One of the most common questions businesses ask us when they’re just starting to build an online review presence is, “Which online review sites are best for my business.” The answer we have to give is often, “It depends.” And it does depend on a number of different factors ranging from their industry, to what their goals are, to where they are located.
It might take you a little bit of time to settle in on what works best for you. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the most important things to consider when selecting which online review sites to emphasize.
1. Know what you want to accomplish
First, and foremost, you’ll want to evaluate what your goals are for collecting online reviews. Do you want to increase the visibility of your business and improve your standing in local SEO? Do you want to build trust and credibility with consumers? Or do you want to accomplish a little bit of both?
If a boost in your local SEO ranking is what you’re after, you might consider shifting your focus to sites like Google and Facebook. Not only are these sites very popular among consumers, collecting reviews and building a presence on these sites can also impact your SEO ranking.
To build up trust and credibility, you might want to consider building out your presence on industry specific sites like Cars.com, DealerRater, or Healthgrades. These sites are frequented by consumers that might be further along in the customer journey or are more educated searchers.
However, it’s important to note that these sites can also appear in branded search results for your business. This helps your business acquire more space on the first page of the SERPs and offer more conversion points for consumers to choose your business.
2. Go where your customers are
The key thing to consider when deciding which sites to emphasize is how familiar your audience is with them. A recent survey by Podium found that 66 percent of consumers don’t trust online review sites they’re not familiar with. Because of this, it likely doesn’t make sense to put effort into building a presence on microsites or review sites that customers aren’t using. Put your energy into the sites that are going to drive the most value.
That’s why sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are a good place to start. According to that same survey, 87 percent of consumers have access to or are logged into at least one of those three sites on their smartphones. Additionally, 81 percent of consumers have used Google in the past year to conduct research on a local business, followed by Yelp (59%), Facebook (49%), and industry-specific sites (36%).
3. Ask your customers how they found you
This next tip might seem a little obvious, but one of the best ways to find out which online review sites are best for your business is just asking your customers. It might be simple, but it is very effective.
For example, I recently purchased a new car and when I was filling out the paperwork for financing, one of the questions they asked me was why I chose to do business with them. I thought this was an excellent, but somewhat manual, strategy. Why not go straight to the source and take the guesswork out of your customer journey?
While this may not be a scalable option to record every single customer and where they found you, it can help you build a foundation of understanding for where consumers are finding your business.
4. Research your top referring sites
Possibly one of the most helpful approaches is to comb through your Google Analytics and check out what the top referring sites are for your website. The process to do this is super easy.
- Log in to your Google Analytics account
- Select Acquisition → All Traffic → Referrals
- Select the timeframe you want to analyze
- Click on ‘Referral Source’ for more detailed data
Once you’ve done that, you can dive in to see where your referral traffic is coming from. You’ll want to dig deep and look at trends over time to see which online directories are driving traffic to your site and put most of your effort into the highest performing sites.
This is one of the easiest and most scalable ways to see how consumers are finding your business. If you don’t already have Google Analytics set up on your site, we suggest you do so. It’s free and fairly easy to implement.
5. Does the directory provide added insight
One of the reasons Google My Business (GMB) is so valuable is because of the in-depth insights it provides about online searchers. GMB can show you data on how many people are visiting your listing, are they viewing your listing via search or on maps, what actions did they take on your listing, and did they interact with your photos. All of this information can give you a better understanding of how effective your listing is at both driving traffic to your business and at showing up in local search results.
Regardless of which online review sites you end up choosing to focus on, make sure to use an online review management platform to streamline the process. A good platform will help you increase the volume of reviews, consolidate the management of all sites into a single dashboard, and help you gather valuable feedback that will help drive your business forward.
Download the Podium 2017 State of Online Reviews to gain a better understanding of how today’s consumer is interacting with online reviews. The report will give you insight into why customers leave reviews, which online review sites are most important, and how online reviews impact the customer journey.