Online review sites are crucial for developing a good reputation for your small business. Over 90 percent of the under-40 population trusts online reviews, while being very distrustful of advertising. You should strive to get as many positive reviews as possible. But with scores of review platforms to choose from, where should you focus your efforts?
There are a few important sites that you should spend a little extra time on to make sure you really round out your profile and provide customers with as much information as they need to choose you over your competitors.
The Big Three
Not all sites are created equal. While it’s a good idea to create a profile for your business anywhere you can (for SEO reasons), the “Big Three” have, by far, the most traffic. Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp are the three review sites with the largest impact on consumers. People trust them and spend a lot of time on each of these platforms.
Google My Business
In case you haven’t heard, Google is king. They control over 90 percent of the search engine market. When potential customers are looking for information and comparing their options, your Google My Business listing is likely the first place they will look. Google reviews have a large impact on your local search rankings and can greatly influence a customer’s decision to pick your business over a competitor’s. For most businesses, Google is the TOP priority for getting reviews. Make sure you claim and optimize your Google My Business listing and keep it updated with relevant information.
While the trendy kids jump from one social media app to another at the drop of a hat, Facebook has permanently changed the landscape and cemented its place online. With billions of active users, Facebook is huge for brand awareness. It might not be “for” business, but it’s where a lot of people are spending their time and connecting, so that makes it one of the most lucrative places to reach your audience. It’s one of the most important places to promote your brand, so make sure you get plenty of good reviews on Facebook.
I’ll be honest — I’m not a big fan of Yelp. A “secret” algorithm that inexplicably hides scores of positive reviews while putting obviously fake reviews on display has driven many businesses owners mad. BUT…around 100 million people use Yelp every month, so every small business should claim and optimize their listing on the site. While you should encourage customers to leave reviews there, be careful not to solicit reviews — it violates their terms of service and they’ll flag you if they figure it out.
The Top 3 Industry Specific Review Sites
While Google, Facebook, and Yelp are by far the largest online review platforms to focus on, there are some industry-specific giants that could be near the top of your list.
Home Advisor specializes in services like plumbing, electricity, or roofing. They focus primarily on residential customers, as opposed to companies looking to improve their work areas. If that kind of work is in your wheelhouse, create a listing for your company or claim your existing one. They have millions of users every month looking specifically for home services. Home Advisor’s number one competitor is Angie’s List, and which one you prefer may come down to whichever is more popular in your region (they are under the same ownership).
OpenTable is designed to show users the best restaurants in their area. The site initially started as a way to make reservations online, and it has grown to include reviews. Customers give ratings based on food, ambiance, service, value, and noise that are all averaged into a rating out of five stars. It also gives you a place to lay out your menu, complete with pricing! Since the food service industry relies so heavily on customer reviews, OpenTable can make or break a restaurant.
Healthgrades is an online database of doctors, dentists, and hospitals that has over 100 million users and has amassed data on more than three million U.S. healthcare providers. When a patient searches Google for your practice, Healthgrades will likely show up on the first page. It’s great for small practices or specialty doctors, as they focus on reviews for individual providers. After you claim your listing, add photos, background information, and details about your practice so that patients can easily find you to leave reviews.
4 More Review Sites You Should Consider
We generally don’t recommend focusing on more than two or three review platforms, as the payoff is better for concentrated reviews in the right places. However, maybe you have all your ducks in a row and you’re looking to grow your reputation even further, or perhaps your particular market may have different needs than those listed above. Here are a few more review sites with enough traffic for your consideration.
Bing is the default search engine for Microsoft Edge, which is the default browser for Windows operating systems. What that means is that a lot of people are still using Bing when they do their online searching. So even though they’re not Google, you’re bound to still get customers checking out your reviews through Bing. You’ll also have better visibility in Bing searches, Bing Maps, and other Microsoft properties.
BBB (Better Business Bureau)
Getting your business listed with the BBB is important for your online reputation. When customers are getting serious about doing business with you, they’ll often research your company to make sure that they can trust you. The BBB has been in the review game for a long time, and serious customers still rely on reviews there.
When people are traveling and looking for the best hotels, entertainment, and food options, they often look to TripAdvisor. So, if you fit into any of those categories (and more), this directory should definitely be on your list. Or more correctly, your business should definitely be on their list.
Foursquare is a popular online directory where consumers share the things they love about their favorite businesses. Users provide tips about business they’ve been to and can get badges for engaging with businesses on this platform. Foursquare attempts to make the online review process a fun and interactive game for its users, which entices them to come back and rate other businesses—like yours!