Navigating the Review Sites for Local Business

welcome to the democracy of the web.  I am sure by now, you have come across reviews online.  Whether it’s for a local restaurant or the doctor down the street, the review sites are here to stay.  More importantly,  they are making an increasing impact on where you get seen on the web and what your reputation is the in real world.

Hopefully you are not one of the businesses that has gotten one of those reviews from a disgruntled customer who wants to vent their frustration.  Many sites don’t give the owner a chance to respond and that is not sitting well with the small business community.  Some have taken matters into the traditional media outlets and created some change in the position of sites that previously did not allow rebuttals.

However these review sites do serve a useful purpose for the consumer.  Their popularity is growing quickly so it’s a good idea to get your head out of the sand and figure out how to navigate these sites.  It comes back to plain old customer service, taking care of your customer right the first time, and making sure manage that unhappy customer before he tells 10 people he can’t stand your business.   Unfortunately for the owner who does not manage that unhappy person, he can now tell the whole world. 

The key is to be proactive and make sure you get the word out on your business.

Getting listed on the major sites and ensuring that your profile and business information is up to date and as accurate as possible is a good start.  Some of the sites to look at:

Insiderpages.com
Yahoo Local
Google Maps
Yelp.com 
Citysearch.com
MerchantCircle.com
Local.com

Find the address or URL of any of your listings.  Use it to promote the site for positive reviews.  Let your loyal customers know about it.

Make sure you respond to any negative reviews if possible and try to make things right.

There are many ways to leverage these sites to your advantage.  Brainstorm and I am sure you will think of more.  Or, hiring a local agency like Long Island Marketing House can make the whole process simple.  Do it yourself or hire an agency, either way, ignoring these sites could be to your detriment.

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