The modern consumer thrives on information. Before making a buying decision, customers have long sought out the opinions and experiences of others to inform themselves as to whether a company is creditable or not. Today, this process is quick, easy, and accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection.
There are few better sources of information for the consumer in the research stage than business review websites.
The biggest name in business review websites is Yelp. However, Yelp is far from the only reputable review site out there. Many others often prove to be even more useful for niche products or services.
These 13 review websites are worth looking into if you're in need of honest feedback about a business you're considering hiring.
1. Angie's List
Angie's List is a major name in business reviews. As a platform for accurate information about local businesses from vetted users, Angie's List comes with a guarantee that the reviews on its website are legitimate.
Users pay a membership fee to access and write the reviews, which come in the form of a letter grade. Businesses that sign up for Angie's List can interact with members, establish a profile and respond to reviews about their company. The highest-rated businesses can also 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.
2. Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of the most trusted names in business ratings and reviews. The BBB rates businesses on a grading scale from A+ to F based on several factors. These include business reviews, complaints, and business responses to reviews and complaints.
As the BBB is a widely trusted organization, a rating on its website could greatly impact a small business. The accreditation process guarantees that a business makes a good-faith effort to resolve customer complaints and respond to inquiries, which makes a business more trustworthy in the eyes of a consumer. 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 using one of your business's social media logins (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.) or 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, 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 read reviews of their own companies, but the site also helps them find quality candidates for a position.
Credit: HomeAdvisor International
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 a professional, HomeAdvisor Pro has a feature where you can connect with people in your area who are using HomeAdvisor to locate a specific service.
8. 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 much more.
Visit 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 consumers and each other. While reviews are not the primary function of the site, one of the features is allowing customers to leave reviews for a small business.
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. By default, it ranks the listings from highest rated and most frequently reviewed, working its way down.
MerchantCircle Help Center has various links to articles to help new businesses get set up.
Credit: OpenTable Inc.
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 pops 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 tied to a certain category or service. So, whether your business is a restaurant, hotel, boutique or anything else, you can register it and begin collecting 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 provide those services, streamlining the search process.
The site also offers a community of real customers who share their experiences with vendors so potential customers gain a better understanding of who they could be working with and to help other vendors improve their services.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Post.