Yelp has remained a leading review site for local businesses for quite some time. Although the restaurant industry is no doubt the most present on the site, other businesses are beginning to take advantage.
With more than 100 million monthly unique visitors to the site (both on desktop and mobile), it's a great place to gain visibility for your company and create a place for reviews, ratings, and even some social engagement.
If your page is optimized correctly, you should start seeing reviews and clicks without having to do much managing to start. Here's how to get started with Yelp and how to optimize your business listing.
Claiming a Yelp Listing
Let's first go through the process of claiming a Yelp listing and filling out your basic business information. Below is an example of a fake business I created and the steps I took to make it happen:
Step #2: You will then be taken to a page that asks you to find your business. There are three different scenarios that can occur:
No Business Listed: Even if you don't have a Yelp account yet, you can still type in the name of your business. In the example below, you will see that Yelp didn't recognize my business for me to claim (it's a fake business, so no surprise there). If this happens to your legitimate business, you can click "Add your business to Yelp" on the bottom of the page.
Already Unlocked: If your business shows up and it says that it is already unlocked, then someone has already claimed your business.
Unlock: Unlock your business Yelp page by clicking "unlock" shown in the screenshot below. You will be able to unlock the page by giving your first and last name, email address, creating a password, and agreeing to the Yelp terms of service.
Step #3 (Optional): If you have to add your business to Yelp, you will be taken to a screen where you can fill in all of your information. You will only need to do this if your business does now show up on the similar businesses screen in step #2. Yelp will ask you what type of business you're trying to add (education, professional services, restaurants, active life, etc.), your email address, the address of your business, your business hours, and your web address. You will then click "add" and be sent a confirmation email. Once your email is confirmed, the Yelp team will look at your submission and get back to you before you can begin optimizing and making changes to your account.
Optimizing Your Yelp Listing
After you've claimed your Yelp listing, it's time to optimize that listing by filling in all of the information possible, uploading photos, and utilizing social benefits and the analytics available.
Here are a few ways you can get started optimizing your business listing on Yelp:
Fill Out All Information
This is the first and most important thing a company needs to do when trying to make the most of their Yelp listing. Below is a screenshot of one of my favorite coffee houses, Vinaka Café. You will see that there is quite a bit of information you can include, and they've done it all:
You can edit your business information by clicking the "Edit Business Info" link on the bottom left hand corner. What's interesting about this is the fact that anyone can click this link and try to change the information on your listing. Everything has to go through Yelp moderators, however, so you will be notified if something seems off.
Consumers love photos. No matter what business or what platform, the more high quality photos the more interesting your page is going to be. According to Review Trackers research, people searching Yelp for local businesses spend 2.5 times more time on a Yelp listing with photos.
Here's how you can add photos:
Respond to Reviews
Yelp is all about reviews (more on this below). Make sure if you're the owner to continually respond to reviews.
You don't need to respond to every review, but occasionally add in your two-cents or respond to a negative customer. Here's how to make this happen:
Optimizing your Yelp listing is equivalent to optimizing your website for search engines such as Google. You want to utilize keywords in your business listing, and try to earn backlinks wherever you can either through guest posting, press releases, or better yet, naturally.
Extra: Yelp also offers social features for users to help them find their friends on Yelp and see what they have been reviewing and what they recommend in any given area. This is more of a feature for users than businesses, but it's good to know it exists in case your business ever wants to check out what people are saying about businesses in the area (your competition maybe?). You can check out these social features by clicking "Find Friends" at the top of a Yelp page. If you don't already have an account, it will prompt you to add in information and confirm your email address. You'll be set to go in less than two minutes.
How to Encourage More Reviews on Yelp
Having a larger number of reviews shows that your business is more established. It can be tough to get those first few, but there are a few things you can do to help get the ball rolling:
Yelp Link on Website: Have a link to your Yelp page on your website. Make sure the button is prominent so that no one misses the opportunity to click.
Yelp Link in Signature: Whenever you send an email, consider putting your Yelp link in your email signature. This is just another way to make it easy for customers/clients to find you and review.
Flyers: If you feel comfortable with your regular customers and clients, you may want to consider creating flyers for your servers or staff to pass out that explains how to leave a Yelp review and why it matters to you. However, don't offer any free incentive for giving a positive review of your business – Yelp will not be happy.
Encourage Check-Ins: Check-ins occur with the social network Foursquare. It allows customers to check-in to wherever they are and then post that check-in to Facebook for all of their friends to see (this is now more important than ever thanks to the Facebook Graph Search). You can encourage check-ins by offering daily deals on Foursquare, which you can learn more about here.
Promote on Yelp: Businesses can place special deals on Yelp, which should help encourage users to visit your Yelp page. While they're there, why not write a review, right?
SEO for Yelp: As discussed above, you want your Yelp business page to rank just like you want the pages on your website to rank. You can do this with the keywords the appear on your listing as well as trying to earn some backlinks for your page.
The best thing you can do is encourage engagement instead of blatantly asking for reviews. This will help keep things fair and unbiased, and you will be surprised at just how many people want to review your company on their own.
If you see something that is completely untrue, take the time to respond to that person and let everyone know what you did to make sure that particular problem won't happen again. After all, a Yelp review with no negative reviews and a perfect 5 star score will look worse to Yelp users than the business with a few negative reviews.
Reviews will only be removed if they violate Yelp's terms of service or content guidelines – or if the reviewer remove it. Certain reviews may also be filtered (these won't affect the overall rating of your business), something that Yelp has been criticized on in the past.
All you can do is continue to take steps to encourage positive and constructive reviews – most of them should appear on your page.
Overview of Yelp Optimization
So a quick overview of Yelp optimization:
You first have to claim your listing. You can do this by either unlocking your business, adding your business if it was not detected by Yelp, visiting your already unlocked account, or taking steps to regain control of your already unlocked account.
You should make sure your listing information is completely filled out. Add photos, add contact information, Wi-Fi information, noise level, etc.
You then need to encourage more reviews. You can do this by encouraging Foursquare check-ins, making your Yelp link visible on your website and email signature, promoting your company on Yelp, and working to rank your account on search engines like Google.
Some negative reviews are actually better than no negative reviews. Make sure you keep your business listing unbiased and always encourage engagement over asking for reviews.
Are you a company with a strong presence on Yelp? How do you make sure that your listing is fully optimized? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.