On July 7th, #TeamTwitter's Larry The Bird shocked the world, with a come from behind victory, by way of third-round T.K.O., against Snapchat's Ghostface Chillah. This week we're taking the Battle for Local Business to the street, Main Street that is, with a Customer Review Rumble.
Introducing first, to my right, the fighter formerly know as Google+ Local, and Google Places.........
Mountain View, CA
Age: 17 years old
Active Monthly Users: unknown
In the red corner, the reigning C.R.O. (Customer Review Online) Champion....
San Francisco, CA
Age: 11 years old
Active Monthly Users: 145 million
ROUND 1 - LOCAL SEARCH
There's no disputing, the fact that online customer reviews are a key contributor to the success or failure of your local business. Having positive reviews won't help you
much though, if no one sees them in the first place. This is why we chose Google My Business (GMB) vs yelp for tonight's main event, and not CitySquares vs Rate It All.
Round one scoring will be based on whether your local business is more likely to be found (on the 1st page) by having a presence on Google My Business or yelp.
Bookmakers are pegging Google My Business as the odds-on favorite, being it's parent, Google dominates 75% of the U.S. Search Market; that's billions of searches it can direct to it's offspring every single day. Let's see if they're right...
We start things off by googling "dry cleaners near me" on a desktop browser. Yelp
comes out swinging with the first result, Google My Business responds with a three result combo. Finally yelp ends the exchange by landing the last result on the page.
Next we try the same search query on Bing.com. Yelp dominates with three results, while Google My Business is nowhere to be found.
GMB pushes back, knocking yelp into the mobile corner; with the help of it's parent search engine, which dominates 83% of U.S. mobile searches. Yelp may be down, but far from out. With a few seconds left in the round we ask Siri, "Dry cleaners near me?" She gives us 15 results, all provided courtesy of yelp.
The judges give round 1 to yelp!
Potential customers finding you on yelp or Google My Business is all well and good; however, what really matters is getting them to choose your business (spend $).
Mobile has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments.
Each of these interactions is a critical opportunity to influence whether they choose you, or your competition. Consumers will often read about your local business on multiple review sites, before having their ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth).
For Round 2 we'll compare the tools yelp and GMB give local merchants to monitor all of this activity. Google My Business & yelp both have dashboards providing insights such as the # of users who view your listing, open your page, call your business, click for GPS directions and more. Use either dashboard to view the demographics (age, income, gender, etc.) of your leads and customers.
Yelp's proprietary Revenue Estimator gives it's dashboard a slight edge; but the additional support the Google Small Business Community provides local merchants, puts GMB over the top for round 2.
ROUND 3 - REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS
Considering this is a Customer Review Rumble; it's only fitting that our third and final round will be all about reviews. We'll look at the quantity of customer reviews each contender has, the quality (accuracy) or those reviews, and how those reviews impact your bottom line.
For almost seven years, few would consider challenging yelp for the Customer Review Title.
Then in 2011, Google decided it was time to jump in the ring; they acquired Zagat for $151 million and started asking customers to leave reviews on Google Places. These efforts are starting to pay off; however, Google My Business still has nowhere near the 105 million+ reviews Yelp does.
Despite the accusations and lawsuits, there's absolutely no evidence supporting the hearsay that yelp rewards businesses who advertise with positive reviews, while penalizing those who don't pay for ads with negative ones.
I understand how frustrating this may be to hear; especially if your business has great reviews from loyal customers that are stuck in the dreaded "yelp filter." There's a method to yelp's madness though; their algorithm looks at a variety of factors before deciding to "recommend" a review.
While yelp painstakingly filters which reviews users see, Google My Business takes a laissez-faire approach. I have seen many reviews that were blatantly written by the owner of the business being reviewed; in some cases they don't even bother using an alias. I have also come across Google reviews, which explicitly direct customers to a competitor. These would all most likely have been flagged by yelp.
The accuracy of yelp's reviews play a big part in it's success. The same holds true for local business that receive high marks from customers on yelp. In fact, a Harvard Business School study found that a one-star increase in a restaurant's Yelp rating, led to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.
The winner, and still undefeated U.S. Online Customer Review Champion is......