Q: What is an online review site?
Steven C. Wyer: This is a website that allows consumers to weigh in on service providers, companies, or individuals. Review sites often utilize a visual star rating model coupled with text and/or photos and video.
Q: What type of content do review sites contain?
Steven C. Wyer: Websites like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Reviews provide consumers with basic listing information such as location and a detailed description of the business. Additionally, they serve as a town hall of sorts where current and previous customers can give their opinions and share their experiences with a particular business.
Q: Are there review site specific to certain industries, such as health care?
Steven C. Wyer: There are, actually. Many industries have websites dedicated to helping consumers pick the best provider for their needs. Specifically for physicians, RateMDs.com and Healthgrades.com give patients the opportunity to comment on a physician’s office wait time, his or her bedside manner, and even report on actual treatment experiences.
Q: How are review sites different from directory lists?
Steven C. Wyer: A directory is essentially a searchable pool of data that list service providers in a particular category. They may offer information on a company’s telephone number, website, social media pages, and hours. However, directories are not designed to rate a business based on customer experiences. There are some hybrid sites that offer business listings with a review element. YP.com is one example.
Q: Do these sites require the business to actually participate?
Steven C. Wyer: Not necessarily. But, if the option exists, it is always best for a business owner to claim the listing. Many directory and review sites get their business information from public records, which may be outdated or even inaccurate. Typically, once a listing is verified, the business owner is given the opportunity to update the listing with current information.