Online reviews have become an essential part of running any type of business in 2015. Just as people check Yelp for restaurants or movie critics for a new film, online reviews have a place in any business, from e-commerce sites to blogs to educational sites, and so on. While they haven’t always been an integral part of running a digital business, monitoring online reviews is now a necessity.
Your first step, however, is to determine where you can find these reviews so you can monitor them. Contrary to popular belief, Yelp is not the only places on the web where people leave reviews. It’s up to you to monitor your brand everywhere online by looking at all of the popular review avenues customers are taking.
Unique Places to Monitor Company Reviews
Once again, given how common reviews are nowadays, there are more and more places to go to check out reviews and see what consumers are saying about your company. Of course, there are always the common options like Yelp, Amazon, and even The Yellow Pages, but not every place carries the same weight, so below helps you sift through the noise and hone in on the best places to search for reviews. A few unique places include:
Better Business Bureau
The BBB is a nonprofit organization that has their own accreditation standards, meaning they have their own process for reviewing a company. They take consumer reviews into account, mainly because the BBB places a premium on how businesses should act toward the public.
With the BBB, it’s more about location than anything else. When you head to the homepage on their website, the first thing they ask for is your city and state or postal code.
Given their high standards, the Better Business Bureau is one of the most legitimate review sites available. Here is an example of what you might see when you search for businesses on BBB’s website:
Their slogan is “Working for consumers like you since 1936”. Consumer Reports offers reviews and ratings on a variety of products from cars to appliances to electronics, and even health and family products. They provide multiple outlets for reviews, including videos, polls, news articles, and images.
Consumer Reports is very user-friendly — allowing you to search reviews by category — and you can also sign up for your own account to customize your interests and organize all of the products you’ve searched for reviews on in your history. They use a five-star rating system with their users, helping assign a quick value to each company/product.
However, Consumer Reports doesn’t just stop there. They actually take reviews from all over the web, compiling them all in one place for convenience. They even publish articles and analysis on some of the reviews, which saves users a lot of time and effort.
Angie’s List is very useful when it comes to reviews, namely because they take the anonymity out of the process. Angie’s List requires a fee ($9.99 a month) to sign up and use, but that helps maintain integrity and credibility of the reviews. Nobody is going on there to bash a site or company or product just because.
Angie’s List has a checks-and-balances system that monitors and investigates reviews to ensure companies and employees aren’t posting about themselves or their own products. At the same time, companies have the opportunity to defend themselves and respond to any reviews posted on Angie’s List.
Obviously these are the two biggest search engines on the planet, but they’re also great places to garner reviews about any product or company. These two mega companies also place a premium on local listings. If you type a restaurant into Google, for example, you’ll see the closest location to you, but you’ll also see ratings on a five-star scale and options to check out reviews.
Google and Yahoo each have different algorithms in terms of reviews and Google requires a Google+ membership to post a review, but they can still be valuable measuring sticks for your company to gauge where you stand in the public eye.
CitySearch and Insider Pages
These sites are very similar to each other in that they’re both free, user-generated sites that place a heavy emphasis on local businesses and reviews. Like other sites, they are based on a five-star rating system on top of actual written reviews. Below is a screenshot of what it looks like if you search for a business on Insider Pages:
Keep in mind, these pages may come up as a search result on Google or some other search engine (much like Yelp and The Yellow Pages). While not the most popular review sites, they are still valuable resources for reviews from organic traffic. Their main draw is they tend to carry a lot of authority on search engines.
This site is focused on restaurants and other eateries, so if you don’t own a restaurant, this probably isn’t a worthwhile venture for you. What’s cool about Zomato is that it takes reviews one step further and actually filters reviews for you. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can take a look at popular reviews, all reviews, my favorite feature, or blog posts that reviewed the company.
Comments on Your Own Website
Yes, really. It doesn’t occur to a lot of companies to look internally for reviews and ratings because they usually come in the form of comments, but it’s still important to keep an eye on anything someone may say about your company through the comment section of your blog, About Page, or category pages.
Another Option: Reviews can also come in the form of testimonials, but since they are often self-inflated (who’s going to put a negative testimonial on their own site?), they probably don’t carry a lot of weight with users, but it’s still an option.
If you check out a page from NoRiskSEO below, you’ll notice a review on the right-hand side of the page. This is clearly an informational page that doesn’t cater to reviews (and it isn’t a homepage where you find most testimonials), but we were still able to feature a review through a testimonial from one of our partner companies.
Social Media Platforms
Don’t ignore social media, either. Sometimes the most honest reviews are right in front of you. Facebook and Twitter are easy-access ratings of your products and company. Monitoring your social media community can provide insight into how consumers view your service, product, and overall company. Of course, it’s absolutely imperative to take these types of reviews and comments with a grain of salt (unless you have some sort of vetting process for who follows you on social media).
Don’t use just one source for reviews. Instead, take all of these platforms into account and let multiple outlets factor into your overall review process. One site may be getting more reviews than another and thus carry more weight. Also, be sure to monitor how reviews are changing on a regular basis.
Where else are you finding reviews of your company online? Let me know in the comment section below.
Featured Image: Jirsak/Shutterstock.com
All screenshots by Jason Hawkins. Taken July 2015.