Online reviews can make or break businesses, particularly small and local businesses. Staying on top of your reviews on various platforms can help you control your business’s online presence, as well as give you insight into how your consumers are interpreting your business, products, and services.
At Smith.ai, we understand the importance of maintaining good relationships with customers, which is why we’re providing you with a one-stop guide to managing your business reviews on the Big Four: Google, Yelp, BBB, and Angi. With this guide, you can learn more about creating business profiles to receive reviews, responding to reviews, and managing reviews to improve your business’s online presence.
Google remains one of the leading platforms for marketing and maintaining an online presence. Companies work hard to boost their SEO rankings so that they get listed on the first page of the search results in Google on a national level, but there is additional pressure for companies to show up for local results.
Having a well-established business profile on Google can help your business show up for local users searching for businesses like yours near them, whether they’re looking for a restaurant, salon, repair shop, or another service company. The following sections will teach you how to create your business profile and manage the reviews you receive.
To create your Business Profile on Google, you must first sign in to Google Maps. From there, you can add your business, which you can do in several ways:
1. Click “Menu” in the top left corner by clicking the three-lined symbol, then select “Add your business.”
2. Right click, then select “Add your business.”
3. Type in your business’s address into the Google Maps search bar, then select “Add your business” on the left of the location profile.
4. Click this link directly to go to the profile builder on Google Business Profile Manager.
Once you land on the Business Profile builder, you can follow the onscreen instructions on how to fill out information for your company’s profile. You can edit certain information after creating your profile with Google.
The Business Profile builder will ask for information about your company, such as:
● Your company name and industry category
● Whether your business has a physical location for customers to visit
● Your company address
● Whether your company does deliveries or home/office visitations
● What areas your business serves and markets toward
You can also provide contact information and sign up for Google alerts regarding your business profile.
Once you build your Business Profile, you will want to claim your business through Google Maps and verify it with Google. Verification will make your business look more legitimate to users, thereby encouraging people to visit and use your business.
Claiming your business on Google Maps
To claim your business on Google Maps, follow these steps:
1. Open Google Maps.
2. Type in your company name in the search bar.
3. Select your business once results appear.
4. Click “Claim this business,” then click “Manage now.” Note: If you own a separate business from the option you select, you can also select “I own or manage another business.”
5. Choose your verification option and follow the instructions to verify your business.
There are a few options to verify your business with Google. Most businesses verify themselves by mail; however, there are other options for service-area or hybrid businesses that involve verifying by phone, email, video recording, and Search Console. If you have multiple businesses, you may be able to verify all of them instantly.
With each option, you will be waiting for Google to send you a unique verification code so that you can verify your business online. As you claim your business, the verification option you choose will also be the method you receive your verification. For example, if you choose to verify your business by mail, you will receive your verification code on a postcard Google sends you.
You can learn more about verification options through Google Business Profile Help.
Once you verify your business, you can then start receiving Google reviews. Depending on how you market your business, you may have to read through several reviews as your business grows. It is important to respond to reviewers to keep good relationships with your consumer base, address potential concerns, and maintain an online presence for your business.
Follow these steps to read and respond to reviews:
● Reading your reviews: If you would like to read your reviews, you can visit your Business Profile on Google. Alternatively, you can type your company name in the Google search bar to visit your profile. Once you see your Business Profile, click “Reviews” underneath the company name. A pop-up box will appear, where you can read your reviews.
● Responding to reviews: If you would like to respond to reviews, you can select “Reply” underneath the specific review you would like to reply to, then type your response.
● Editing your review responses: If you would like to alter your review response, click “More” to view the drop-down menu and select “Edit.” You can make changes to your response.
● Deleting your review responses: If you would like to delete your response, click “More” to view the drop-down menu and select “Delete.” This will erase your response to the review.
● Reporting inappropriate reviews: If you receive a review that is inappropriate, whether the language is vulgar or hateful, you can click “More” to view the drop-down menu and select “Report” to notify Google that the review violated content terms.
● Requesting reviews be deleted: Businesses can request certain reviews be deleted by Google if the reviews are fake or violate content guidelines. Go to the specific review and click “More” to view the drop-down menu, then select “Delete” and follow instructions on how to request the review’s deletion. Alternatively, you can reach out to the reviewer privately and request they delete the review after you resolve their situation.
Every business eventually faces negative reviews from dissatisfied clients. How you handle negative reviews can either heighten or weaken your business, as customers will also judge how you treat bad reviewers. The Local Consumer Review Survey 2020 noted that 87 percent of consumers read online reviews when considering local businesses in 2020, a six percent increase since 2019, per Bright Local.
That means every review published onto your Business Profile and your response will be scrutinized, especially reviews written within the last month. So, consider these factors before responding to negative reviews:
● Is there any merit to the review that can lead to improving your company internally?
● Can you ask the reviewer questions to provide more details about their experience with your business?
● Is the reviewer willing to discuss their experience privately?
● Can you offer a return, discount, or another incentive to change the reviewer’s opinion about your business?
Before responding to any negative reviews, be sure to put yourself in a stable mindset so that your response is not fueled by your raw emotions. It is better to take some time to ground yourself and respond later than it would be to have a public reply that showcases your company cannot handle criticism from consumers.
Also, be sure to follow up with reviewers, especially if you reached a resolution with them after their initial review.
RevLocal shed light on Google’s latest review policy change in 2018, which mandates that businesses cannot solicit positive reviews for their Business Profile. This is referred to as “sentiment checking” and “review gating,” which is the act of explicitly asking consumers to leave positive reviews for your business.
This policy change is meant to force companies to be more neutral in how they request feedback so that reviews remain true to how consumers perceive businesses. This may require some tweaking in your marketing strategy, but consider going for more neutral calls-to-action for reviews, such as:
● Tell us how we did and leave a review!
● Your purchase has been delivered. Leave a review about your experience.
● We want your feedback. Don’t forget to leave a review about our business so that we can improve our service for consumers like you.
Remember to regularly read your business’s reviews so that you can stay on top of complaints you receive. By handling these matters as soon as possible, you can reduce negative feedback on your Business Profile and continue to keep your positive reviews as prominent features.
Yelp is a review platform that allows users to search for local businesses such as restaurants, nightclubs, and home service companies. According to Yelp for Business, over 90 million people use its platform to search for local businesses, making it a valuable resource for marketing your company to people in the area(s) you serve.
Creating a business listing is free and easy on Yelp. To create your business profile, take these steps:
1. Go to Yelp for Business and click “Manage your free listing” at the top right corner. Alternatively, you can click this link directly to go to the listing form page.
2. Type in the name of your business in the “Your business name” text bar. A drop-down menu of options will appear. Select your company’s name.
o Note: If Yelp cannot find your business, you can click “Add to Yelp for free” to add your business to Yelp’s search listing. With this process, you can fill out key business details, including photos and contact information.
3. Create a free business user account with Yelp. You should use an email address associated with your business but that you also check regularly so that you don’t miss important updates or information.
4. Verify your business user account. You’ll have an option to receive a verification code by phone or email. Select your choice, then enter the verification code in the text bar to complete this process.
Once you create a Yelp business profile, your business is then open to receive reviews from consumers.
If you would like to upgrade your business profile to a paid version on Yelp, you can do it through your dashboard.
Yelp offers “Find Us On Yelp” stickers that you can post at the front of your business (or wherever customers are likely to see it) to prompt customers to review your business on Yelp.
To request a sticker for your business, take these steps:
1. Go to the “Find Us On Yelp” sticker request Google form.
2. Fill out your business’s address information and an email address you can be reached at.
3. Click “Submit” to complete your form.
You will receive your sticker in the mail to the address you list in the form. Keep in mind that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may take some time before you receive your sticker. Yelp claims to return to a regular delivery schedule in early 2022.
You can respond to Yelp reviews on your business profile in two ways:
Public Comments are review responses that anyone visiting your business profile can see. To respond to a review with a Public Comment, do these steps:
1. Go to your Business Profile on Yelp.
2. Select “Reviews” to read through your current reviews.
3. When you find a review you want to respond to, click “Add Public Comment” on that specific review.
4. Fill out your response. You can choose to “Preview” your response to check for typos and inaccurate information, or you can select “Post Comment” and submit your response immediately.
It is better to respond publicly to most of your reviews, as it can build on top of your business’s reputation with its consumer base. Keep wording professional and avoid sending angry or annoyed responses.
If you receive a negative review, you can opt to send a direct message as a response, then resolve the issue privately. Here are the steps to send a direct message to a consumer:
1. Go to your Yelp Business Profile.
2. Select “Reviews” to read through your current reviews.
3. If you see a negative review, you can click “Send Direct Message” to write them a private reply in hopes of changing their perspective or resolving an issue.
4. Write your DM response, then click “Send.”
If you decide to handle feedback exchanges privately, you can also request the reviewer delete their negative review now that your company has resolved the issue with them.
If you see a review that is fake or vulgar, you can request Yelp to remove the review so that it no longer affects your business. Here are the steps to report inappropriate Yelp reviews:
1. Go to your Business Profile account.
2. Select “Reviews” to go through your reviews and filter out questionable accounts.
3. Go to the review that you suspect is fake or inappropriate, then click on “More Options” to get a drop-down menu.
4. Click “Report Review” to have Yelp moderators analyze the review you requested be deleted.
Once you submit your request, you will have to wait a few days to see if the review was deleted per your request.
Yelp has a strict policy against soliciting or purchasing reviews. If you attempt to pay other Yelp users to leave positive reviews for your company, Yelp may remove those reviews without notice.
In some cases, reviews can get labeled as “Yelp Reviews Not Recommended,” which can damage your ability to market your business to people in your community.
Yelp may remove reviews that violate content guidelines or are “not recommended”
Reviews labeled “not recommended” often trace back to users who did not complete their reviewer profiles. Reviews that seem suspicious or fake may also get labeled “not recommended,” which hides these reviews from the public eye.
Some content violations include reviews that:
● Contain hate speech
● Contain promotional content
● Show a conflict of interest (e.g., a person reviews a business that one of their family members own)
● Are irrelevant to your business proceedings
● Include plagiarism
Some strategies to encourage people to review your business include:
● Hosting Yelp Events: You can create Yelp Events, which can attract new and regular consumers to your business. Yelp-organized events often lead people to review these events to share their experiences and encourage others to visit specific restaurants, nightclubs, and other social gathering locations.
● Claiming badges and other notable items to add to your business profile: You can request the “People Love Us On Yelp” window link to boost your business’s online presence on Yelp. Additionally, you can browse other badges offered by Yelp that can help you promote your business. There are 58 badges available, ranging from “Happy Hour Power” badges to “Sharing Is Caring” badges.
● Responding to reviews as soon as possible to reduce reply times: When consumers notice that a business actively responds to their customer base on a regular basis, that can encourage people to interact with that business. By responding to reviews publicly, it allows other people to see that your business is highly responsive to its customers’ needs and feedback, which can encourage people to privately message you with questions or make judgments to buy products/services from your company.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is an established business directory that helps consumers determine whether a business is legitimate and accredited. The BBB maintains authority, so while people may initially go to Google and Yelp to read common reviews about a business, they may look up that business’s BBB profile to confirm whether it is safe to purchase products or services from that company.
Follow these steps to add your business to the BBB directory:
1. Go to the “Add a Business to the BBB Directory” page.
2. Select “Are you the business owner or manager?”
3. Fill out your company’s information, including what type of business it is and any other information you would like on your profile.
4. Click “Submit your request.”
It is free to create a listing for your business. Once you submit your request and your listing is created, you can request BBB accreditation.
BBB Accreditation boosts the credibility of a company due to the screening process businesses must go through to obtain this level. If you would like to request accreditation for your business, follow these steps:
1. Go to the “Get Accredited” page on BBB’s website.
2. On the lefthand side of the website, fill out the “Learn more about BBB Accreditation” form box to receive additional information about business accreditation.
3. When you fill out the form, you will receive a link to complete your application. Fill out your application form and follow the instructions.
4. After you submit your application, you must go through a BBB application evaluation.
5. Once the BBB finishes its evaluation, it will contact you about whether your business was approved or denied for accreditation.
6. If you were accepted, you must pay your accreditation fees.
Once you establish your business profiles, you can manage your reviews.
Accredited businesses on BBB have a legal obligation to respond to complaints on their business profiles. Businesses that are not accredited do not have to respond to negative reviews or complaints. However, if a consumer decides to file a lawsuit against your business related to their complaint and you do not respond, this can paint a negative light on your business during legal proceedings.
That being said, if your company receives a BBB complaint, follow these steps:
1. Read and review the BBB complaint to understand the issue at hand.
2. Respond to the BBB complaint within 14 days of receiving it. The BBB will send a follow-up letter if you do not file a response within this time frame.
3. Follow any instructions from the BBB. You have 30 days to respond to the client’s complaint. If you do not respond within this 30-day window, the BBB will close the complaint and let the customer know that your business did not respond. Depending on the type of complaint you receive, you may want to consider hiring a business lawyer to represent you during the complaints process.
4. Within the 30-day complaint period, you can also reach out to the consumer privately and attempt to resolve the BBB complaint. This can be a good option if you would like to avoid having to go to court to settle the dispute.
5. If necessary, you can request a BBB complaint be removed during the complaint period, provided that the complaint violates the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA). This includes fake reviews/complaints, which you can spot if the text includes repetitive phrasing, plagiarism, and generic profiles that cannot be traced to a specific individual.
Angi, formerly known as Angie’s List, is an online directory for local businesses and contractors, usually for home services. If your business caters to home improvement and similar industries, you may want to build a business profile on Angi to receive and manage reviews.
In doing so, you can boost local engagement to your business, including those who might not have discovered your company without being able to find it on an online directory.
How to create and claim your business profile on Angi
If you would like to expand your review network to Angi, do these steps to create your business profile:
1. Go to Angi Ads.
2. Click “List my business.”
3. Fill in what type of business you have and your zip code, then follow instructions on the website to fill out information for your business page.
4. Once you fill out key business details, you can claim your business to set up your account.
Angi is free to use, though businesses can purchase upgrades to get better marketing feeders with Angi.
Additionally, if you maintain at least one review with three or more stars, you can get your business Angi Certified, which can boost potential for reviews on your business.
These best practices can help you get reviews on Angi:
● Share your Angi business profile on social media: When marketing your business on various social media platforms, don’t forget to link to your Angi business profile to let people review your business.
● Encourage referrals from your subscribers: You can encourage people to review your business or refer your business and link to your Angi business profile. In doing so, you may receive a wider range of reviews from both devoted followers and new clients.
● Ask your consumers directly: Sometimes the simplest method is the one that works. You can ask your consumers to provide feedback on your Angi business profile, but be careful not to solicit only positive reviews.
If you suspect one or more of your Angi reviews are fake or violate the Communications Decency Act (CDA), you may be able to request those reviews be removed from your business profile.
You can request review removals on Angi’s website. Keep in mind that you can request removals if the review:
● Contains hate speech
● Infringes on your intellectual property
● Encourages piracy or spreading illegal content
● Contains altered information that opens you and/or other parties to liability
If you receive a complaint that is defamatory in nature, you may have to consider taking legal action against the reviewer to preserve your company’s reputation and brand. If so, you can enlist the help of a business lawyer to represent your case. A lawyer will read the defamatory review(s) and collect evidence that shows how the statements written were false or taken out of context, among other potential arguments.
One strategy to receive more positive reviews for your business involves providing high quality customer service, meaning you shorten response times when answering customers’ messages on any platform they can have contact with your business. At Smith.ai, our virtual receptionists can handle initial contact with customers and improve your business’s reputation by:
● Greeting customers with a friendly demeanor and tone
● Offering bilingual services to accommodate customers who prefer to speak in Spanish instead of English
● Following up with customers who fill out online forms on your website
Our virtual receptionists can then filter through your leads and transfer qualified leads to your sales and marketing teams to handle customer queries. We provide detailed call summaries and website chat transcripts so that your representatives can handle transfers with ease.
Book a free 30-minute sales consultation to learn more about how Smith.ai can help grow your business. You can also view our pricing chart for receptionist services or chat services, depending on your company’s needs. We offer a 14-day, money-back guarantee with our services, and all other queries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional questions.