Google your business. For many independent retailers and restaurants, your Yelp review often makes the first page of Google. Moz.com, a leading authority on all things digital marketing, ranks reviews from sites like Yelp in the top 50 factors in local search ranking — and Yelp being the most commonly mentioned listing. In other words: Your Yelp profile is serious business.
Because Yelp’s power lies in customer reviews, public feedback on this site can make or break a small business—making this perhaps the most influential, controversial, and powerful of all social media tools. But understanding how to create a powerful Yelp presence, and navigate the minefield of sensitive Yelpers who can be quick to both praise and complain can catapult your business ahead of the competition.
The first step is to claim your business name as a business owner, not as a Yelp reviewer. Yelp will call you to verify. Then you’re off to the Yelp races!
The key to an optimized Yelp page is being thorough, accurate, and current. Take time to make sure that the business name and description, address, operating hours, phone number, website, email address, and all other information is accurate, thorough, and typo-free. Take the time to fill out all of the “More Business Info” section. Don’t skip a step!
Be thorough. Upload at least ten photos of your business, and write at least a few hundred words in the “From the Business” section. Make it clear to current and potential customers that you’ve invested in your Yelp profile and care about your image.
It’s All About Yelp Reviews
Reviews can be very frustrating—they can have so much influence over your business, yet it can feel like reviews are out of your control. After all, anyone can leave a comment, good or bad, and the powerful nature of Yelp means that bad virtual word-of-mouth can really hurt your bottom line.
While it’s nearly impossible to actually remove a review from Yelp, there are ways to manage them:
- Respond to all reviews. This makes the positive reviewers realize that you care, be more likely to remember you, and become loyal customers who recommend you to others.
- Address negative reviews publicly on the Yelp page. Especially if the reviewer has a legitimate complaint, apologize for the incident and write that you are responding privately to resolve the issue. This can prevent the reviewer from further spreading bad reviews about you—either online or in person—and it tells potential customers that you take your reputation and quality of service seriously.
- Message the negative reviewer privately. Work earnestly to resolve the issue. Be as kind and respectful as you would be when dealing with an irate customer face-to-face. Once you do resolve the issue, ask the person to remove the negative Yelp review.
- If you indeed have evidence that a negative review was left by someone working for a competitor, share this with Yelp. They have been known to remove reviews in some cases.
- Encourage positive reviews. Ask your customers to leave a Yelp review. Feature a link on your website to your Yelp profile, have a sign by your cash register, or even include Yelp on your business card.
- Understand Yelp’s “Recommended Reviews.” Yelp weighs reviewers based on the number of reviews left, duration of account, and other factors. New, negative reviews with generic comments and short histories don’t weigh on the business’s rating. In other words, if you ask your mother to review you, it probably won’t help much. And if your competitor or enemy had his mother review you, you don’t have much to worry about.
- Listen to your customers. Reviews—both negative and positive—are golden nuggets of market research. If customers are giving you heaps of praise, understand what you’re doing right. But if reviews are consistently negative or the criticisms are reoccurring, listen and make changes.