It’s no surprise that comprehensive reputation management strategies have become mandatory for businesses of every size in 2017. The subject seems to be trending on just about every business news site, from the enterprise through SMB. Studies focusing on the impact of such digital word-of-mouth keep cropping up, and light “solutions” with grand (and oftentimes misleading) promises of quick fixes, such as removing negative reviews, are flooding the market.
If only it were that simple. A recent study looked at the lasting effect of such public criticisms, with shocking findings. According to Chris Silver Smith, one of the obstacles is that many popular review sites tend to have high domain authority and page ranks in search engines. Even months after a negative review is posted, it can continue to claim the top spot of search results when prospects are researching your business or looking for a service you provide in the region. Smith writes, “A well-established news site or reviews site may have spent many years developing inlinks and ranking ability which cannot be overcome in just a few days by your competing content.”
This is partly why Smith estimates it takes an average of 18 months to repair damaged reputation. With such a long road to recover, these findings only reinforce the need to be proactive and to allocate resources to avoiding negative reviews in the first place. Sounds obvious, but there are no shortage of well-documented reputation management strategies to set up checks and processes that can improve your efforts. And if you’re hoping to dismiss such reviews as trifles, bear in mind that the increase of a single star in rating, can boost a business’s annual revenue anywhere from 5-9%. And if you’re still not convinced, we’ve gathered this and other data about the revenue impact of online reviews in this infographic.
However, as this niche continues to gain in popularity and become the norm among consumers, there seems to be an ever-growing list of third-party review sites. In a broad spectrum that ranges from the very general and should be on every business’s radar (i.e. Yelp), to the industry-specific specialized sites that are gaining exposure. The space is becoming increasingly crowded, so given the importance of such efforts we set out to compile the ultimate list of review sites that should be on your radar for reputation management. We hope you find it to be a helpful guide in navigating your strategy.
General sites for all local businesses
- Yelp: This one requires no introduction. The popular review site has grown exponentially since being founded in 2004 with over 83 million unique visitors a month on desktop alone. The site enables consumers to write longer form, sometimes in-depth reviews to pair with star ratings. This added, qualitative context can be both an advantage and liability, managing to elevate glowing reviews even more, but also compounding the criticism of negative experiences with cringe-inducing specificity. Having no presence on Yelp, is somehow just as bad as having a negative or poor rating. The site is often the first stop for consumers beginning their buying process, and looking for a solution they can trust. Therefore, it’s vital to claim and build out your business’s profile on the site, and actively manage.
- Google: Google reviews are arguably, even more impactful to the chances of your business being found by prospects in search of a solution. As with most things in the SEO-universe, we can only make educated guesses when it comes to the complex algorithm that dictates search results and discoverability. However, most experts agree that Google reviews for businesses are taken into account and weighted accordingly. It makes sense as Google aims to deliver results in accordance with the user’s intent. Displaying terribly reviewed businesses and potential scams would not create a great user experience. Although sometimes overlooked, Google reviews are growing in visibility, especially since adding star reviews in the local pack.
- Facebook: There are currently over 2.01 billion monthly active Facebook users and one in five page views in the U.S. occurs on the popular social network. Even without the data, and despite anyone’s personal opinions about the social juggernaut, it’s safe to say that Facebook is one of the best places to reach a majority of your target customer base and it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. Many consumers prefer using it as a hub, to manage their social connections and keep track of what they’re favorite brands, products, and service providers are doing, creating, and offering. Make it easy for new and current customers to interact with your business, by creating a business page and keeping it up-to-date. Reviews on the site, are equally important as they’re sure to be seen by a large built-in audience, so devote time to responding to customer queries and comments.
- BBB: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is the original review site. With a mission of creating an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other, the organization strives to reinforce this by ensuring integrity and performance requirements are met by all businesses. This protection works both ways, as the BBB also provides counsel and educational resources. The organization even offers an accreditation, that all businesses are eligible for so long as they meet their standards. Such stamps of approval, are sure to inspire trust for your clients, so be sure to take advantage of the BBB as a resource, and leverage the reputation of this time-tested organization.
- MerchantCircle: Catering specifically to local businesses, MerchantCircle’s site is built around SMB’s, so in addition to online reviews, they offer some tools to aid in getting your business included in online listings, as well as search engine optimization, and promotions.
- Thumbtack: Geared towards services, Thumbtack connects customers in search of a solution or project. Across a broad spectrum of business types, spanning ice cream cart rental to international law attorney, the review site covers many diverse needs.
- TrustPilot: TrustPilot also covers a broad array of businesses, of every size and format (physical and ecommerce). They aim to create a community of consumers and merchants that provides a platform for both to interact and bolster trust and transparency
- Yellow Pages: Like the BBB, the Yellow Pages are a traditional institution that predates the advent of digital marketing. One of the original channels for discovery of businesses, the Yellow Pages has managed to adapt to the times to stay relevant and popular. Today, the digital company furthers its goal of discovery, with a suite of tools aimed at providing local leads to businesses and reviews for consumers.
- ConsumerAffairs: Provides reviews for consumers on large purchases, and offers technology that will match consumers with the best companies to meet their needs.
- Angie’s List: A crowdsourced review site for home services and contractors, Angie’s List added a free plan last summer
- HomeAdvisor: Drives leads for home services businesses that it prescreens (by performing background checks for a variety of criteria including criminal history and malpractice), and provides consumer reviews.
- Houzz: Houzz focuses on home improvements, specializing in architecture, interior design, decoration, and landscape design
- Kudzu: Originally serving the Atlanta, GA area, Kudzu has since expanded its geographical footprint to provide online reviews for service providers and brands. Previously partnering with other home experts, HGTV, the site offers resources for consumers as well.
- Spafinder: A network of over 20,000 spas worldwide, that offers customers reviews, easy bookings, and gift cards.
Medical & Wellness
- Caring.com: Specializing in senior care, the site provides resources for caregivers on all things dealing with seniors, including medical care, finance, and legal questions. In addition to providing reviews, the site also releases an annual report of the top-rated assisted living and memory-care specialists and facilities.
- Healthgrades: Healthgrades provides ratings of doctors and healthcare providers. The site ratings are based on around 500 million reviews (using both private ratings and federal data) as well as risk adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications, and ranks doctors based on complication rates at the hospitals they work at.
- Zocdoc: Zocdoc helps patients find healthcare providers in their neighborhood and in their insurance network. It provides ratings and reviews for doctors, dentists, and other specialists and makes it easy to schedule appointments directly through the Zocdoc site. It’s site is easy-to-use, and provides a centralized dashboard for consumers to manage their checkups and treatments.
- RealSelf: The site focuses on aesthetic medicine and cosmetic treatments, and uses a combination of ratings, reviews, popularity rankings, and information on common procedures and treatments. It also provides a platform for future patients to ask questions to demystify cosmetic treatments.
Gym & Fitness
- YogaTrail: The yoga-specialized site helps to connect yogis with their practice. It connects them to teachers, classes, retreats and events in their community, and provides reviews on each. It allows consumers to specify the style of yoga they’re interested in.
- Care.com: Not to be confused with Caring.com (included above), Care.com covers a far-reaching variety of care options: senior, child, special needs, and pet care, as well as tutoring and housekeeping. It connects care providers with those in search of such a solution, and encourages reviews.
- GreatSchools: This is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to parents of school-age children. It rates schools based on standardized testing, and a host of other factors, including parent reviews. It also provides information on the Common Core, and child development.
Accounting & Tax Prep
- CPA Directory: No surprise, this database of Certified Public Accounts allows clients to search by name, location, or industry focus, and provides reviews to help them make an educated decision.
- PTIN: The IRS uses the Preparer Tax Identification Number for oversight and transparency into the work of tax accounting professionals. As of June 2017 the IRS has suspended the renewal and issuance of PTIN’s following a court ruling, but may open it back up in the future.
- Aavo: Specializing in legal counsel, Aavo provides lawyer reviews as well as resources and guides on legal matters, access to free legal forms, directory of lawyers in your area and an overview of legal specialties and services they provide, as well as access to speak to a lawyer to receive legal advice.
- Lawyers.com: Matches lawyers with clients in need of legal counsel, providing reviews to aid in this selection. The site also offers a prepaid, “Legal Protection Plan” that it equates to legal insurance, paid monthly.
Job-hunting & Recruiting
- Glassdoor: Often seen as a recruiting tool for businesses, Glassdoor provides a platform for employees and former employees to anonymously rate and review an organization or business as employers, as well as managers and leadership teams. It also allows employees to disclose salaries.
- Indeed: Another recruitment or job-hunting resource, Indeed allows users to search job listings by region, organization type, and role. It allows candidates to apply directly through the site, and provides employee reviews.
- Realtor.com: Aggregates real estate listings, spanning 97% of all MLS listings. In addition to providing reviews for realtors, the site also has resources for renters and home buyers conveying the value of using realtors and agents.
- Zillow: A real estate database that provides reviews for realtors and companies, as well as resources and data on properties, both on and off the market as well as estimates, and neighborhood intel.
Weddings & Events
- GigMasters: This events booking platform is designed to pair entertainers with those who are planning weddings, festivals, and private or corporate events. It allows clients to rate the entertainers in a variety of categories.
- The Knot: The Knot is a resource for people who are planning a wedding. It provides information and reviews on a host of vendors and professionals often hired for wedding ceremonies and receptions, including photographers, caterers, venues, photobooths, bands, DJ’s, videographers, cake bakeries, and many more. It also provides wedding planning resources for both the couple and their bridal parties, as well as an easy interface to contact vendors.
- WeddingWire: Provides tools to engaged couples to aid in their wedding planning. It provides access to reviews from newlyweds about various vendors required for their big day, and helps these vendors grow their business.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know!