The days of potential customers finding you by leafing through the Yellow Pages is gone. Now they just log on and search, and you’d better make sure you’re there!
Yelp had 71 million unique monthly visitors in Q1 2012
The first place they are likely to search is Google, specifically Google Places, which is now part of the company’s new social networking site Google+, according to Corey Perlman, president of eBoot Camp, an educational firm that guides businesses on the Internet.
“Google+ is an opportunity for consumers to learn about your business prior to going to your website,” he explains. “And they will often decide who they will do business with based on what they see.” A customer may even make a decision based on your proximity to their home, also revealed on Google+.
Yelp.com is strictly a review site rather than just a business listing like Google+ or Yahoo Local. However, while all these sites host reviews, Yelp is by far the leader simply due to its prevalence and a popular mobile app.
Regardless, you have to brace yourself for the possibility — more likely, the probability — of some negative reviews. The only way to counteract them is to make sure the positive reviews outnumber the bad ones, according to Larry Green, CEO of System Pavers, in Santa Ana, Calif.
“Bad reviews won’t go away, they just get moved lower,” he says. “So you have to put your neck on the line and ask your customers to post an honest review about you. This is literally the only way to do it. The process never stops. Customer satisfaction is raised to a whole new level due to the transparency out there.”
Perlman likens these sites to alcohol: “When people drink, they say things they wouldn’t normally say sober,” he explains. “Likewise, when people get behind a computer screen, they say things online they wouldn’t normally say to your face.”
—Mark A. Newman, senior editor, REMODELING.