The yelp you hear is from SMBs across the country that have seen hard-earned Yahoo Local Listings reviews disappear.
The removal of the reviews follow’s Yahoo’s agreement with Yelp that was announced several months ago. A hardwood flooring businessman told the Wall Street Journal that he has since lost about 50 positive write-ups.
“It’s a slap in the face that they took all those reviews down overnight…It’s not easy to get 50 great reviews,” Dan Tringale, owner of Colonial Hardwood Flooring of Lexington, Mass., told the newspaper.
Yelp had already held significant sway in the SMB world, appearing in Google and Bing search results.
Mike Blumenthal, a local search expert and co-founder of Get Five Stars, told Small Business Trends that Yahoo is an insignificant player in local search. But try telling that to Tringale.
“Companies like Yahoo have essentially exited what was traditionally the local search space, Blumenthal said. “It has become a two part world: Google and everyone else. Now they are starting to protect what small part of the market they have with these sorts of sharing deals. Yahoo hasn’t really had the lights turned on for local for several years so this is really no surprise. Given that they have had so little presence it will have little impact one way or the other.”
It certainly will – and has – for local businesses.
According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.
So what’s an SMB to do?
First off, it needs to not rely on just one search engine or site. Online and offline entities with sway often lose favor – MySpace comes to mind. While it takes time, it is often best to spread efforts – paid and earned – across multiple properties.
Second, as long-time readers likely recall, I’m a huge believer in differentiation at what I call the “Moments of Trust” – those critical touchpoints between businesses and consumers.
This is where SMBs have a huge advantage – they can provide a level of service that separates and delights. That brings them coming back for more and ignites a word of mouth movement that has friends and relatives coming, too.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program http://Goo.gl/t3fgW, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions