The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Yelp are partnering to provide America’s small businesses with the information they need to engage with online reviewers and monitor their online reputations. According to the 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, 85 percent of consumers read online reviews about local businesses. In addition, trust in reviews is increasing, enabling consumers to form opinions faster and act on those opinions. With the new realities of online word-of-mouth come both challenges and opportunities for independent retailers. The partnership between the SBA and Yelp will include a series of free educational webinars and workshops around the country and instructional materials to help small businesses deal positively with these challenges. SBA and Yelp will walk retailers through the simple steps they should take to join the conversations that are happening about them on review sites. During the educational events, business owners will also have an opportunity to learn online marketing insights from a panel of local business owner experts and reviewers from Yelp’s Elite squad. In addition to best practices for getting started, SBA and Yelp will share advice for handling critical feedback, responding to reviews, generating more buzz with exciting promotions and monitoring customer leads. The next free webinars will be held February 11 and 25, from 2 to 3 p.m. EST. The Success With Online Reviews initiative will run through National Small Business Week, May 12-16. For more information and to register for the webinars, click here.