If you’re like most business owners, you spend a lot of time telling people how good your services are, whether through advertising or direct sales. But often we neglect our greatest source of advertising: Users. It’s often much more powerful to show what your own shoppers say about your services, as it provides concrete proof from an objective point of view. With that said, let’s talk about user reviews.
While social media has given us easier ways to target potential customers, the opinions of past clients remain the most important factor in a consumer’s choice. Brightlocal found that a stunning 87% of users read online reviews of a local business this year, while 73% wrote online reviews themselves. As public skepticism grows over traditional advertising, user reviews are more important than ever to gain trust in your users.
Review sites offer additional benefits beyond just reputation building. Listing your business on a review site increases the chances you’ll show up in Google search results, especially for searches in your area. Positive reviews help increase sales, with a Harvard Business study finding that an extra star rating on Yelp translates to a 5 to 9% boost in revenue. Perhaps more strangely, even negative reviews can be good for business. Reevo discovered that conversions increased 85% after users saw a negative review, causing them to spend five times as long on the business’ website. In fact, users prefer seeing a mix of positive and negative reviews, as it appears more authentic. Conversely, a perfect 5-star rating can appear suspect.
If you hope to garner the kind of word-of-mouth hype that leads to more sales, you’ll need to make it easy for users to spread the word about your business. Here are ten of the best review sites found across the web.
When it comes to reviewing products and services online, nothing gets bigger than Google. With the tech giant accounting for 57.5% of all worldwide reviews, you can’t afford not to optimize your business for Google’s platform. That means getting your business verified under the Google My Business program. Google My Business allows Google to use your location data to inform users, especially the 5 million apps and sites that use the Google Maps system. Additional features include customized invitation URLs to encourage reviews from your users, along with the ability to upload photos and videos.
With over 200 million unique users and accounting for 50% of all retail sales, calling Amazon influential would be an understatement. There’s a reason why Amazon posts its star reviews at the top of the page. Shoppers use ratings to weigh their trust in a product, with Pattern showing that a 3 to 5 star increase leads to a 12% boost in conversion rates. A low number of reviews may scare off potential customers on Amazon, so you’ll want to regularly encourage your users to review your products. While we all hope for a perfect 5-star rating every time, there will be the occasional unhappy customer. However, customers tend to be forgiving if you promptly answer their concerns, so always be sure to interact with reviews in a helpful, respectful manner.
There’s more to Facebook than sharing cat memes and arguing with your uncle, as 1 in 3 visitors use the platform to post and view business reviews and recommendations. Facebook’s enormous user base results in more opportunities to get your business to the forefront. Recommendations are displayed for customer’s friends, which helps to encourage the word-of-mouth effect on a broader level. Users can also tag your business and upload videos and photos, further increasing opportunities for engagement.
Initially designed for restaurant reviews, Yelp has become one of the largest general review sites on the internet. Yelp allows businesses to respond to user reviews, post video and photos, and easily share reviews on Twitter and Facebook. Any business can set up an account on Yelp, which will often become one of the top results when users Google your business. While its influence has waned a bit over the past few years due to some shady practices, Yelp still hosts over 35 million users per month.
One of the largest review sites on the internet, Trustpilot boasts over 6 billion review posts per month and over a trillion reviews overall. Trustpilot is possibly the most wide-ranging on the list since it allows businesses from all over the world to set up a profile. While that means you’re more likely to get buried among the vast number of businesses, Trustpilot still remains an important resource, especially if you do business with international users. Trustpilot runs on a freemium model, where a basic account is free, but paid accounts offer more tools. These include SEO review and social media tools, along with Trustpilot widgets to feature on your site.
6. Angie’s List
Angie’s List provides one of the most comprehensive review collections for service-based industries. Like the Better Business Bureau, reviews are based on an A-F scale. However, reviews are submitted by users, which cannot be anonymously posted, resulting in more authentic reviews. You are also able to respond to user reviews, unlike the Better Business Bureau’s platform.
Similar to Angie’s List, Manta gears toward small to medium sized businesses in the service industry, offering a wider range overall. But Manta focuses more on connecting customers with services, making it a valuable resource for directly gaining more business without the costs of advertising. You’ll want to rank high when user’s search particular keywords, so think strategically when setting up your profile. With a combination of effective keywords and sterling reviews, Manta can prove to be a powerful source for new leads.
8. G2 Crowd
G2 focuses on software reviews, targeting a more specific niche than most of the others on this list. The site features over 1 million reviews from real users running the gamut of the software world. If your service is software-based, G2 is certainly the place to be. A basic profile is free to set up, but paid plans unlock additional features, such as branded content, lead capture tools, and additional ways to interact with users.
Taking a step back into the pre-digital age, the Better Business Bureau continues to be an important arbiter of trust for consumers. As opposed to the user-generated examples above, the Better Business Bureau evaluates a wide range of small businesses in a number of metrics and grades on an A-F scale. While the Better Business Bureau doesn’t directly endorse businesses, they do offer accreditation status, which should be prominently displayed on your site.
10. Yellow Pages (YP)
Remember the Yellow Pages, that 20-pound brick dropped off at your doorstep every year? Well, the Yellow Pages moved on with the times and now serves as a great digital source for finding businesses and reviews. Now known as YP, the site garners over 23 million visitors per month and features a similar layout to Yelp. One important feature is the prominent Better Business Bureau grade found below the name of each business. This makes it easy for customers to find high-quality services and also serves as a reminder of the importance of earning a high Better Business Bureau rating.
More Reviews Equals More Views
User reviews offer a more in-depth authentic look at a business that can help further burnish your reputation as a business worth trusting. You can tell users that you provide excellent service until you’re blue in the face, but nothing compares to a referral by a friend. Make it easy for your users to sing your praises and trust will come your way.
Listing your business on these services may look like an overwhelming task at first glance, but it’s worth setting aside a day to post to most, if not all, the sites listed above. Each site caters to a different audience and offers unique benefits among them. Always encourage users to leave reviews on their preferred platform, especially after they offer a kind word. Most users are happy to tell others about a positive business experience, and even more happy to write a negative review in the opposite situation. As always, your job is to continue delighting your users with exceptional, trustworthy service.