Reviews are in Focus!

Small business owners have long understood that to build a successful brand, demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction is a must – and today, there’s no better way to do this than by harnessing the power of online reviews.

As we’ve seen in just the past few years, changes in consumer behavior have driven a radical shift in the web’s marketplace of opinion. Even as more reviews migrate towards social networks, search engines, and other hubs of the modern web, the more traditional model of websites dedicated solely to customer reviews isn’t dead just yet. Knowing which sites to target is critical to maximizing your brand’s success, if you want to leverage reviews for marketing or SEO purposes.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of your options…

The Heavyweight: Yelp
In the world of online reviews, there’s no bigger name than Yelp. Launched in 2004, it’s since become practically synonymous with “online reviews” in many web users’ minds, and it’s cited as the second most likely site that consumers will check before visiting a business. What’s more, both Bing and Yahoo utilize Yelp reviews in their own search results – so, maintaining a presence on the platform is key to boosting visibility on these second-tier search engines.

Yelp isn’t without its drawbacks, however. It’s long been the target of criticism over its advertising policies and the prevalence of fake, malicious, or politically motivated reviews, and its format has been called out by some as encouraging negative reviews. So, while the platform certainly has its advantages, let’s call Yelp something of a “double-edged sword” for small businesses.

The Specialists: Industry-specific Review Sites
Of course, while Yelp may be the biggest name, it’s far from the only game in town. Dig deeper and you’ll find the web is home to countless niche websites that take a laser-focused, industry-specific approach to online reviews.

A few sites you may be familiar with include the travel-focused TripAdvisor, featuring reviews of hotels and tourist attractions; OpenTable, centered on restaurant reviews, and Angie’s List, a membership-based site focused on service businesses. These are just the tip of the iceberg – it’s a big web, and there are review sites geared towards just about every industry out there!

The old standbys: The Yellow Pages and the BBB
Finally, they’re not as popular among web users as bigger names like Yelp or TripAdvisor, but the Yellow Pages and the Better Business Bureau are solid alternatives, each boasting a long history and a “just the facts” reputation.

With a century-long legacy of credibility, the BBB in particular occupies a vital niche among consumers who value honest, unbiased information on businesses. It subjects all reviews to a rigorous verification process designed to ward off bogus or ill-intentioned reviews. Consider it the anti-Yelp!

Looking for more help getting the most out of online reviews? Contact us at Rosie’s Creative. We’ll work with you to develop a smart, targeted strategy tailor-made for your brand. Ready to get started? Contact us today.