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Customer Review Sites: The Anatomy of Feedback on Yelp, Facebook and Google

Your target audience most likely takes customer reviews very seriously – so you should take the time to understand them. These days, online reviews are not an afterthought for most retail businesses. They are central to building and maintaining your reputation.

Knowing what what makes up helpful reviews can be beneficial in a variety of ways:

  • So you can choose which to feature on your social media or your website
  • So you can know which elements of your business to focus on
  • So you can know how to respond to negative reviews

With the usefulness of understanding reviews in mind, this post is dedicated to the anatomy of the feedback you may receive. Because Google, Yelp and Facebook are by far the most popular customer review sites, we focus on these three here (at least for the time being — stay tuned for scenes from our next episode).

Google vs. Yelp vs. Facebook as Customer Review Sites

For the most part, a review is a review. Whether they are using Google, Yelp or Facebook, users are both reading and leaving feedback primarily for local companies that they have visited.

But the customer review site that your business focuses on may impact how many reviews you get and what form these reviews take.Jamie Pitman at Bright Local points out both the growth of business reviews (primarily through Google) and how customers interact with them.

“Google’s sheer scale, visibility and primary purpose as a search engine means every time someone searches for a local business, they’re offered the option to leave a review. Google has been significantly pushing for more users to leave reviews, with a notable increase in the number of notifications users receive after frequenting a business.”

~ Jamie Pitman, Bright Local

Source: Bright Local

The exponential growth for Google reviews can be explained by a critical difference particularly between the search engine and Yelp: Google actively encourages businesses to ask for reviews, and having reviews is critical to local search optimization.

People are also more likely to leave reviews on Facebook and Google versus yelp for one simple reason: they typically already have an account. The easier it is for customers to leave reviews, the more reviews businesses will receive. With Yelp, customers have to sign up for an account — this typically means they are active Yelp users or they are disgruntled customers.

A study from SmallBusinessPrices highlights these differences in even brighter colors:

  • 57.5 percent of customers leave reviews on Google for an average rating of 4.3
  • 23 percent of customers leave reviews on Facebook, for an average rating of 4.4
  • 6.6 percent of customers leave reviews on Yelp, for an average rating of 3.65

What Great 5-Star Reviews Look Like

While it’s great to feature glowing snippets on your homepage or your Facebook profile, you also want to encourage positive and helpful reviews. Great reviews that you can use to build your business have at least some of the following elements:

  • They are detailed and specific.
  • They tell a unique story about your product, your service or your team.
  • They identify a specific element of your business that makes you stand out from the crowd.
  • They have organic photos featuring your business.
  • They have a response — from you — thanking them for their review.

These are the kinds of reviews that can be used to tell a specific, customer-oriented story about company, whether you are a local restaurant or big eCommerce brand.

Ideally, these positive reviews can work in your favor on your social media and your website. Power Reviews gives some insight into what this can look like in a personal way: “Reviews are a key tool for helping consumers make smart purchase decisions. Once you’ve identified helpful reviewers, ask them to contribute additional content.” Then, after you’ve generated a lot of reviews, “make it easy for shoppers to find the most helpful review content for each of your products.”

In other words, start by building up your positive reviews — and then share the most positive reviews like crazy.

How to Respond to Feedback on Customer Review Sites

Ideally, you can use the anatomy of a five star review to engage with customers, improving your business operations and engagement along the way. But sometimes negative feedback slips through anyway. How can you deal with it?

“While some employ questionable tactics for dealing with negative reviews, ranging from legal threats and lawsuits to customer insults, there are good ways to make lemonade out of lemons when customers complain about your business online.”

~ Patricio Robles, Econsultancy

To get more insight on how to respond to negative reviews or when to remove feedback on customer review sites, see our past two posts on this front:

For guidance on how to go about removing reviews, check out how our technology evaluates reviews and provides next action steps. Our server works to provide strategy on how to remove reviews based on known violations of content guidelines on the most popular customer review sites — including Yelp, Google and Facebook.

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