Other Review Sites
There are over 100 larger sites that allow user-generated reviews, and many smaller ones. Most are niche specific. CitiSearch, Local.com, Viewpoints, ConsumerAffairs, Etsy, Goodreads, Cars.com, Edmunds, CarGuru, Care.com, Thumbtack, Fiverr, Zomato, VRBO, Airbnb, Zillow, Houzz, Apartments.com, Bankrate, and the Apple Apps Store and Google Play for apps — these are just a few that feature reviews today. Find the business review sites relevant to your industry and your business. Then start listening to what the public is saying about your company, and engage.
5 Tips for Leveraging Business Review Sites
The following best practice tips will help you use online review sites to get highly sought-after, positive reviews.
Claim Your Business Profile
You can claim a listing on many review sites such as Yelp and Google My Business — and you should. Doing so enables you to verify or add your business information such as your phone number, hours of operation and email address. You can respond to user reviews, add photos and sometimes add links to a blog post or articles. Your profile becomes an extension of your business website, and a great way to draw in new customers. Google My Business is especially crucial because Google is the world’s largest search engine.
Encourage Business Reviews
Make it a habit to encourage customers to share a review or give feedback on your Facebook page, Yelp, the BBB, or other review sites. Reviews essentially are word of mouth. Instead of speaking one-on-one with a neighbor or friend, consumers take to review websites.
Some business owners dread looking at customer reviews because they expect them to be negative. Have confidence. Embrace each review as the equivalent of free advertising and an integral part of your digital marketing through happy customers.
Don’t Incentivize Reviews
While you can encourage reviews, do not incentivize users to give them. Also, it’s important to understand the rules for each review site. Some, like Yelp, have strict guidelines about asking for reviews.
Don’t Write Fake Reviews
Writing fake business reviews could get your business banned from the review site. Review sites work hard to preserve consumer trust and have algorithms to detect and remove fake reviews. No matter how tempting, it is not worth the risk and could damage your company’s reputation should you be discovered.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Never let negative reviews go unanswered. Keep an open mind, remain unemotional and apologize if necessary. Take negative comments back to your team and use them to improve. If you did nothing wrong, acknowledge the situation and empathize. Avoid arguing with a customer or flaming the reviewer.
It turns out that 30% of consumers reverse negative reviews on online review sites when the company responds, according to a survey by ZenBusiness. Yet, only 12% of consumers say their reviews are often or always responded to. Therefore, by responding, you gain a real advantage over all the other small businesses that never respond.
Do I Still Need My Own Website if I Have Review Site Listings?
You should always have your own company website. Some businesses use their Google My Business profile, Facebook page or other business review sites as a replacement for a website of their own. But this is not wise, for one simple reason: third-party sites are outside of your control.
If Facebook decides — however unjustly — to delete your Page, it could take weeks or months to appeal and get it back, if ever. An effective digital marketing strategy should include both your own website as well as business review sites.
Should I Display Reviews on My Website?
Yes. A number of software apps are available to help with aggregating reviews and displaying them on your site. The software reminds customers to review your business post-sale. The apps also automate collecting reviews that have already been published on third-party sites, and provide widgets so you can embed and display reviews on your own website. Examples: GatherUp, Reviews.io and BirdEye.
Do Customer Review Sites Help with Search Engine Rankings?
Information from business listing sites, including user reviews, can show up high in search results in numerous ways. In particular, GMB and Bing Places information is often displayed prominently in the respective Google search engine and Bing search engine pages and maps. A search engine optimization (SEO) professional who specializes in local SEO can help you with a local SEO strategy and explain more.
Rather than focusing just on rankings, however, think broadly about “visibility”. Review sites give you more places to be found online. Too many small businesses are effectively invisible online. The more review websites your company appears in, with positive ratings, the better.
The internet has given consumers the power to make or break a business’s reputation by leaving reviews on social media sites like Facebook, search engines, or any number of business review sites like Yelp. It’s in your best interest to embrace review sites to make a positive brand impression.
Image via Shutterstock; various screenshots