Some of your customers, clients, or patients might only review you if they don’t have to reveal their names in the review. Why?
- They might be embarrassed about the problem that caused them to come to you.
- They might need privacy to give you honest and complete feedback.
- Maybe they just wear tin-foil hats.
You need to know about the more-private review sites for at least three reasons:
(1) So you know where to point would-be reviewers who are concerned about privacy. You still want reviews from those people.
(2) So you can encourage reviews without running afoul of any regulations in your industry – especially if you’re a doctor or lawyer.
(3) So you know where to look for negative reviews that people may have posted anonymously.
Besides finicky Google+ and Yelp, most review sites offer some anonymity. Possible reviewers need to know you don’t want “Google or Yelp or nothing.” You want reviews on other sites anyway – especially if they’re influential in your industry.
Here’s a breakdown of 17 prominent sites that allow private or anonymous reviews – and exactly how private each site is:
(click to enlarge – it’s a big PDF file, so give it a second to crunch)
A few notes
My goal for this was to mention least one private / anonymous site that you can encourage reviews on, no matter what your industry is.
That’s why I have some sites that may seem “niche” – like WeddingWire and Zillow. WeddingWire isn’t just for dressmakers and cake-bakers; you can also be listed and get reviews there if you’re a photographer, jeweler, florist, or DJ. Likewise, Zillow isn’t just for real-estate agents; you can get reviews there if you’re a roofer or landscaper (for example).
I didn’t want to dwell on one industry. That’s why you won’t see more than a couple examples of private / anonymous sites for a given industry.
Even if there’s not a review site that’s specific to your field, you’ve still got Angie’s List, CitySearch, InsiderPages, Yahoo, and YP. It’s good to get a smattering of reviews at those places anyway.
When I say a “real name” is required, I’m referring only to the rules / preferences of a given site. It may have no way to tell a reviewer’s real name from an alias. I doubt Sarah B. would get in any hot water if she created an account as or wrote a review as Penny O. Make sure your customers know that.
This list is US-specific. I’m guessing the equivalent of YellowPages in other countries – YellowPages.ca, PagesJaunes.fr, PaginasAmarillas.com, etc. – allow private reviews. I’d be curious to learn about other sites.
Last but not least, huge thanks to design whiz David Deering for putting together the “Top Secret” report. I suggest you check out his offerings.
What’s a private / anonymous review site you think you’ll be working into your review strategy from now on?
Any current favorites?
Not sure which ones are worth pursuing?
Leave a comment!
Another quality post – thanks Phil. Wd love to know UK, Australian and NZ ” private” review sites for an equivalent list for these countries.
Thanks for stopping by, Angela.
Re. UK, Australian, and NZ sites, that’s a tough one. I think it probably comes down to yell.com and touchlocal.com for the UK, and yellowpages.com.au and touchlocal.com.au for Australia and NZ.
Maybe there are also a couple of industry-specific sites – but I’m not sure what they are off the top of my head.
There are Cylex business directories in several countries. Small in US but really strong in UK, DE
Good call. Not sure how prominent the reviews are, but it does appear that Cylex allows anonymous reviews.
Andy Kuiper says
Nice work Phil… kinda scary actually 🙂
The work, or me? 🙂
Christopher West says
Nice post Phil and thanks for sharing.
Sure thing, Chris – thanks.
What about, like Cylex (already mentioned), Yellowbook, Kudzu, Hotfrog, Merchantcircle, and the like. They require a basic “account” (generic profile with email confirmation), to write reviews for businesses. They seem to be geared more toward local businesses. Although I wouldn’t say they’re prominent sites, they do tend to show up for local business searches (for me). And they encourage reviews.
Kudzu is a good one. It’s on there.
The others just aren’t very prominent. But if you have a surplus of happy-to-review customers, sure, encourage reviews on the smaller sites.
Oh, not a surplus- just the opposite. It’s difficult to get my customers to write reviews, no matter how happy they are with their experience. My thinking initially was, the more sites available for reviews, the better chances of getting them. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
Thanks for the reply, great article, as always.
You have to give them at least one harder choice (Yelp or G+) and at least one stupid-easy choice (Yahoo, CitySearch, InsiderPages, etc). Too many choices leads to analysis paralysis. That’s why I put this together the way I did:
Mobile Disco London says
Thanks good to know the anonymous sites just in case a customer decides to post a bad review, but i suppose if you run your business right you won’t get any bad reviews.
That’s only one reason to know about “anonymous” review sites. But even good businesses get the occasional dud review.
Jason Card says
This was great info… paralysis by analysis is a B…. We have been advertising 5 options for a long time and over 95% of the reviews were from angieslist and yelp. We dropped down to 3 options making the 3rd (google) the 1st option with diagram, and now we have had reviews being placed on 2 review sites from the same clients for the first time.
Thanks for the great case-study, Jason.
Your post is new but possibly dated already (oh marketing, the constantly changing landscape). Citysearch requires an account which than shows up and it viewable by anyone looking to see what other reviews you’ve written. So a customers name will appear next to their review.
It appears you’re right about a name being required now, but the full name shouldn’t show up next to the review. Thanks, Andre.
Hey Phil, I heard recently that a German legal case against Google has forced G to now allow anonymous reviews. Have you heard anything about that? Also, this post https://searchengineland.com/how-to-leave-anonymous-business-reviews-in-google-174532 over on SearchEngineLand is dated but I wondered if it’s still a valid strategy. Know anything about that?
Yup, I posted about that a couple months ago:
Hey Phil – thanks! Always so hard to keep up on these things, just not enough time in the day to be productive and keep up on ‘news’! Thanks again.
My pleasure, Mark!
I was considering to allow my local directory site to allow anonymous reviews or not, your post have me made up my mind to allow it, as I see why people should be able to post private business review.
The site is https://cityshoppingpoint.com
Don’t mean to cause paralysis by analysis, just maybe having another option would be a good thing like providing consistency or more information for potential local business customers.
Though opening anon reviews would invite spam or shady intentions, I’ll see how it goes.
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