale. Businesses can set up a profile on Yelp for free, and any user can set up their own free profile to review a business. Those who are not Yelpers can view the listings and reviews, but can’t leave any themselves. The business community is free to respond to reviews as well, but we recommend taking a balanced and polite approach to any negative reviews you receive, as Yelpers are in a pretty tight-knit community.
That being said, it behooves you to get a constant stream of positive online reviews coming to your Yelp listing so happy customers are always at the top of your review feed. This is especially advantageous if you’re a local, brick and mortar business because your Yelp listing contains things like store hours and address, so your profile will often turn up when people look up your business on Google.
Angie’s List is a trusted name when it comes to service-based review sites and is billed out as “higher end” since users have to pay for membership. If the old adage “you get what you pay for” is true, then this platform would get high marks because the reviews (set to an A-F scale) are often times very thoughtful and don’t have a lot of the ranting that’s more common on free review sites, like Yelp.
Anonymous reviews are not allowed, which cuts down on review fraud, and companies are allowed to respond to the reviews. Businesses should set up a free account with them, and then encourage their customers who are on Angie’s List to leave reviews. If the customer who wants to leave a review isn’t already a member, then they can easily join for free now.
Google +/ Local/ Places/ Reviews
Some people know it as Google Local, others, as Google Places. Perhaps you just call it Google Reviews. Of course if you’re in the know about Google’s latest updates, you’d definitely know it as under its current moniker, Google+ ‘Local.’ Those are the reviews that show up when you conduct a Google search for a local business. If you have a Business page under a Google+ profile, then anyone can leave a review for your business. Since Google+ is altering the landscape of Google’s search results, you will have to engage it at some point.
Yahoo! Local Listings
Similar to the reviews on Google+ Local, Yahoo Local allows users to post reviews of businesses using a 5-star rating system. Yahoo still receives approximately 9% of search engine traffic, so although you won’t be trying to crack the Yahoo algorithm any time soon, obtaining some favorable reviews on Yahoo Local Listings couldn’t hurt.
Insider Pages is another user-generated review site that allows users to share reviews of local businesses for free using a 5-star rating system. Ever since launching in 2004, they’ve amassed millions of reviews, which get indexed in the SERPs. Ultimately, that means that if your target audience isn’t using Insider Pages to find and review businesses, they may still find an Insider Pages review in their organic search results.
Citysearch is another user-generated local review site that is similar to Insider Pages. This platform is free and makes use of a 5-star rating system. People are likely to come across a Citysearch review when they appear in organic search results. Much like the other platforms where reviews can get indexed by the SERPs, the more you have the more likely you are to drown out the competition with your positive reviews.
Consumer Search allows users to leave reviews by using a 5-star rating scale, but their approach to the process is different than most in that they take reviews found on the internet and produce publications where they analyze the reviews and their sources. The reviews are then ranked or credibility. The idea is for people to go to the site to search for products and get as much information about those products as possible.
They state that they “have the most respect for reviews that cover multiple competing products — and when a reviewer can demonstrate testing. We also listen carefully to a reviewer who has tested many products, and then makes an assertion that the product he is reviewing today beats other products he has reviewed in the past.” That seems to be a nice way of saying that they don’t listen to the rants of lunatics, but rather only consider the quality of the reviewer in their assessment.
This platform is unique from most in that it creates an individual URL for each review thus allowing them to be found in an organic search. This is a major advantage to local businesses that can use the reviews of their customers to help them be found on Google. If you’re getting a lot of reviews, then you can have a lot of possibilities of those reviews coming up in an organic search result as long as it’s relevant to the query (i.e., “moving company reviews”). Businesses can either sign up for a free 30 day trial or purchase a Business level account or a Plus level account. The additional services offered within this platform are tantamount to ORM, email marketing and SEO all in one.
Although Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization, consumerreports.org is an independent product review organization that tests, rates, and recommends products based off of objective testing. They have millions of subscribers, accept no advertising, and pay the products that they test. For each product that they review, criteria are provided along with product overviews, a buying guide and the ubiquitous social sharing buttons. This organization is the epitome of legitimacy and as such, there’s not much you can do here except peddle your wares if they are of he highest quality.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB is another non profit that evaluates businesses using a set of best practices for how businesses should treat the public based on a proprietary A through F rating system. No recommendations are made for any businesses, services, or products. Instead, they provide the public with information about businesses, like whether or not they have met the accreditation standards of the BBB. Reviews can be written for both accredited and non-accredited businesses.
Facebook isn’t just for sharing the latest meme. In fact, there’s a place on the social media giant for fans to leave recommendations for your business. The section is called Facebook Recommendations and it’ll appear if you’re viewing your timeline as “Highlights”. Next to that you should see a box with recommendations on your Timeline, although it’s incredibly easy to breeze past it if you have an active profile. The recommendations tend to look like any other post, but when you think about it that’s all your Timeline really is – consumer reviews of your business.
As a member of the business community, you’re probably aware of the LinkedIn recommendation feature that lets one individual leave a recommendation for another, which is great for personal marketing. But there’s no need to fret, because businesses have the ability to gather reviews here too. When you visit a company profile, you should see a section called “Products and Services” in the right side of the navigation. Clicking on it will take you to a page where you can see user-generated reviews of that product or service.
The extremely truncated nature of Twitter makes it seem like a weird place to try to accumulate reviews. Although it is true that users might not search for reviews on Twitter, tweets are still indexed in SERPs. That means a customer’s tweet, whether complimentary or damning, could show up when someone searches for reviews on your business. Beyond that there are things you can actively do with the positive tweets coming your way. For example, if you start to “Favorite” tweets those could serve as positive reviews in the future and you just might find a place to reference or embed them that could come in handy in your digital marketing.
Industry Specific Review Sites
Consumers today frequently visit industry-specific websites where they can read reviews about particular products or services. For example, travelers who are searching for a hotel may visit TripAdvisor.com, while a car accident victim may use Avvo.com to find a local attorney. You should find the sites that are specific to your niche and make sure to optimize the profile and engage users.
Last but not least, the one place where you have total control of what goes on is your own website. This is the perfect place to syndicate reviews you receive from other platforms in one place. You could also dedicate a section of your website just to reviews and even include a web form so customers can submit their reviews unsolicited. This is especially helpful to customers who have had a great experience and want to leave a review, but don’t have accounts on sites like Yelp, LinkedIn, or Google.
Did You Know…..
Did you know that customer satisfaction ratings featured on your website can actually be displayed as star-ratings on the SERPs? When coded with “review schema”, which is a markup code that helps search engines understand the content on your site, your website may stand out more.
Tips For Managing Your Reputation Online
If your business plans on using review sites to help bring in new customers, then be sure that you keep the following tips in mind in order to maximize the results:
1). Engage with people that leave reviews. Get in the habit of letting them know that you value and appreciate their honest opinions even if you don’t share them. Answer as many reviews as possible, good or bad, and it will go a long way with your customers.
2). Don’t panic if there are some reviews posted which are less than stellar. No company is perfect, and no one expects them to be. Instead, use any criticism as a learning tool for improving your business and when possible follow up and see if you can address the problem. Studies have proven customers are more satisfied with a company in which there was a small issue and the issue was resolved, compared to if there was never one in the first place.
3). Never write fake reviews. Most of these platforms have created sophisticated algorithms that are designed to catch review fraud. That being said, it is simply not worth the risk of being banned, and could severely damage your reputation in the eyes of users if you’re caught. Don’t forget, there are legal problems that could arise through the abuse of review sites.
4). Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to review your business. Studies have shown that many customers would be happy to, if reminded.