Not on Angie’s List? Why Now May be the Time to Reconsider

How Angie’s List’s New Free Membership Could Impact Your Business

Read about Angie’s List decision to offer a new free membership and how it can help local business SEO…

Angie's List Business Owners page

Perhaps you have heard about Angie’s List and were not sure if it had much of an impact on your local business.

As a local business owner, you should know that many customers and potential customers have found the List to be a great place to read, and place, reviews on local businesses.

Like many review sites, a reviewer must join Angie’s List in order to place a review. Not only that, they have to be a member in order to read other reviews.

For many, both consumers and businesses, this was a small stumbling block.

While many people have joined, others have balked because there was a membership fee. Some found the fee to be worthwhile and others decided they would rather use one of the free review sites.

Since the fee did deter some people from using the site, you might have decide that Angie’s List was not that relevant to your business, so you didn’t bother to even claim your profile. (Yes, you might have a profile–and some reviews–there and not even know it, in this case!)

You could be on Angie’s List already and not even know it.

Angie’s List is a community where members and local providers can connect. Your profile is your first impression to members, so make it count! Build a robust profile that includes a business description, operating hours, areas of specialty, responsiveness, reviews and more. Members consider this information before deciding who contact.

After you interact with members, they submit reviews on their experiences. Reviews are given in the form of a letter grade, and are a great way to gain insights about how customers and patients view your services.

Angie’s List reviews are:

      • Never anonymous

      • Verified by BPA Worldwide’s certification process

      • Submitted online, through mail or over the phone

      • Easily accessible to read and respond

Well, hang on to your seats…because Angie’s List’s new CEO has decided to offer a free “green” membership.

This is great news for your local business because now even more people will be able to see your profile page and all your positive reviews–without having to pay ‘for admission.’

Angie's list graphic

We have long encouraged our clients to claim their profile on AL if their business was in one of the appropriate categories. Now, they have not only providing a free membership, they have also expanded the list of business categories, from Air Duct Cleaning to Welding!

Angie's List Categories

One of the benefits of claiming your business profile is that you can manage your reviews. Keeping on top of both positive and negative reviews is essential for your business.

On review sites, whether Google, Yelp, Brownbook, Angie’s List or others you want to be sure you are responding promptly to negative reviews. Your prompt response gives you the opportunity to rectify any situations that need to be fixed–and let the customer (and others) know how you have handled it. All good PR, and it should be SOP (standard operating procedure) for any business.

Angie’s List is one of the review sites that is also excellent from an local business SEO perspective–one of the other reasons we suggest claiming your business listing. AL is seen as a trusted site, which links out to your site–and you can link to theirs–and that all is good search engine “mojo.”

So what have you got to lose? If you haven’t already claimed your listing, this just might be the final push you needed to convince you that it is a good idea.

Got Bad Reviews?

You take pride in your business, work hard to do a good job, provide value to your customers.

Then, one day you find a really negative review on Google+ or Yelp! or one of the other review sites.

woman covering face sad

“Oh no, Mr Bill”, what are you going to do?

If you run a business, any kind of business, you are going to have people who are not happy with your product or service at some point. And some of those people will write a bad review on line.

Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has a bad day once in a while, so having a bad review first and foremost means you are human.

Feeling terrible about it will not do anything to help the unhappy customer or you.

So what should you do?

First do some research:

Did the customer leave their name–if so you may ultimately want to get with them to see if you can “make it right”, especially if they a regular.

But hold the phone–before you go calling the reviewer, or responding to the review online, do a little fact finding.

Was the information in the review accurate? Are there lessons that you can learn from the critique?

Once you know if there are things you believe can be improved or not, NOW you can respond. Let the reviewer know they were heard (if the comments were so vague you can’t implement any change then feel free to ask for more details so you can improve your business–let them know you appreciate the feedback.) And let them know HOW you are going to fix the situation (if you can) and how you will “make it right” for them.

Will this work 100% of the time? Honestly? Nope.

There are some people who, once they are unhappy with you, no matter what you do you will not be able to make it right.

There are also people who are just plain negative and are never happy with anyone. Fortunately, there aren’t that many of them and your best bet may be to walk away.

And sadly, there are people who will place negative reviews against competitors that are totally untrue. Some you will be able to verify that they are false and you should be able to get those removed. Some you may never get removed.

If that happens, don’t bury your head in your hands. Keep your chin up and keep up the good work. People and businesses who insist in pursuing unethical methods to boost their business will be found out. Instead of putting any more attention on them, turn all you attention to the wonderful customers you already have and the new ones you are getting because of your good work.

Good people win out in the end. Be good people.



Local Business Reviews Update

Remember the old shampoo commercial where the woman is so happy she tells two friends and they tell 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on?

The point of the commercial is twofold (pun intended!)

First, if you have a great product, people will tell their friends about it! Word of mouth advertising is free, so all businesses can benefit from it, and afford it.

Second is the concept of geometric progression. When these happy customers each tell 2 friends the company isn’t adding just 2 need customers: they are quickly adding hundreds of customers because of this concept. 1 becomes 2 which becomes 4 and so on… 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256…

Bottom line, every happy customer can result in a huge lead pool for your business.

Today the way we tell 2 friends, and so on and so on, is through the internet and social media!

If you have a service that gathers customer reviews be sure it is easily found on the internet. Having a service that actively solicits reviews from your customers after they have been to your store can be a great benefit for some–as long as customers don’t feel harassed, which is a huge turn-off.

Don’t have a service? Don’t worry. One of the best ways to get reviews is simply to ask your customers to give you one!

The best situation is when you get reviews on a variety of sources. A few reviews on several different sites, such as Google+, Angie’s List, and Yelp! is better than having all of your reviews in one place. This also makes it easier for your customers. Gone are the days when all your reviews need to be funneled to one site–so wherever your customer already goes on line is the perfect place for them to write a review for you!

Remember–you want to make it EASY for customers to let others know how pleased they are with your product or service. Unhappy customers will make the effort to leave a negative review, but those that are happy with your work may not unless you ask for it. Let them know you could use their help in getting the word out.

If your clients tell you they aren’t online or don’t know how to leave a review online–have a card handy for them to leave you a review in writing. Ask their permission for you to post it to your website on a testimonials page and you are good to go!

To more happy customers leaving positive reviews resulting in more happy customers!



Business Reviews Update: Yelp Site a Waste of Time

I have been telling clients for a long time that reviews are an important part of their internet advertising. Search engines like Google like to see that people have been to your business. So we have encouraged our clients to ask their customers for reviews and if possible, to write them on Google or other sites like Yelp where they might have a membership. We are changing our tune and are not presently recommending Yelp.

A big reason that we have encouraged our clients to use Yelp is because of their reputation for filtering out reviews that are not real. One of the reasons we haven’t been in love with Yelp is it is next to impossible to delete a negative review–even if you have cleared up the situation that caused the review, or if the negative review was unfairly written. But…bad reviews happen, just like a business can have a bad day…so a small percentage of bad reviews make it look more “real” in the eyes of the review sites. And we can’t really disagree with that line of thinking.

Now it appears Yelp is removing legitimate reviews…even ones that have been on their site for months and that can be verified to have followed their terms of service.

This is all about what I view to be the biggest challenge to the use of review sites: they offer paid advertising slots which can seem to influence their site’s performance.

Sure, everyone should be able to earn a living…but is your site a review site or are you merely listing ads like a modern day phone book? Many of the sites will come right out and tell you that if you don’t pay for an ad then your site’s listing will not be at the top of the page. This is not necessarily a problem, because many of these sites are not seen by many people, but they are still read by the search engines and therefore is serving its purpose.

Now it seems Yelp is actually reviewing legitimate ads if a business owner does not pay for an advertisement on their site. There is evidence that suggests Yelp is even leaving reviews up that violate their terms of service as long as the business owner pays for advertising with them.

My response is to no longer support Yelp. In my business I make every effort to follow the various terms of service that other businesses have because I respect their right to set their own rules. It is important that businesses be clear about what their mission is, and Yelp always put it out there that they were a review site–their mission was to help people find good businesses that provide the service they want in the their city or town. I do not believe their customers believe that ONLY businesses who pay for advertising will appear.

While it may be if you check today your business will have reviews on Yelp and tomorrow they are gone because you didn’t buy ad space. I think this is a poor business model and we can focus on other review sites until Yelp figures out that it doesn’t have to strong arm people–or they figure out which business they really want to be in–reviews or merely a listing service for hire. There are just so many other options out there.

I am not making a blanket statement that no one should advertise on these sites…that’s NOT my point. If the sites are a good source of traffic for you and you want to try a paid ad to see if it increases the number of calls or visits you get, that’s great. Some businesses do well with paid ads on sites. For other businesses and sites it is not cost-effective.

My point is about reviews…and that it is not okay to change your ship’s course midway across the stream and then blackmail people into staying aboard.

Most business owners find that getting customers to actually write a review and put it online is a challenge–and I do not want to encourage people to post reviews in a place that will just turn around and take them down. So if your business has customers who want to post reviews for you, ask them to write them on Google and stay away from Yelp.