Yelp is one of the internet's most popular user review sites. Its premise is simple: Customers use a business's services and then rate and review their experience. That creates word-of-mouth advertising for local businesses that, in turn, generate more business for them.
Sounds simple? It is, but there's more to it if you're a business owner expecting to get the most out of Yelp. There are some potential drawbacks to using Yelp that you need to be aware of, too.
Businesses That Should Get on Yelp
Yelp is one of the most popular websites for users to look up a local business they might be interested in. The company nets around 178 million users per month, and 28 million of them come from mobile phones. There are all kinds of businesses using the site, including:
- Car dealerships
- Hair salons
- Hardware stores
- HVAC companies
- Movie theaters
If that seems like a diverse list, you're not wrong. At Scorpion, we recommend many of our clients set up Yelp listings for their businesses. It's a great way to raise awareness about your local business.
The first step to taking advantage of Yelp for business owners is to set up your own company listing. Here's how to get started.
1. Set up a Yelp Profile for Your Business
Is your business already listed on Yelp? Run a search of your business name in the search bar and see if you come up. If you do, you have only to claim the listing and you're done. If you don't, scroll down to the homepage footer and start making a brand new profile.
You'll need to input your:
- Business name
- Contact information
- Physical address
- Store hours
- Web address
There are also three major categories to focus on when you're creating your Yelp profile.
Think of it as an " About Me" for your business. You'll need a maximum of 1,500 characters telling Yelp what your company is all about. Think about your business's mission statement and unique selling proposition (USP), and be as accurate as possible.
This is more like an "Amenities" section. Consider answering the following:
- What perks or features should customers be aware of before visiting your business?
- Do you have free Wi-Fi?
- How's the parking situation?
- Do you accept cash or credit cards only?
Input all the relevant information and try not to leave anything out.
This is the most important of the three because it will determine who finds your business on Yelp. People search for a company based on search queries. You need those potential users to search for the relevant keywords that will lead them to your business. The categories you input should match those search terms.
With all that out of the way, it's time to upload a few high-quality photos. Yelp requires a minimum of five. Make sure they're high enough resolution and portray your business in a good light. You'll be adding more later, so start thinking about the visual message you want to portray on your Yelp listing.
2. Respond To Reviews on Yelp
You know that Yelp reviews are the main reason you're here. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful ways of marketing a business on Yelp, or anywhere else for that matter. As customers use your services, they'll leave reviews on your listing page.
Your job will be to cultivate positive reviews, respond to negative reviews, and help people feel more confident about using your services. If and when you do respond to a Yelp review, the key points to bear in mind here are:
- Address the user review directly
- Be polite
- Stay on topic
Getting More Good Reviews
The best way to earn more Yelp business reviews is simply to ask for them. When customers use your services, ask them to leave a review on Yelp. You can even offer special bonuses for doing so, such as a discount or some other appealing offer. Every positive review will be seen by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people, so the benefits grow exponentially.
Be sure to thank people who leave you good reviews.
Dealing With Bad Reviews
Of course, the downside of your reviews being seen by hundreds to thousands of people is that your reviews are seen by hundreds or thousands of people. If they're bad reviews, you'll have to find a way to deal with them appropriately, and the best way is to address them head-on.
Be polite and don't argue. Apologize for the inconvenience and offer a way to address whatever problem the person had. If the review is fake or otherwise abusive, contact Yelp support and see about removing it. You'll find that people like knowing that your company is "on the ball" about addressing customer complaints.
Remember, you don't need to be perfect - nor can you be. The best way to deal with bad reviews, in the long run, is to earn enough good reviews - by asking for them - to make the bad reviews an insignificant percentage of the whole.
3. Advertise Your Business on Yelp
A Yelp advertising account will run you anywhere from a few hundred to $1,000 per month. Yelp ads work primarily through sponsored pay-per-click (PPC) ads that people will see when they run searches on the website. Your ad should:
- Comply with Yelp's terms and conditions (TOS)
- Include a description of your business or product as the text
- Include relevant keywords
- Tell customers where and how to find you
This is going to appear as a banner on the Yelp search results page, the appearance of which you'll be able to customize using Yelp's toolset. The more targeted and personalized your ad, the better results you'll get. Scorpion's marketing team can help you plan the layout of your ads for maximum impact.
4. Maximize Business Photography On Your Yelp Listing
There are two kinds of pictures you'll want in your Yelp photo gallery:
- Professional photos that you take yourself
- User-generated photos from your customers
When you're just getting started, you naturally won't have that many user-generated photos to show off, so you'll need to make your own. Make sure your pictures are high-quality and highlight specific goods and services that you offer. If you do hire a professional photographer, keep the images natural and don't go overboard - Yelp users aren't expecting perfection here.
As you grow in popularity, so too will your user-generated content. It's a natural and fluid process you should take full advantage of. Yelp has an enhanced photo gallery that lets you choose the order in which user-generated photos are displayed. Highlight your best-quality photos and move the lesser ones off to the back.
5. Make It Easy for People To Contact You on Yelp
Yelp makes it easy to customize the type of call-to-action (CTA) button your business uses. Make sure that all of your contact information is clearly displayed somewhere prominent on your listing page. That means, especially, the:
- Customer service contact information, if applicable
- Phone number
- Website URL
Don't forget that the key is to remove as many obstacles as you can between a customer and your services. Tailor your CTA button to your industry and keep it simple - often a simple "Call us" will do.
The Cost of Using Yelp for Business Owners
The cost of your Yelp business listing will depend on what you do with it. The basic plan is free. You can create and publish your business listing without paying anything - but you'll have competitor ads on your page, you won't have a CTA, and so on.
Outfitting your listing with a CTA, slideshow photography, and no ads from your competition will run you about $30 per month for each option. If you're using ads, expect to pay a minimum of $5 per click.
It can add up quickly, but is it worth it? That depends entirely on what you're getting out of it. Yelp is one of the most popular user reviews sites in the world and it could be a great source of business for you. Here at Scorpion, we specialize in helping small businesses take full advantage of everything Yelp has to offer.
Conclusion: The Pros and Cons of Using Yelp for Your Business
Hundreds of millions of people use Yelp. When people want to know more about a business, Yelp is one of the first places they turn to. You can dramatically increase your business clout and raise exposure by having a great listing full of helpful information and glowing reviews. Those reviews offer invaluable social proof that can make people more confident in your brand.
That said, you need to learn how to navigate Yelp to succeed on the platform. That takes a significant investment of time, and the financial costs could add up quickly if you start advertising. Moreover, too many negative reviews can cause great damage to your business, making review management an absolute must. Yelp is likewise sometimes prone to fake reviews, and it's not always easy to get them taken down.
All told, Yelp is an excellent platform for your business, but you need to know how to do it the right way. As a busy entrepreneur, you might not have enough time in the day to truly learn the ins and outs of Yelp management. At Scorpion, we have a lot of experience helping businesses like yours to grow and succeed on Yelp. Contact one of our representatives today to get started with our small-business marketing team.
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