Which Sites Should You Focus on for Reviews? – Whitespark Local Insider

Online reviews are super important for local businesses, but which sites should you focus your efforts on? In this Whitespark Local Insider episode (formerly the Weekly), Darren explains how to determine which review sites are the most valuable for your business, and how to prioritize them for maximum impact.

Video Transcript

Today’s topic for the Whitespark Weekly is “Which sites should you be focusing on for getting reviews?”

Which is the most important site to get reviews on? What other sites are important to get reviews on? When should you start diversifying? I’m going to try and cover all that today and give you some concrete advice on how you should be asking for reviews, which sites you should be focusing on, etc.

Which is the Most Important Site to get Reviews on?

To answer the first question, “what is the most important site?” I’m just going to come out and say that it’s Google. In my opinion, Google really stands out as the most important site to start with. The other sites are extremely important as well, and I will talk about diversification, but I want to talk about Google first because it’s just such a prominent site. I’m looking at an example here, Saskatoon personal trainers… When someone is searching for your business on Google, the site that really stands out is the site that’s in the local pack.

So if I take a look at the local pack here for Saskatoon personal trainers, you can see these three businesses. You’ve got GRevolution Training & Fitness, they only have 1 review, Fitness Focus has 21 reviews, and Mpowered Fitness has 19 reviews. So even though GRevolution is ranking number one, I’m a little bit drawn to the other two, especially that third one because they’ve got that emoji in their business name.

Little tip, the way you get that is by adding it through the Google My Business mobile app. So if you use the mobile app, you can actually edit your business name and add the emoji through there. I think it’s technically against Google’s guidelines, so I’ll leave that to you if you’re interested in adding an emoji (we added a rocket to ours and it got removed), but it’s an interesting way to draw attention to your listing.

Going back to the reviews here, if you look at GRevolution here, they do rank number one, but I’m more likely, if I’m researching these, to look at the other reviews. Like is this the only review they’ve got? Yeah, one person left a five-star review with no content. That is not compelling in the least. So, GRevolution, good job with your ranking, not so good job with your reviews.

Fitness Focus, you know, I’m looking at them. I can learn a lot more about the business. I can see there’s reviews. I’m researching, I’m trying to find a good personal trainer. Sorry, Rob Friedt, I’m probably not even going to look at you. And so the prominence of Google, the visibility of Google really makes Google your first go-to to make sure that you’ve got a good presence.

And, you know, reviews don’t directly correlate with rankings, obviously. If you look at Fitness For 10, they have 91 reviews, so they’ve been working hard on the review strategy. But having no reviews, kind of you’re out of the equation now. You don’t really have a chance at getting that business. Having one review is not quite enough. So you really want to make sure that you’re getting enough reviews, and that you’re kind of on par with the competition.

So I’m going to be drawn to Fitness Focus, they have 21, Mpowered Fitness, you know, Courtney Quinn. I’m going to read these reviews and get a sense about, you know, which of these businesses just sounds good to me when I’m looking for this particular service. And so your goal is to kind of get your reviews to that point where you’re on par. In this case, 17 to 20, if you have reviews in that range… And it always depends on your industry. So some industries are going to have way more reviews. You want to get into that competitive range with the rest of your competition and then you can start diversifying.

Let’s look at a few other examples, so let’s say Denver lawyers.

This law firm here has 184, Denver Trial Lawyers has 14, Hernandez & Associates has 33. You don’t have to chase the number one. So if someone has got far and away more reviews than the rest of the competition, you don’t have to keep fighting to get it up there.

Start diversifying much earlier than that. As long as you have enough to represent your business well on Google, then you should start diversifying. So like 230, you don’t have to get that high. All of these are contenders now. I can look at them, I can learn a little bit more about their business. Once you’ve kind of got that baseline… So if this was my market and it was my law firm, I would probably be comfortable starting to diversify at around 20 reviews.

Some other examples here. This is a much smaller market, so if we’re looking at Tulsa, Oklahoma psychologists

Fran doesn’t have any reviews, Lara has two, Brittany has one. This is an opportunity really for any counselors in this city, to kind of stand out from the crowd. Let’s say you had 10, I would be drawn to your listing.

So keeping that in mind, once you’ve kind of got Google sorted out and you are looking good compared to the rest of the competition.

Now it’s Time to Diversify

The way you diversify is through looking at what sites are ranking well when you do some keyword searches. So if I go back to, let’s say, Denver lawyers, what are the sites that are ranking here?

I see Justia, I see FindLaw, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Super Lawyers, Avvo. These are the sites that are ranking prominently in Google that you can get reviews on, but these are the sites that make up your diversification pool, so other sites that you want to get reviews on. These ones are very important.

If I look at another key phrase, so this is the psychologists, what are the sites that are ranking here that are review sites?

You’ve got…I don’t believe Psychology Today, you can get reviews on, but if you can, then that’s an option. You’ve got RateMDs, you’ve got Yelp, Healthgrades. So if you’re a psychologist, you have Yellow Pages, these are your sites that you want to focus on for getting more reviews.

And there’s two reasons for that. One, these sites actually rank quite prominently in Google. So not everyone is going to go to the local pack and say, “Okay, these are my businesses that I’m going to target.” They may want to do a little bit more digging, they may be looking at the RateMDs site, they might be looking at the top 10 best psychologists in Tulsa on the Yelp listing. So getting more reviews on these sites will actually help you to rank better within those lists.

If I go to the best 10 psychologists on the Yelp page here, all of these businesses have an opportunity here. If they get more reviews, they will rank higher on this page in particular. So if I go down here, and let’s say it’s Family Therapy and Renewal Center, if they had two reviews, probably they’ll jump up to the top of this page. They would outrank this one just because they have two reviews.

On most of these sites, the way that you rank within the site itself is to have more reviews. This is a great opportunity for improving your rankings on this site, and especially if you’re not in this top 10 list. If you’re not on this top 10 list, you could get into that top 10 list just by getting 1 or 2 reviews on Yelp. It’s a great opportunity. Other markets are going to be more competitive, of course, but this is a very important site for you.

So that’s the first reason, because the sites themselves will drive leads because people will research on the site themselves. And then the second reason is that once you are ranking prominently within that site, that listing you have on Yelp or Healthgrades or RateMDs, it transfers some of its authority from the domain authority and strength of Yelp or Healthgrades to your Google My Business listing. So it actually is a ranking booster in Google as well.

If you only focused on Google reviews, you’re shooting yourself in the foot a little bit by not getting the benefit of a stronger listing on some of these other sites that rank prominently. Imagine this, what are the best sites you can get links from for a search for Tulsa, Oklahoma psychologists, let’s say you want to rank for that?

Any of the pages on page one are excellent opportunities for you to get links. If you have links from every one of these pages, these are the pages that Google thinks are authoritative for that term, so making sure that you are listed on all those pages can really convey a lot of authority back to your listing at Google. So you get to get big ranking benefit as well.

One of our clients that we worked with was a mover and, before he really got into his SEO, was doing quite well in Yelp because he ranked on one of those top 10 pages for Evanston movers on Yelp. And that one listing on Yelp, being at the top of that, was enough to drive him a ton of business. He got a ton of business just from that one listing. And so it’s not always about ranking, you can actually get quite a bit of value from these sites on their own.

Okay, so you’ve focused on Google, you’re diversifying on some of these other sites, you’ve identified some of these other sites… another way that you want to find the sites that are important is to do a branded search. So if we look at this business here, New England Plumbing, Miami, a branded search will bring up their knowledge panel and a whole bunch of other sites. And these are the sites that Google wants to show users.

So Yelp is really prominent here, Better Business Bureau is important for them, yellowpages.com, houzz.com, Facebook, Manta. These also come into your pool of sites that you want to diversify your review asks around. Because once you can get this page looking good, think about how people search. They might start at their search results looking through them, but then they’re going to start doing a branded search. They’re going to look for your business, see if they can learn a little bit more about you.

And so, if you can get review stars on all of these, you have a huge opportunity to really show the searcher that you are a great business and you’re not just completely focused on Google or Yelp or whatever, you have reviews on all of these. And so when you have a whole page full of five stars or four stars, then you look like a very prominent business that is getting reviews from all kinds of places and it speaks well to the business.

Mike Blumenthal authored a fantastic post on the importance of this page. He calls it “Google As The New Home Page.” So I encourage you to read this post on the GetFiveStars blog and just… He really goes into the nuances of all the details that you can optimize on this branded search page. But in terms of diversifying your reviews, once you get Google squared away, then you move into all of these sites.

And so this is how you identify these sites. And you want to rotate through them. So if you are manually doing review asks, you can ask for the reviews. You know, one person you’ll send to Facebook, the next person you’ll send to BBB. The next person you ask, you’ll send to Yellow Pages. You can sort of rotate through them manually.

If you are using a software system, like our Reputation Builder, then on your review ask page, you’ll put in the links to all of them and you can maybe go in there and switch them up and rotate them around once in a while as you focus on different sites.

Really important is to not forget about Google. Let’s say, you get Google squared away, you’re happy where you stand there, don’t forget about it, because if you don’t have fresh reviews on there, people start to trust the reviews less. You want make sure that you have reviews that are not older than three months old.

Otherwise, people will look at that and be like, “Well, are they still a good business?” If your last review was a year ago, then it’s not really telling people about how you are today. And so it’s really important to make sure that you continue to ask on Google as well. So once you start diversifying, make sure you’re still mixing Google into the mix.

And one final question that a lot of people ask is, is it worth it to pay for higher placement on some of these sites? And in some industries, I think the answer is, absolutely yes, particularly in the legal space.

Let’s look at the Justia list here.

You see these are premium listings. Todd Burnham here, he’s going to get a lot of calls just from this listing. It can be expensive, but they can drive a ton of leads just on their own. Anyone that’s paid for these premium listings, they are driving leads from them, and I’ve talked to lawyers that see a pretty decent return on investment from this. So there is value in there.

So, yes, I think it’s valuable to pay for listings on some sites that have a prominent placement in Google. Look at the listing, see where the opportunities are. If they’re not showing up in Google for your key phrases, then maybe don’t invest in them. But the ones that are, those are often good opportunities to pay for an enhanced listing.

Four-point Plan:

  1. Start with Google. Make sure that you are competitive with the rest of your competitors there in terms of number of reviews on Google.
  2. Start diversifying. You want to find sites by doing keyword searches, you want to find sites by doing branded searches.
  3. Don’t just stop at your own brand, look at competitors and see what other sites are showing up there. Those of the sites that Google thinks are important.
  4. Make sure that you continue to ask for reviews, rotate through them, and ask for reviews on Google as well.

I hope that was helpful and we’ll see you again next week. Bye, everybody!


Darren Shaw

Darren Shaw founded Whitespark in 2005. The company specialized in web design and development, however, Darren's passion and curiosity for all things local search led Whitespark to focus primarily on local SEO in 2010 with the launch of the Local Citation Finder, followed by the Local Rank Tracker.

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10 comments on “Which Sites Should You Focus on for Reviews? – Whitespark Local Insider

  • Great process but I have a practical problem. Here in the province of Quebec, I can get Google and FB reviews but it is next to impossible to get reviews on the other sites like Yelp and YellowPages because no one has profiles on these sites.

  • Hey Darren,

    What I’m hearing a lot from those searching for services now is that reviews are not really all that important to them anymore. Some have claimed that they found many of the reviews they’ve read online were obviously phony or paid-for reviews.

    This feedback literally caught me by surprise and I could not make an intelligent retort. What would a good response to that sort of feedback?

    • I have heard that too. Some people think that, but I wouldn’t suspect the majority thinks that. It’s still incredibly valuable to get reviews. People are learning to be able to see which reviews are trustworthy, and which are not.

  • Hi guys,
    I know it’s out of topic, but can someone tell me how to get that “muscle” icon on first image which is showing three pack…thank you!

    • Just edit your GMB listing using the Google My Business mobile app, and enter the emoji you want into the business name.

  • Great article as always Darren. How important is it placing the reviews on your website as compared to just keeping them on the actual review site?.
    I relise it adds trust for visitors but is there any other benefit as far as Google’s concerned?.

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