A Yelp Guide for Small Businesses

find us on yelp

 

users can make the transition from search to purchase in just a few moments.

Yelp. That is a loaded and sometimes scary word for small businesses.  If you have somehow managed to ignore it until now – stop!  It is time you took control of your Yelp Business Owner’s Account. Let’s begin.

Yelp is a review site and directory where users can go to find business information like an address and phone number and also read and write reviews about their experiences.  It essentially put Yellow Pages out of business due to its digital format and review feature.  But now, with Yelp’s recent acquisition of Eat 24 and other delivery companies, users can make the transition from search to purchase in just a few moments. Did that get your attention?  Yes, users can reserve a tee time, order Indian food, and schedule a doctors appointment from their phones, And, guess what?  Your customers prefer it that way.  When a customer wants a more efficient way to give you their money, you had better be doing all you can to ensure you are their to help.

 1. Getting Started

You start by claiming (or creating) your free Business Owner’s Account or, BOA.  Your account is free and, though some deceptive companies will try to tell you they will ‘manage’ or ‘unlock’ your Yelp account, it is no more difficult than setting up a Facebook page. Go to Yelp.com and search for your business.

search

If you find your business, just look for a claiming button on the right hand side or bottom of the page.

claim yelp

If it isn’t on any of the search pages (there can be a lot of them) then you will need to make a business profile by searching for this button at the bottom of the search page.

not here

Follow the setup or claiming directions which may involve email or phone verification.  And then you will be at your dashboard.

2. Reviews

Everyone is always talking about Yelp reviews, especially if they have bad ones. There are two things you need to get through your head. The first is that everyone will get a bad review, regardless of whether they deserve it or not, and it is not the end of the world!  The absolute worst thing you can possibly do is to react to a review.  Your business comments stay public and will do far more harm than a customer review.  Trust me, I have seen it happen oer and over again.  Reviews are the least of your concerns, I promise. The second thing is that if you try to manipulate reviews, you will probably end up hurting your rating for a much longer time.  Don’t do it.  Don’t pay for reviews, definitely don’t pay fro review services, and don’t write your own.  I repeat, reviews are the least of your concerns.  Moving on.

3. Business information

So, if reviews aren’t a concern, then what should I focus on?  How about getting customers in your door?  Is your address correct, your phone number?  Make sure your customers can find you.  You can change all of your info through your dashboard.  And you should.  Add photos, add a business description.  Treat your Yelp page like a mini site.  Take a look around Yelp and see what the 5 star businesses are doing with their pages.

Yelp Dashboard

4. Deals, Gift Certificates, Check-in offers, and Vendors:

  • A Yelp Deal: is a deal you offer, where you split the income with Yelp.  It is a Call to action on your Yelp page.  They can be useful to attract attention, but are often too costly, nearing 50% of the revenue going to Yelp.
  • Check-in Offers: are usually free and involve having a Yep user ‘check-in’ (tag themselves as at your location with their phone).  Almost always a good idea.  One place even offered free hugs as a check-in offer!
  • Yelp Gift Certificates are paid vouchers that users can redeem at your establishment, and come with terms of use.  Again, the part of the money goes to Yelp, but less than a deal.
  • Vendors: are companies like Eat 24 that might be available for your business depending on it’s category.

5. Advertising

Yelp offers advertising in Two forms.  One is a self-serve program you can sign up through your dashboard.  It works similar to Google AdWords, but is internal only to Yelp.  It can be very effective if you are in an industry like medical or auto, where customers spend a lot with you.  If you have a taco stand it probably isn’t worth the investment.

Then there is what Yelp calls Full service.  It is essentially the same thing, but it has a several hundred dollar a month minimum and it comes with a contract.  We highly advise against this route.

Both programs work on a similar principal. When users Yelp search for something related to your business, your business is shown to them as an ad right above the search results, or somewhere else on the site (Yelp is putting ads in lots of new places).

6. Stop the Sales Calls!

If you have a business listing on Yelp, chances are you will get a call or email from a Yelp rep trying to sell you ads.  The unsubscribe link is found at the bottom of the email.  When they call you say, “I am the business owner, and I want to be placed on your do not call list.”  That is literally the only thing you can say to stop them.  They are bound by law to put you on the DNC list, but not much else.

 

The bottom line is this.  Millions of people use Yelp with the purpose of spending money with a business. Make sure you are ready for them.

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