Ratings 101

Your online rating plays a bigger role than you think
July 14, 2015 Hannah Whitten
3 minute read

Online reviews are everywhere.

From Yelp to Google to Facebook and beyond, consumers are doing their research when it comes to where they spend their money.

Even online maps are connected to reviews (Yelp to Apple, Google to Android), so your ratings are front and center when a customer searches for directions.

your online ratings matter more than you think

Formerly, positive reviews were nice, but not necessary. With the rise in social media and specifically tailored review sites, your ratings are crucial to your business. Read on for the who, how, and why on online reviews, and how to make them work for you rather than against you.

Who can leave me reviews?

Anyone! Happy customers, angry customers, even customers from years ago — anyone with an internet connection can leave your business a review. On some sites, customers can even create a review page for you if you don't have one already!

Make this work for you by having your employees ask for positive reviews when they know the customer had a positive experience.

Where do these reviews appear?

There are three main sites where consumers leave reviews:

  • Yelp. Yelp is arguably the most visible online review site. It's connected to Apple Maps, shows up high in a Google search for your business, and is generally the first place people go when searching for reviews. Yelp requires a user create an account in order to leave a review.

Yelp uses a feature called the "filter" to determine which reviews are used to calculate a business's score. The filter algorithm is closely guarded - even their employees aren't entirely sure what it consists of. We know for sure that in order for a review to stick, Yelp has to deem it "credible." In this case, credible means that the review came from someone who is an established Yelper and provides lots of details about their experience. First-time reviews and reviews that don't provide much info are very likely to be filtered and end up in the "Not Recommended" section.

  • Google. Google is the next most prominent site. Google reviews are tied to Android Maps, show up very high in search engines, and are featured in the right-side info panels in a web search. All someone needs to leave a Google review is a Gmail address.

Google recently started employing a filter of their own, though it's nowhere near as comprehensive as Yelp's. Google does an internal audit of reveiws before it pushes them to your live page, reviewing them for "quality" - basically, making sure the review isn't spam and the reviewer isn't a robot. If a review is from a legit email address and doesn't use binary code, chances are it will be pushed to your live page.

  • Facebook. Facebook's primary function isn't as a review site, but the review option is gaining traction fast. While Yelp and Google seem to attract more negative feedback, Facebook reviews are generally positive. Anyone with a Facebook account can leave a Facebook review, and they currently do not have a filtering system

How do I protect my online reputation?

Every review site has the option for the business to respond. It's crucial that you take advantage of this feature for both positive and negative feedback to make your customers feel heard, and let them know their feedback is valuable.

Get your staff involved! Educate them on:

  • Why online reviews are important

  • Where online reviews show up and how they impact your business

  • Asking for reviews from regulars and happy customers

  • Using reviews as a learning tool to improve customer service

Don't have time to manage this yourself? Many companies (like GoFanbase!) track your reputation sites to keep you informed of new reviews and create tailored responses for positive and negative reviews alike. Employing professionals to help you manage your review sites can make a huge difference in cultivating a positive presence and diffusing negative situations so they have as little impact on your reputation as possible.

How does a good reputation translate into more revenue?

A one-star increase in your Yelp score can lead to a 5 - 9% increase in overall revenue.

Basically, the more potential customers feel like they can trust you due to high ratings, the more they will choose to give their business to you. Even usual deal-breakers like shorter hours or higher prices are generally overshadowed by a stellar Yelp or Google score.