Choosing the Right Online Customer Review Platform

Posted on November 1, 2018

Have you ever asked yourself which online review platform is the best for your small business? Google? Facebook? Yelp? Better Business Bureau?

With so many options available – it’s easy to get bogged down in collecting customer reviews to build your business’ online reputation. Below I’ll break down each platform and show you why I think Google My Business (or maps) is the best option if you absolutely HAD to choose between the four. In reality, getting reviews across all platforms will have benefits for your business.

Before I get into each platform, I want to point out a few things regarding online reviews:

  • you CANNOT control what other people say about your business (you can influence it)
  • be prepared to receive negative reviews (some warranted) – this is normal & can help you improve your business
  • there will be fake reviews and “trolls” – make sure you respond accordingly & call out any inaccuracies
  • try to respond to as many reviews as possible, particularly one’s where there may have been a misunderstanding

Don’t worry – while the above points focus on the negative, the positives outweigh the negatives! Let’s get right into it (alphabetical order).

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Reviews

BBB’s rating is based on grades moreso than stars. Business that register under their local BBB organization start off with a rating of “A”. Once people file complaints or give positive feedback on the business in question the rating either drops or goes up (maximum grade a business can reach is A+). Any business can submit a FREE profile. However, to become BBB Accredited (get their logo of approval and can share your grade directly on website or marketing materials) there is a paid service.

Below is an example of a roofing search in the Guelph area. You’ll notice the different grades for each company. Accredited businesses also have a special badge associated with their profile (note: these rankings change real-time – so this screenshot may become outdated in the future):

BBB Business Review Platforms

What seems to be common in the BBB platform is skilled trades. Not sure why but perhaps the ability to file a complaint must attract customers who have had a bad experience in order to resolve (or share) their issues with others. While this is a great review platform it is not as “popular” as other services. In addition – the whole grade evaluation doesn’t seem to resonate (personally speaking) as much as star reviews.

Facebook Page Reviews

Fairly straight forward: if you have a business page people can add a star rating and comments regarding your service. While Facebook is (arguably) the most popular social network: if someone isn’t on Facebook they won’t be able to engage any of your reviews. With that being said – due to its popularity it is more likely that users are on there – and giving a review takes next to no time (plus it’s easily shared on other people’s timeliness so there is a chance that many other people see the review).

An interesting shift Facebook has done is turn the “ranking” more into a “recommendation”.

Facebook Business Reviews

You can see that they provided the star rating out 5 but that it was “recommended” by 5 people (while there is a total of 8 ratings). Meaning that recommendations only count for 5 star ratings while other’s are considered reviews or “opinions”.

In addition, they are using more user-oriented wording. Instead of rating – Facebook is referencing these ratings as “opinions”.

Having reviews on your official Facebook page gives potential for the (positive) ratings to spread across the social network via sharing. Facebook is a powerful social media tool that should not be ignored. However, even with it’s audience size I would still recommend Google Reviews as the your primary focus. Below is why:

Google Business Reviews

My Recommendation

This one needs no explanation: we’ve all come across a Google Maps business listing searching for a local coffee shop or place to eat.

From a business point of view: Google My Business Listings (places that come up on Google Maps) are FREE to setup. You simply request a verification code via phone or direct mail. Once the listing has been verified you are able to change information, add content, update details, etc.

Why do I recommend Google Reviews over others? It’s due to the fact that Google is still BY FAR the most commonly used tool for online research. Take a look at the below breakdown (while this shows US data – courtesy SparkToro, it is very similar to Canadian usage representation):

Best Business Review Platform: Google

Google, Google Images and Google Maps account for 90% of ALL web search volume. That mean’s that everything else accounts for a mere 10% – that includes all the social media platforms, all other business reviews platforms, etc.

Building your Google My Business listing will give you prime-time exposure and easily-accessible way for customers to gather information on what experiences others had with your business. Not only that – but Google My Business now allows people to ask a question directly on your Google My Business Listing where either the owner or other people can answer:

Google Business Reviews: Q&A Tool

Notice the “Reviews from the web” feature as well? Google gather’s reviews from other common places into your My Business listing! Meaning that ultimately – choosing to focus on Google will get you both maximum exposure AND consolidate all other reviews that your business might have in one place. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s the most robust business review platform out of all of them.

Yelp Reviews

Yelp is highly popular among the foodie culture. Similar to how the BBB is targeted to hands-on and trades companies – Yelp is virtually all food-related. You can find reviews for restaurants, take-out places, bars, etc.

Yelp Business Reviews

If you’re looking to get reviews for an accounting company there is a likelihood you won’t be going to Yelp. If you’re in the food industry I highly recommend Yelp as one of your main review platforms (partnered with Google My Business). Do be careful as some people take Yelp extremely seriously and bad reviews do influence other users decisions quite a bit! Foodies get serious. Otherwise you don’t have to worry about building reviews on this platform.

Bottom line: having reviews on any of these platforms is better than having none. Some of them have a specialized industry focus while others capture a broader audience.

If you need to make a choice between these options – it would be difficult to recommend anything over Google due to it’s sheer volume of users and established presence as a discovery tool for 90% of all online searches. Get listed on Google My Business and build your reputation!