Small Business Marketing with Yelp

For most consumers, Yelp is the first place to look for reviews on a restaurant, service or business. Yelp has become something of a required stop for people who want to see what others think about a business before they try it out for themselves. The review site is something that small businesses need to be aware of and use to their advantage. Millions of people visit the site each month, and they come to read millions of reviews written by consumers like themselves. The site is being visited by people who understand the resources Yelp provides them and who want to get a feel for what they are getting into before they make a purchase. But almost 90% of small businesses don’t even use Yelp, putting them at the mercy of those who do.

What Yelp Has to Offer

There has been some controversy with Yelp and the way they do business. The site manages to make money by selling ad space. This means that the businesses that pay for ads on the site tend to get better ratings and more exposure. Yelp labels its ads clearly, but its practices have caused controversy among those who use the site and whose businesses appear there. Yelp filters out reviews as well, only showing a majority of them. It gets to decide which ones are fraudulent or won’t be of much value to consumers. That doesn’t hold the site back from containing a real value for small businesses. Accusations aside, the site serves as an incredible resource for small businesses to put a great face forward to their customers and to get some exposure for their business. If you are going to use Yelp though, you need to know how to behave on the site and what practices to either follow or avoid

How to Use Yelp the Right Way

Many businesses have tried to use Yelp to underhandedly promote their business or hurt competitors. This is the internet after all, and this kind of behaviour is expected. They use Yelp to their advantage, gaming the system to try to get ahead. These kinds of marketing strategies may work for the short term, but they do tend to hurt the businesses in the end, and you want to avoid them when possible. On Yelp, you will find plenty of people trying to make their company look good and their competitors look bad. This is a problem that Yelp is constantly dealing with, and these kinds of practices don’t usually work very long for businesses. If a consumer makes a fraudulent review, that review is usually just ostracized and deleted. If a company does the same thing and they are found out, it can have powerful repercussions for them. Word will get around the internet, as it always does, that the business is using underhanded tactics to get ahead. Consumers will start to think that the business has something to hide. Some companies even have to pay penalties for their actions when they do this kind of thing. The majority of these practices were carried out by SEO agencies who were trying to create unnatural or spammy links. If your company is working with an SEO agency that suggests these kinds of practices, then you want to go somewhere else for your SEO work. Try not to work the system. Instead, make sure that what you are doing on Yelp is for the benefit of your customers. That will always come back to benefit you.

If you want to use Yelp positively, there are a number of things you can do. First, make sure that all the information on your business’s Yelp page is updated and correct. This is going to help your sales and SEO efforts for more than spammy reviews. Make sure your profile contains all the pertinent information your customers will need. This includes your phone number, physical address, email, services you offer, and a website link. You can also make your Yelp page more appealing by adding images. Try to include interior images so your customer has an idea of what they should expect from visiting your store. A great exterior shot ensures that customers will know what to look for when they go by your business. Yelp referrals can help connect your website visitors to positive reviews about your site. If you have good reviews on Yelp, you can use a Yelp referral sticker (which Yelp will provide) on your main site to link to the review site.

Also, make sure that you are handling comments and reviews on your site. If there are negative reviews, acknowledge them and try to find a way to resolve the issue and make the customer happy. Don’t use the internet as a battleground though, as it will likely not end well for your business. If you need to, give yourself time between reading negative comments and reviews and when you reply to them. If you take the time to handle the negative comments properly, you could change the person’s mind and get them to side with you. That will never happen if you attack them or act like their concern has no validity. When you encounter nice reviews, try to use them on your site as quotes. This can boost your image and make your business feel more trustworthy when consumers see that people actually like it. You may also want to use Yelp to advertise. While there is some controversy with using this method to attract visitors, you also have to realise that this is a high-traffic site, and it can really benefit you to make the most of it.

Build Your Brand

On Yelp, you are expected to be honest and direct with your customers. Any reviews on your business should be written by real customers and not manufactured. Customers can spot fake reviews pretty well. Instead of creating great reviews, consider recommending to your satisfied customers that they go to the site to post a review. Working with the site in the way it was intended, you can build your brand and ensure that positive word spreads about your business.