Get to Know Your Online Review Sites
By Jane Garfinkel - Review Response Specialist
Data has shown that online reviews are the most important local SEO ranking factor and businesses are beginning to take notice. Customer interaction platforms which solicit reviews from customers are growing in popularity. But not only do reviews play a role in how your company ranks, how you answer them matters too. Before you consider hiring a reputation management partner to respond to your reviews, it’s critical to familiarize yourself with the different review sites out there and what they each mean for your business.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most valuable tools for local businesses. You have the power to display important information such your business’s address, hours, and contact information. Recent updates allow you to advertise directly through your GMB and as well as schedule appointments for clients. Not only can you upload photos of your business, you can also add short videos. Similar to Facebook, you can post stories on your GMB, a great option for notifying customers about sales, new products, or store closings. In many ways the GMB is now a website consumers see before they decide to visit your actual website. On the backend, GMB provides insights into how people are finding your business and what they do afterwards, like visit your website, request directions, or call you. Hubspot has a great article on how to set up and optimize your GMB.
One of the vital pieces of any GMB page is the opportunity for customers to leave reviews. Reviews can only be submitted by someone with a Google account. Unlike the other sites Widewail monitors, Google does not require a written review, only a rating out of five stars. Reviewers can also post photos which are added to the business’s GMB page.
Take note: Google is the fastest growing review platform by far. Not only is Google the preferred site for reviewers, it’s the preferred site for review readers: it has the most monthly traffic of all leading review sites. If you’re going to solicit reviews from your customers, which you should, Google is the place to start.
Facebook Business Pages display information such as business name, description, contact information, and address. There is a “Call to Action” button that directs visitors who visit your page to take a specific action such as visit your website, call your business, or start an order (depending on your chosen template). Just like with a personal Facebook page your business has the opportunity to post stories and photos. Although this isn’t required, staying active on Facebook is a great way to interact with customers.
It might seem like a place best suited for cat videos, but Facebook is the most trusted site for local reviews. It’s also changing the look of reviews: in a 2018 update the platform moved away from a 5 star rating system in favor of a Yes/No recommendation. This binary system requires the reviewer to write at least 25 words and they can also add photos and “tags” to clarify what the business offers. What these changes truly means for businesses is still unclear, although Facebook claims they will “help businesses connect with customers.”
As the name suggests, DealerRater is specifically for dealerships. Business owners must claim their dealership to start benefiting from the site. Once they have, they can display a variety of information including the dealership’s address, contact information, hours, awards they’ve received, their inventory, and staff member information. On the backend, DealerRater provides reporting about review volume and performance by department (sales or service) and staff member. There are additional features available as upgrades, including extended analysis and automated review solicitation.
When customers post a review they are required to note what service they received, if they would recommend the dealership, and ratings for quality of work, friendliness, pricing, and overall experience. They also have the option of tagging and rating the employees who helped them. Dealerships can respond to reviewers publicly or privately, which is unique for a review site.
Cars.com is primarily a site for listing used and new cars for sale. Consumers can also research vehicles, service centers, and dealerships. Dealership pages display basic information such as the business’s address, website, and contact information. There is also a link to the dealership’s inventory.
When customers leave a review on Cars.com they are required to list the reason for their visit and rate the following categories out of five: overall experience, customer service, buying process, quality of repairs, and facilities. The average rating displayed for dealerships is based only on reviews from the previous 24 months.
Not only are ratings visible on your dealership page, they are also included in every car listing. If a potential client stumbles on a car they love from your dealership, a poor rating might be enough to discourage them from visiting your business.
Edmunds provides detailed reviews for most car makes and models. It also functions as a site for listing and finding cars for sale. Dealership pages include the business’s address, phone number, and website. Reviewers rate the dealership out of five stars, answer a short questionnaire, and write a description. Similar to Cars.com, dealership ratings appear next to car listings so these reviews can make or break a potential sale.
Learning about the various review sites available is an essential first step in improving how your business handles customer interaction. If you truly want to take control of your reputation the next step is to start responding to those reviews, the right way.