With over 142 million average visitors per month, Yelp is one of the most important online directories. Understand the ins and outs of Yelp, and use it to build customer trust. 

How Yelp can help

Yelp is a crowd-sourced review site, which means customer create the content (i.e. reviews). This is a powerful way for businesses to build credibility as well as boost visibility. A Yelp Business Page is free and provides the exposure you need to reach more customers. When people are looking at Yelp, they’re likely considering a purchase, service, dinning experience, etc. Positive reviews and a complete listing can go a long way to capturing their business and, according to this fact sheet, most reviews on Yelp are positive. On top of that, a majority of adults check reviews before making a purchase. 

Image result for how many customers check yelp before deciding where to buy

If you haven’t already, the first step is to officially claim your business listing. Once you’ve claimed your business, you’ll have control of what information shows up on your listing. Some things to include: Your hours and location, photos and a link to your website. Restaurants can benefit from adding a menu. 

Businesses with a physical location get the perk of showing up in nearby searches: Yelp-listed businesses will pop up on mobile device maps when potential customers are searching for their products or services.  Yelp gives customers an idea of what to expect and positive customer reviews build trust.

Optimize your listing

To capitalize on the search engine optimization (SEO) you can get from a Yelp page, consider these tips:

  • Figure out which categories fit your business. When selecting your location and services, think carefully about how you want to show up. Being specific helps, such as “florist in New Hampshire.”
  • Check competitor profiles. See which categories they pick to decide where you can best stand out in the market.
  • Link to your Yelp listing from your website. This helps build authority on Google. 
  • Include keywords in your business description. If you’re the new florist in New Hampshire, talk about how your “florist” shop is the hottest spot for “New Hampshire” weddings. The more you use your keywords naturally, the more search engines will recognize and pick up what your business’s goal is.
  • Fill in as much information as possible. Accurate and up-to-date information matters because inaccurate information leads to a greater chance of negative reviews from customers. More information means customers will have more of their questions answered and feel comfortable before their first visit. Consider including a list of your products and services.

Yelp do’s and don’ts:

To make the most of Yelp, find out what to avoid and what to focus on.

Do:

  • Take time to add quality photos. Humans are visual and, while searching for clothes or haircuts, photos help people make decisions and form opinions about your brand. Go behind the scenes to show what’s really going on in the back of your business. They don’t have to be professionally done to work.
  • Caption your photos. Pictures that represent your services and custom interactions help potential customers see what working with you would really be like.
  • Encourage positive reviews. Let them happen naturally (Yelp doesn’t recommend asking for reviews) but make sure they know you’re on Yelp. A simple link to your Yelp page on your website or in an email will help drive awareness and engagement. And when you get a positive review, strengthen relationships by communicating and letting reviewers know you appreciate them.
  • Respond to negative reviews. Publicly responding allows potential customers to see how you handle criticism and what steps you take to make sure customers are satisfied. Yelp visitors typically read both, so make sure you’re professional in your response. 

Don’t:

  • Ask for reviews, offer bribes or pressure reviewers. Giving freebies, discounts or payments in exchange for a positive review (or to remove a negative one) is frowned upon and will likely be found by Yelp when they comb through for spam reviews. 
  • Be vague when describing your business. Categories should be specific to ensure that your main services and activities are covered and people know what makes you different from the rest, i.e., “Irish bar and grill” instead of “restaurant.”
  • Post reviews of your business or of competitors. Yelp’s content guidelines prohibit it. 
  • Work with companies or 3rd-party vendors offering to “fix your reviews.” Companies that claim to be able to help make your reviews better are prohibited by Yelp and are likely a scam.

Yelp in real life

It’s not just a good idea: Yelp works. In one measure of success, a bar and grill saw a 471 percent increase in Yelp traffic in one year.

Additionally, take a look at this restaurant that hadn’t claimed its online listings. By actively taking control of their Yelp listing, and describing themselves not just as a “restaurant” but also as a “soul food restaurant,” Lovett’s Soul Food found they showed up higher in search results. The updated Lovett’s listing included information about the family, the food and the dining experience — which helped them capture more customers.

The business owners said, “As soon as [we] updated our business as a soul food restaurant on our Google listing, we had more people calling.” Their Yelp listing now averages 100 views a month and a conversion rate of 10 percent (meaning one out of every 10 people is calling the restaurant, looking for directions to the eatery and so on). All because they took advantage of Yelp.

Other powerful directories to consider

Outside of Yelp, there are many places to list your business online. With four out of five consumers looking online for information, and half of searchers visiting a store that same day, it just makes sense. Two powerhouses:

  1. Google My Business is one of the best directories to focus on. As a major search engine, billions of searches happen every day. One great benefit is that your business’s exact location can be listed in a mobile-friendly map to help people not only search and find your business, but navigate to it shortly after. An analytics function also lets you track who’s searching for you and what other sites they’ve visited. 
  2. TripAdvisor is a great option for towns with lots of tourists and travelers. More than 455 million people visit the site each month to find travel opportunities. You’ll get notifications when new reviews come in. TripAdvisor will help your business increase brand exposure and generate traffic. 

With information-filled online directories, such as Yelp, Google My Business and TripAdvisor, you can enjoy an increase in customer trust and interaction. 

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