Online reviews for local businesses can primarily be found in one of the big three review hosting sites: Google, Yelp and Facebook. When it comes to your online reputation, you want to have a positive presence across all three platforms, not just Google or Yelp or Facebook.
It’s important to keep in mind that managing reviews isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. There are differences in approach every business owner should take into consideration before developing their ORM strategy. In this fourth edition of the Written In The Stars: Leadhub’s Reputation Management Guide, we’ll take a look at all of the major review sites, what makes them different and how to handle reviews on each platform.
Google is King
With approximately 90% of global search real estate, Google is the single largest search engine platform in the world and the most popular in the United States. When users search for a specific company, they will receive a list of search results generally accompanied by the knowledge panel. The knowledge panel is filled with contact information, photos, location information, reviews and other information that could be useful to potential customers.
For most local businesses, Google is where most customers leave reviews and where most potential customers go first when checking reviews. For this reason, most of your review management efforts should be put into managing Google reviews. For more information about Google reviews and how to respond to them, check out Taking Your Review Responses Out of This World.
The Case for Yelp
While Google reviews are the biggest influencer for your customers, Yelp shouldn’t be forgotten. Out of the three major review platforms, Yelp is the only one designed specifically for reviews. Over the years, Yelp has transformed itself into its own social media community, but reviews remain at its core.
Remember Google’s knowledge panel? Well, Bing has one too, but instead of showing their own version of reviews, Bing is integrated with Yelp. When a user types a business’s name into Bing, they’re going to see the top three reviews on Yelp. If your Yelp reviews are lacking, Bing users are going to see that and could potentially avoid your business. For example, look at this company’s knowledge panel on Google compared to Bing:
Google’s Knowledge Panel:
Bing’s Knowledge Panel:
These two knowledge panels paint two very different pictures of the company in question. There may be fewer Bing users than Google users, but studies show the average Bing user is between the ages of 45 and 54. This is prime homeownership age, so Bing should not be completely ignored when developing an online reputation management strategy. An active Yelp presence will kill two birds with one stone by catering to both Yelp and Bing users.
Responding to Yelp Reviews
While a lot of best practices for responding to Google reviews apply to responding to Yelp reviews, there are certain nuances every business owner should take into consideration. On a technical level, owners should wait 48 to 72 hours before responding to a Yelp review because it may get filtered out.
Beyond the technical aspect, business owners should exercise more caution when they respond to a Yelp review. This primarily goes back to the fact that Yelp, unlike Google and Facebook, is a platform specifically designed for reviews. If a user actively turns to Yelp to leave a review, they are generally going to be putting more thought and effort into their review than if they were putting it on Google or Facebook.
Yelp is a platform full of big personalities. If you don’t take care in how you respond to negative reviews, you should expect to see blowback from that user as well as from other Yelp users taking their side. We know it’s difficult, but try not to take negative reviews personally when you are responding to them. You want to come off as the bigger person in your responses. If you are gracious, respectful and accommodating, you will be more likely to see a positive reaction from customers.
Facebook has become the biggest outlier in the big three review platforms because they technically don’t have reviews anymore – they have recommendations. Rather than relying on a star system like Google and Yelp, Facebook users simply answer the question, “Do you recommend this business, yes or no?” While the recommendation system is relatively new to the Facebook platform, it looks like it’s going to stick around for a while.
The binary nature of Facebook’s recommendation system gives both users and business owners a much more definitive answer but doesn’t allow much wiggle room for semi-satisfied customers. To get a real look into what your Facebook-using customers are thinking, you have to look at the content of their recommendation, if they choose to leave any.
Responding to Facebook Recommendations
Another semi-new feature on Facebook is reactions, which range from love to angry. We recommend that you only react to reviews with “like” or “love.” We recommend you use the “love” reaction when the reviewer says the word “love” in their review. For example, if a customer says they “loved your AC repair service,” you would react with a “love” and give a positive response in the comments.
Not all Facebook recommendations are going to be positive. Under no circumstances should you ever react to a negative review with an angry emoji. In fact, if you have a negative review, it’s best not to react to it at all. Instead, respond in a similar way to how you would respond to a negative review on Google.
Other Review Platforms
While Google, Yelp and Facebook are the review platforms you need to worry about most, there are a few other platforms to keep an eye on. Here are some of the other review platforms to watch:
- Nextdoor: This localized social media platform offers a recommendation feature, similar to Facebook’s. Nextdoor is beneficial for social listening, especially in specific neighborhoods. The platform can be used for lead generation as well as online reputation management
- Yellow Pages: This online directory allows users to leave reviews and star ratings. This platform should be used similarly to Yelp, though you might not get as many reviews on Yellow Pages.
- Angie’s List: Another platform to keep an eye on is Angie’s List. Like Yelp, it was built specifically with reviews in mind. Unlike any of the other platforms on this list, their ratings are set up as letter grades, meaning a company could receive anywhere between an A and an F. Users can also leave detailed reviews that businesses can respond to. Don’t count out Angie’s List when planning an ORM strategy.
Managing Reviews Across Every Platform
With an ever-expanding list of review platforms out there, coming up with a reputation management strategy can be a daunting task. If you’re having a difficult time with ORM, Leadhub offers reputation management in addition to a long list of digital marketing services. If you’re ready to take the first step to a better online reputation, reach out to Leadhub and make sure to check out parts one, two and three of Written in the Stars: Leadhub’s Guide to Reputation Management!