A Definitive Guide to Taking Control of Third Party Review Sites
Third party review sites are intimidating. Customers have free reign to write what they wish, rank you poorly, and potentially harm your reputation. However, review sites can also provide a fantastic boost for your business, so they’re well worth getting involved with.
Search engines and all manner of applications tie into the data provided on these networks, where your reputation is managed through rankings, reviews, and photographs of your business. Even though it can be a frustrating task, reigning in the controls on review sites can improve your online visibility and trustworthiness.
In this post you will learn how to handle your presence on these sites, manage customer reviews, and encourage higher engagement both online and off.
Why Third Party Review Sites Are Worth Regulating
To understand the importance of review sites, consider your own experience when finding a restaurant for lunch. Perhaps a blog post you found from five years ago recommends a spot that used to be nearby.
You search for that business to see if it’s still around. What are the first things you discovered? Most likely, you found a well known third party review site. What impression did you receive? A single average rating, old data with no listed opening hours, and nothing else. With no active phone number, why bother risking your lunch hour on a gamble? You probably went somewhere you were familiar with instead.
This is one simple example of many to show how your business benefits from a maintained profile on third party review sites with current information, relevant reviews, and recent photos. An active account shows your information is up to date, which boosts your results in search engines. This in turn increases the likelihood that someone will consider your business in the first place. Third party sites often display rich snippets and other clues that help provide a visual reputation for your business right from the search results.
These profiles help you maintain social proof when visitors can clearly see a managed brand that cares about its customers.
Managing your reputation on third party review sites involves creating a strategy you can handle, and sticking to it. Following are the basic steps for this process.
Step 1: Register Your Business and Maintain Its Branding
Choose Your Networks
Search for existing reviews of your company on popular networks. Bookmark these as your primary review sites. If you don’t have existing reviews online, that’s okay! Pick from the sites you feel are most relevant to your business.
Here are a few of the top third party review sites for you to investigate.
You can register your business in as many places as you like to ensure that your branding remains consistent across the web. This is important for review sites that have already automatically generated a profile for your business.
Choose 1-2 sites that you will actively engage your customer reviews, and choose only one to focus on actively seeking reviews.
Register Your Networks
Before you get started, make sure to have your branding ready to go. This should include the following:
- high quality versions of your logo: one on a plain white square background, and another as a transparent PNG
- 1-3 professional photographs related to the business
- a collection of links to your website and social media accounts
- unique selling propositions of the business (either in list format or in a short paragraph)
- a short paragraph about the history of the business
- a short paragraph about the current business (i.e. what do you do)
- a short paragraph about the owner of the business
For each site, sign up for the business account. You can usually start by ‘Claiming’ your business, if someone already created a listing on that network.
Use your branding resources to create consistent messaging for each profile. Make sure you include the basics, such as a phone number and email address! Use a transparent PNG for your logo when possible, otherwise, upload the version with a plain white background where transparency isn’t supported. Check each review site for its specifications.
Bookmark Your Networks
To ensure that you maintain consistent branding in the future, make sure to keep a document with all your registered networks listed. Any time that you register to a new network or update your branding, be sure to keep your list (and associated listings) up to date.
Step 2: Manage Your Business’ Online Engagement
Pick a Schedule to Review Reviews
Don’t drive yourself crazy by checking in on your reviews hourly. Pick a set schedule to check in on any new reviews.
Adjust this schedule based on your own availability and the amount of new activity that comes to your profiles.
Thank Customers for Positive Reviews
Even if a review doesn’t seem to call for any kind of action, you should always go that extra mile by replying to positive reviews with a message of your own. Primarily, to thank them for their patronage and taking the time to talk about their positive experience.
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Make it personal, if you can.
Stay Positive for Negative Reviews: Offer Solutions
Most review sites allow people to update or change their opinion of a business. If someone has left a negative review or critical feedback, be thankful someone took the time to voice their opinion! You have the chance to turn this around.
Take this opportunity to let your business shine in public by gracefully accepting the feedback and offering potential solutions for the issue. This can regain a lost customer, show future customers that you handle problems with care, and increase your overall score on the network.
For a more in-depth guide on handling these reviews, read more about making negative reviews work in your favor.
Step 3: Encourage Offline Visitors to Voice Their Opinions
Don’t wait for people to review your business offhand—ask your customers to leave you a review on your network of choice. By staying consistent and directing happy customers to one network, you can build a strong profile that won’t take such a hard hit from the inevitable occasional negative review.
You can promote your profile on your network of choice anywhere: in your email signature (e.g. “Review us on Google!”), on your business cards, in your brochures, or at checkout.
It’s tempting to ignore third party review sites because they are overwhelming, but the truth is that they can increase your customer base and help build your brand. If you’re looking for statistics to support this, consider that a Harvard Business School study determined that a bump in Yelp reviews by one full star can increase revenue by five to nine percent.
By registering your business and customizing your brand, maintaining customer engagement and addressing negative reviews, and encouraging offline visitors to post their experiences online, you can start controlling your influence through third party review sites.
Which networks do you find the most engaging? Have you taken the leap to managing your brand on third party review sites? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.