Google and Facebook: The ‘kings’ of review platforms
Online reviews are officially a big business. So much so that beyond Google, Facebook and Yelp, there are dozens of industry-specific review websites for nearly every industry (more on this later).
But Sutherland recommends agencies begin with Google and Facebook for their clients. “Google and Facebook are the kings of review platforms. They’re the most important, and that’s purely based on their popularity and the daily traffic they receive,” she says.
The proof is in the data; ReviewTrackers found 76 percent of online reviews are submitted on either Google or Facebook, which rank among the top four review websites globally.
While Yelp and TripAdvisor are also popular, ranking as the second and third-most popular review platforms, they are known to be oriented towards the tourism and hospitality industries.
Overview of Google reviews
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google. Businesses must create a GMB profile and verify their information to complete registration.
Once a business has created a GMB profile, visitors can post reviews. Google reviews will show up in two prominent places:
- Google Search – If a business has a GMB listing, customers searching online by their name or by local search can see their listing, star ratings and any reviews directly in search results.
- Google Maps – Since Google My Business listings are connected to Google Maps, whenever someone searches for a place, clicks on a location or types “food near me” or “doctors in my area” as an example, they can see Google reviews for one or multiple local businesses along with the address and location.
Below is an example of what a Google reviews page looks like.
Overview of Facebook reviews
For years, Facebook business pages featured traditional online reviews and ratings.
This changed in 2018 when the social network rolled out a series of visual changes and features that included “Facebook Recommendations”. Now, a query field appears on a business page’s “Recommendations and Reviews” section with the question: “Do you recommend (business name)?”.
Users can answer by pressing the “Yes” or “No” button (you will still be able to see ratings on older Facebook Business pages) and can add further context to their recommendations with tags, photos, and comments in the text. Below is an example of what a Facebook reviews page looks like.
Beyond Facebook and Google reviews
Whether a customer is seeking opinions in search of dentists, pest controllers, therapists, marketing agencies, or even golf courses, there are specialized websites that cater to each niche. And each one will have a review section for customers to post.
You can find a large selection of them organized by business category in this handy list.
With so many review platforms to choose from, it begs the question: how many should your clients be on to effectively showcase their online reputation? Sutherland encourages agencies to recommend at least one industry-specific platform to their SMB clients.
That’s because those websites solicit more specific online reviews and ask users to provide a variety of ratings – rather than one – covering elements such as value for money, employee friendliness and location.
“People might trust some of those niche review sites a bit more than Google or Facebook, or they’re looking for reviews and ratings which offer a level of detail that’s deeper,” she says.
Isn’t being listed on one review website enough?
In short, no.
Sutherland emphasizes a business’s presence on multiple platforms is likely to yield better SEO performance, thus giving shoppers more confidence about spending money with that local business.
“Without making it overwhelming, your client is better off being on multiple websites. That, in conjunction with having more reviews and having the business name mentioned in review content, will likely lead to higher rankings in search results,” she says.
In a post-pandemic world, it is imperative that agencies make online reviews an essential part of their SMB clients’ overall business strategy.
- The evidence is clear: the number, quality, and recency of a local business’s online reviews dictate whether or not they provide a quality service.
- Online reviews not only help with customers’ purchase decisions, but they benefit a company’s SEO performance.
- Agencies should ensure their clients are listed on Facebook and Google at the very minimum and pick at least one industry-specific review website.
- Take the time to understand how to get more reviews on Google, Facebook, and other websites for your clients.
- Make the process as easy as possible with direct links, and don’t be scared of asking for honest feedback via a review.