Top Ten Local Business Review Sites, Directories and Search Engines

The local business review industry is huge and growing exponentially. What does that mean for your business? It is just one more piece of the online marketing tool kit that can help your business grow even in a recession...or, if ignored, can leave you in the dustbin even in good times.

If you use the Internet at all, you have undoubtedly used it to shop. Whether for a book, product, movie, or service, you have searched for information to help you make a wise decision. Well, you aren't alone. By some estimates over 90% of us now use the Internet for that purpose on a regular basis.

If you are using the Internet to shop, you have no choice but to note reviews about those very same books, products, movies and services. And the statistics are clear here, too. Reviews effect decision making like nothing else. Negative reviews can cause you to change your plan even when you thought you were clear on the purchase. Positive reviews can confirm decisions or move you to find out more about a product or company who you had no awareness of before doing your online search.

If you own a business, you cannot ignore the impact of online visibility, and once visible, you need those reviews to encourage actions that will add to your sales and profits. For local businesses there are three kinds of review resources that you need to be aware of:

  1. General local search engines and directories such as SuperPages, City Search, Yelp, and Google Places
  2. Specific industry search engines such as UrbanSpoon or TripAdvisor
  3. Micro sites for a specific city sponsored by local newspapers or chambers of commerce.

While all three types are important, we will only deal with the first here. The following list is the top ten local search engines, directories, and business review sites on the Internet today. They were selected in an unscientific review by the author based on daily involvement and professional expertise, and the order is derived from the same completely personal observation.

  1. Google Places - It is Google, it has geographic benefit of appearing on page 1 of searches, it pulls reviews from other sources, it is easy for reviewers to use.
  2. Yelp - It had a head start and consumers like it. Many business folks don't like it, and it is one of the hardest for consumers to use.
  3. YellowPages - The brand brings consumers to the listings
  4. CitySearch - Had a head start
  5. SuperPages - Brand awareness helps them, as well
  6. Yahoo Local - Similar to Google with 10% of the traffic
  7. Bing Local - Similar to Google with 10% of the traffic
  8. InsiderPages - Associated with City Search
  9. Other YellowPage varieties such as AOL Yellow and YellowBot
  10. MerchantCircle - Very easy to use, but strikingly not getting consumer traffic.

For any of the above, in particular the top players here noted and the industry specific ones for your business, you must get proactive about the number and quality of reviews that appear on your behalf. One tool that can help you with this effort is This unique tool helps make the review process easier for your clients and customers, and allows you to ask for reviews in ways that are fun and non-threatening. You can learn more about ShoutDog on their website.

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