National Positions: Do Review Sites Matter?

March 6, 2012

If you’re a customer trying out a local business for the first time, whether it’s a restaurant, retail store, spa or bar, you’re probably interested in how well it has been reviewed by other customers. You might use review sites like Yelp, Google Places, Judy’s Book, Angie’s List, etc. to see how well it rates. Does how well a business rates on review sites really matter, though? To keep it simple, yes.

Now more than ever, there are several websites designed to review businesses that are rising in popularity. Recently, Yelp closed out its IPO with its stock price up almost 64 percent. Eight years after it was founded, the firm seems to be surging despite being one of the parties that filed a complaint against Google for anticompetitive behavior.

If you’re a business owner, reviews can be extremely beneficial to draw in business, but they can also hurt you if your business isn’t ranked very high. It’s important that as customers are talking about review sites and using them more often, both to review a business and to see how well it rates, that you, as a business owner, do what you can to get the best ratings possible.

One way to make sure that your business gets better rankings is to incentivize happy customers. Most of the time, it’s only customers who weren’t pleased with your service that go on and write a negative review of your business. The customers who were pleased have no reason to write a positive review, but if you give them a reason to, they might be more motivated to do so. One way is to offer them coupons or discounts to your business. Customers love getting discounts and will take the necessary steps to write a positive review which will be beneficial to your business.

Review Sites to Consider:

Yelp

Yelp had an average of about 66 million monthly unique visitors in Q4 2011, 26% of businesses reviewed are restaurants while shopping comes in second with 24%. To date, there are 25 million local reviews that have been written on Yelp.

Google Places

Google’s free review and rating service, Google Places, is one of the fastest growing review sites on the web for all business types and automatically comes up in Google search results. In the United States alone, over 2.3 million listings have been claimed so far.

Judy’s Book

Although it serves all types of businesses, Judy’s Book focuses on “businesses that serve moms and families” and has about a million user-written reviews.

Angie’s List

Angie’s List is free for businesses, but its 2 million members have to pay a fee. There are no anonymous reviews allowed which means there’s less spam and more active users since they pay for the service, but if you’re a restaurant owner, this isn’t the site for you. Angie’s List doesn’t cater to restaurants.

Yahoo Local

Yahoo Local operates much like Google Places and has more than 50 million reviews. It’s free but if you want to add more business information, photos or coupons, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $10—one of the best deals out there.

MerchantCircle

MerchantCircle is a free business-to-consumer site with upgrades of $10 per month and search engine marketing services for $29 to $249 per month but is missing user activity.

Citysearch

30% of traffic on Citysearch comes from mobile devices and is more editorial content heavy than it is with user reviews. You can upgrade for a basic fee to include ads, special offers, etc. but should only use it if your business offers food and drink.

Insider Pages

Insider Pages is owned by Citysearch and offer users reviews that Citysearch doesn’t offer. The main focus is Doctor Finder where users can find a doctor who accepts their health insurance, but Insider Pages also offers home repair services, salons and auto services.

TripAdvisor

Referring to itself as the world’s largest travel site and travel community, TripAdvisor has over 60 million reviews, three times more than Yelp. Hotels are the biggest draw as well as tourist-friendly restaurants. It’s free to have a profile but you can upgrade for a fee depending on how many rooms your hotel has.

ZocDoc

ZocDoc allows users to find a doctor and make an appointment online by city, specialty or insurance in 15 metro areas. The site has over one million users per month finding a doctor. 86% of patients that use ZocDoc are members of PPO insurance plan.

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