Building an Online Reputation Is Important, But Which Review Sites Should You Focus On?
Curating an online reputation and managing online reviews through review sites is essential. 93% of consumers search the internet to find local businesses and 87% of consumers read online reviews when browsing.
Reviews also play a part in your business’s ranking in search engines like Google. There’s often a correlation between how many and how recent your business reviews are and your search rankings.
And which of the review sites get the most traffic? Google is still number one, but 88% of all reviews come from a few major review sites.
- Which review sites should your business or organization focus on?
- Where’s the best place for you to build your online reputation?
- How can you collect more online reviews?
I cover some of the top review sites and list the features, pros, and cons for each. I’ll also show you some strategies for collecting more online reviews.
Read on for more.
What Are The Best Ways to Manage Reviews?
All of the review sites and white label review management platforms I list in this article don’t allow you (the business owner) to delete reviews. So when it comes to online reputation management, your strategy should focus more on collecting reviews from the right customers.
Online reputation management is a big topic. You’ll want to check out our Reviews & Feedback How-to Hub for everything you need to know. But to start building your online reputation you’ll want to do the following:
- Select which review site(s) and review platform(s) you’d like to drive customers to.
- Set criteria for what a happy customer looks like and when’s best to ask for a review.
- Choose a feedback and review ask delivery method (phone call, email, text message, etc.)
1. Choose your review site(s) and review platform(s)
How do you choose which review platform(s) to focus on? I suggest you pick no more than one or two to start. Your selection criteria will also vary depending on your business, your services, and even where your customers hang out the most.
Physical businesses with storefronts will most likely want to take advantage of Google Reviews or Facebook as a baseline.
But they’ll also want to consider collecting and cultivating reviews with separate reputation management services as well. These platforms often integrate with other review services like Google and Facebook to automate and manage review collection across platforms.
To make life easier, I’ve listed the top review sites and platforms. These are the platforms that I see businesses and organizations using in conjunction with MessageDesk (more on that below).
2. Who to ask for reviews and when
The second important part of online reputation management is knowing:
- Who’s qualified to leave you a review?
- When’s best to prompt them to actually do it?
In fact, 85% of consumers are willing to leave a review, but few will actually do it.
This is because they’re not prompted at the right time or in the right way.
You should know in your own mind what constitutes a happy customer. The important part is knowing exactly who is finding success with your product or service and leaning on them for reviews.
Asking unhappy customers for reviews can backfire. So you’ll also want to personalize and target your review ask messaging as much as possible. Sending out impersonal mass messages can actually deter customers and hurt your brand reputation.
Many review and messaging platforms (like MessageDesk) actually help businesses personalize their messages to individual customers. They do this at scale across multiple channels including text messages, email and phone calls.
3. Feedback and review ask delivery methods
You know where you’re collecting reviews, who you’re asking and when to ask them. Now you’ll want to think about your delivery method.
There’s debate over the best tool for the job: email vs. texting? texting vs. calling? etc. But your reputation management strategy will most likely involve a combination of the following messaging channels.
Nothing beats the personalized, human touch of a phone call when reaching out to customers. But many people just don’t answer the phone.
And phone calls aren’t a scalable way to engage customers. They’re certainly a solution to consider. But I advise that you use them sparingly when it comes to collecting reviews and feedback.
Email is the most widely adopted marketing channel in the world. Everyone has an email address. But that’s the problem. Email is a saturated messaging channel and staying out of the spam folder is a challenge for every business.
However, email is far more scalable than calling. You can send bulk messages and in some cases automate delivery through a messaging or review platform. Just be aware that emails average 20% open rates and 6% engagement rates.
Text messages can feel just as personal as a phone call. They’re also just as scalable and automated as email. Plus, text messaging has some clear advantages, with some 67% of customers preferring to text with business.
This is where business text messaging platforms like MessageDesk can help you manage your reputation. Texting helps fill the gaps between phone calls and email. It makes it possible to effectively manage the messaging that builds your online reputation at scale.
Top Review Sites (In No Particular Order)
- Best Company
- Consumer Affairs
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Google Reviews and Google My Business
- Facebook Page Ratings, Business Reviews, and Recommendations
Be aware that some review sites like Capterra, G2, and Product Hunt cater to software companies and services. I chose not to list them here because of their narrower focus.
1. Best Company
Best for businesses and organizations who’d like to automate review collection and outsource vetting of reviews and reviewers.
Best Company's mission is to empower your business to maximize your brand reputation, gain competitive insights, and convert prospects into loyal customers.
There are plenty of niche review sites for various industries and business types. But there are others (like Best Company) that focus on a few specific niches, like:
- Pest control
- Home security
- Mortgage and lending companies
- Medical practices
Reputation platforms or review sites like Best Company are different from Google Reviews, and Facebook. Best Company has a much higher standard for vetting real customers and verifying their review content.
In this way, Best Company puts its own reputation on the line. Once you claim your Best Company profile, they go the extra mile to certify reviews for authenticity and verify that the reviewer is real. That’s not the case with Trustpilot, Sitejabber, and a few of the other review sites I list here.
Best Company features:
- Managing reviews - Respond, engage and get notifications whenever a customer leaves a review.
- Getting reviews - Review collection via phone, email, text, and custom forms.
- Analyzing reviews - Platform reputation insights that allow you to review analytics and profile activity.
- Showcasing reviews - Review widget for embedding reviews on your website and marketing materials.
- 3rd party analysis - Customized profile page with plenty of badges to promote your brand’s reputation.
Best Company pros:
- Fully vetted independent reviews and reviewers - Best Company goes above and beyond to filter spam.
- Trusted rankings - Best Company ranks companies in simple, transparent ways.
- Not pay to play - Best Company keeps companies from buying their ranking.
- High traffic - Best Company gets well over 200,000 visitors to their review site every month.
Best Company cons:
- Not a direct replacement for a Google My Business page
- Claiming your business profile page takes some time (not necessarily a con because this is part of their vetting process).
- Cost - Best Company does offer free access to its review platform. But pricing jumps as you add automated review collection via email, text, and even phone.
Best for retailers and eCommerce businesses who want to double-down on Google reviews.
Trustpilot emphasizes turning reviews into website traffic, sales, and customer loyalty. Their aim is to:
- Help your business build more trust in your brand.
- Attract new customers.
- Learn from real-time consumer insights.
Trustpilot caters more specifically to web-based e-commerce businesses and retailers. They emphasize tools for doubling down on Google reviews and offer seller rating features.
- Getting reviews - service, product, and location review types give you a range of automated review collection options.
- Managing reviews - built-in platform features for responding to and flagging spam reviews.
- Showcasing reviews - widgets, social and SEO tools for optimizing your Google web presence with positive reviews.
- Analyzing reviews - full dashboard with insights and analytics.
- Trustpilot is a top-rated review site with an Alexa ranking of 393 as of September 2021.
- Trustpilot has well over one hundred million reviews submitted.
- The platform offers robust automated features tailored to curating Google seller ranking.
- You get standard review collection methods and website widgets.
- Review, reviewer, and profile vetting aren’t as comprehensive as other review sites and platforms like Best Company.
- Cost - Trustpilot offers a free plan once you claim your profile. But monthly costs jump quickly as you add additional modules and features.
- Not a cost-effective platform for most local small businesses.
Best for retail and eCommerce businesses using social media as part of their review collection and reputation management strategies.
Much like Best Company and Trustpilot, Sitejabber is another review site and review collection platform for companies. Like Trustpilot, Sitejabber also focuses heavily on retail and eCommerce businesses, but their added component is social media engagement.
Site Jabber can help you get more Google Reviews and improve your seller rating. But they also support review collection through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Review collection widgets - make it easy for customers to leave reviews directly from your website.
- Automated requests - for fully customizable review request emails when customers complete a purchase.
- Customer lists - for organizing and inviting past customers to leave reviews.
- Custom business review link - a unique, secure link that makes it easy for customers to leave reviews.
- Sitejabber makes it easy to take control of your online presence across Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Twitter.
- Verified review collection.
- Review collection automation features.
- Cost - like other comparable review sites, Sitejabber costs increase significantly as you add features.
- Not a cost-effective platform for most local small businesses.
4. Consumer Affairs
Best for businesses who need to enhance their business reputation across their entire industry.
Consumer Affairs is a non-governmental agency that accepts compensation from companies for placement on their platform. This isn’t a 100% pay-to-play game. But their Authorized Partner Program (pay-to-play) does affect your ranking on their review site.
Their model provides free resources to consumers via buyer guides. These guides help encourage buyer engagement and assist consumers in making a purchase.
Consumer Affairs does allow consumers to leave reviews for companies and businesses. But it’s not a comprehensive online reputation management platform like Best Company, Trustpilot, or Sitejabber.
Consumer Affairs features:
- Best of Buyers Guides - free content that consumers use when making a purchase decision.
- Customer Reviews - reviews aggregated from submissions for specific companies.
- Research Topics - more free content that consumers use to make purchase decisions.
Consumer Affairs pros:
- Content and visibility - Consumer Affairs drives over 1.6 million monthly visitors to their review site through content.
- Broad focus - Consumer Affairs targets broad swaths of industry categories.
Consumer Affairs cons:
- Pay-to-play - to effectively drive leads and generate business you have to pay.
- Vetting - Consumer Affairs doesn’t verify reviews to the same degree as Best Company.
- Not an active place for a business to proactively manage its reputation or respond to reviews.
5. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Best for businesses that are just getting started and need their first seal of approval.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another non-governmental agency. The BBB is the second most trusted review site. This makes it one of the top sites consumers use to learn about a business.
But the BBB has some pros and cons. Despite its reputation, the BBB isn’t the most effective way for small businesses to fully showcase their reputation.
- Accreditation - BBB’s longstanding reputation can help build your brand reputation.
- BBB signals to consumers that they’re dealing with an ethical and vetted business.
- BBB seal of approval - many consumers look for the BBB seal and use trust badges like these to gauge trustworthiness.
- Free business profile listing - the BBB offers businesses free listings on their website.
- Consumer perception - shoppers trust your BBB score.
- Accreditation - the BBB enforces eight accreditation standards and helps you manage your listing once you meet their standards.
- Time in business - the BBB has been around since 1912, making it over 100 years old.
- Nationwide locations - the BBB manages profiles on a local level but has the benefit of being a national organization.
- Review vetting - the BBB makes an effort to vet their reviews so that businesses know they’re real customers.
- Low traffic - compared to platforms like Google, the BBB isn’t as highly trafficked as you’d think.
- Payment model - while costs are a bit more palatable than other review platforms, they can add up.
- Former scandal - the BBB’s reputation around its pay-to-play model has come under fire fairly recently.
- Complaints section - having this section puts an undue emphasis on the negative aspects of a business.
- Ranking algorithm - while the BBB has adjusted their ranking algorithm in recent years, it’s not perfect.
6. Google Reviews and Google My Business
Best for any and every type of small business (especially local businesses).
Google reviews are the public-facing review extension of your Google My Business page. They give your customers an easy way to:
- Read and leave a review of your business.
- See business hours.
- Check out additional information.
- See photos and videos.
If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business page, do so now. Claiming your page is the only way to manage reviews and control how your business appears on Google.
Google reviews are what you might consider the baseline for review platforms. For small local businesses, it’s become essential to stay competitive.
Google reviews features:
- Google My Business page - a free business page (once you claim it) that’s tied to a unique Google Place ID.
- Google Maps - Google integrated maps with their review experience and business page for people searching from their mobile devices.
- Google Seller Rating - this pertains more to eCommerce and retail, but Google also offers a seller rating.
Google reviews pros:
- Google is number one - you get high visibility and lots of traffic (great for local businesses).
- Rich, unified review experiences - you can add media like images, etc. to display and highlight aspects of your business.
- Maps - direct Google Maps integrations make it easy for customers who are searching “near me” to find you.
- It’s easy to send and generate a google review link to ask for a review.
Google reviews cons:
- Not pay to play, but hard to play - ranking in Google requires some serious efforts.
- Limited customer support - for business owners who need help this can be a problem.
- Comments not required - reviewers don’t have to leave a comment with their rating.
- Nearly everyone can leave a Google review - very limited validation and hard to remove a negative review.
- Zero to limited fraud detection - be prepared for negative reviews and spam.
7. Facebook page ratings, business reviews and recommendations
Best for small businesses whose customers are active on social media, specifically Facebook.
Facebook offers various ways to collect reviews and gauge feedback. The experience of leaving a review is now part of what Facebook calls recommendations.
Star ratings are still present on business pages, especially older ones. But simple yes or no recommendations are new, added first in 2020.
Like it or not, Facebook still receives tons of traffic. Claiming your Facebook business page and your Google My Business pages are both highly recommended for any business getting its start.
- Facebook page rating - a simple star rating tied to Facebook users’ yes or no recommendations.
- Facebook business reviews - these are actual comments and reviews that Facebook users leave on your Facebook business page.
- Facebook recommendations - simple yes or no recommendations that aggregate into your Facebook page rating.
- Google + Facebook - your Facebook ratings can appear directly in “Reviews from the web” Google search results.
- Visibility - Facebook recommendations are visible to friends and family, and they’re easy to write.
- Details - Facebook prompts users to leave detailed, higher-quality recommendations.
- Unlike Google, you can toggle Facebook Recommendations off.
- Limited customer support - like Google, you really have to go it alone here.
- Private recommendations won’t appear on your page.
- Google doesn’t prioritize Facebook recommendations in “Reviews from the web” in search results.
- Facebook Recommendations are only one component of online reputation management.
How to Collect More Online Reviews and Feedback
With all of the above platforms, collecting online reviews and feedback can still be a chore. This is especially true if you’re manually collecting customer reviews. The way to improve your online reputation is with automation.
Of course, you can always call happy customers and ask for a review or send emails. But the better way to collect more online reviews is with a simple follow-up text message.
That’s why MessageDesk designed a system that makes it easy to transition from payment reminders to collecting feedback and sending review requests to happy customers.
To automatically ask for feedback you just need to create an automation that revolves around a “Paid At Date”. These messages send based on when a customer pays your for your goods or services.
Once a customer responds with 1-10 MessageDesk automatically replies based on how they rated your business.
If they rate you highly, MessageDesk automatically asks them to make their experience public and leave a review on any review site of your choosing.
If they rate you poorly, MessageDesk will instead ask them to reply and elaborate on their experience. This informs you on how to improve while preventing the customer from leaving a negative review.
Over time, you can see how customers rate their experience by comparing how many people have replied with each value.
Final thoughts and next steps
A business text messaging app like MessageDesk has features like text message scheduling, text tags, and SMS templates. These features work together to automate your review collection process.
Templates help you send saved messages with a link to your Google listing. And scheduling allows you to automate texts to customers.