There’s no denying that the Internet has changed the way we buy and sell. One of these changes is that consumers now have access to a plethora of websites that are dedicated to reviewing products and services. With just a few taps on their iPhone screens, consumers can conveniently and quickly search for product reviews before making a purchase.
So, let’s put this in perspective: a homeowner in Jacksonville, Florida whose air conditioning unit has mysteriously stopped running is likely to choose a service provider by searching the Internet using a term like “A/C repair Jacksonville”. The search results include a number of review sites. Is the homeowner going to look at the reviews before picking a company to call? Yes, of course! In fact, one study showed that 72% of respondents trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
This is a big deal.
And it’s not a bad thing, either. Small business owners can take advantage of this digital word-of-mouth-on-steroids phenomenon by claiming their businesses on local review sites. Then, they can use the reviews to gain valuable feedback about their products and services, monitor public perception of their brand, and even interact with customers by responding to reviews.
Of course, some review sites are more relevant than others, and it would be impossible to interact on all of them. But we’d like to discuss some of the big ones that you’ll want to pay attention to.
We’ve discussed why you shouldn’t ignore Google+, but, basically, this is Google’s answer to Facebook. Google+ is a social network, a review site (it recently acquired Zagat), an e-mail marketing tool, and an organic SEO powerhouse all in one. There are many reasons to craft a presence on this site, but, for the purpose of this topic, Google+ Local should get your attention because any time a potential customer clicks on Zagat to read a review, that person is directed straight to Google+ Local.
We’ve dedicated a post to this review site giant, also, but Angie’s List is worth reiterating. The site boasts about 1.2 million members who add about 40,000 reviews every month. While consumers pay to search the site, businesses can create profiles for free, and, unlike other sites and general Internet searches, businesses can’t pay for better ratings or more visibility. However, businesses that are rated at the A or B status can advertise and offer coupons and discounts to users.
Your page on Yahoo! Local consists of a map and landing page, and these listings rank above organic search results and just below the pay-per-click listings. Basically, Yahoo! Local listings hold a prominent spot among search results. In addition, you can build up your profile similar to a social network page by adding business details and contact information. Although only about 13.5% of Internet users search on the Yahoo! engine, that still equates to a significant volume of traffic for your business.
While Bing Local does not host its own reviews, it does pull reviews from third-party sites, like Yelp! and Citysearch. What’s significant about Bing, though, is that it is a stand-out, in terms of reliability, for its maps feature. Because of this, it makes sense to claim your profile here and flesh out your page with relevant information and photos.
As an online marketing agency, we get that this may seem like yet another marketing detail to keep up with. However, it doesn’t take much time to get your profile started and check in on your reviews a few times a week. Read more about making time for social media marketing.