While personal references still have significance in today’s society, no one can argue the overwhelming influential power of online review websites that reach millions of people across the world daily. In fact, 90% of consumers say they look at online reviews for a business before visiting. The presence of positive online reviews can serve to legitimize a business, while negative or absent reviews can leave consumers hesitant. In addition, 80% of customers expect a business to respond to a review they have left. Therefore, businesses should respond to as many reviews as possible, positive or negative. Neglecting to respond to reviews can harm a business’ reputation and bottom line.
With the numerous review websites out there with differing capabilities, where should a business invest time monitoring and responding to reviews? How should positivity be acknowledged and what options are there for countering damaging feedback? We’ve compiled a list the top three review websites across all business industries, and the best methods of interacting with reviews on each.
|Ability to upload additional business information such as images, menus, social links, etc.
|Most traffic bounces from Yelp site instead of visiting searched business site
|Choose to respond to reviews privately or publicly at your discretion
|Yelp algorithm pushes infrequent reviewers to the bottom, so their reviews may not be seen or displayed
|#1 place to visit for reviews
(most traffic) and a well-known resource for the past decade
|Display ads are more expensive than competitors with limited targeting options
|Yelp backlinks have SEO value
Positive review: Publicly respond to the review. Thank the customer for their feedback. Share additional information or promotions that may be of interest to the reviewer via a backlink.
Negative review: The large amount of traffic to Yelp means a negative review will be buried eventually, but in the meantime publicly respond to the review. Apologize for the issue and offer a solution. Provide direct contact information for a resolution. If a debate ensues, try to resolve via private messaging.
Google My Business
|Local SEO allows profiles to display when people search “near me”
|Google My Business displays general info in search results, so people may not visit your website
|Businesses display higher in Google search results by being listed in Google My Business
|Reviews aren’t filtered, and it is hard to remove fake or negative reviews
|Search algorithm allows for more reviews to be viewed than Yelp
|Less total traffic than Yelp
|Business can manage listing, location and reviews all from one place
Positive review: Respond to the review publicly, as this will improve local SEO. Thank the customer for their business. Since Google My Business has less traffic, invite others to leave reviews, as this will help build business credibility when viewing the listing.
Negative review: Leave a public response apologizing for the problem and offer a solution. If the issue is resolved, inform the reviewer that they may change their review score if they’d like. Since reviews aren’t automatically filtered, flag any fraudulent reviews.
Facebook Recommendations (formerly Reviews)
|Ratings allow a business to appear in a news feed, improving brand visibility and reach
|Strict user privacy settings mean you may not be able to respond to negative reviews
|Recommendations and shares appear on a business’ Facebook page for all to see
|Recommendations are only Yes/No, so need to spend time reading review to clarify feedback
|Trusted, organic reviews from sources that people have some connection with
|You cannot get rid of negative reviews without disabling the entire system
|You can report unfair of SPAM reviews with a simple click
Positive review: Respond using the person’s first name and show your appreciation for the positive feedback. Include the business name or location in the reply, so that the review is more likely to be found in search engine queries. If time is an issue, consider setting up an autoresponder.
Negative review: Apologize for the negative experience with a personalized, public response. Try not to include the business name or location in the reply, so that the negative review is less likely to be found in search engine queries. Report any inappropriate reviews to Facebook’s Community Standards.
While it may seem tedious, the best course of action for reputation management is to routinely monitor all three of these platforms. These platforms encapsulate a large percentage of the current online review universe, each with differing best practices for responding to reviews. Being proactive with review monitoring is critical to maintaining a positive online brand identity. Many places get negative reviews at some point. Responding to reviews (good or bad) shows customers you care. Consumer feedback can also be invaluable tool for businesses to see their own reflection.
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