Business Review Sites

Here's a breakdown of the main platforms for business reviews, including the biggest pros and cons of investing your time and energy into each.

Business Review Sites
Chapter

Business Review Sites

At this point, we've talked about why reviews are important — they play a huge role in the consumer decision-making process — and we've explored the different types of reviews. Now it's time to go back to that first type that we talked about in Chapter 2, business reviews, and dig a little deeper to help you understand all the different areas of opportunity you should aware of and whether some are more important to focus on than others.

The landscape for business reviews is vast, but there are a number of review sites and platforms that are more notable than the rest. They are: Google, Yelp, Amazon, and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

To summarize what we expand on below, Google rules when it comes to reviews. It offers the most direct incentive for brands to develop a positive reputation, as we'll explore in more detail. However, while Google seems to be the most important, that doesn't mean you should ignore business reviews in other places: research shows that investment in curating a positive reputation on Amazon and Facebook is a strong areas of opportunity, and for certain industries, Yelp isn't far behind.

Here's a breakdown of the main platforms for business reviews, including the biggest pros and cons of investing your time and energy into each.

Google Reviews

Google is by far the biggest online search engine, and it's not especially close. While closest competitor Bing has gained some ground, going in to 2020, Google still held slightly over 70% of the market share in desktop searches and over 90% on mobile.

Because of this, business owners have to understand that their success on Google could be the cornerstone of their success in general. But while the overall number, consistency, average positivity of reviews can have a huge impact on annual revenue, this is more relevant for local, brick & mortar businesses (focusing on Google My Business) than it is for online-only sellers using Google Merchant Center.

eCommerce businesses need to focus more on how their reputation is presented in Google Shopping listings. Retailers with high Seller Ratings receive a boost in SEO, meaning that brands with a lot of built-up consumer trust can rise higher in searches for specific products with more ease.

Pros

  • A positive reputation on Google helps your business appear in organic search results for your targeted keywords. The same concept applies to Google Seller Ratings in Google Shopping search results.
  • Seller Ratings can also used as Google Ads extensions to add credibility to your brand in paid search.
  • Google will use reviews from certain other websites like TrustPilot in your Seller Rating, giving you a better chance for more positive reviews.
  • For local brick and mortar businesses, online reputation make the difference when it comes to appearing in Google's local pack — the top three results that capture an average 44% of clicks for any given search.

Cons

  • Reviews on Google My Business, while important, are less so for online retailers than business with physical locations.
  • Google Shopping results tend to favor larger, more established brands, making it difficult for smaller retailers to break into the market. This means the impact of your Google Seller Rating may be limited by your brand awareness and size.

Social Reviews: Facebook and Instagram

A quick point of clarification about the content ahead — while businesses can receive reviews on many different social media sites, Facebook and Instagram rise above the rest. It's also important to note that for our purposes, Facebook and Instagram are the same thing. Both owned by parent company FACEBOOK, businesses can run identical campaigns for both from a single Ads Manager account. On the front end, however, profiles on Instagram and Facebook are created and managed separately.

Social media is unique in the fact that platforms like these aren't primarily focused on catering to businesses. For many people, Facebook and Instagram play a role in their lives that's more social and less promotional. They build a roster of friends, coworkers, family members, former classmates. And then when they do find a product or company that they had a good experience with, they happily share their recommendations with their social circle.

And, because business reviews and recommendations occur more organically and, by virtue of the social nature of these sites, conversationally, they offer some unique benefits for business owners:

Pros

  • Conversations with customers can help build a more loyal customer base, and encourage user-generated content. If a customer shares a picture with a positive review in an Instagram post, for example, you can easily repost it on your own page for all to see.
  • Social media posts are designed to be shared on other platforms with simple embed codes to leverage content in more places than just the origin.
  • On average, consumers believe in authenticity of user-generated content that they see on social media. Almost 80% of people surveyed in a Stackla report said that high-quality UGC has a positive impact on the purchases they make.

Cons

  • Facebook business listings are not geared towards businesses without a physical location. Online businesses are still able to run ads on Facebook, but it's more difficult to interact organically with customers.
  • The conversational value of social media can be a double-edged sword — it takes some public relations instincts or experience when communicating directly with customers in a public forum.

Amazon Reviews

Reviews on Amazon are extremely important, but there's more of a clear-cut difference between product reviews and seller ratings on Amazon than in other places. What this means is that your seller rating on Amazon is based more on your ability to create a seamless experience for customers — and less on what buyers think of your products.

Using factors like how clear the descriptions of your products are, how you handle fulfillment, returns, refunds, support requests, and other logistical factors, Amazon's seller ratings are a way for consumers to understand what the process of ordering from you will be. This is in comparison to sites like Google and Yelp, where the quality and variety of your product selection has a larger role to play in your business' overall reputation. (When we get into product reviews more in more depth, Amazon will be a larger focus — reviews on individual products have a more direct correlation with overall sales.)

Actually, Amazon replaced seller rating entirely, with something it calls "Account Health." This is derived from a combination of metrics and performance benchmarks that assess whether you're a reliable enough seller to meet Amazon's standards.

Whether it has an impact on search rankings or not, the important part of what Account Health is what it communicates to Amazon, influencing your seller privileges, inventory allowance, and other things.

Pros

  • On Amazon, Account Health communicates that your store is reliable with fulfillment schedules, returns and replacement items, and customer service in general.
  • Amazon's Account Health standards and benchmarks mean that unreliable sellers are not able to stay on the platform. This builds consumer trust in Amazon in general, which lends trust to every seller with listings in the marketplace.

Cons

  • Amazon may not use seller ratings alone as a direct influence on your products' search rankings, making business reviews less important here than on other platforms.
  • You may forced to change your policies to stay compliant with Amazon's standards.

Yelp Reviews

As the only site on this list that offers no additional service outside of reviews, Yelp is in a unique situation. While it has lost some of its foothold as the authority on business reviews in the last few years, Yelp still retains a formidable chunk of attention, reporting 224 million total reviews in the last quarter of 2020 alone.

With this in mind, businesses in certain industries should still consider Yelp business reviews as a critical factor in their reputations. These industries are home/local service providers — plumbers, HVAC repair companies, general contractors, etc — and restaurants.

Shopping that takes place in physical stores can also expect to have coverage on Yelp (and should claim their business pages) but this is where the problem starts for online retailers — as a locally oriented provider of reviews, Yelp only lists profiles for businesses with a physical location or a local service area.

This means e-commerce businesses who sell products online cannot have a Yelp page, making it a non-factor for online retailers.

Pros

  • Yelp business reviews are still heavily trafficked in certain industries — namely local service and restaurants.
  • Yelp focuses on business reviews, providing a more holistic view than a platform that also focuses on product reviews. Yelp users often focus on products in their reviews of a business, but it's done in the context of their overall experience.

Cons

  • Yelp has lost considerable ground to Google as the latter's review capabilities have become more robust.Yelp should only be prioritized by local businesses with brick-and-mortar locations because online only sellers won't be able to have their own profile on the site. This includes larger brands that have local and regional locations and service areas.
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