For small business owners, an online collection of honest, authentic customer reviews can help boost both the company's search rankings and reputation. Most consumers check out what others have to say before deciding to patronize a local business, so it's in your best interest to encourage customers to write a review based on their experience with you.
Yelp.com is the current go-to for most local-business reviews, but it's far from the only place consumers are looking. If you want to take greater control of your business's Web presence, here are seven other websites where you can list your company and collect customer feedback.
One of the longest-running and best-known review sites on the Web, Angie's List has become a household name in providing consumers with honest, accurate information about local businesses. Users pay a membership fee to read and write reviews, which are given in the form of a letter grade. Once businesses are signed up, they can add details to their profiles, respond to reviews and interact with members. Additionally, highly rated businesses can earn eligibility to advertise deals and discounts. If you're not listed yet or want to claim a business profile created by a consumer, you can sign up at the Angie's List Business Center. [How to Get Your Customers to Write Reviews]
While customers who "like" your business's Facebook page are able to leave their feedback in the form of posts and comments, you can also have them leave formal reviews and ratings. Starred Facebook reviews first debuted in late 2013, and now any page categorized as a "Local Business" that lists its physical address can enable the review feature. Since many small businesses use Facebook as a primary method of connecting with customers, it's a smart and convenient platform to encourage, showcase and respond to customer feedback. To learn how to set up Facebook reviews, visit the Facebook Help Center.
Foursquare is best known for its "check in" feature, which allows people to share their locations via social media. Local businesses who have claimed their listing give customers the ability to not only check in, but also leave ratings and "tips" (reviews) for other customers when they visit. Signing up for Foursquare for Business lets you access user analytics data, add your own tips and offer customer rewards.
The Goodsnitch app is more than just an alternative to Yelp. In fact, the company views itself as the "anti-Yelp" because it enables customers to give private feedback about an organization. Good feedback, such as outstanding customer service or a high-quality product, is publicly posted, while negative feedback is delivered directly to the business, allowing the company to privately address the issue with the customer. With its mission to recognize hardworking employees and business owners for their good work, Goodsnitch isn't about covering up consumer complaints — it's about creating a culture of encouragement and positive feedback among businesses and their customers.
Most small business owners understand how important it is to be findable via online search, especially Google. One of the best ways to boost your search rankings is to establish a presence on Google+ Local and encourage customers to leave reviews. An active Google+ business page signals to Google that customers are engaging with and searching for you — plus, higher customer ratings means better search visibility for you. To learn more, visit BND's Google+ Local guide.
Manta is a small business directory that helps local American businesses connect with their customers and each other. While reviews are not the primary function of the site, visitors who find your free business profile can leave a recommendation for other users. Manta does offer tips and marketing tools for its business members, but one of the site's most valuable features is the Manta Community, a highly active forum for business owners to ask for and share advice.
Established in 2005, MerchantCircle.com aims to connect customers with deals, advice and price quotes from local small businesses. The site's search functions are structured primarily by city and business category, and by default, it populates a list of the "best" (highest rated and most frequently reviewed) merchants in the area. The MerchantCircle Help Center has numerous articles to help new businesses get set up on the site, and offers free business listings and marketing tools to its members.