Reviews matter. Admit it, you’ve pursued a lead for a business or service from a friend or family member before conducting your own blind search. Most people have and will continue to do so. However, when people in your life may not have personal experience with a service company or product, where do you turn? The internet, naturally. The review realm is a thick internet jungle overflowing with sites, scores and ratings. Navigating that realm requires a basic knowledge of how online reviews work and which review sites can work best for your business.
Google — The most popular and most important review source. Google handles more than 3 billion searches a day! Your business must be registered with a Google+ account for your review to even register when a consumer searches for your business or the product/services your business offers. Google reviews are the hardest reviews to come by, trust me I know, I’ve tried. In addition to needing to register your business with a Google+ account, a user must have a Gmail account to leave a google review on your Google+ page. Google highly values complete and thorough pages and includes a link to your website.
Yelp — The Yelp “Review Filter” is heavily based upon the legitimacy and ranking of the user. Here’s the catch, they do not share how they “filter” user rankings. It’s a vague process and not as reputable, reliable or popular as it’s counterparts. You must register as a Yelp user to leave a review, but like Google, anyone can see reviews.
Angie’s List — You must be an Angie’s List member to view and leave a review. The first of it’s kind and the most successful, Angie’s List charges members and businesses a hefty fee to utilize the site for access their pre-screened and qualified business listings and reviews. Depending on the market and your industry, it is a valuable lead source at a cost. For example, “plumbers”, “plumbing” and “HVAC” are sold out categories in San Antonio, Texas (my city!). If you wanted to join AL as a business, you would need to get on a waiting list in those categories. It’s popular and we’ve, personally, seen a great return on investment with this review site.
Better Business Bureau — Consumers trust the BBB and highly value their system of rating businesses. The BBB is not a review site, rather an organization that qualifies businesses and provides consumers with an A-F grading system and the ability to file a complaint. The grading matrix is based on number of complaints, type and time in business, and good business practices. I find it humorous that the BBB’s Google Review rating is a mere 4.3.
With any review site, you will need to do your research before you hire someone to service your home. Ensure they are licensed, insured and they have a respectable, web presence.
Allie Perez is director of operations, Mr. Plumber / Mr. AC, San Antonio (http://www.mrplumbersa.com). Her interesting viewpoints on the trades can be found on her blog at http://www.mrplumbersa.com/blog. She also is founder of Texas Women in the Trades (TWIT). Visit texaswomenintrades.com.