Online business review websites yield a significant amount of power among all different types of small and medium-sized businesses. Whether you are a home services contractor in Michigan or a cafe owner in Florida, when a new business reviews are posted, you rush to the website to see what has been written.
In the past, Yelp has been the dominant player when it came to reviews for business, mostly because they were first to market back in 2004. Fast forward 10 years and Facebook has entered the ratings and reviews game. The social media giant first added a customer rating system of starred reviews to existing local business pages. Next, Facebook partnered with a data company and added millions of store pages to its existing network.
By closely watching the small changes that any one of tech’s Fab Five (Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft) makes, we are able to predict where they are moving the market and what small business products and services will soon be available. With Facebook business reviews and millions more store pages, Facebook was clearly preparing to roll out a local search portal.
Facebook Business Reviews and Local Search
Facebook rolled out their new local search engine in late 2015, but haven’t yet promoted it to members or the public. The cover of Facebook.com/services prompts visitors to enter a category (i.e.: plumbing, restaurant) and location to find local businesses with the best Facebook reviews and ratings.
Still in beta versions, Facebook Local Search has a robust user interface on the desktop version, with the mobile edition being more pared down.
Many of the design elements of Facebook Services are very similar to other local search options, such as Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor (as you can see below).
When I took the new Facebook Local Search for a test drive, it did provide me with nearby businesses with high ratings and reviews (on Facebook, of course). There is no shortage of categories to choose from on Facebook Local Search, either. From DJs to dating services, Facebook Local Search certainly has the categorization part covered.
One of the downfalls of Facebook Local Search is that you can’t search for a specific business — yet.
So, how does Facebook’s Local Search impact a small business that has a Facebook Business Page, a couple hundred followers and posts a couple times a month?
Facebook just became a lot more important in the world of local online marketing and you need to start prioritizing your Facebook Business Page accordingly. In addition to regularly posting and sharing, you’ll need an online review management strategy that creates new (positive) Facebook reviews and an online review monitoring system that you can use to respond to all reviews (positive and negative).
88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so it’s vital that you take an inventory of your existing Facebook reviews and start encouraging customer business reviews, specifically on Facebook. If you’re uncertain how to get reviews for your business, this article and free cheat sheet contain a lot of good advice about how to grow your Facebook business reviews.
With the new Facebook Local Search, the social media giant now directly impacts both your review management and local SEO strategies. Actively managing your business’s online presence is more important that ever, especially as platforms begin to branch out beyond their original purpose.
Luckily, there are many different types of review management software that you can use to make your life easier. For local businesses, we recommend Vivial because it was built specifically to address the unique needs of this type of company. Vivial is a software solution for local businesses and incorporates all elements of local online marketing — review monitoring, local SEO, Google Maps, social media, email, coupons and deals — and is as easy to use as pushing a button.
More information about Vivial — and how you can build it into your Vivial marketing package — is available here.
The new Facebook Local Search has been called a “Yelp Killer.” Do you agree? Disagree?
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