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When you think of Yelp, do you first think of foodies posting restaurant reviews?
Yelp is indeed an important factor for restaurants digital strategies. But overall, Yelp is much more than a website for people to rate their favorite meals.
In fact, according to Yelp’s statistics, only 20% of total reviews are for restaurants.
Whether you’re a dentist or candy store owner, Yelp can help increase web traffic to your site and foot traffic to your front door.
With a quick look at the US demographics, you can see how Yelp is used by a wide range of age and income groups.
Join me below, and I’ll share –
- Why your business should have a Yelp business page,
- Some impressive stats, and
- How to optimize your Yelp listing for maximum traffic.
Why Your Business Should Be On Yelp
When Yelp first started in 2004, it was an email service for exchanging local business recommendations in San Francisco. It would evolve into a business review website with social networking features, discounts, and mobile applications being used by consumers throughout the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe.
Yelp receives 120 million monthly visitors and has over 53 million user reviews. Judging by the curve of the graph below, this doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon…
The future of search is moving towards mobile screens and social networks. Just recently, a global survey reported that smartphones have surpassed TV’s in the amount of user viewing time per day. With this in mind, a well-constructed Yelp business page could improve your online marketing by leaps and bounds with very little time/money invested.
An obvious first step to optimizing your Yelp business page is to create one if you haven’t done so already.
To get started, go to the Yelp for Business Owners page and click “claim my business.” You will then be redirected to a page that asks you to find your business.
You will then have one of three cases occur –
- No Business Listed: Your business hasn’t been listed on the site, click “Add your business to Yelp” on the bottom of the page.
- Already Unlocked: If your business is already unlocked that means someone else has already claimed your business. Yelp has a review process, so it is unlikely that it was unlocked by someone outside your organization.
- Unlock Your Business: You can unlock your Yelp business page by clicking the “unlock” button and filling in the required information.
With your Yelp business page now created, the next step is to fill your business profile with useful and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly information.
Optimizing Your Yelp Business Page
Yelp will essentially guide you through this process once you have created a business page. They even have a friendly alert to remind you, in case you forget.
Before you start filling out the content on your Yelp business page, make a list of keywords you want to rank for. Keep these in mind for every section of your Yelp business profile and use them wherever appropriate.
Below are the different parts of a Yelp business profile that you should fill out. Filling out these sections well will help you increase your organic traffic and search rankings within Yelp.
Do you want to lose out on potential business? Not many people do, so make sure your Yelp Business page has all of these things complete:
1. Business Information
Basic Information: In this section, you will be filling out the basic information for your business. For SEO, and customer satisfaction, you must have consistent and correct information for your business hours and address.
Specialties: Give customers an overview of the services your business performs. Keep valuable keywords in mind and use them wherever appropriate.
Only use keywords where appropriate and to not engage in “keyword stuffing” or simply listing your keywords. Yelp will penalize you for doing so and it will hurt your chances of ranking highly.
Here is an example of a well-done business information section:
History: You can use this space to tell you business’s story with your most valuable keywords in mind.
Meet the Business Owner: People may like to know more details about the business so fill out this section to tell them about the owner and their personal story. You can include things such as motivation for starting the business, education background and any other relevant information.
It is important to fill out every section on this page. Not only for the customers, but your page is more likely to rank highly in search results if it has a complete profile with correct spelling, capitalization, and correct use of keywords.
Yelp will penalize you for putting sales requests or incorrect information in the basic information session. Things to watch out for:
- Calls to action: Do not put phone numbers, email addresses, website addresses, etc. in the business information section
- Correct sections: Make sure the content matches the sections you are filling out.
Timely Responses to reviews, both positive and negative, establishes legitimacy and can help strengthen your overall reputation. Post responses within 24 hours of the review being published.
There are Two Ways to Respond to User Reviews on Yelp –
- Send a private message. This is much like sending the customer a direct email, and
- Post a public message below the consumer’s review for everyone to see.
Both ways should be used to respond to ALL negative reviews. Seeing responses to positive and negative reviews indicates you are engaged with your customers and concerned with their satisfaction.
The key to responding to negative reviews is to keep the BIG picture in mind. Don’t get defensive. Consumers are smart and know that an isolated bad review isn’t indicative of a bad business. A good way to respond to negative reviews is to acknowledge that you are concerned about the customers’ experience, state the business’ philosophy of excellent service, and have them contact a specific decision maker to discuss any grievance so that things can be made right.
For positive reviews, an authentic thank you is appropriate. That can be as simple as saying, “Thank you again, Bob, for staying with us and being so polite to the hotel staff. You are always welcome back!” simply saying thank you for the positive review is adequate but it is better to also respond in detail.
3. Photos And Videos
Quality photos on Yelp make a huge difference.
According to Yelp, people stay two and a half times longer on a business page when it has photos. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer, but having high-quality photos should be a priority.
Yelp shows your response time and response rate so it is important to respond to messages in a timely fashion.
There are 3 ways to respond to messages: on the Yelp for Business Owners website, on the Yelp for Business Owners mobile app, or you can also set up email notifications to respond to reviews directly through email.
5. Questions & Answers
Responding to questions is a way to get more relevant information to your customers. Doing so will also hopefully reduce the number of direct messages you have to respond to.
6. Check-In Offers
Check-ins are another ranking factor for Yelp. So if you want your business page to show up at the top of the results list, it is important to have this offer complete.
The check-in feature is a way for business owners to reward customers through for checking in at their location using the Yelp app. It can be a discount price, percentage off, or some other incentive. By checking in at your business, customers social networks are notified, which increases your business’s visibility.
With all of your business page information now complete, the next step is to promote engagement on your site to get more customer reviews.
Social proofing works.
People trust Yelp because of the millions of customer reviews. There are many ways that you can promote these positive reviews reaching your business page, but be sure to never offer incentives. Yelp has a filter to block fake reviews and they can even penalize your listing for foul play.
The best way to garner positive reviews is the old fashioned way, excellent customer service, and a few of these tips.
- Have a Yelp Link on your website: The more exposure your Yelp business page gets the higher chance you will receive customer reviews.
- Including a Yelp Link in your email signature: For the same reason explained above.
- Reach Out to Existing Customers: Ask your loyal customers if they would visit your Yelp Business profile and ask them what they think of it. (It’s against Yelp policy to directly solicit customer reviews)
- Promoting Deals on Yelp: Deals are a great way to grab attention and get new customers in the door!
The more Yelp reviews you have, the more likely you are to rank highly. Don’t forget to respond to those reviews!
With the nature of a business, sometimes you will receive negative reviews from a customer you weren’t able to satisfy. To reiterate our message in the Reviews section above, the best way to deal with these situations is to respond in a positive way.
A Yelp Optimization Overview
Does your page have quality photos and a keyword rich summary of your business? Optimizing your Yelp business page is about filling your page with useful information. It can be done in one sitting, but the key for a successful business page is responding to reviews to further engage with customers.
Keep the big picture in mind when responding to reviews, and continuously look for new ways to drive potential customers to your site. If you do all these things, while showcasing the personality behind your brand, you will be positioning your company for delicious online marketing success.
ElementIQ is one of a small handful of Yelp Ads Certified Partners, and we work with Yelp profiles every day! If you require further assistance with setup of a Yelp profile and/or advertising on Yelp, we can Help!