Shoppers often rely on unadulterated opinions of former customers to judge whether or not they want to make a purchase. This makes online reviews a key factor in people’s purchasing journey—and it’s why there are so many review websites where customers go to share their experiences with both local businesses and national brands.
As a small business owner, collecting customer reviews is one of the best ways you can build consumer confidence and expand your market reach. Here are strategies for getting business listings on different sites and getting as many positive online reviews as possible.
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Benefits of customer reviews
Customer reviews benefit small businesses through the concept of social proof: The human tendency to base our decisions on the actions and opinions of other people. Specifically, consumer reviews can benefit businesses because they can help:
- Boost credibility. Eighty-four percent of shoppers report trusting online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations from their friends.
- Improve SEO. Since Google’s algorithm prioritizes webpages with consumer ratings, you can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) every time you collect customer reviews. The contents of these reviews also help you identify keyword phrases to include in your SEO marketing.
- Teach you about your own product. Reviews directly show you what customers think about your products, including the features they like and dislike the most. You can gain ecommerce insights just by reading what your clients have to say about your brand.
- Naturally generate content. Need a newsletter idea? Feature some client testimonials, pulled directly from your own business reviews.
- Improve your brand's reputation. Positive reviews help prospective customers view your company favorably and may even inspire people to make a purchase. For return customers, positive reviews can instill greater customer loyalty in your business.
Allow customers to leave product reviews on your store
Customers can rate and review products to help other people decide what to buy, and also provide valuable feedback to you.
11 review sites for businesses
- Shopify Product Reviews
- Better Business Bureau
- Yellow Pages
Every positive review—whether it’s posted on a popular review site or your own website—has the potential to boost your brand reputation. Still, there are certain third-party review sites worth prioritizing, since they get a lot of traffic and people already trust them. Here are 10 (plus your own) of the best review sites for online businesses.
When you set up a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), you get placement on Google Maps. You also get a forum for Google customer reviews, where anyone with a Google account can leave feedback about your business. Given Google’s continued dominance in online search and the number of people who rely on Google Maps to get around and find local businesses, it pays to have a presence on its platform. You can solicit Google reviews by directing people to your Google business listing.
Yelp specializes in local search, so it’s particularly useful if your business has a physical location. But even if you work exclusively in ecommerce, Yelp reviews improve your online visibility. That’s because Yelp devotes a lot of attention to search engine placement, so your Yelp listing might show up in a search result ahead of your own website. Yelp encourages you to set up a business profile and let active Yelpers organically review your company.
Facebook is known for connecting family and friends, but it also functions as a review site for businesses. You can create a Facebook page for your business and encourage people to like your page and leave reviews.
4. Shopify Product Reviews
While review sites offer value, there may be no better place to feature positive reviews than within your own ecommerce store. The Shopify Product Reviews app and the Shop App both let you display client feedback directly on your Shopify online store, providing on-the-page social proof to interested buyers. The app lets you publish, hide, filter, and manage reviews quickly and easily. It also lets you add review scores to your Google search results.
Trustpilot lets users write reviews about individual products and companies as a whole. This helps it stand out among business review websites, which typically only feature one of these review categories. Trustpilot operates on a paid subscription model, but even its free tier offers Shopify integration.
6. Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit organization that rates companies on an A to F scale, and it offers accreditation, for a fee, which signals to consumers you’re an honest business. These ratings and accreditations can show whether a business is reliable and trustworthy, and whether it proactively addresses customer complaints. The Better Business Bureau’s own research says 88% of consumers said they were more likely to purchase from a business if it had an A+ or A rating, 78% of consumers said they were more likely to purchase from a business if it displayed a BBB Accreditation seal, and 68% of consumers said they were less likely to purchase from a business if it had an F or D rating.
If you sell on Amazon, reviews are of paramount importance. Positive Amazon customer reviews can push your product to the top of a product search page, while negative reviews can relegate you to the bottom. Note that Amazon forbids the practice of offering people rewards for their reviews. One way to get more reviews on Amazon is to make a high-quality product and aggressively price it to gain market share. Later, when you’ve amassed a large number of reviews, you can consider raising your price to improve your profit margin.
AliExpress is a Chinese online marketplace with a growing presence in the United States. It is known for rock-bottom prices, which draw bargain shoppers. AliExpress is much like Amazon in that reviews can boost your listing on search results pages. AliExpress reviews tend to be shorter than those on Amazon, which may incentivize happy customers to quickly type a few words of praise.
Angi (formerly Angie’s List) specializes in local businesses and the service industry—think contractors, music teachers, and caterers. If you exclusively work in ecommerce, you may not need an Angi profile, but if you provide services or operate within a specific local area, a listing may help. Angi charges site visitors a fee to access its review listings. This means you can only request customer feedback from Angi subscribers.
Foursquare allows users to “check in” at a local business. It also provides a forum for customer reviews, which can be given on a scale of 1–10. While Foursquare reviews may not directly boost ecommerce sales, they can definitely improve the visibility of your brick-and-mortar locations. Its default view presents businesses in order of their customer ratings, so keeping a high score boosts your presence on the platform.
11. Yellow Pages
Long before online review sites transformed the retail market, shoppers found business by searching the Yellow Pages, a massive print directory that was delivered for free to people’s homes. Today the Yellow Pages name lives on in an online directory. Like Foursquare and Yelp, yellowpages.com (also called YP) emphasizes local listings and includes map views. If you’re rated by the Better Business Bureau (see item 6), you can feature that on your YP listing. You can also indicate how long you’ve been in business and how long you’ve been listed in Yellow Pages.
How businesses can get more online reviews
1. Ask past clients
One of the best review-generating strategies is also among the simplest. Reach out to past clients via email newsletter, text, or phone, and ask them to review your business. Make it easy for them to do so by sending a link that takes them right to your review page.
2. Encourage video reviews
Some clients struggle to summarize their customer experience in written word format, but they may be happy to record themselves talking and leave a video review. Sites like Amazon encourage video reviews, so you can remind your clients that it’s up to them to decide what format they want to use to leave feedback about your business.
3. Embrace niche review sites
Rather than rely on general purpose sites like Google, you can focus on sites that cover your particular niche industry. Think of musical equipment reviews on Sweetwater, or pet supply reviews on PetSmart. You can also encourage engagement by joining forums like Reddit, where users may talk about your business. Although Reddit does not contain formal reviews, it hosts communities of like-minded people open to recommendations; you may have fans on there who welcome the chance to sing your praises.
4. Offer incentives
You can offer past customers incentives (like a discount on their next purchase or a free item) if they leave you a review. This helps, as 73% of consumers say an incentive would make them more likely to leave a review. Ethically, you should offer the same incentives for any review, whether positive or negative. It’s unethical for businesses to only offer rewards for five-star reviews. Note that some sites, notably Yelp and Amazon, discourage soliciting reviews in any form. But generally, asking for a review—and not dictating what you’d like the review to say—is OK to do.
Review sites FAQ
Why are reviews effective?
Reviews are effective because they offer social proof about your business. Many potential customers rely on reviews from real people who’ve done business with you in the past to gain confidence before they purchase your product or service.
Should businesses respond to reviews?
AYes, it’s wise to respond to reviews, both positive and negative. Responding to your customers on review sites demonstrates you are actively engaged in your business and care about the client experience. It also helps forge a more personal connection between you and those customers, and this can lead to repeat business.
What if someone leaves a false review?
Fake reviews are a scourge of small-business owners, and they must be dealt with quickly before they can spread. Immediately report these reviews to platform moderators on the specific review site and follow up with them until the fake reviews are taken down.
What should be avoided when asking for reviews?
When asking for reviews, avoid asking for specific language or star ratings. Reviews should reflect the customer’s honest opinion, not the business owner’s.