Yelp Small Business: Pros & Cons, and Tips

You may just think that Yelp is only a review website. It’s even more powerful than that. Yelp is a very popular and influential search tool that can lead customers directly to you store or website. Here’s information you can use to make the most of Yelp.

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What is Yelp?

Yelp is a business directory service and crowd-sourced review forum. The company develops, hosts, and markets the Yelp.com website and the Yelp mobile app, which publish reviews about businesses.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "the site's popularity soared” after it was re-designed in late 2005. Because of that popularity, the site has attracted over 90 million reviews to date and is a first-stop for many consumers looking for restaurants, products, and services. In addition to reviews, if you claim your Yelp business page, you can upload photos, logo, address, website, and other important details about your business.

How Yelp impacts businesses

Yelp can greatly increase the visibility of your business, potentially increasing revenue. Here are ways to improve your Yelp experience.

Display a Yelp badge on your website

Don’t be skittish about a customer leaving negative review when they see a Yelp badge on your site. There could be hundreds or thousands of happy customers visiting your website every month who don’t know you have a Yelp profile. Placing the Yelp badge on your website can help these satisfied customers find your Yelp page and, hopefully, leave you a positive rating.

Share your Yelp reviews on Facebook and Twitter

You can share Yelp ratings on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can even post your less-than-favorable Yelp reviews as long as you’ve responded appropriately. Your happy and loyal customers might take notice and decide to take action and support your business by giving you a positive rating and review.

Increase customer awareness of your Yelp profile

While you are not allowed to ask for Yelp reviews, there is nothing wrong with letting customers know that you have a Yelp profile. Store signage and a website badge can increase visibility.

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Pros and cons of Yelp

If you haven’t yet claimed your profile page, consider these positives and negatives.

Pros:

1. Increase the clients or customers

Yelp can be the first stop of many consumers checking out your business before they engage.

Photos of your products or completed projects along with correct business information can attract more customers. They’ll have a positive feeling about your business before they buy.

2. Simple to use

You don’t need advanced internet skills to set up and monitor your business profile. It’s not just easy for you – it’s simple for consumers. No sign up is required to see reviews and other business information.

3. Trustworthy reviews

While a direct recommendation from family and friends is the most effective, consumers now trust online reviews as well. Yelp identifies unfounded or fake reviews and removes them, cementing their credibility.

4. Useful for responding to reviews

Perhaps the best feature of Yelp is the ability to respond. Happy or not, it’s always good to see a business address issues or thank customers. This gives your business a personality. If you do have a negative review, there are strategies you can use to minimize the potential damage. This article from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog includes steps to take to turn a negative review around: How to Respond to Negative Reviews the Smart Way.

Cons:

1. Reviews are filtered

With the intention to protect businesses, Yelp uses an algorithm to hide or remove fake or illegitimate reviews. Yelp has reported that approximately 25% of user reviews are not recommended and filtered out. Here are reasons reviews might be hidden or removed:

  • Yelp doesn’t trust users who have only written a few reviews, especially if they have no Yelp friends or profile information.
  • The review is over-the-top positive or negative.
  • Reviews that are too short also get filtered. “Love it!” isn’t seen as helpful.
  • The review violated Yelp’s Content Guidelines. Guidelines include information about conflicts of interest, promotional content and relevance. Review them here.
  • If the IP is incorrect, the review will be filtered. If a reviewer is out of town and reviews from home, it might get filtered.

2. Difficult to remove false reviews

To report a false review, click the “flag” icon at the bottom of the review. You’ll then be asked a series of questions and your answers will be evaluated by Yelp moderators. This is historically difficult and one of the biggest cons of the platform. Note that in order to get a review removed, you first have to claim your business on Yelp.

3. Lead Inflation

Lead generation via Yelp may not be helpful. Yelp counts photo uploads, map views, website clicks, and bookmarks as “leads.” Business owners generally consider a lead as completed contact form, email, or phone call.

4. The cost

The 39 Celsius website reports that Yelp charges based on CPC (cost-per-click). The CPC you pay varies widely – advertisers will pay as low as $0.30 per click to $40+ per click for more competitive niches like law. You can choose how much you want to spend monthly. Of course, the clicks you get may not be quality leads, wasting your marketing dollars.

Summary

No matter what your feelings are about Yelp, it’s always best to claim your page so you have some control over content, images, and business information. You don’t have to spend a dime to be active on the platform. It’s an excellent way to put a face on your business and drive customers to your location or website.

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