Last week, we talked about the importance of online reputation management and how business owners can monitor what’s being said about them. By monitoring what past customers and clients say, business owners can make the necessary changes to improve their areas of weakness. Now, we’re going to expand on this topic by revealing some of the leading review websites for local businesses.
By engaging on the web’s top review websites, you can ensure the information it contains about your business is accurate, up to date, and optimized for higher search engine rankings. Customers may leave a review about your business even if you haven’t officially added it to the review website. Taking the time to set up an official listing for it, however, will give you greater control and freedom over the information it contains – not to mention the fact that it allows you to communicate with past customers and clients.
Originally founded in 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons (not the same ‘Def Jam’ Russel Simmons, FYI), Yelp.com is a review website tailored specifically for local businesses. According to the company’s ‘about us’ page, Yelpers have written over 53 million reviews.
Setting up an account on Yelp is completely free and allows you to post photos of your business and message customers.
A recent Harvard University study found that a one star increase on Yelp.com lead to an average 5-9% revenue increase. This means a 3-star business earning $100,000 per year could potentially earn $105,00-$109,000 by achieving a 4-star rating. This particular study was done on restaurants, but the same principle all applies to all local businesses, regardless of industry/niche.
“Do online consumer reviews affect restaurant demand? I investigate this question using a novel dataset combining reviews from the website Yelp.com and restaurant data from the Washington State Department of Revenue. Because Yelp prominently displays a restaurant’s rounded average rating, I can identify the causal impact of Yelp ratings on demand with a regression discontinuity framework that exploits Yelp‟s rounding thresholds,” said the study’s abstract.
Angie’sList.com is a review website with a focus on service providers, such as plumbers, electricians, contractors, dentists and doctors, rather than brick-and-mortar stores. One feature that makes them stand out from the rest is their authentication process. In order for a review to be posted on their site, they first check to verify its authenticity. This is done to help prevent fake reviews submitted by competing businesses.
“Before they’re posted, all reviews are checked in order to guard against providers and companies that try to report on themselves or their competitors. This process was reviewed and approved during a 2012 audit by BPA Worldwide.”
One of the most influential and effective review websites for local business is Google Places. This portal, which is obviously owned by Mountain View search engine giant, pulls data from several different sources to create local business listings. In addition to displaying phone number, street address and other information for local businesses, Google Places also shows an actual photo of the address.
Need another reason to use Google Places? Here’s one: Google recently merged their Google Places results with their organic search results. This means people searching for a business in Google may find a Google Places listing in their search results.
Submitting a business listing on Google Places and completely free with no hidden charges.
Tips For Creating an Effective Google Places Listing:
- Your listing’ title should be the name of your business.
- Be sure to include your business’s street address and phone number.
- Don’t attempt to stuff keywords in your listings in hopes of achieving a higher search engine ranking.
- Place your listing in a single category rather than several.
- All businesses in Google Places must have a physical street address (P.O. Boxes are not accepted).
- Upload custom photos of your business.
- Include your official business website address in your listing.
- Include hours of operation.
- Check to see if there’s already a listing for your business.
- Make sure you verify your listing via phone or snail mail; otherwise, your listing won’t appear.
- Encourage customers to submit reviews on your listing.
Yahoo Local Listings
Yahoo Local Listings is another review website that’s worth checking out. Setting up a free account allows business owners to display their address, phone number, store hours, website address, and a photo of their business. Yahoo Local Listings now pulls data from Yelp, so it’s actually quite useful and definitely worth the time setting up a free account.
There are also some paid membership services offered with Yahoo Local Listings that allow for greater customization. Yahoo Local Enhanced Listing costs $9.95/month and allows business owners to “enhance viewer engagement” with photos, promotions and other media. Yahoo Localworks costs a bit more at $49.99/month, but includes guaranteed presence in 40+ directories along with performance tracking.