Business review sites are an essential part of the customer buying journey today. Purchasers make snap decisions about a firm simply by reading business reviews — without ever calling your company, setting foot in your store or visiting your website.
What is your presence like on review sites? Have you found all the sites where customers review your business? Are the reviews mostly positive?
Managing your presence is called online reputation management and it’s something you should be doing on business review sites. Reputation management involves identifying, monitoring, and influencing your business’s credibility and reputation online. And central to review sites are customer reviews.
What is a Customer Review?
A customer review is when a customer gives a review of a product, service or brand online based on first hand knowledge. Customer reviews are not professional reviews and are never paid for. About 72% of U.S. consumers have written a review for a local business.
Customer reviews are a form of customer feedback. They usually include some text, as well as a star rating of 1 to 5 stars, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. While there are many places you can find online business listings, the sites below go beyond listings and are popular places for customers to leave reviews.
Best Business Review Sites
The following 26 sites include the best B2C review sites, important for businesses that sell to consumers (examples: Yelp and HomeAdvisor). We also identify the best B2B review sites, for businesses that sell to other businesses (example: G2). Focus on the sites applicable to your industry so you can reap the benefits when buyers use them to make purchase decisions.
1. Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is the single most crucial review and listing tool for local businesses. It is is one of the top review sites, replacing what was previously called Google Local. An essential tool for garnering a credible online reputation, it can also help with ranking your business in various kinds of search results. Use this Google My Business Cheat Sheet to get started.
2. Bing Places for Business
Bing Places for Business is the Bing search engine’s version of Google My Business. Consumers can leave ratings and reviews about a company. Local businesses, including businesses with multiple locations, can claim their listing and complete a profile to add their listings to Bing Places, all for free. Once verified, information will appear in Bing Local search and map results.
3. Facebook Ratings and Reviews
Facebook is much more than a social media portal to share posts. The hugely popular social media site is also where followers can leave ratings, reviews, and recommendations on a business’s Page using its Facebook Ratings and Reviews platform. Businesses can turn off ratings and reviews in their Facebook Page settings.
4. Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) prides itself on being an ethical marketplace that allows individuals to recommend businesses. The BBB is one of the oldest and most trusted sites, and verifies all consumer reviews. Businesses can also become a BBB accredited business, and the Better Business Bureau assigns its own ratings from A to F but these ratings are independent from reviews by the public.
5. Amazon Customer Reviews
Amazon has been allowing consumers to post reviews about products since 1995. Garnering a string of 4- or 5-star reviews on this leading online retailer’s site can help businesses generate many new sales and build a solid reputation. Business reviews also apply to any listing in Amazon’s Handmade section and to service providers in the Amazon HomeServices section.
Some small business owners and marketing managers have a love-hate relationship with Yelp, feeling that positive reviews at times get less visibility than negative ones at the site. However, you can’t deny Yelp’s importance. Its pages show up frequently in internet searches. It’s a consumer destination, too. The site also trains companies to respond to reviews. A Yelp listing can help businesses manage their online credibility and reputation. Yelp is one of the top review sites and an important place to encourage potential customers to do business with you.
Using its Swarm and CityGuides apps, Foursquare lets users check-in and rate venues they visit. Users can also leave “tips” for others visiting the establishments. Companies that sign up for Foursquare for Business can take advantage of user analytics. Businesses can also add their own tips to Foursquare and make customer reward offers. Foursquare data is often included in other sites and maps.
If you operate a home improvement business or provide services to homeowners, listing your services on local business review websites like HomeAdvisor and collecting business reviews can positively impact your business and help you get new customers. All reviews placed on HomeAdvisor go through an extensive screening process and are verified by the site’s moderators.
9. Yellow Pages
You can get a free business listing on Yellow Pages which enables businesses to manage the reviews placed on the site about their company. Yellow Pages has transitioned from paper to digital, and is now supporting businesses online with local marketing and reviews. While the yellow pages are no longer the heavyweight driver of new customers the way they were decades ago when print books ruled, make sure to claim your business there.
TripAdvisor is a review platform focused on the hotel, travel, restaurant, airline, or entertainment industries. Customers share reviews of hotels and other establishments connected to the travel industry. Given that TripAdvisor has collected more than 878 million reviews, it’s in every travel business’s interest to claim its listing and generate positive reviews on one of the largest travel sites in existence.
11. Angie’s List
Angie’s List is regarded as one of the most credible business review sites, being early to offer business listings. Reviews cannot be from anonymous sources on Angie s List, which again, adds to the credibility of the evaluations posted there. Companies can set up a page on Angie s List for free where customers can leave reviews.
TrustRadius is an online review source designed for software businesses. Adding to the credibility of TrustRadius is the fact that all reviewers are authenticated via LinkedIn. This enables users to view what their connections on LinkedIn say about their business and software products.
If you own or run a restaurant, registering on OpenTable will enable customers to make reservations and write reviews. Restaurants receive a star rating on OpenTable based on the number of reviews and the percentage of people who recommend the restaurant. Naturally, the higher the review rating, the better a restaurant’s credibility and online reputation.
PlanetRate enables customers to write reviews on businesses of all industries. Companies can register on PlanetRate and actively collect reviews. Users can write in-depth analyses of companies on PlanetRate. Any positive feedback on this review site can influence how consumers perceive your business.
15. Salesforce AppExchange
Salesforce AppExchange is an enterprise cloud marketplace designed to extend the Salesforce platform. It lets users rate businesses through a five-star rating system. Businesses with a Salesforce AppExchange app can keep track of their app’s rating and monitor their online business reviews.
Trustpilot allows businesses to generate a profile page and encourage customers to provide reviews. Companies can send customizable review invitations for a higher-level paid membership fee and share their reviews and social ratings on social media.
Glassdoor users can search reviews and ratings of more than 700,000 businesses around the world. Employees can also share what it is like to work for a company on Glassdoor. With candid and honest reviews about a business’s services, products, and what it is like to work for, Glassdoor can be an invaluable source for enhancing a company’s reputation with prospective employees.
G2 (formerly known as G2 Crowd) is a business review site for companies that sell software. Business software apps are ranked on a five-star scale. With more than five million business users heading to G2 each month to read reviews and buy software, having quality ratings on G2 can directly influence business buying decisions.
Customers can search for vendors of a particular industry and specification on VendOp. The site provides a portal for purchasers to share their experiences with other customers. Users can search reviews by ratings, service, and location on VendOp.
Manta is mainly a business review site, one dedicated to small business. Business owners can claim and customize their page to improve online visibility and marketability. Consumers can search from millions of businesses, and registered users can leave star ratings and write reviews.
Avvo is a business review site for attorneys. Consumers can review their lawyer for the benefit of other consumers and assign up to 5 stars. Avvo claims to include 97% of all lawyers in the United States in its database, and also lists them by practice specialty. All reviews are subject to approval by Avvo, which separately provides its own rating of 1 to 10, based on specified criteria.
WebMD is a vast site getting over 100 million visitors a month, containing medical information for consumers. It also has listings of doctors and dentists, and allows consumers to leave business reviews of them.
FinancesOnline is an independent review platform that addresses B2B, SaaS, and financial companies. It helps users find and compare software products and services best suited to their needs. They can also read customer product reviews and reports from experts. Currently, the site has more than 50,000 online reviews from users of software products.
24. Merchant Circle
Opening its virtual doors in 2005, Merchant Circle has more than 15 million local business listings across the U.S. in its database. Consumers refer to Merchant Circle to find businesses, read reviews by consumers, and get competitive quotes from companies they seek out. Make sure you claim your business listing. It can be a source for acquiring new customers.
Sitejabber is a site with online reviews of businesses which also lets customers get answers to questions from other customers and the business itself. After making a purchase, customers can leave their own feedback and get help resolving any issues that may arise.
Which? is an independent not-for-profit UK-based consumer review site that reviews services and products and then writes and shares the reviews. Managing to have commendable reviews written about your products or services on Which? can go a long way in generating a sound and credible online reputation.
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
Originally published at Small Business Trends