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Online Business Reviews – Tips for Yelp, Facebook & Google
Local businesses can no longer be successful in new, niche markets without creating a strong online social media presence. In the age of social interconnectivity, more and more people make buying based decisions by using online reviews.
For users, going to a new restaurant, hair salon, or car dealership, etc., can be a risk, and it helps to gauge what other consumer experiences were like before you go in and plan to spend money.
For business owners who haven’t become a well-known name in their locale, creating online business pages across a variety of social platforms can help build brand awareness and drive visitors both to your native website and your business itself.
Creating awareness, giving a good customer experience, and responding to customer input across online business review sites can help drive more revenue for your business and create customer loyalty in the longterm. The three biggest players in the online business review space are Yelp, Facebook, and Google reviews, and users frequent these sites before making buying decisions.
For any small business owner, you must reap the benefits that online business reviews offer, and make sure your business isn’t suffering from a poor rating or review. Following is an overview of Yelp, Facebook and Google business reviews, along with tips for optimizing each platform.
What is Yelp?
Yelp is an online business review site, which allows users to write reviews of different local businesses. Yelp rates businesses based on the quality of reviews it receives, and not quantity. If you are wondering what your business Yelp page looks like, simply research it, claim the business page as a business owner, and begin setting up your Yelp business page account.
Yelp currently has 60 million registered users and contains about 20 million active posts on its website. Yelp is not exclusive toward restaurants either; a number of other retail and business markets are reviewed under Yelp.
According to a survey by the Boston Consulting Group, businesses that actively monitored and used their Yelp accounts saw an average annual increase of $8000 in revenue. Unfortunately, about 77% of small businesses don’t use social sites like Yelp, and 22% of businesses who have Yelp business pages have never even viewed them. The numbers speak for themselves; not only does utilizing Yelp help increase your business’s total revenue, it also provides an opportunity to separate your business from competitors by reacting and responding to Yelp reviews.
Creating a Yelp Business Page
Once you claim your Yelp business page, you must set up a detailed profile that utilizes alluring descriptions and photographs that will attract new users to your business. The main thing is to provide a complete description–this means providing contact information, a complete address, products or services provided, and filling in the about section. Insert a link to your native website and this will provide you with an excellent opportunity to link build your website.
One of the best features of Yelp is the photo gallery. Providing professional grade photos of your products and your staff will lure customers to your business more so than your descriptions. Be sure to provide photos of the front of your building so people know what it looks like when they drive there.
How Can I Improve my Online Yelp Reviews?
Businesses with 4 or 5 star ratings are more likely to get more customers in their business during peak hours. Unfortunately, online business reviews can be very honest and personal, so businesses that provide poor customer experiences are going to suffer from bad reviews.
Yelp provides the perfect opportunity to respond to consumer complaints in-house and change what is bothering customers. Even responding to negative reviews on Yelp posts can show users your dedication to customer satisfaction and responding to positive reviews can show this to. Just commenting “thanks for the kind words or we sincerely appreciate it” on a positive review will show customers how dedicated you are as a business owner. To see how your business in doing overtime, Yelp provides metrics for visitors to your Yelp page and an overall summary of your Yelp ratings over time.
Yelp provides many opportunities to improve your business profile, such as creating an enhanced photo slideshow, videos on your profile, and even Yelp ad opportunities. By following other SEO practices, such as inserting keyword specific terms into your descriptions or observing competitive Yelp pages, you can help craft a genuine and attractive Yelp page that will drive more consumers to your business.
Don’t ever tell a customer to give your business a good Yelp review. The Yelp community does not like this and any sign of coercion will be punished by users.
Facebook Business Reviews
Facebook utilizes a star ratings system that allows users to rate and post a review to a Facebook business page. This can be set up in the admin settings and a dialogue option will occur allowing you to check the “Show map, check-ins and star ratings on the Page” box to enable star ratings.
The Benefits of Facebook Business Reviews
Facebook has its own algorithm which helps determine how business reviews will show up in news feeds. This is called Facebook EdgeRank and recent brand reviews with lots of likes, shares, and a strong affinity to specific users will allow it to potentially rank high in a user’s news feed.
This means that friends, family, and new customers will be exposed to your business and brand. Facebook can be the gift that keeps on giving in a strong SEO campaign. A good review with lots of user interaction has the chance to be shared across multiple other social networking sites. Of course, good reviews will also help your business page rank higher in a Google SERP ranking and is tied to your Google reviews.
Improving my Facebook Business Reviews
Setting up a detailed Facebook business page with strong descriptions, a good photo gallery, and constant user interaction will help attract new users to your business page and show your commitment to consumer satisfaction. Now, responding to Facebook reviews will further emphasize this notion and strengthen your brand’s integrity.
Unfortunately, reviewers can choose to leave their reviews private or only to be shared by friends and that can create confusion for businesses. The best step is to continue with your overall social media campaign and contact the reviewer privately with sensitivity and brand integrity. If your business is struggling with bad business reviews, fake reviews, etc. the ratings system can be switched off, though it might affect your brand integrity.
Google Business Reviews
Google business reviews are a relatively recent innovation and provide untold benefits because of its direct link to the search engine platform. In the world of SEO, ratings and reviews help improve search rankings and provide numerous other benefits, such as increased user traffic, brand awareness, and social media presence.
Anytime someone types your business into a search they will be immediately exposed to your Google reviews and any user can submit one instantly from a Google + account. Google ranks websites based on the quality and quantity of reviews, the velocity in which Google reviews are written, and also through 3rd part review sites. We will focus on the quantity and quality of business reviews to improve your Google online reviews.
Unlike Yelp, quantity factors a lot in improving search rankings through online reviews, so it’s good practice to encourage customers to write reviews for your company through Google. Find your most enthusiastic and loyal customers and ask them to provide reviews, as these will most likely be positive. There are a number of other ways to do this, such as asking your Google + followers to write reviews, advertising this on the door of your local business, or creating email and post card campaigns that encourage customers to tell your business what they think. It’s helpful to do this continually as Google does have a time decay factor, just like Facebook, that affects your overall business rankings.
It’s unethical to coerce or ask your customers to write positive reviews, so it’s up to your business to create genuinely great consumer experiences that will encourage customers to write positive reviews. Just like with Yelp and Facebook, engaging posts and reviews will also show your dedication to customer satisfaction and brand integrity. Google actually has the best algorithm in picking up fake reviews, so reviews by family members and friends or at your business’s Wi-Fi will be recognized.
So which one? They all offer unique review perspectives, so it’s good to have all set up for your business. And be sure to provide links to your Yelp, Facebook, and Google review pages on your native website. This will show users your dedication to consumer feedback and also your social media presence/activity.