Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Thanks to sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List, local businesses often find themselves at the mercy of consumer reviews. Because people rely on the opinion of others, reviews have the potential to influence purchase decisions either positively or negatively, depending on the review.
Businesses are not without recourse, however. Many rating and review sites allow companies to “claim” their business listing. This enables them to respond to reviews, interact with customers, and increase their visibility on the Internet, since these sites often rank well on search engines.
Aside from reviews, claiming the listing ensures that local citations — business name, address, and phone number — are correct.
Here is a list of five rating and review sites popular with consumers, along with a description of the type of business to which they apply, and the steps involved in claiming the listing. In all cases, business listings are free.
Yelp is a directory that helps consumers find local businesses. Users can filter search results based on the highest rating or most reviews. The site covers a wide range of business types, from ATV rentals to wholesale stores, nearly 700 categories in all.
To claim your listing, go to the Yelp for Business Owners page, enter the name and location of your business, and click the “Get Started” button.
When Yelp finds your business, click the “Claim this business” button and follow the prompts. If your company is not listed, Yelp walks you through a verification process to add it to the directory.
Claiming your Yelp listing allows you to respond to reviews, send private messages to customers via email, and track new customers and user views. You can also advertise on the site, to further increase visibility.
Google My Business — previously known as Google Places — is where you go to ensure your business can be found on Google Search, Maps, and Google+.
If you already have a Google Profile, sign in to get started. If not, click the “Get on Google” button found in the center of the page. Clicking the button opens a Google map where you input your business name and location.
Once Google finds your business, you will see a checkbox indicating that you are authorized to act on its behalf. Click it, and then follow steps to verify the listing, which you can do via mail or phone.
If Google is unable to locate your business, you can add it by inputting information on a form and then follow the verification process. To qualify for a listing, a company must make in-person contact with consumers during stated hours.
TripAdvisor is a travel site that depends on customer ratings and reviews for ranking business listings. The higher a business rates, the higher it ranks. The site is relevant for companies in the hospitality industry, such as hotels, restaurants, and bars.
Use the search function to find your listing. Once located, look down the page to a section labeled “Owners: What’s your side of the story?” and click the “Manage your listing” button to get started.
Upon registering, you can receive notifications of new reviews, respond to traveler feedback, add contact details, advertise via pay-per-click, and more.
Service and healthcare companies may want to join Angie’s List, a site that provides reviews of local service providers, such as roofers, plumbers, mechanics, doctors, and dentists.
To sign up, visit the business center website, click the “Claim your business profile” button, and enter your company name and location. You can add your business if it is not listed. Businesses must have at least two positive reviews on the site to qualify.
According to its About page, Urbanspoon is an “online local bar and restaurant guide that aggregates reviews from professional food critics, bloggers, and diners.”
Restaurants find their listing by inputting the business name and location. Once on the page, click the “Is this your restaurant?” button to claim the listing. Urbanspoon will call to verify that you are the owner or manager and, therefore, have authority to administer the listing.
If your establishment is unlisted, you can complete a form to apply. Urbanspoon reviews all new listings before adding them to the site.