Ten Essential Things Your Business Needs to do to Increase Online Ratings

Alongside the great feedback we’re receiving about our Learning Series: How to Become A Social Media Managerwe’ve also received requests from business owners. They would like in on the learning as well. Turns out there is a thirst out there for knowledge about social media, particularly regarding online reviews. We are happy to oblige. Introducing, our new Learning Series: Ten Essential Things Your Business Needs to do to Increase Your Online Ratings.

Questions? Requests? Feedback? Let us know in the comments.

Lesson 1. Take Control of Your Online Profiles

Claiming your business profiles is the first essential step in taking control of your online reputation and increasing your online ratings. Since there are dozens of directories and review sites, this can be a daunting task. But, you don’t need to cover all of them right away. The top five general sites and 2-3 specialized sites can get you most of the way there and are good enough for most small and medium sized businesses.

Before getting started, make sure to have all the updated relevant info readily available. This includes accurate address and directions, opening hours, business description, phone number, email etc.

  1. Google Places/Google+ – Google is where 67% of all web searches begin. Chances are when people search for your business by name, the first result will be your Google Places listing.

  2. Facebook – Facebook is where many of your customers hang out. While most people don’t search directly on Facebook (yet, be sure Facebook is working on that), Google does index those pages. Additionally, some customers use Facebook to check-in to an establishment. This is great for businesses because it broadcasts their name to customer’s friends via the Facebook Newsfeed. Facebook has also begun to collect business reviews, so expect that to factor in soon as well.

  3. Yelp – According to Quantcast, 7 million people visit Yelp every month to read reviews about businesses before they give them a try. Yelp is arguably the most powerful review site out there which is why you must not ignore it.

  4. Bing – Many people discount Bing but 18% of all searches on the internet occur on Bing. That’s almost 3 billion searches a month!

  5. Yahoo Local – Yahoo has an 11% search market share and while its power has been declining over the years, that’s still a sizable amount of customers who may be searching for your business.

Total time commitment: About 90 minutes total depending on how many corrections you need to make in your business profile.

In addition to these general sites that list pretty much all businesses, there are many directories that specialize in specific industries. If your business is covered by the following sites, you should probably spend the time claiming or registering your business on them:

  1. TripAdvisor – TripAdvisor is similar to Yelp in that it focuses on reviews. However, unlike Yelp it only focuses on travel-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants and tour providers. In fact, tourists may have never heard of Yelp, but will check TripAdvisor while planning their trip.

  2. UrbanSpoon – Focusing on restaurants only, UrbanSpoon dives deep to include reviews by critics and bloggers, in addition to casual diners.

  3. Angie’s List – This site focuses on the local services such as contractors, plumbers, gardeners, mechanics and healthcare professionals. It has 2 million members who pay a monthly or an annual fee to get access to listings and reviews.

  4. LinkedIn – Especially if you’re a B2B business, you should have a business page on LinkedIn. LinkedIn business pages have some really great customizations that allow you to showcase your products and services.

  5. Healthgrades and ZocDoc – A must for any medical practice.

  6. Citysearch – This site focuses on travel and leisure activities similar to TripAdvisor and a bit narrower than Yelp. The advantage of staying current in your CitySearch listing is that CitySearch syndicates its content to many other sites meaning you get bigger bang for the time you spend on your Citysearch profile.

Total time commitment: About 15 minutes per site.

There you have it. All the places where you must claim your business profile. Get started now so that all your profiles are claimed and ready in time for our next post.

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