Yelp is much more of a ‘community’ than TripAdvisor (or any other review site for that matter). A significant part of the responsibility for building and maintaining that community rests with their ‘Elite’ Yelpers, who are renowned for writing very thorough reviews, here’s an idea of the length of some of their reviews (this one is one of 34 of a London business)…
A cursory glance at any Elite Squad reviews will yield similar results – they see a major part of their role as setting an example for depth and quality of review.
And they have lots of ‘friends’. Some notes of caution for those businesses in the UK who have yet to be reviewed:
Yelpers get a lot of kudos for being ‘first to review’
Once you have one Yelp review, you are highly likely to be reviewed by that reviewer’s ‘friends’
Yelp reviews are shown prominently in Google search
Make sure that your review management procedures take account of Yelp.
Another corker of a prediction that the Daily Mail would probably prefer we forgot
No? Don’t worry, because they ceased to be a major player many moons ago. So why do we bring them up here? Because it’s only natural for businesses to engage with whatever appears to be the major opportunity (or threat) at the time.
That’s where HelpHound comes in: because we concentrate on review management all the time, we are fractionally better placed to have some idea of when the review equivalent of Facebook is going to arrive. Or, in this case, has arrived.
Yes – and it’s called Google. This will ring a bell with regular readers of this blog…
But we are still encountering quite a bit of understandable ‘Google denial’, so we thought it might be a good idea to examine it in detail here.
The majority of savvy marketers now accept that consumers want reviews, reviews of everything they need or want: from doctors to accountants to hotels to the latest smartphone. It’s because of this demand that so many review websites have sprung up over the last ten years (believe it or not, there weren’t any before 2005).
We’re all familiar with TripAdvisor, but there’s a site out there catering for every market you can think of…
And the list goes on. And before anyone says they’re all ‘mickey mouse’ – Yelp (which has yet to hit the UK in big way) is currently valued at $5.8 billion.
So, first, why Google? Then, back to the reasons why some businesses have yet to take Google seriously.
The obvious answer would be ‘sheer size’: at $397 billion Google has the cash to do pretty well whatever it likes, and what it likes most is to dominate the world of search. So if people are searching for reviews you can be absolutely sure that Google will want to be supplying those reviews (some of you will be asking – looking at those numbers – why didn’t Google simply buy Yelp? The answer is they nearly did, until they realised they didn’t need to, because they could do it themselves – and they have).
Google didn’t need Yelp
Why might some businesses not take Google [reviews] seriously?
We have a pretty good take on the answers to this one – because we hear them every day; here goes:
We don’t have any Google reviews
We have reviews on another site
We are afraid of inviting reviews
These bear individual examination
‘We don’t have any Google reviews’
People are looking for reviews, but your business doesn’t have any Google reviews? Unless that’s because of point 3 (which is an eminently valid point – deserving of a response all of its own, see below), I think we all know the answer to that one: find a way to get them, and get them now.
‘We have reviews on another site’
It’s better than nothing, but, given that Google now controls where those reviews will be shown (always below – and with less prominence than – their own) you should definitely be looking to populate your Google reviews. Hotels will say ‘We have 500 reviews on TripAdvisor and everyone reads TripAdvisor reviews’; quite right, for now.
We’re not saying abandon your efforts on TripAdvisor, but our prediction is that even the mighty TripAdvisor will eventually go the way of Bebo, unless it finds a way to make its offering much more powerful.
Every business needs great Google reviews – now.
‘We are afraid of inviting reviews’
And so you should be. All the evidence available points to the fact that even a very few negative reviews on the web can do seriously harm to businesses. Especially if they mean that you look worse than your immediate competition.
And that’s where Dialogue comes in: enabling our clients to invite reviews, manage negatives in private and get the positives posted to Google (as well as your own website); we work with you, your customers and Google for everyone’s benefit.
Maybe if you’re going to critique people on your blog you shouldn’t forget the question mark?But the point is well made (and taken).
But seriously: this blog (not for the faint-hearted or easily offended) manages to highlight some of the weaknesses of an ‘open’ un-moderated review site like Yelp.
It reinforces a message that we will never tire of hammering home: that the kind of people who write reviews out of the goodness of their own hearts (without being invited or prompted in any way) can be quite an esoteric bunch.
To make sure your business is represented by all your customers you must find a way of inviting them that works for you both. Welcome to Dialogue.
Very few businesses look like this when we first meet them!
With Google reviews ever in the ascendancy the day is fast approaching (maybe even for hotels!) that your Google rating is going to be the only one that matters.
This simplifies both our jobs, and it makes life hugely easier for your potential customers: Google is house-training them to look for reviews in one place, and one place only*.
For our new clients that neatly defines our mission into two distinct phases:
Phase 1: Get the business a [great] Google ranking and star rating
Many (most?) of our clients begin with nil…
Or predominantly negative reviews…
This is because people really don’t write reviews in any volume at all unless they are asked to, or (and this is an important ‘or’) they are unhappy. That’s why so many businesses look so bad on Google.
We address this first phase on the day you join; you should see the results overnight (literally) – you will go from looking like one of the above to this:
Phase 2: Maintain that ranking and rating
To continue to drive new business and enable you to manage complaints in private. To get your business from Phase 1 to complete security on Google and complete peace of mind where reviews are concerned. To show those reviews on your own website and on Google so prospective customers…
book your hotel
instruct your estate agency
dine in your restaurant
Oh – and one post script for those out there that still doubt Google’s influence: it’s increasing by the day. Your prospective customers don’t have to look for reviews on Google; Google are showing them even when someone just wants your phone number or address.
Potential customers put off by negative reviews won’t tell you (but they might tell us and your competitors) so it’s difficult to directly quantify their effect, but considering that Dialogue takes up less than 5 minutes a day, why take that risk?
*We have alluded to this before: we predict that independent review websites, whether they be small independent sites specialising in single markets or large and currently influential sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp will wither and fade because they will not be able to compete with Google. There won’t be room for two sources of reviews and Google, as the gatekeeper to the web, will always win.
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