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Is it better to get reviews on Yelp or Google?
Good online reviews can help your business stand out, and can even make the difference between a customer calling you versus calling one of your competitors.
The problem is, in certain industries, reviews don’t come naturally, and getting some 5 star reviews is going to take some cultivation effort.
If you are planning an outreach effort to build some reviews, the question becomes, where should you direct happy customers to leave reviews?
Should you send them to Yelp, google, facebook, your website, or somewhere else entirely?
Before we go too much further, it should be mentioned that we are assuming you know these customers to be happy, and you have a good relationship with them.
Assuming these facts are true, where should you direct these people to leave their reviews?
If you are starting from scratch with zero online reviews, the first goal should be to get a few reviews each on Yelp and Google, if only to protect yourself.
There are few things more annoying than having exactly 1 bad review, and establishing a few good reviews is nice insulation from this scenario.
Once you have established a few reviews each on Yelp and Google, then what?
The next milestone should be 5 reviews on Google.
At 5 reviews, Google shows a star rating that averages your reviews next to your listing in search results.
UPDATE: As of Early 2017, Google seems to have dropped the 5 star requirement, and is now presenting star averages for reviews with as little as 1 review.
Compared to a competitor with zero reviews, having a few reviews and a 4-5 star rating next to your listing can really help your site stand out in the search results.
Once you have met that milestone, the decision as to where to send people for reviews gets a bit more tricky, and ultimately depends on your industry and target audience.
For example, if you own a restaurant or a business that caters to consumers (rather than B2B) a high Yelp ranking is critical, so it might make sense to invest most of your review cultivation efforts there.
One interesting item from Yelp’s TOS is that all reviews on Yelp are their property, and may not be re-posted elsewhere. While it doesn’t seem they go after individual businesses who re-post reviews, they could.
Another tidbit about Yelp is that they tell you specifically not to seek out reviews, but everybody does it. If you are going to ask for Yelp reviews, just make sure they are spread out, rather than posted in quick succession.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should never purchase fake reviews, submit fake reviews, or encourage others to do so, on Yelp, Google, or any other platform.
For those that exist in industries where Yelp is less important, for example business to business sales, directing people to Google is probably the best play.
One of the biggest idiosyncrasies of Yelp is their review filter, which weighs reviews from frequent Yelp users more heavily than new ones.
Where most people have a Google account, posting a review on Yelp will require people to have or create a Yelp account before posting, and reviews from new users tend to get filtered away by Yelp and it stinks to get a good review that ends up hidden from most users.
If you are going to put effort into generating reviews, you might as well do it in a place where they will count. You really, can’t go wrong building reviews on Google.
At this point in time (12/28/16), Google does not have a filter, and all reviews are displayed, and factored into your rating. You usually can’t go wrong focusing on Google owned properties, since the data is intimately connected with search results in ways we can see, and probably in ways we can’t.
Ideally, a bunch of reviews on both sites should be your end goal, just remember, it is not something that you should try to do overnight.
Are Facebook business reviews worth seeking from customers?
It can’t hurt, but Facebook reviews are not as important as Yelp or Google reviews at this time. While it may be worth the effort of directing people to leave reviews on Facebook if you have an active business presence on the site, there is less point if you aren’t active on the site.
What about your small business website? Should you add a review feature/plugin to your website so people can email reviews or leave them directly on your website?
Reviews from an independent 3rd party, and posted publicly on a website not directly connected to your own are more valuable than reviews posted on your site. While copy/pasting reviews to your site can make for a good and authentic presentation, building out a system to automate the process on your site is not worth the effort, mostly because that is not where you want people to leave reviews. It is much better to direct people to leave reviews to help boost your online presence.
Focus on customers you know are happy, reach out to them personally, and then direct them to a review site of your choice. The more you can streamline and simplify this process for your organization, the more effective your review cultivation efforts will be.