In the digital world, it’s now more crucial than ever to pay attention to what people are saying about your business or website, mostly because “word-of-mouth” advertising has extended onto the web, utilizing social media and various websites for customers and users to share their opinion with people they don’t know, from locations around the world.

There are a lot of review websites out there, but Site Jabber and Yelp! have gone above and beyond in order to build effective and fun social communities right alongside the review process (full disclosure: I was a freelance Yelp! scout for 3 months in 2008).

Site Jabber, which I found out about from Mashable is a really creative idea- users can create a profile or login using their facebook account information and write reviews of websites. The review process is very simple and any website can be reviewed. They are then categorized. Webmasters and site fans can also ask members of the Site Jabber community to review a website, allowing them to receive feedback about what users expect out of a website. Users can say whether or not an individual review was helpful, along with having the option to share it on other social media sites.

Yelp! begin as a local review site in San Francisco and has since expanded to include all of the United States and is now in the United Kingdom. Yelp! users can review any business, from their dentist to the new jazz club that opened up downtown. They can also post pictures of that business and give compliments to other users. Reviews can be rated as “funny”, “useful”, and/or “cool”. The Yelp! profile is very fun to fill out and offers fields such as “My Most Recent Discovery”.

Yelp accepts advertising from businesses and sometimes makes them ‘featured’ pages or puts that business first in the search results. At this time, because SiteJabber is still relatively new, it has no advertisements.

The following are some tips for making the most of these review websites, in order to not only increase customers’ opinions of your level of customer service, but to also learn from feedback in order to make your website and business the most successful it can be. But remember, always be upfront and honest about who you are — never pose as a user and give your website or business a positive review. This is not reflective of the positive image you are trying to build.

Respond to Both Positive and Negative Reviews
When I first started “yelping” about businesses in the Kansas City area, I gave a great review to this new bar and restaurant in the Power and Light District that I really enjoyed. The establishment’s owner contacted me personally and said he appreciated my review and that he hoped I’d come down for their specials that Friday. That really impressed me, and lead me to recommend it even more than I already did to friends and family.

As far as negative reviews go, respond in the same manner. Recognize the person’s gripes and say what you will do to rectify the situation. Emphasize that their opinion is important to you and you hope they’ll come back again. But remember, NEVER bribe customers to change their review or post a positive review of your website or business. That is not good business practice and may get you in trouble with Yelp! or SiteJabber.

Add Photos and Update Contact Info
Yelp! allows any users to add photos to a business listing, as well as recommend changes to the businesses’ address or operating hours if they are incorrect. Yelp! has to approve the change, but the turnaround time is usually quick. Both sites allow you to submit a new business entry that can be reviewed right away.

Ask your customers to post reviews
Ask your regular and new customers to post a review of your website or business. Place a link on your website to your listing and make it easy for people to share their opinions. It’s crucial to be objective and never bribe for good reviews or threaten customers if they post negative reviews. It’s important to remember that all feedback is good feedback.

Use feedback to make changes
This is the most important part of utilizing review websites. Take all negative feedback as constructive criticism and emphasize the things that are being done well. Use direct messages, Twitter, Facebook, Email Newsletters, and other mediums to get the word out that you have not only heard what your customers and users have to say, you are implementing it. This will increase your image, bring in new members and customers, and cause more people to leave reviews!

Have any of you used review websites to improve your website or business? Let us know!

Note: TownMe is a new review site that is generating a lot of positive buzz as well. It is developed by former employees of Google. Urban Spoon is also a respected restaurant review site.

Kelsey Jones

Kelsey Jones

Founder/Chief Marketing Consultant at Six Stories
Kelsey Jones helps clients around the world grow their social media, content, and search marketing presence. She enjoys writing and consuming all kinds of content, both in digital and tattered paperback form.
Kelsey Jones
Kelsey Jones