The Importance of Yelp Reviews
Yelp has become an extremely important factor for businesses in recent years. Arguably, Yelp is almost as powerful as Google when it comes to attracting (or, as the case may be, repelling) customers. For certain types of businesses such as restaurants, salons, and even medical professionals, customers often consult Yelp before making a decision.
While other sites such as Google and Facebook also publish business reviews, Yelp is known as the premier site that specializes in reviews. No business with a physical location or that offers services to local customers can afford to overlook Yelp. It’s important to realize that your customers can leave reviews on Yelp whether you claim your listing or not. However, if you want to have any input or control over your Yelp reviews, you should join Yelp For Business.
Benefits of Signing up for Yelp For Business
Claiming your Yelp For Business listing provides you with several advantages. For one thing, it helps you increase your visibility. Any business can get reviews on Yelp, even if they never signed up or even heard of the site. Any customer can create a listing for a business and write a review. However, many customers won’t bother to do this. By claiming your listing, you increase the chances of getting reviews.
Claiming your listing also helps you manage and optimize your profile. When you join Yelp For Business, you can add photos to your listing (customers can add their own photos whether you claim your listing or not) to highlight your best features. You can also respond to reviews, which you can’t do without registering with Yelp For Business.
You can join Yelp For Business for free. If you do nothing else, this step at least gives you some ability to manage your reputation on Yelp. Another perk you get with a free account is the ability to set up Yelp deals. This is a type of coupon that entices people to try your business.
Advertising on Yelp can help you attract more customers and reviews. To get a general idea of how Yelp advertising works, you can browse the site yourself. Look up a category of business, whether it’s cafes, bars or pet grooming. You’ll notice that above the organic listings there are paid ads. These ads are fairly well integrated into the listings. While there’s a little box that informs readers that the listing is an ad, it’s not very prominent. Here are some of the most important points to know about Yelp advertising.
● You can start with a $5/day budget with no long-term contracts. These ads work in a way that’s similar to pay-per-click models such as Google AdWords and Facebook ads. In this case, you’re targeting business categories that your customers are searching for.
● Customize your ads. Yelp has recently introduced Custom Ads, which lets you test different types of ads to find the formula that gets you the best response. You can combine text, photos and review snippets to your ads.
● Geo-targeting options. Since Yelp is geared to local businesses, it makes sense to target customers within a certain range. There are different geo-targeting options depending on what type of business you have but the range is generally between 5 and 25 miles. In other words, people who are within this range when searching will see your ad. This prevents you from wasting money on people who are too far away to be likely customers.
● You may get exposure on Google. Yelp pages are indexed by Google and other search engines. Since advertising helps you get your business in a more prominent place than an organic listing you have a better chance of being seen.
It’s Up to You to Attract Positive Reviews
Claiming your Yelp For Business listing is essential to help you build your reputation and get more reviews. If you want to get faster results, you may want to try Yelp advertising as well. Before you do this, however, you should understand the limitations as well as the advantages of Yelp ads.
Yelp ads drive traffic to your listing but the rest is up to you. No matter how much you invest in advertising, you can’t control what customers write about you. If you’re going to advertise you need to take extra care about providing great products and services to your customers.
Yelp’s Policy on Soliciting Reviews
When you have a Yelp listing it’s natural to want to encourage customers to leave reviews. Yelp provides both online badges and stickers for your business. At the same time, Yelp has become quite strict about not openly soliciting reviews.
Yelp’s policy on this is a little confusing. For quite a while, Yelp “discouraged” review solicitation but didn’t outright ban it. Now, they appear to be taking a harder line on this issue, threatening to penalize your listing in the search results.
Simply posting a Yelp sticker near your cash register is a good way to subtly remind customers to leave you a review without outright asking for it. You should take a similar approach to online communications. One thing you should never do is incentivize reviews. Don’t offer people rewards (such as coupons or entries in a contest) for leaving a review.
Getting the Most Out of Yelp For Business
Here are some tips to get the most out of Yelp whether you simply claim your listing or invest in advertising.
● Choose the right categories. Customers find you on Yelp by searching for certain types of businesses. Yelp offers many options for business categories. For example, if you have an Italian restaurant that serves pizza, there are categories for Italian Restaurants, Pizza, and (if you deliver) Italian Food Delivery. If you aren’t getting the results you want, try adding or changing categories.
● Post appealing photos. Flattering images of your business are a good way to attract attention to your listing.
● Respond to reviews. As noted, one of the benefits of Yelp For Business is that you can respond to reviews. You should take the time to respond to all reviews, even if only to briefly thank customers who write something positive. It’s also important to address complaints. Don’t get into arguments with dissatisfied customers but apologize when appropriate and offer to fix any problems. If the problem is very specific, you can also reply by direct message.
● Report fake reviews. If you think a review is fake (e.g. written by a competitor or contains false information) you can report it to Yelp. This is a good reason to keep accurate records. It’s important to verify, for example, that someone who writes a critical review actually bought something from you.
● Optimize your website. Many customers who find you on Yelp will want to visit your website to find out more. If you don’t have an active website or the one you have doesn’t have a professional look it will make it harder to attract customers. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly as many Yelp users are searching on their phones.
● Don’t overlook other review sites. Google My Business is especially important because it’s connected to Google Maps, which makes it easy for people to find your business. Even if someone finds you on Yelp, they may use Google Maps to get directions. In this case, they’ll also see any Google reviews that are listed.
Everyone with a brick and mortar or service-based business needs to pay close attention to Yelp. You should, at least, create a free account with Yelp For Business so you can manage and enhance your listing. Try out Yelp’s free advertising offer as it may also be helpful for growing your business.