It's never wise to fly blind. Luckily, in the age of the internet, you don't have to. There are dozens of business review websites where you can read feedback from other customers before you hire a business for virtually any purpose. But which review sites are really trustworthy?
The biggest name is probably Yelp, but there are plenty of other reputable review websites that could prove even more useful for niche projects. Here are 15 review websites that are worth checking out when you're in need of honest feedback about a business you're considering hiring.
Business.com, our sister site, offers customer feedback and reviews of products and services that business owners are looking for. These expert reviews not only help illuminate the decision-making process, but they come alongside a sprawling community of experts and business owners looking to offer advice, ask questions, and collaborate with one another. Business.com serves as a melting pot for ideas and discussion, all while allowing experts to contribute their own original content on the topics they know most about. So, come for the reviews, but stay for the educational discussion and opportunity to build your brand amongst your industry's leaders.
2. Angie's List
Angie's List has become a household name for providing consumers with honest, accurate information about local businesses. Users pay a membership fee to read and write reviews in the form of a letter grade. Once a business signs up, it can add details to its profile, respond to reviews and interact with members. Highly rated businesses can earn advertising for deals and discounts. To list your business or claim a business profile created by a consumer, sign up through Angie's List Business Center.
3. Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of the most trusted names in business ratings and reviews. Businesses are rated on a letter scale, basically the grades you'd get on a high school test (A to F), and consider several factors, including number of reviews, type of reviews, whether reviews have been replied to or acknowledged, and type of business. Since the BBB is so trusted, a rating on the site could greatly impact a small business. BBB accreditation, while not meaning the BBB endorses a business, does mean the business makes good-faith efforts to resolve customer complaints, which could increase the trust of consumers. Also, with accreditation (and its fee), you get increased exposure online, access to workshops and webinars, and much more. Visit the BBB accreditation site to get started.
Collecting reviews for a business is just a piece of what ConsumerAffairs for Brands offers. When a business signs up, it grants access to all kinds of resources, such as articles on how reviews and a strong reputation can increase revenue, finding brand ambassadors, and how to convert negative customer experiences into positive ones. Sign up through other social media platforms or using an email address.
The idea behind the Expresit app is to "celebrate publicly, fix privately." Good reviews of employees, co-workers, services or products get published publicly on the business's page, but negative reviews get sent right to the business owner so that any issues are brought right to their attention and can be fixed privately. The app is available for both iOS and Android, but it also has a website. Visit Expresit's business page to claim your business or set up your business profile.
While Foursquare is best known for its check-in feature, local businesses that have claimed their listings also give customers the ability to leave ratings and tips (reviews) for other customers when they visit. Signing up for Foursquare for Business lets you access user analytics, add your own tips and offer customer rewards.
The unique thing about Glassdoor is that it's a way for current and past employees to rate the companies they work for. This is a vital tool for job searching, letting the searcher learn as much about a company as possible. With Glassdoor for Employers, not only can employers check out the reviews of their own companies, but the site also helps them find quality candidates for a position.
8. Google Reviews
One of the best ways to boost a business's search engine 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 mean better search visibility for you. To learn more, visit BND's Google+ Local Guide, and sign up for Google+ Business.
This site is similar to Angie's List in that it helps customers find and review professionals for home improvement projects. All reviews are verified and go through an extensive screening process. If you are one of the professionals, HomeAdvisor Pro allows you to search your area for people using HomeAdvisor to find someone to work on a project and connect with them.
10. Judy's Book
While it's not free to add or claim your business on this site, the perks you get with Judy's Book Business are worth it. It is free for customers to review your business right on the site, but if you get any testimonials through social media, emails, letters, etc., Judy's Book allows you to post them on your business's page at no extra charge. With a membership, business owners also get a free mobile listing, competitor tracking, higher search engine ranking and so much more. Visit the Judy's Book Business Center to sign up and try it free for 30 days.
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, one of the features is allowing customers to leave reviews in order for a small business to manage its online reputation.
MerchantCircle aims to connect customers with deals, advice and price quotes from local small businesses. The search functions are structured primarily by city and business category, and by default, it ranks the listings from highest rated and most frequently reviewed, working its way down. The MerchantCircle Help Center has various links to articles to help new businesses get set up.
While OpenTable was once just a site where you could make reservations at restaurants, customers can now leave reviews and star ratings. Once you search for restaurants, a list based on your search criteria will pop up. One of the first things you'll notice is the star rating under the restaurant name, the number of reviews and the percentage of reviewers who recommend the restaurant. To get your restaurant on OpenTable, start collecting reviews and increase your reservations, sign up on the OpenTable for Restaurants page.
Unlike other review sites, PlanetRate isn't specific to a certain subject. So, whether your business is a restaurant, hotel, boutique or anything else, you can have it registered and ready to collect reviews. This site also allows users to write in-depth reviews specific to the category in which your business falls, making it easier for potential customers to find the review and therefore your business.
VendOp aims to connect people with vendors that best match their needs. A potential customer can search for vendors based on their needs and only be presented with vendors that can provide those services, streamlining the search process. The site also offers a community of real customers who share their experiences with vendors on the site so potential customers have a better idea of who they could be working with, and to help other vendors improve their services.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Post.