As a local business, you're probably already on two handfuls of local review sites that were registered for once and haven't been shown much TLC since.
There are too many of these websites, so many in fact that they are close to needing a directory of local review site directories 🤔, however, a lot of these sites promise gold but depend on your business to bring in the traffic by pushing their customers to leave reviews.
These sites are waste of your time, reviews are pointless if not poised for the pursuit of new customers. You must strategically pick your review sites based on how consumers are finding local businesses in your area, then you must put the effort in to build momentum on the sites. Once you do, you'll create an engine that inputs existing customer reviews and spits out new customers.
Firstly, you can't have a one size fits all approach when it comes to picking the right review sites. Do the research, act as if you are a consumer and search within your local area. See what comes up and which review sites have the search rankings worth chasing.
For example, I've googled "cafes bristol" which is a likely search term if somebody is in Bristol and wants to find some cafes!
In recent years, Google has gone all in on becoming a review site by displaying their own local business listings on top of any search results. While the top result (TripAdvisor in this case) will get 33% of traffic on average, we'd estimate the Google local business listings takes up the majority of traffic.
Google Local Business
56% of local retailers haven't claimed their Google listing 😱 That is a mind-blowing statistic, one of the most prominent online listings for new customer acquisition isn't being utilised by over half of local retailers. It's also a huge opportunity for you to get one over on the competition.
See, if you claim your business listing you get to add more information such as your opening times, website and even pictures of how wonderful your venue is. This not only makes your listing more attractive but gives Google confirmation that you are a genuine business that people would want to visit. You'll get higher rankings, increased traffic and fresh footfall.
You can claim your business page for free here. Put the time in to make an attractive listing, it will pay dividends over time.
TripAdvisor is synonymous with holiday planning and travelling consumers. Yet, in the example above it is the first result after Google local listings and is rarely not on the first page of results.
Why? Because tourist footfall is often a huge segment of consumers and they use search to discover the best local businesses. Where a local consumer will often search once and then settle for a few local businesses, consumers on the move will search every time they visit a new place.
This footfall might not have the same LTV (Lifetime Value) as local consumers, but the volume is prominent and if your business is poised to take advantage of that volume, it can have a serious impact.
If you haven't already, check out our article on Automating TripAdvisor reviews using Beambox.
Social reviews are a different animal 😺, with just as much importance. The social concept creates an element of virality. When guests leave reviews, their friends get to see what they have said about your business. Of course, this can be both a positive and negative feature depending on how they review your business.
Facebook also launched a recommendation feature, which allows users to directly recommend a business to a specific set of friends. While it's hard to incentivise this, building a loyal and active Facebook page will result in organic reviews and recommendations that expose your business to a wider local audience.
Go here to create a business Facebook page. Like Google listings, you can add your opening hours, website and pictures of your venue. Put the effort in to create an attractive page, it's worth it.
If you really want to go all in on a Facebook strategy, check out our article on Using Facebook Ads to retain new customers.
Yelp hasn't always had the best reputation and it's search rankings are lacking in comparison to TripAdvisor and Google listings. It also doesn't have the local virality potential like Facebook.
What it does have, however, is a loyal following of consumers that it has built up since it's inception in 2004. It was one of the first directories on the scene and still remains a highly used platform for local business discovery. It averages 174 million visits a month worldwide and is primarily used in the United States.
It's worth being on. It's also a review site that you can update once a year and otherwise leave unattended. However, Yelp does push a pay to play model with add-ons, exclusive ads and managed promotion. Whether this is worth it or not is dependent on your business, local competition and advertising budget.
Picking your review sites
In a nutshell, use consumer search terms to find review sites that are picking up traffic in your locality. Focus on these sites, it's a quality over quantity strategy and it's about creating engines that generate fresh footfall.
We consider Facebook business pages and Google business listings to be a must. In every locality, they drive traffic and with a bit of effort, it's easy to gain an advantage over the local businesses that haven't utilised their online presence.