Local Review Sites
A review site is a website where reviews can be posted about businesses, products, or services. In some cases, even people. These days, these websites are using Web 2.0 techniques to gather reviews from customers. Sometimes they may employ professional writers to author reviews on the topic of concern for the site.
Review sites are typically also portal sites and data aggregators. However, not all review sites are portal sites and not all portal sites are review sites. For this reason we have to classify certain sites as review sites.
Many, in fact most, review sites make little attempt to control postings, or to verify the reviews. Faultfinders claim that positive reviews are sometimes written by the businesses or individuals being reviewed, while negative reviews might be written by competitors, disgruntled employees, or anyone with a grudge against the business being reviewed. In addition, studies of research methodology have shown that in forums where people are able to post opinions publicly, group polarization often occurs, and the result is very positive comments, very negative comments, and little in between, meaning that those who would have been in the middle are either silent or pulled to one extreme or the other. This is critical to understand. As you implement a review acquisition strategy for your customers it is imperative that you identify and focus on your clients top customers immediately to leave reviews. This will initially establish a positive perception should group polarization occur in your clients profile page. Another criticism against review sites is that they rely on income from businesses so they may be reluctant to post negative reviews since that undermines their business model. This leads to a conflict of interest.
The fact is that the review sites, like Google, want to filter all the garbage. Sometimes they don’t get it right, but they are always looking to improve their algorithms. We have to assume they are getting better daily, like Google with their algorithm for search. With this assumption it makes no sense to me to game the review filters. It’s like chasing the algorithm. We shouldn’t be focusing on either quantity or quality of reviews, but focus on the natural organic adoption of reviews with existing customers. I feel if this is our objective we will always meet the needs set forth by the review sites.
Forget those Critics!
Most review sites admit that reviews may not be objective, and that ratings may not be statistically valid. I know this will work itself out over time. Most consumers are not yet trained to leave reviews. Many businesses have yet to adopt a acquisition strategy. If the trends continue, such as the 100% increase in reviews for Yelp in 2010, then it is likely the critics will soon be silenced on this. It’s for this reason that we tested profile review authority and sure enough, different profiles are assigned different levels of trust. Just focus on quality and you’ll clear those filters. Let’s talk more about filters now.
As we have been talking about, all of the review sites have review filters. Here’s some information about those filters.
Reviews that reflect perfectly legitimate experiences are sometimes filtered out by the review filter’s algorithmic processes. Don’t worry about this. To solve this, have the reviewer leave additional, unbiased reviews for other local businesses. Within a few weeks, that reviewers profile filter should be lifted.
Reviews are never deleted by the review filter; they are always shown on users’ profile pages but not the business that is being reviewed unless you dig deep. The review filter simply groups established users’ reviews from their user pages onto business pages. This automated process sometimes creates the perception that reviews are being deleted and re-added over time; what’s actually happening is users are becoming more-or-less established over time.
The best word of mouth is organic and unsolicited. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, Yelp discourages business owners from asking people to write reviews about their businesses. It’s tough for an algorithm to tell the difference between a business owner aggressively putting a laptop in front of a client and saying, “Give me 5 stars!” and that same business owner flipping the laptop around and manufacturing a fake 5-star review about themselves. Follow my review acquisition process to avoid violating the T & C’s of Yelp and others, yet still have the systems to drive unsolicited, organic reviews.
Both positive and negative reviews can be affected. This is to protect Dentist A from Dentist B’s writing of malicious 1-star reviews about his competitor.
SEO helps here too. Identifying relevant, authoritative sites to have links going to a user’s profile will increase the trust and authority for that profile…as long as it’s relevant sites and not just link building.
Local Reviews Website List
This should not be confused as the data provider list to acquire citations. The list is very similar, but these reviews sites are listed in order of review preference. Please be aware as these companies grow and change, some might be better, others might get worse. Use this list priority with a grain of salt and do your due diligence to uncover other sites.
- City Search
- Yahoo Local
- Angie’s List
- Judy’s Book
- Merchant Circle
- Insider Pages
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