Local reviews influence your business’ placement in search. Want to know how you can make improvements?
Big data providers want to become the leading source for expert opinions. In today’s mobile world this means they encourage online local reviews. From its inception Yelp has focused on allowing users the ability to leave reviews for not just restaurants, but any business. That is why they’re the current king of online reviews. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only company vying for the top slot. Recently Foursquare announced that they are splitting their service in two. Soon the Foursquare app will focus exclusively on online reviews. They will spin the check-in feature into a new app called Swarm.
And don’t think that Google is going to let this opportunity go to waste. Your local reviews and ratings from Google+ Local impact your results in Google.
And of course they’re not the only companies out there. Bing, Yahoo, and Apple all use various services to present users with the best results. You need vast coverage to build your brand.
So now that you know why you need local reviews you probably want to know what you can do to get them. Take a look at our three steps to improving your place in local reviews.
Improve Local Reviews: Step 1 — Get Listed
There are five major local data aggregators in the US. These local aggregators primarily serve as hubs to feed data to popular mapping services and directories. You should check the following services to see if they’re feeding the correct information.
- Infogroup — A data source for Google+ Local, Bing, Yahoo! Local, Citysearch, YellowPages, and Superpages.
- Neustar Localeze — A data source for Google+ Local, Apple, Bing, Yahoo! Local, and Superpages.
- Factual — A data source for Google+ Local, Apple, and Yelp.
- Acxiom — A data source for Google+ Local, Apple, YellowPages, and Superpages.
- Foursquare — A data source for Bing and likely others.
I will tell you that Acxiom is the toughest service to get into if they do not recognize you. With the rest you typically have to answer phone calls or a mailer. With Acxiom you’re going to need email them legal documentation showing your business at that address.
Unlike the others Foursquare only recently shifted their business to monetize location and review data. Microsoft is the only company I’ve seen as an explicit user of Foursquare data. Don’t think that they are alone or that things are likely to stay that way if they are.
Improve Local Reviews: Step 2 — Claim Listings
I know it’s a pain, but I would highly recommend that you claim listings on those aggregators and eight mapping services/directories. I would also urge you to claim listings on the following:
- Best of the Web Local.
- Nokia HERE Maps.
By claiming your listing on these sites you can list more data that is unique to each site. As a bonus for claiming your listings you can add a link to your website. You can’t complain about getting more links to your website and thus boosting your ranking. So far I have covered 15 different services in this post and 13 will let you add links for free. Neustar Localeze and Best of the Web charge your to add a link. Best of the Web does let you add links to your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages for free.
There are many sites out there that you automate the claiming, managing, and promotion of profiles. You can look at paid solutions from sites like Moz Local, Yext, Yahoo Local, and BrightLocal. If you ask me Moz Local gives you the most bang for your buck covering what you really need at a cost-effective rate. The others focus on quantity to justify higher costs.
Improve Local Reviews: Step 3 — Promote Your Profiles
Now that you have profiles on these sites you are going to want to see results. You might think to email links to your favorite customers. GoDaddy recently suggested this in a blog post about promoting yourself on review sites. Doing this will get you in trouble. Yelp actively discourages review solicitation. In a tweet I pointed this out to GoDaddy. They updated their blog post and gave my @POWRSURG account on credit for the information. Google has a similar policy on reviews. So what should you do?
Promote that you’re on these local review sites. Occasionally post links on your Facebook or Twitter accounts to your various profiles. You can even add QR codes to menus or other items for smartphone users to quickly access your profile. Just don’t offer them discounts for reviews.
In a move to encourage more reviews we decided to shift our focus on Google+. We are now using our Google+ Local page to promote our content instead of our old company page. While it is discouraging to start over we feel this is the best move going forward. Using the new page means that any user coming from Google Maps or the 7-pack in Google Search will go to a page with links to our active content. It creates a minor hit in the short-term but we feel will pay off in the long run. You should consider it for your business.
Thank you and keep building your brand.