Once you have your business profiles complete and optimized, reviews are the next most important thing for you to focus on. Online reviews keep your business profile fresh with regular new content. They also help you rank for more keywords because your customers write things you wouldn’t think to write about your business.
But reviews can be difficult to get. They require asking, following up, then hoping you get the type of review you want. You know, something that actually helps your business instead of one or two stars. Even though there’s a risk of getting a bad review, the risk is worth it because you can’t grow without reviews.
Even with the work it takes to get reviews and the risk of getting a bad review, reviews are worth the work. They are what will move the needle for your business to rank ever higher in searches. With the right profile and regular fresh reviews, your business will be unstoppable, and you’ll get more customers than ever.
Where are you supposed to get reviews, though?
There are tons of sites where you should list your business and also where you can get reviews.
There’s Google, Yelp, Facebook, Zillow (if you’re in real estate), Trustpilot, BBB, Tripadvisor, and the list goes on.
Given so many review site options, how do you know where you’re supposed to focus?
This post will help you prioritize where you get reviews for your business. It will also help you create a strategy that will help your business thrive online and rank better all around rather than just on a single site.
Focusing On One Review Site
You know the saying about not keeping all your eggs in one basket right?
That applies to your business too. If you focus on one site to get all your reviews then you’re keeping all your eggs in one basket.
Let’s say you focus only on Google. Google has been known to do massive filtering campaigns where they sometimes wipe out thousands of reviews. If you get caught up in that then all your reviews could be wiped out.
Also, it can look a little suspicious if you regularly get too many reviews all on the same website. Ranking amazing on one site will also make you susceptible to issues on that one site. If you focus only on Google, then if your ranking drops there, you have nothing else to back you up.
One stream of reviews and one stream of rankings means you lose it all if that stream is disrupted. If you spread out your focus for reviews then you also spread out your lead generation potential.
Not only that, but reviews can help your overall ranking in search engines. So, if your one stream of reviews is disrupted, it could also affect your overall ranking in search engines.
One more important thing to take into consideration on why you need reviews on more than one review site.
Reviews are not only about being seen by customers. They serve many purposes beyond simply social proof (though that is important). Reviews also serve as a ranking factor and visibility factor because search engines do pull info from reviews. Search engines can also see and pull info from reviews on other websites. So, even though an obscure directory doesn’t lead to tons of customers, it will still benefit your business ultimately in ranking even on other search engines.
If you need to get lots of reviews but focusing on one review site is bad, what are you supposed to do?
Prioritize Your Review Generation
Prioritizing your review generation focus is essential to your business success. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as focusing on one review site nor as simple as rotating through sites.
How you prioritize where you generate reviews is highly dependent on how many customers you can ask for reviews, if you have products for purchase on your website, your industry, and where you’re getting most of your leads. It’s also dependent on whether you’re a local business or not. That means either serving customers at their location or a storefront that they can go into.
We don’t have a storefront, and we also don’t go to client sites. So, where we generate reviews is different for us than it is for the local small businesses we serve. Our focus for reviews is online-only review sites like Trustpilot, G2, and Capterra (for Loclmark).
We’ll focus on local businesses because that’s who we serve and that’s the focus of this post.
So, where’s the most important every local business should focus on getting reviews?
Google Business Profile
I’ve already mentioned Google a lot. That is for a good reason. It’s the most important place to direct MOST of your review generation efforts. It’s going to get you the most bang for your buck. If you get one customer a week then you’ll want to ask for reviews almost entirely for your Google Business Profile.
Your focus for new reviews should be on your Google Business Profile first.
After you get at least 10 reviews then it’s time to switch things up a bit.
It’s never good to focus on one website for reviews too much. That even goes for Google, the most important review site by far. Unless you have few customers (1 or fewer per week), then you will need to vary where you ask for reviews. Make Google your priority, but also venture outside of Google also. Don’t put all your eggs in the Google basket. It can and has gone wrong for many small businesses.
If you work with a lot of customers, switch between asking for review on Google and other sites too. For every 2 customers you ask for a review on Google, choose another site that fits your business to also ask for reviews on. These could be Google and Trustpilot, Google and Facebook, etc.
Or, it could be a website you wouldn’t typically think of asking for a review on. This next one is our favorite and a secret weapon for those local businesses that really want to take advantage of an overlooked review site.
While Nextdoor doesn’t call them reviews, they are just as effective. Get as many recommendations as you can on Nextdoor right after Google. But, the real secret comes in not with just having your customers go to your business page on Nextdoor and recommending you.
Here’s the big secret and where you can really reach new customers in your neighborhood. I’ve heard of some companies giving coupons or incentives for customers who recommend their business on their Nextdoor feed.
Yes, because businesses can’t post on the feed, you can get around that by having your customers post about your business. That means HUGE visibility on the most popular recommendation engine for local businesses.
I’ve worked with clients who have received endless leads from Nextdoor simply by making it in with the Nextdoor crowd. Next thing you know you’re receiving recommendation after recommendation. These are quality free leads that can make you a lot of money if you do it right.
So, get recommendations for your Nextdoor business page for building trust, but also ask if your customer can recommend you on the public feed. Or at least give them some good incentives for doing so because it will be paid back tenfold.
Not everyone has or uses Nextdoor, though. So it’s not a good idea to focus solely on Google or Nextdoor. Where else should you focus on getting reviews/recommendations?
This one is a bit trickier than the others. Why? Because you can’t ask for reviews on Yelp. Yelp specifically says not to ask for reviews on Yelp. That’s kind of a pain in the butt and definitely one of the reasons many local businesses hate Yelp. It’s not the only reason, though, but that’s for another time.
So, how do you get reviews on your Yelp profile then?
You could do something like offer a check-in coupon on Yelp which encourages customers to check in at your business on Yelp. When a customer checks in at your location on Yelp then Yelp will do the review asking for you! Yup, that’s pretty handy. They’ll actually send your customer an alert asking them to share how their visit went with other on Yelp.
So, it’s okay for Yelp to ask for reviews on your behalf but it’s not okay for you to ask.
Did I say why Yelp is important? Because their review information is pulled in by a lot of third party websites. Apple Maps for now uses Yelp reviews, and Bing uses them too.
If you want a few more suggestions for getting reviews on your Yelp profile, check out this post about asking for reviews on Yelp from the Local Marketing Institute.
This one isn’t relevant to all local businesses but if it is, you should prioritize it pretty high. Depending on if you serve mostly people from out of town or mostly locals, you’ll prioritize Tripadvisor either above Nextdoor and Yelp or below.
These are just approximate numbers I’m throwing out, but you can use them as a general guidance. If your business is 80/20 favoring tourists, then prioritize Tripadvisor above or below Google. If your business is 80/20 favoring locals, focus on Google first, then cycle through Nextdoor, Yelp, and Tripadvisor.
Tripadvisor can be a great benefit to a local business that also serves tourists in the area. That means it’s a great way to get some visibility with that crow that loves to travel.
If you don’t server tourists at all then forget about Tripadvisor altogether. Your HVAC companies, auto repair shops, home inspectors, and things like that shouldn’t bother with Tripadvisor at all in case that’s not obvious. Those types of businesses should go all out with Google, Yelp, and Nextdoor with Facebook a distant fourth.
Facebook isn’t just about seeing pics from your parents latest vacation. Nope, it’s also a place where business are found, recommendations made, and social proof built up and hopefully not broken down.
Facebook may not be the number one place where you’ll get business, but it will build authority and trust for your business. Besides, I’ve on a number of occasions done some business research on social media. Are they active? Do they have reviews there too? I found a home inspector through Google and did some validating through Facebook.
Other Specialty Review Sites
Depending on what type of local business you own, you’ll also want to focus some reviews on other specialty websites also. A lot of specialty directory sites also allow customers to leave reviews. These can be just as important as Google because they build authority for your local business and help customers trust you more.
It’s all about spacing out your reviews a bit while also making sure you don’t forget the most important. I wouldn’t trust a business with 200 reviews on Google and 0 on Yelp or Facebook. Would you?
That situation raises more questions than it answers.
Depending on who you serve and where reviews will serve you best, these websites might be important to get some reviews on also. where you may want to direct some review requests to in between Google and other websites.
- Zillow (if you’re in real estate)
- Cars.com (if you’re an auto dealership)
- Edmonds (for auto dealers)
- OpenTable (anything food!)
- Zomato (anything food also!)
- FindLaw (law firms)
There are tons of other specialty review sites out there for nearly every industry under the sun. You can search out industry-specific directories for your industry and see if there’s a site where you can get some reviews.
I wouldn’t waste a ton of energy or customer’s time on getting specialty site reviews. But, at the same time it can help you to get a few on occasion just to keep them fresh and authoritative.
I don’t think anybody’s ever argued that reviews aren’t important for every local business. But, doing reviews right, asking every customer for a review, and responding to reviews can make or break your marketing strategy online.
If you focus on getting reviews in one place then you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, but if you spread out your efforts too much then you won’t improve the ranking or trust of your business online. So, prioritizing reviews the right way is essential and getting reviews in the right place for your local business is important.
Every local business is different and your strategy for getting reviews will be different from other businesses. But, luckily you have this guide to help you get reviews in the right place to improve your trust and ranking online. With the right strategy you’ll see improvement in many places of your online ranking. From search engine ranking to overall trust in your brand, reviews will move the needle.
If you really want to go all out on your review strategy and grow your business, it takes time and effort. You can save a lot of time and automate most of the process, though. A good local marketing automation tool such as Loclmark will help you do this.
Automating your review generation process is as simple as setting up templates for emails, followups, and what review sites you want reviews on and then adding your customer’s information as you go.
Just ask your customer if you can email them or text them, so they can share their experience with your business. With that information, you can start the automation and then reap the rewards that reviews will deliver to your business growth online.