The Yelp Necessity
Yelp is one of the most prominent free business review sites, but is it worth joining? In a short answer, yes.
Yelp provides a free way to connect with customers, no upfront fees, and hidden downsides. It is a great tool that can be utilized to better your business. Yelp offers businesses the options to give discounts, connect with customers, advertise, and even contains an automatic filter for reviews.
It can also be a great tool for throwing tons of money away.
Building a Base of Reviews
When you first get started on Yelp, you will need to enter information about your company. Make sure to fill this out with as much detail as possible, as well as putting good pictures of your work. A strong looking business will bring more leads. (Click here to get started)
All you have to do after that is cultivate a strong base of reviews. There are a few ways to approach this. The first is asking previous happy customers to rate you on Yelp. This is the best option because you know that they were highly satisfied with your company, and will show what a great company you are.
Secondly you can have a business card that ask customers to review you. This would have to be given to customers after the service or product is delivered. Be careful about it and don’t give it to someone upset, until you resolve the issue.
This is however against Yelp’s recommendations. Yelp does specifically tell business owners to not ask for reviews (https://www.yelp-support.com/article/Don-t-Ask-for-Reviews?l=en_US). The reason for this is because Yelp’s “recommendation filter” will filter out “uninspired” reviews. What we have noticed is that if you have too many reviews hit all at once, 90%-100% of those reviews will become “Unrecommended.” This is especially true for brand new businesses.
Learn from Others
While you are building a strong profile you should also use other higher rated companies as a resource. Look at their reviews, and see how you could get those. Learning from the success of others is critical to having a successful profile.
Filling out your profile on Yelp can make a large impact in how customers and Yelp view your company. Try to leave no field empty when you are setting up your account. Add pictures and curate the experience before other Yelp reviewers upload and curate the, potentially negative, experience for you.
Connect with your Customers
Yelp provides the ability to follow, message, and reply to users. Use it! Connect with your reviewers, show that you really care about what they think of your company. Even if the review is positive make sure to thank them.
Fix what you can in the more negative reviews. No review should be left unread. Following customer allows you to see their other reviews. While this may seem notification heavy it tells them you are listening to them.
Don’t over-engage on bad reviews either. Once you acknowledge and offer to fix a problem, if the reviewer is still negative, leave it be. People reading reviews are smart enough to spot a person being overly negative and will ignore their bad review.
Yelp has a built in automatic filter for your reviews. This has some flaws, but overall can work in your favor. The review filter will take out any reviews that seem to be non-legitimate. Some of the criteria for this is if someone has only a few reviews, their review is short, or they haven’t truly visited the establishment. The review filter will remove reviews that are positive and negative about your business if it meets that criteria. Make sure to tell your users how to avoid this. One way for you to avoid it being removed is to click that their review was helpful and, or funny.
It is incredibly important that you don’t try and cheat this system by creating fake reviews.
It has been our experience that Yelp will hide overly good reviews with not enough information or words. Asking Yelp to stop filtering reviews doesn’t work either.
Advertising with Yelp
If you are thinking about advertising with Yelp, think again. While you do get some more premium content, your money could be better placed in Google ads or other forms of advertisement. In fact, 39celsius found that the return on investment was significantly less that that given from Google advertisements. You should look for low risk high reward advertising methods. Google ads will allow your company to come up more often and generate more leads, whereas Yelp, doesn’t really hold up on that end of the bargain. There are tons of free resources on Yelp that they have made their own paid service irrelevant.
Pullman Marketing’s Final Thoughts – Be Careful
At Pullman Marketing, we are very apprehensive about Yelp in general. We highly recommend getting your Yelp account setup immediately for your business for the following reasons:
- Bing and Siri/Apple searches rely heavily on the Yelp directory for local search results. This can help get you the #1 position of 24% of searches, as of July 2019.
- A positive review culture can increase leads via Yelp, Facebook and Google.
- If you don’t curate your Yelp account, someone else will. Not claiming your business can make you look like an disengaged business owner.
Maximizing your profitability through reviews is a great strategy for many businesses.
On a very serious note, we do not recommend Yelp’s Pay-Per-Click program or working with the Yelp sales reps. It has been our experience that they misrepresent results within the platform, lie to build credibility and will even speak negatively about other marketing companies you may be working with.
Within the Pay-Per-Click program, they usually ask for a flat rate of $500+ per month. This will help advertise your business on their own platform and even place ads on competitor profiles and listings.
The problem is, these are suppose to be Pay-Per-Click based, but it has been our experience that they do not share with business owners how much money actually goes into advertising spend vs. management fee. It has been rumored that up to $450 of the $500 can be the management fee. Without advertising spend transparency, small businesses in rural areas with low yelp traffic can literally throw money away on the Yelp Platform.
Recently we have heard from our customers that Yelp has been citing website errors, bad SEO practices, and false Search Engine Page results. This actively discredits reputable web marketing companies while trying to provide a valuable service of auditing for a small business. When we have followed up on Yelp audits, we have found no errors and have been unable to replicate cited Search Engine Page results.
We understand that Yelp sales representatives are tasked with getting more businesses on the platform and meeting certain quotas. A quick Youtube search reveals bad manners, harassment, and poor customer experience… We believe that if Yelp really wanted to engage with small businesses, they should create a “Yelp Partner” program for marketing companies to have additional tools and access to help assist small businesses spend money inside the platform. Although a Partner Program does currently exist, it is mostly companies like Yext and Godaddy, not smaller boutique agencies.
At this time, we fully recommend creating and curating a Yelp Business Page, but we do not recommend engaging with Yelp past that point.