As a small business you want to be on as many online listings as possible. Be warned, anytime you add your business to an online listing you will get calls from salespeople selling their upgraded services to your business. This is not necessarily bad, but don’t sign up for all the online listings the day before your busiest day of the year.
If you have a home based business, and use a cell phone to keep in touch with your clients, some online listings will not allow you to be listed at all. I have only encountered one site that won’t give you any listing unless you pay, and that is CityGrid.com.
The most well known online listings are Google, Yahoo and Yelp. Yelp is very controversial. Let’s say you have a customer who loves your business, and wants to write a raving review for. Well unless they are a regular dedicated Yelper, their review will be filtered out. Only avid Yelpers reviews stay for all to see. I wonder sometimes when I see people with thousands of reviews, and I think to myself, they HAVE to be getting paid by someone to be that dedicated to something.
I love Google and Yahoo. First of all, they don’t have salespeople that call me. If you are a small business, you know what a nuisance it is getting calls from salespeople promising you more business. Second, they are starting to put this information in top spots for search results. It is much more consumer, and business, friendly to have a list of plumbers in your area show up when you search for plumbers in your area, than a list of websites that use the words plumbers in your area the most.
The reviews are what they are. Some are fake, some are by disgruntled employees, and some are true. Just browse through them and take them for what they are.
Let’s say a major source of revenue for a business is hidden fees. If you read the reviews, this will become very obvious to you very fast. Look for themes within the different reviews, and never take one individual review too seriously.
As a small business owner do not be afraid of these reviews, if you pride yourself in doing a great job and have wonderful customer service. Do routine (weekly) checks to see what the reviews are saying about your business. Google alerts allow you to be automatically emailed anything anybody is saying about your business (and it is free).
If your business model does involve hidden fees and cheating customers, the internet will tattle tale on you soon enough. In a way, the internet is leveling the playing field by allowing bait and switch companies to be seen for what they are.