How do online ratings affect my business?
Online ratings have a crucial impact on the reputation of your business and its online presence. Websites like Yellow Pages, Google Places and Yelp are where consumers now look for businesses. Traditional paper phone books are only used about 6% of the time to find businesses and typically by a demographic that is over 60 years of age.
People are no longer turning to old methods of finding businesses, and advertisements on television and radio have a fraction of the impact they had in the past. Consumers are able to skip television commercials due to the prevalence of recorded TV and are listening to satellite or free internet radio where they are exposed to almost no local advertising.
The internet is where people are looking for businesses, and search results include a summary of average ratings and number of reviews – without the consumer even clicking on a link. Seeing negative reviews or a competitor with a greater number of positive reviews will dissuade people from using your business, especially in today’s economy where people are more discerning of how they spend their money.
How can I improve my online ratings?
Fortunately, the most common review sites offer business accounts. If you do not have business profiles on sites like Google Places, Yelp, etc. it is imperative to open accounts – they are almost always free unless you choose to pay for special advertising.
Paying for advertising will not change your ratings and people searching will generally see that they are sponsored ads. Paid ads can be a great tool in getting more people to notice your business, but a slew of bad reviews is a problem that ads cannot solve.
By creating a business profile, you are able to update photos, tell consumers what your business is all about, and respond to feedback people have posted. Responding to feedback is an important step in changing the perception of your business. Many sites also feature analytics, so you can see how often different demographics are searching for you and what words they’re using to do so. It is also important to extend your online presence and reach out to customers on your website or social networking sites to spread the word about positive experiences in order to overshadow bad ratings.
Can I get an online review removed?
In short, there is no guaranteed way of getting reviews removed. Rating sites thrive because they are meant to consist of actual experiences of customers, and you cannot pay websites to take reviews down because they are negative or false. It can feel extremely helpless and frustrating to have false or outdated information negatively impacting your business, but it is typically unwise to respond critically or attempt to take legal action.
However, there are ways to deal directly with bad ratings. Having business accounts on ratings sites allows you to respond directly to individuals reviewing your site. It’s possible to get reviews removed by reaching out to an individual and apologizing for bad experiences or offering a discount. Also, if your business is under new management, it is important to update and revamp your profiles on these sites to prevent consumers from relying on old information.
These methods can greatly improve your ratings so that if negative reviews are not removed, there will be more positive reviews and new information to bring up your overall ratings and show potential customers that your business is trustworthy.
Yelp is part social network/part review website. People connect on Yelp to find local businesses and share their opinions with other Yelp members from their community. People look to Yelp to find new places to eat, shop, drink or unwind and to share their opinions of local businesses – good or bad. Yelp is gaining popularity and is already a standout in the world of online review sites, with millions of members, who even have the option to post their reviews directly to Facebook or Twitter. Yelp had over 66 million visitors in the last quarter of 2011, most of them coming to the site to decide where to spend their money.
Yelp gathers business information from public records and its own users, and businesses do not have the option of having their information or negative reviews removed. The good news is that you are able to create a business profile free of charge and respond directly to negative remarks about your establishment. This can greatly improve your rating and become a great source of free advertisement.
You can also pay for Yelp Ads to have your business appear at the top of Yelp searches and create Yelp Deals that users can purchase directly. Yelp also offers analytics so you can see statistics and charts that show you how your business compares with local competitors.
If you’re a business owner, it’s it highly likely there is already information about your business on sites like Yelp – even if you have never been on a review site or don’t even have a website. Your business has an online presence with or without your effort.
How Does Google Places Work? Google Places, previously called Google Local, is aimed at helping consumers find businesses and helping business owners connect with potential customers. It is designed similarly to the nearly obsolete method of searching for businesses – the Yellow Pages. Visitors can search categories under specific cities, for example Hair Salons in Cincinnati, Ohio, and are provided with search results for salons in that area...