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Five Review Sites That are not Google or Facebook

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Online reviews are one of the most important tools for businesses online. Reviews help clients to communicate with your company, promote you, and attribute to a decent chunk of SEO as well.

The facts are as follows:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business.
  • 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations./
  • On average reviews increase sales by 18%.

Reviews are important, and on average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase. When we think of review websites, the two that are most often in our faces are Google and Facebook. However, having your business on multiple review sites will count for citations, and boost activity to rank you higher. So what other sites are out there to gather reviews?

Yelp

The go-to for most business reviews, Yelp has an average monthly unique visitor count of 145 million. 135 million reviews are posted per year, and most people you run into on the street will have the app on their phone. In fact, 70% of Yelp page views come from mobile devices.

Any variety of business can be posted on Yelp, and for consumers on the go it’s an easy-to- use, and reliable review site. If you’re not already listed on Yelp, you should make it top priority!

Foursquare

Foursquare currently has 10 million users with three million check-ins every day. Being one of the 400,000 business owners that use Foursquare as a marketing tool won’t just get you reviews, it will get you noticed. The way it works is users can check into a location as many times as they like and every time they do, their friends will know where they are. Users can become “mayor” of locations they are at the most, and fight for this title adding a fun, competitive aspect to this marketing tool—all of which will cost you nothing!

TripAdvisor

Users looking for the best places to go on a vacation or in their own city can rely on TripAdvisor. With 390 million unique visitors, 500 million reviews and opinions, and over 4.2 million business listed, like Yelp, this is a highly useful tool for review-gathering.

Better Business Bureau

To be a part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you will have to pay for a yearly membership. One of the oldest review and rating sites, the BBB is an authority on many businesses in North America. Listing detailed information including inception dates, a high rating relies on a list of factors including:

  • Type of business
  • Time in business
  • Complaint volume
  • Transparent practices
  • Competency licensing

The BBB is known for holding business accountable.

Consumer Affairs

Not only can you gather reviews with Consumer Affairs, you will also gain access to a wealth of resources to help you learn more about reviews, increase revenue, find brand ambassadors, and learn how to convert negative customer experiences into positive ones.

There are other prominent websites out there such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and GlassDoor, however these are focused on serving specific purposes or industries. If you are in the world of home renovation, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are important. If you’re hoping to gain a reputation for future employees, GlassDoor is your best friend.

In the world of online marketing there is no shortage of online review websites, but getting your business to appear on those that are most viewed is your first step to business and SEO success.

Online Review Stats in 2017

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Every year surveys come out with percentages and detailed information regarding just about everything online. At LinkNow Media, we’re always interested in anything that affects SEO.
When it comes to online reviews, your reputation is pretty important, and the latest information confirms it. We’ll give you the “too long didn’t read” right now and say: reviews still matter in 2017.

So, don’t think you can get out of encouraging and monitoring them any time soon.

Who is Reading What?

In 2016, 95% of consumers were using the internet to look up local businesses. If you think that’s high though, 2017 has seen a 2% increase, up to 97%! If you currently run a business that doesn’t have an online presence, you’re making a big mistake.

Half of these consumers are looking for local businesses online at least once a month. Imagine how much business you’re missing out on if you’re not there to be found!
But, maybe your industry doesn’t really do that whole online thing? We doubt it. Among the top industries that have their clients reading reviews are:

    • Restaurants
    • Hotels
    • Healthcare
    • Clothing stores
    • Car dealerships
    • Tradesmen
    • Pest control
    • Cars for hire
    • Accountants
    • Locksmiths

And that’s just to name a few. So, where should you be collecting reviews? Facebook and Yelp unsurprisingly tied at 20% of consumers trusting them the most, followed closely by Google at 16% and the Better Business Bureau at 15%.

And, how many of these browsers turn into conversions? 68% of US consumers are more likely to use a business with positive reviews, with 40% citing negative reviews as a reason not to frequent a local business.

Best of all, the number of consumers who will actually visit a business after reading a review has grown by 10% from last year, to 17%.

Focus on Quantity and Quality

Factors that have also grown in importance since 2016 are the quantity and quality of reviews. There’s no way you can just sit back and coast when it comes to this powerful SEO builder.
54% of consumers rank star rating as the most important factor, with quantity coming in second at 46%—up 11% from last year. Consumers also want to see you getting involved. Up 10% from 2016, 30% now want to see you responding.

Therefore, our best advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. But do it a lot more. You still need to be drumming up reviews and monitoring them, providing professional responses to both positive and negative, but the importance of review building and etiquette has only become more important.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can always put the reins in the hands of an experienced SEO team like the one at LinkNow Media!

Can I Review my own Business?

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In the world of online reviews, many business owners like to start the ball rolling by leaving their own company a star rating or a little review.

Sounds innocent enough, but is it?

Whether your intentions are good, or shady, reviewing your own business is a bad idea.

Nearly 80% of consumers rely on online reviews before hiring a service or purchasing a product. In fact, peer reviews are trusted as much as recommendations from family or friends. With this in mind, it can be easy to get greedy and impatient when you’re just starting out.

However, you need to keep in mind that fake reviews are unethical, and even illegal. That’s right—you can be sued for posting fake reviews. It is called “astroturfing” and websites such as Google, Yelp and Amazon have been known to sue over it.

But you might be thinking: “How is it a fake review if I state that I am the business owner, or don’t say anything and just leave five stars??”

In the case of a five-star rating, it’s true you can probably get away with it. But if anyone realizes you are the business owner, your credibility is shot. If you reviewed your own company with five stars, who’s to say you didn’t talk other friends and family members into leaving biased reviews, or even pay for fake reviews?

    A fake review can be any of the following:

    • Asking someone who is not a customer to write a review.

    • Paying someone to write a review, even if they are a customer.

    • Asking an employee to review your company (it’s different if they review and state that the review is about their experience as an employee).

    • Creating a fake profile to review your company.

    • Reviewing your company as yourself, the business owner.

    That’s right, even if you state that you are the business owner and you’re just stopping in to leave a positive review, it’s counted as fake.
    Why?

    Because you have added to your rating. Whether you’re up-front about who you are or not, you have successfully altered the rating of your business and that is the goal of fake reviews.

    In 2016, Amazon sued 1,000 fake reviewers in an attempt to crack down on this practice. They stated that these false reviewers were tarnishing their brand with inauthenticity.

    No one is invulnerable to this sort of crackdown.

    So, how do you get started with reviews? There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that clients leave a review. Mention it on your website by linking to your business page, or put a sign up in your brick and mortar business.

    But next time you’re considering somehow leaving a review for your own business, just say no.

Blue bird on speech bubble

Twitter is Doubling Their Character Limit

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On September 27th it was announced that Twitter is testing the expansion of their famous 140-character post limit, not just adding in a couple words, but doubling it to 280 characters.

Known for its concise nature, many Twitter users are wondering if this expansion is a good idea.

Twitter company owners however have some pretty good reasoning behind their decision, which is currently being tested out on a randomly selected group.

The original 140-character limit was chosen arbitrarily, based on the current SMS text limit, which is 160 characters. Leaving 20 characters open for usernames, Twitter was born.

A limit of 280 characters was chosen to make tweeting easier for those posting in languages affected by “cramming”. This includes any language except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Where nine percent of English speakers fill the 140 limit every time, only four percent of Japanese users do so.

With 328 million users, it’s surprising to say that Twitter has never turned a profit. With that in mind, of course there is some monetary thinking behind this new change. By encouraging English speakers to tweet more often, and say more, investors will see a rise in users and activity.

The company also hopes to put an end to multi-message tweet storms.

Twitter Facts

At 11 years old, Twitter has accomplished a lot in its lifetime. With 328 million active users and 1.3 billion accounts created, it’s clear why it’s one of the most prominent social media platforms out there.

  • 500 million users visit the site every month without logging in.
  • 29.2% of social media users in the United States are Twitter users.
  • 83% of the world’s leaders on Twitter.
  • 500 million tweets are sent every day.
  • It took three years, two months, and one day to go from the first tweet to the billionth.
  • 65.8% of US companies with 100+ employees use Twitter for marketing.
  • Twitter is an important platform and staying up to date with what’s going on with it will keep you at the top of your online marketing game.

    But Will it Happen?

    Twitter has played around with the character limit in the past. There was a brief moment in 2015 where a 10,000-character limit was considered—yes, for real.

    More recently the removal of @ replies, photos, videos and quotes from the character count didn’t throw users into a panic. However, the doubling of the character limit has.

    Negative reactions came quickly, with users expressing their love for the brevity of Twitter. The platform encourages the editing of thoughts to boil them down to their purest form, and that is attractive. Concerns include the potential of an even bigger platform for Internet “trolls” to bash fellow users.

    So, will the 280-character limit become a reality for all Twitter users soon? We’ll have to wait and see.

    Millennials and Reviews

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    The largest generational cohort since the baby boomers, millennials are the largest generation in US history, and their shopping habits are shaping our economy more and more.

    This tech-savvy generation has a purchasing power that will soon exceed that of every other generation. Strong supporters of online shopping, millennials are cautious as well, putting off large purchases until later in life and valuing quality over price.

    It’s no surprise that with all the information available at their fingertips, they put research into their purchases whether it’s a physical one, or a service. That’s where reviews come in.

    The Importance of User-Generated Content

    User-generated content (UGC) such as status updates on social media, blog posts and Google reviews are what make the millennial consumer’s world go around. The more viral and liked a product or service is by peers, the more likely they are to purchase it themselves.

    In past generations, the professional opinion was king, but with a growing distrust for mainstream media and big corporations, this generation finds themselves turning to the most trusted source: mass approval.

    Some may see this as illogical, but to understand the logic, consider this: Professionals may have appeared on adverts or written articles on a product, but was this always of their own volition? If not, someone wanted them doing that promotion for a reason. And can you really trust that?

    UGC: Investing in Time to Make Solid Investments

    Millennials spend 18 hours with media per day. Astounding, right? Some of us aren’t even awake for 18 hours of the day! Thirty percent of this time is spent browsing UGC, 33% on traditional media such as print and TV, and 37% on other media.

    No matter what they’re looking at, and especially when it’s online, products are being promoted.

    When something catches their eye, their first instinct is to look that product up online to see if it is legitimately what they expect, and to see if it’s worth buying.

    If they’re looking for a service, Google reviews will be their first stop. If your business isn’t listed on a Google My Business page and set up with a star rating, you’re in trouble!

    With 90% of millennials shopping online, your online presence is more important than ever. You just can’t afford to stay in the stone age.

    Influence With Technology

    Most millennials are obsessed with reviews. With apps like Yelp and Foursquare, everyone has a place to speak their mind. Whether you’re reading entertaining negative reviews, leaving one yourself, or praising the best pizza you’ve ever tried, reviews are fascinating and, for the most part, trustworthy.

    Whether they’re aware of it or not, millennials have their antenna up for star ratings and reviews no matter where they are online and if there are no reviews to be found, it’s likely they’ll find a more reliable product.

    So go the extra mile and make sure that your business is getting lots of great reviews. Rank higher on search engines, and bring in that amazing millennial purchasing power!

    Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Fake Reviews

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    It should go without saying that paying for reviews for your business that aren’t legitimate is not the greatest idea. But for a lot of people, this seems like the best answer for buffing up their positive Internet presence.

    And why not? If it looks like a real customer and talks like a real customer, it must be a real customer. Not to mention if so many companies are doing it then it’s got to be legal, right? Wrong.

    While you may or may not be aware, there are many reasons not to follow this path and stay legit.

    It’s Fraud

    Plain and simple, if you hire someone to write a phony review you are committing fraud. Think about why you want this person to write a review:to generate revenue for yourself.

    With the popularity of online reviews in this era, they do translate to real money.

    Fraud is defined as “the wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain”.

    Sounds a whole lot like paying someone for a false review.

    Real Results, Real Punishment

    By 2015, Amazon had sued over 1000 people for writing fake reviews. Many of these reviewers came from the website Fiverr. And no—Fiverr was not sued—the individuals were. The websites on which your business is reviewed will not protect you or your reviewer, they will work towards ensuring the reviews on their website are as legitimate as possible.

    Even Yelp and Alibaba have started to crack down on the fake reviews on their websites. And of course, Google has a reporting situation in place so they can handle fake reviews as well.
    Want to keep your business’ reputation clean? Don’t pay for reviews.

    Spotting a Fake Review

    If you’re suspicious that a competitor is employing fake reviewers, there are ways to spot these reviews, or at least make an educated guess.

    Take a trip over to Fakespot. Their system will scan for a number of factors including:

    Overly positive language

    Multiple reviews published the same day

    If you want to do additional research yourself, check out the reviewer’s profile and see how real they seem. If you can’t find them in a quick Google search, they could very well be fake.

    Tips for Real Reviews

    It can be tempting to want to buff up your business by paying for fake reviews. But there are much better ways to get real reviews that you can actually feel good about.

    Any time someone purchases from you or employs your services, just ask them to leave a review. Don’t offer gifts or coupons in exchange, simply learn how to pick out happy customers and get them to spread their joy.

    And of course if any negative reviews appear, deal with them in a calm, professional manner.

    Handle reviews properly and you’ll have a great reputation for your business online in no time!

    How Consumers Use Reviews Online

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    When you’re searching online to find the perfect restaurant to try out on Friday night, the last place you’ll choose is one with zero online presence. In the information age that is exactly what people are looking for: information. They want to see photos, other customer’s opinions, and maybe even a virtual tour if you have a physical storefront. These days, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, with 94% saying they’ll use a business if it has at least a four-star rating.

    On average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a five to nine percent increase in revenue, with just one negative review costing you 30 customers. Reviews are the best way to hold a business accountable. Consumers look for reliability, expertise and professionalism, and if you cannot practice these they’ll let you know.

    So, if negative reviews are so dangerous, why collect reviews at all? Well, a couple negative reviews are better than no reviews at all, so long as you’ve got some positive ones going on as well. When negative reviews occur, respond quickly, admit to any errors, reiterate your company’s mission and if possible and warranted, provide compensation.

    When a consumer looks at or leaves reviews online, they’re looking to:

    Find the best business for their needs

    Build trust

    Express themselves

    Help other consumers

    Here are some more numbers to help you understand the benefits of reviews:

    92% of consumers read online reviews

    68% say positive reviews make them trust a business more

    Only14% of consumers will use a business with a one- or two-star rating, whereas 94% would use one with a five-star rating

    80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

    Online reviews are probably the most important tool for a modern business. You can gain them with skill by requesting them from loyal customers and publicly thanking positive reviewers while apologizing to those who had a bad experience.

    A business with active reviews on websites like Google, Yelp and Foursquare will get a boost in SEO making their online presence skyrocket and produce tangible results in the form of an 18% uplift in sales.

    Now more than ever, consumers want to see that business’ are run by real people, not robots. By interacting through reviews, you are showing that you care enough about your customers to take a moment out of your day to leave a personalized response to their opinion, and being able to do that is massively beneficial to any business. The last thing the 2017 consumer wants is to deal with a business that is unreachable.

    Reviews impact search ranking, too. In 2014 Google updated its search engine to take into consideration the reviews from popular sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. So, if you’re actively getting your customers to leave reviews for your business, you’ll get more business, guaranteed. This sets off a chain reaction to in turn produce more reviews and more new customers.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and interact with customers. It’s the only way your business is going to grow and survive. Give the gift of communication, and your consumers will most definitely give back!

    Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

    Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

    They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

    While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

    Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

    1.

    Where to start?

    Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

    A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

    2.

    This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

    If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

    3.

    As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

    …and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

    What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

    Happy review reading, everyone!

    How to Get Bloggers to Review Your Product

    cafeThink about the last time you were on the fence about a product. You likely went to an online review site, like Amazon, and scrolled to the review section to see what others were saying about the product in question. If you still weren’t convinced, then you may have dug deeper to a product review blog to read a full-length account of someone’s experience. If the opinion was trustworthy and favorable, you likely followed through on the purchase. Was this the case? If so, there’s no denying it – you are like most consumers.

    It isn’t hard to see how powerful the opinions of bloggers are when it comes to the buying process. They have revolutionized the way we make decisions in the market place, and are imperative to running a successful business. It goes without say then: the more buzz around a product, the more likely it is that people will make a purchase.

    If you are looking to get the name out there about your product, then there’s no question that you are committed to finding people who have positive things to say about it. Working with a blogger is a great opportunity to get the word out there, increase brand awareness, and reach relevant consumers. Here are some recommendations about contacting someone to review your product:

    Who to Ask

    A blogger that gets a lot of traffic likely gets bombarded with emails asking to review this and that. If you plan to ask a popular blogger to write about your product, you’ll need to stand out. In a previous blog post, we focused on helpful tips for writing an email campaign, and a lot of those same marketing principles can be applied here. It’s important to keep your subject line concise. Don’t be afraid to make a pun, ask a question, or crack a joke – this is your chance to show that you’re unique. Be personable. Provoke curiosity. An email with a boring subject line isn’t going to get opened.

    When it comes to the body of the email, put yourself in the shoes of the blogger. What’s in it for them? Bloggers want publicity, so you’ll need to sell them on that point. Explain why your product would be of interest to their audience. Be wary of coming across as too sales-pitchy or using a lot of corporate jargon.

    Not getting any bites? It might be in your best interest to ask newer bloggers. They’ll be flattered by the request and they’ll love getting a freebie. Even if they’re new to the world of blogging, there are a few key things to look for, such as the consistency and frequency by which they post, and the level of engagement in the comments section.

    Where to Find Review Bloggers

    Pinterest is  a great place to find bloggers. Join related group boards, post your product, and interact with like-minded individuals. This is the first step to finding a pinner who might be interested in reviewing your product. They might even be the ones inquiring about it. If not, contact those who you feel you can build a relationship with. Be sure to familiarize yourself with their content before diving in.

    Keep At It

    These tips are a great place to start on your quest to reaching the blogger that will get your product noticed. Of course, what works for some businesses might not work for others. In the end, it’s all about what works best for your audience. Don’t get discouraged by rejection – it simply wasn’t meant to be.

    At LinkNow Media, we are always looking at ways to help business owners get more online reviews, so stop by often!

    3 Ways to Attract Online Customer Reviews

    email 2Positive customer reviews are important. How important? Consider this: 88% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. That means what your customers are saying about you online plays a HUGE role in the buying process, for better or worse. The key to getting positive reviews is, well, doing a good a job. It’s that simple. Put your customer first, deliver excellent service, and offer excellent products. Many business owners tend to overthink getting positive reviews and will go to great lengths to get them, even if that means going against Google’s guidelines.

    Here are three legitimate ways you can attract online customer reviews:

    Make forms easy

    People like writing reviews. Whether sharing a good experience or bad experience, a majority of people will take 5 minutes out of their day to let others know if your company is worth their time or money. So, throw them a bone. Make it easy for them. Unless someone has something really bad to say about your company, no one is going spend time looking for a place to write a review. Create profiles wherever you can: Yelp, LinkedIn, Yahoo Local, Google Local, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List. It’s also helpful to integrate a testimonials page on your website. This will allow a customer to leave a review with ease, and it’s a great way to boost your ranking on search listings.

    Offer incentives

    When it comes to online reviews, you need to be ethical. If you’re a startup, you may be tempted to buy positive online reviews. Quick word of advice: don’t. If your customers can’t spot the fakes, online review sites will. Not only will that cost you your reputation, you’ll also have to pay a hefty fine. Fake reviews are fraud. Why shoot yourself in the foot? Sometimes, all your customer needs is a little push to write a review. Offering an incentive, such as a discount on a future service, can be that extra thing that gets them sharing their thoughts about their experience. If you have a physical storefront hang up posters to let them know about the contest, or you can share it on social media.

    Share reviews

    Creating a company Facebook page is free and easy –  there is no reason why your business shouldn’t have one. It’s a great way to enhance your brand, share ongoing specials and promotions, and build and maintain relationships with your clientele. It can also be used to share positive reviews. Your customers will love being in the limelight, and their good word will motivate other satisfied customers to follow suit. It’s a win-win.

    Closing

    Online reviews are the new word of mouth. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely people are to choose your company over local competition. Keep in mind, that you will get a negative review from time to time. That’s life. See it as opportunity to show your clients that you care about your company by finding a solution to their problem.

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