If you’ve ever done a search for a local business in your area, you’ve probably come across Yelp. It seems like it’s everywhere. Search engines point to it, mapping tools point to it, and Siri seems to be a fan, too. As a business owner, what can you do with Yelp? Is it a tool you should simply set and forget or is it something you should be more involved with?
Before you try to understand Yelp, it’s important to understand review sites. A study done by Bright Local in 2016 found that 91 percent of consumers turn to review sites to determine if a local business is good or bad. Why? Because online reviews are social proof. Social proof is the system of checks and balances in a world where “Ultimate” and “World’s Best” are too casually thrown around.
If a pizzeria says its pizza is the “best in the city,” you’ll probably be a little skeptical. But if 100 of its customers say it has the best pizza, that’s something worth getting excited about. Online reviews are the proof of how well you live up to the claims your brand makes.
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Now that you get review sites, let’s turn our attention to the three things you need to know about Yelp.
1. They’re not looking for you, they’re looking at you
Most searches on Yelp are not branded. What that means is most Yelpers are not turning to Yelp looking for your business specifically—they’re looking for your category of business. So they’re looking for “pizza,” not “Joe’s Pizza.” Ninety-six percent of searches on Yelp are unbranded, according to Yelp’s data science team.
Even if they’re not looking on Yelp, they can see your Yelp rating. How? Yelp data is integrated into a lot of different places. Like Apple Maps, Siri, Uber, and Amazon, to name a few. So even if someone is mapping to your business or asking Alexa for a recommendation, they’re going to see your star rating on Yelp.
It’s important to make a great first impression. Start by seeing if you’re already on Yelp. As it’s a business directory, there are a lot of businesses listed on Yelp. It’s likely your business already has a page. Claiming and updating the information on your Yelp page is free. All you have to do is go to biz.yelp.com, search for your business, and claim it.
Is your business not listed on Yelp? The same process will help you add your business to the site.
Pro tip: Use an email address you check regularly in order to claim your page. You’ll get email notifications when people review your business and send you messages. Worry not—your email address is not visible to Yelpers.
2. You’ve got to complete to compete
According to Nielsen, 82 percent of people on Yelp are there because they intend to buy a product or service. If you want to compete with other businesses on Yelp and win that customer, you have to stand out.
If you’ve never used Yelp before, try it out. Look for a new business to try in your area. Since most consumers are using the Yelp app, make sure you’ve downloaded the app and are doing the search on your phone. Pay attention to what is important to you when you’re looking at a business page. It will help you understand how your page should look.
To make sure you stand out, you have to access your Business User’s Account and complete your profile. Visit biz.yelp.com to claim and complete your listing. Once you’re in your account, make sure to update the following:
Basic Business Information
Update your address, phone number, website, hours, and categories. You can be in up to three categories, but be sure to choose the ones that make the most sense. You don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver.
Take a consumer looking for a sandwich. How would they feel if they went to a business that had the categories of “crepes” and “sandwiches” and there was only one sandwich on the menu? They’d probably be pretty disappointed. That’s certainly not a great first impression and you’re not setting yourself up for success if you’re hoping to get a five-star review.
From the Business
The “From the Business” section includes your Specialties, History, and Meet the Owner/Manager sections. This is really what makes Yelp, Yelp. If a consumer is on Yelp, it is because they are looking for a great local business and not a big-box store or shopping online.
Your Specialties section should tell them what makes you great. Don’t just list a bunch of keywords. Tell them what differentiates you from your competitors. Be sure to highlight specific offerings like technology, procedures, and whatever else you might specialize in.
Use your History and Meet the Owner sections to introduce them to your business’ story. Don’t just copy and paste from your website. Enchant them and grow the relationship before they even reach out.
Photos are one of the most important aspects of your Yelp page. It’s so important that there is no limit to the number of photos you can upload to Yelp as a business. If a picture is worth 1000 words, write a novel. Be sure to upload at least 15 of your own photos and provide great captions. Focus on pictures of your services, your team, and the space. Avoid uploading your logo and stock images. People don’t buy from logos. People buy from a business that looks inviting.
So what’s the payoff to doing all this setup? Your page is going to perform better. On average, businesses with complete profiles on Yelp receive five times more page views.
3. Don’t ask for reviews, earn them
You’re on Yelp, you’ve claimed your page, and you’ve completed your listing, now what? Should you start asking for reviews? No.
Yelp takes a hard line against asking for or soliciting reviews. That means no discounts or gift cards for reviews, no handing a customer an iPad asking them to write a review, and no follow-up emails imploring people to give you a five-star rating. Yelp has software designed to catch this behavior and it excludes these types of reviews from your overall star rating.
On Yelp, the backbone of a great review is great customer service. None of the above experiences add up to great customer service. They usually make customers uncomfortable. Don’t undercut your own hard work and integrity by shilling for five stars.
Do such a good job that your customers are inspired to share just how wonderful you are. Try putting Yelp links on your website or in your email signature, printing out and framing your favorite reviews, responding to the reviews on your Yelp page, and sharing your reviews on your social channels. If customers sees how much you value and embrace Yelp, they’ll know where they can go to share their great feedback.
What if they’re not Yelpers? Well, give ’em options! Put all your social sites on there. Use verbiage like “Check Us Out On” or “Find Us On” to avoid the awkwardness of soliciting a review.
You’ve gone through all three things you need to know. The TL;DR version of this post is simply to focus on your customers and making them happy. Success on Yelp is driven by having customers that walk away so happy and satisfied that they evangelize your brand. Just make sure that when they take the time to share their great experience, you take the time to thank them. Don’t leave them hanging.