All businesses, from barber shops to day care centers to landscapers, gain and lose customers every day, before any direct interaction has even taken place. Consumers are basing their decisions increasingly on local business reviews found on the Internet. While optimizing your own website to draw traffic is imperative, consumers also look to local review sites to hear what your past/present customers have said. The age ofword-of-mouth marketing has arrived, and business reviews can now be found on thousands of sites around the web. Here are seven local review sites that your business should embrace.
- Google Places for Business
Google Places gives your business the opportunity to create a profile, to be listed on Google Maps, and to have an extended information block about the business appear on search result pages. Users may leave reviews on your Google Places page.
It is best to register after Google has already discovered your business, and found reviews for it elsewhere on the internet. Google rankings give preference to businesses which their robots have already found organically, before the business claims its Google Places page.
- Yahoo! LocalListings
Yahoo! Local Listings are very much like Google Places, but with a smaller market share.Complete the Yahoo! profile for your business to earn traffic from Yahoo! users and increase your visibility for the Google robot.
MerchantCircle has been gaining popularity since it entered the market in 2005, boasting more than 15 million monthly users in 2012. In addition to business reviews, MerchantCircle provides coupons and special offers from many businesses.
- Angie’s List
Originally a Columbus, Ohio-based print publication, Angie’s List has been publishing customer reviews online since 1999. Although they charge a membership fee, more than 1 million members subscribe. It is free to list your business on Angie’s List.
Online since 1995, Citysearch is the elder statesman of user review sites. Although their traffic has declined somewhat in recent years, they still boast an active user base, and rank high in search results.
- Insider Pages
Owned by the same parent company as Citysearch, Insider Pages also publishes user reviews, and is a common source of Google Maps data.
Additional Advice for Review Marketing
Yelp! is a tremendously popular and authoritative customer review website. It boasts more than 71 million monthly users, who have posted roughly 30 million reviews. Yelp!’s social networking features encourage users to remain active, building their friends lists and commenting on each other’s reviews. If your business is already listed, you may claim the existing listing. Otherwise, be sure to sign up. Yelp! Is one website where you want to be sure your business is well-represented.
- Ask your satisfied customers to review your business.
- Never write fake reviews.
- Follow up on your negative reviews, and see if there is something you can do to make the customer happy.
Jason Hennessey, CEO, EverSpark Interactive and Cobb County resident