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The Beginners Guide To Yelp Reviews

Picture of mobile phone with Yelp review
Kenny Wu

Guide to Yelp Reviews

If you’re a service-oriented business owner, you probably know that Yelp and Google are the biggest review platforms in the United States. But just how important and relevant is Yelp reviews or getting a Google review to your business? Here are some quick facts:

  • Yelp’s app can be found on 31 million unique devices-nearly a tenth of the US population!
  • As of the end of 2020, 224 million reviews had been published on Yelp.
  • 55% of Yelp users have an annual income of more than $100,000.
  • 76% of Yelp users have a college or higher education level.

According to the Online Reviews Survey, 45% of consumers will likely check Yelp reviews before visiting a business. Yelp ranks only second to Google (64%), which shows just how many consumers use Yelp regularly. While Google may boast more reviews and users overall, Yelp’s demographics represent a very valuable segment of customers who have higher incomes and education levels.

The data for putting effort into Yelp reviews is overwhelming, and the effects of a negative Yelp review that isn't replied to or resolved can hurt your business for a long time. Reviews are criticial if you are a business owner and these platforms should be a key piece of your business plan and marketing plan. With that, let’s dive into how businesses can make sure their Yelp profiles are visible and appealing to potential customers

Claim Your Business on Yelp

You can have a Yelp Review page just for your business

Start with creating a Yelp business account and then making sure you’ve claimed your Yelp business page. If you have setup a Google My Business Page then you will find it is a pretty simliar process. If you are a business owner of multiple businesses or locations, you’ll be able to claim their Yelp business pages under the same account.

Similar to Google, If your business has been around for a while or if customers have taken notice of you, chances are an unclaimed Yelp business page already exists. You can search the Yelp database for your company by typing in your business name and street address in the search bar on the Yelp for Business Owners home page. Then, simply click the “Claim This Business” button when you see your company listing.

If a Yelp business page doesn’t already exist for your company, you’ll need to create a new one from scratch. You can do this by also typing in your business name and street address in the same search bar and then clicking on the “Add Here” button. After providing some additional business information, such as a phone number, website, and operating hours, Yelp will then verify your company and have Yelp moderators approve the listing. If it’s approved, you’ll get email instructions on how to claim your business page.

In either instance, you’ll then need to verify ownership or management of your business before you can fully use your Yelp business page.

Fill Out Your Yelp Business Page

Picture of a Yelp Business page for Yelp reviews

Once you have your Yelp business page, it’s time to make your profile as appealing and helpful to potential customers as possible. Here’s a checklist of details to keep track of:

  • NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Information: Make sure your business details are correct, including company name, address, and phone number. Having consistent information online also benefits your search engine rankings and other listings as Yelp is often referred to as an authority for business information.
  • Business Hours: Update your business hours so customers have the best information possible and don’t get frustrated by calling or visiting when you’re closed. Keep this in mind especially around holidays or special hours.
  • Business Category: Yelp prefers that businesses identify as specifically as possible with one of their 1,200 different categories. Categories should “describe the primary activities of the business rather than the entire scope of the business’ activity.”
  • Photos and Videos: Upload photos and videos of your business that leave customers with a great first impression. Since Yelp is often one of the first sources of information online for customers, having beautiful photos and videos that are properly lit and composed will show that you’re professional and worth doing business with. Don’t forget to add descriptive captions to give your customers context for what they’re looking at!
  • Amenities: Yelp amenities are attributes that provide more details about how you run your business. Highlighting certain amenities can help customers make better and quicker decisions if they’re looking for specifics about a business. This can include types of payment options, being minority-owned, or being vegetarian-friendly.
  • Offers and Other Details: Consider adding other details to your profile, such as offers, a call-to-action, and business services. The more complete your Yelp page, the more customers can see the thought you put into your profile and what kind of experience they might expect from using you.

Respond to Reviews

People responding to Yelp Customer Reviews

One of the most overlooked opportunities for business owners to show how much they care about their customers is in responding to reviews, both good or bad. Responding to a good Google review or positive Yelp reviews is easy enough-a simple “thank you” or a few words of appreciation can go a long way in retaining a customer or getting new potential customers in the long run.

Responding to negative reviews can be a bit trickier and require more tact to keep a strong online reputation. While it’s easy to be defensive and emotional about a review that seems unfair, treat each negative review as a chance to demonstrate to other potential customers that you’re aware of and address concerns. These efforts will only improve your Yelp rating and online reputation.

You could also choose to directly message a customer instead to try and resolve a bad Yelp review. This could be useful in instances where you need to better understand where the customer is coming from or if you want to prevent a long back-and-forth on your business page. Keep in mind that direct messages should still be professional and gracious.

Don’t forget that Yelp reviews are public and the way in which you respond to grumpy customers is a signal of the quality of your customer service.

To make responding to reviews easier and a more efficient process, Yelp has suggested the following review response formula:

  1. First, thank the reviewer for providing feedback about their experience.
  2. Try and find something positive they said in their review and highlight it as a reflection of your business philosophy.
  3. Address any issues professionally and graciously. Don’t forget that your company’s reputation is worth more than a single disagreement!
  4. Wrap up by letting them know you’ll be following up offline, either through a Yelp direct message, phone call, or email, or invite them back to show them how you’ve heard and addressed their concerns.

Provide the Best Possible Customer Experience

While it may seem like an obvious best practice for any business, providing an amazing experience not only increases the number of positive reviews you receive but also benefits your bottom line. Customers who leave reviews tend to be on extreme ends of a spectrum-either very upset or very happy-in order to be motivated enough to go through the trouble of leaving a review.

So naturally, the experience you provide needs to be more than lukewarm to drive a positive response. It will also be the best way to have a good online reputation and turn unhappy customers into loyal customers. Yelp provides tools, such as in-app messaging, to help with providing better service. With Yelp messaging, you have an opportunity to engage and chat directly with customers. To turn this feature on, simply click the “Click here to enable messaging” button from your Yelp for Business Owners inbox. Yelp encourages better customer engagement by disabling the button if you don’t respond to new messages in the past seven days and don’t respond to other messages in the past thirty days.

Is it worth the extra time and effort to provide great customer service? The data says yes. A study by Harvard Business Review found that a one-star improvement in Yelp reviews could yield up to a 9% increase in sales. Another study for restaurants on Yelp found that a half-star rating increase from 3.5 to 4 resulted in a 19% greater chance of being booked during peak hours.

Things to Be Aware of With Yelp

In an effort to make reviews as genuine as possible, Yelp frowns upon business owners who gain reviews purely from family members, friends, or fake reviews where a product or service wasn’t purchased. Getting reviews unnaturally could look like “buying” reviews from sketchy companies who promise 5-star reviews or offering freebies to customers for writing a good review. Yelp considers these reviews to be false reviews and penalizes businesses that encourage them with a warning label on their listing.

Staying on top of customer communication and feedback is vital. Being timely with your responses shows that you pay attention to your customers and make great service a priority. According to Yelp Data Science, there is a 33% higher chance reviewers will increase the star rating in their reviews if businesses respond with a personalized message within 24 hours.

Similarly, studies by Edison Research and author Jay Baer have found that 53% of consumers expect a reply on review sites. The same studies also showed that businesses who answered complaints on review sites got a 16% boost in customer advocacy while those who ignored complaints actually suffered a 37% decline in advocacy.

There’s No Bad Time to Catch Up

If you’re a business owner who hasn’t claimed their Yelp business page or hasn’t had time to respond to a backlog of reviews, it’s never too late to jump on the train!

The efforts we mentioned to make your Yelp listing the best it can take a bit of time and consistency, but getting your Yelp business page on track can have huge benefits for your business overall. Not only do good reviews help increase revenue for your company, but it also helps turn customers into lifelong fans

Other Review Sites To Consider

Google Reviews: Similar to Yelp reviews, you will want to have a presence on Google. Your reviews will show up on your Google My Business page when people search for your local business. Reviews can be a crucial part of local SEO and making sure you show up with any search engine optimization. The process is similar to Yelp in that you should provide a good experience and respond to both good reviews and bad reviews. 

Angi, ThumbTack, Home Advisor: If you are in the home services industry then you probably know about Angi, ThumbTack, and HomeAdvisor. These sites are definitely important for your review management strategy, and they can also be a great lead source. It does require a small fee as a professional, but you may find its a great source of new potential customers. 

Other review sites: There are dozens of other review sites. If you want to see some more that you should consider, check out this post on the Top 25 review sites for your business. 

The Scorpion System For Yelp And Other Review Management

It is difficult to run a small business and to find the right partners you can trust to save you time and help you grow with Yelp reviews. Managing all of the happy customers and potentially unhappy customer is also a lot of management.

Scorpion provides the technology team to help with your review management. We can help you manage your Google customer reviews or Yelp customer reviews to help increase your customer satisfaction and turn that negative review into a positive review.