Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Which Review Sites Should You Use?
I am frequently asked: Which reviews sites should I send my clients to? Which one should I pick?
I asked this question of David Mihm, Local SEO expert, and his response was:
The syndication value of reviews on well-spidered portals like Citysearch, InsiderPages, and DexKnows appears to me to outweigh any special ranking given to Google’s own reviews (which are of course not syndicated). Additionally, I think Google places extremely high trust in reviews it finds on leading vertical portals like TripAdvisor, Healthgrades, and Avvo.
I strongly agree with David’s premise. Citysearch by virtue of its extensive syndication and still strong visitation puts its reviews almost everywhere (for a list see the end of this article). Citysearch uses Facebook Connect for its login making guaranteeing that most of your clients have a login at the ready and its reviews show up regularly and quickly in Google Maps. By virtue of pervasive syndication, Citysearch reviews have as much as 15% more exposure than a review written in Google Maps.
I would also recommend adding Yahoo Local to David’s list. Many users already have a Yahoo login making it easy for them. More importantly Yahoo Local reviews are the only reviews that show in the Yahoo Universal results. If maximum exposure is the objective then showing in Yahoo Universal (plus Google & Google Maps) results in far greater visibility that even the total exposure to review provided by Citysearch.
Should you use Yelp or Google?
There is strong sentiment in the SMB world against using Yelp for a number of reasons. I though would suggest that it be a business case decision rather than an emotional one. Yelp can be considered either a very large vertical review site or a very small general review site. In certain industries it is critical and in certain markets (SF, NY) it is widely popular. If you are in the restaurant business or in a market where they are popular then I think you should offer it as choice to your clients. Yelp does effectively bury reviews from new reviewers AND does not syndicate their reviews to Google. That all being said, I am sure that the customer can make a reasonable decision as to whether to use Yelp or not.
In the hinterlands and in many service related businesses it has yet to have much impact particularly when you consider the very limited syndication of their reviews. I recently added it as a choice for my small jeweler because she asked me about them. I assume that if she is now interested her clients are as well.
Google is a harder question. Since they don’t syndicate their reviews, their total review exposure is less than even smaller review sites like InsiderPages, Judy’s Book or Angies List. They also have the most restrictive removal process of any of the major sites. That being said many of your customers have the appropriate login, trust Google and they are rapidly increasing their review base…
So where does that leave you? Here’s what I created* for Barbara Oliver & Company Jewelry review page on her website (it would work equally well via email) :
We’ve found that customer reviews are very helpful in keeping our business thriving so that we can keep crafting the jewelry you love. We would truly appreciate a review from you!
Visit your preferred site to leave a review or comment. If you already have a GMail, Yelp or Yahoo Mail account, choose one of those. You may use your Facebook login at Citysearch & Insider Pages. Otherwise a quick registration at Citysearch or Insider Pages might be easiest.
What would you change?
Here is a (partial?) list of sites to which Citysearch syndicates:
Search Engines & Directories
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local
- Merchant Circle
- City Grid
- Living Social
*I have in the past extolled Miriam Ellis’s web copywriting skills. She also helped me with the phrasing on this page. As in all of her work, she did a yeomens (yeopersons?) job of copywriting on my behalf.
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