Yelp is a beast! For some reason I have neglected it for many years but have seen the err in my ways. I am always looking at ways to help businesses make more money but somehow Yelp slipped through my fingertips. That is no longer the case. In June 2014, I dove head first into Yelp. I started my personal account and started doing as many reviews as possible. I wanted to test the waters. What exactly makes Yelp such a powerful tool? After less than a month I am convinced that the future of small business growth starts and ends with reviews; mainly Internet reviews. I believe so strongly in this that I created this resource for my local area: North Carolina Triangle Reviews.
One of the most powerful, yet affordable, marketing campaigns for any sized business is word of mouth marketing. When someone tells a friend they had an amazing experience at Flying Beagle Books there is a strong likelihood that the receiver of this information will use that bookstore the next time they are in town. This validation makes it easier for a consumer to not only visit the establishment but spend money as well. When consumers build trust in a brand they are going to spend thousands of dollars at any given business. This relationship often starts when a friend or family member mentions said business.
Getting Started on Yelp for Business
There is a large difference in Yelp for Business and Yelp for the Consumer. Yelp for the Consumer is much like any other smartphone app or website these days. You have the opportunity to sign up with your Facebook or Google account. After that, you go through the steps of filling out your profile in as much depth as you desire. I tried to fill my profile out as much as possible as I have the desire to be a Yelp power user as quickly as possible. I am sold that this is the future on small business growth!
Yelp for Business is a little bit of a different animal. If you have a physical address that is already in the Yelp database you can “claim this business”. Once clicking “claim this business” you go through the steps to verify your business. Remember that it is not instant. If it were an instant update people would be claiming many businesses they do not own. Be very patient when it comes to the claiming of a business. It will be well worth it in the long run; I promise.
Something I recently noticed about Yelp is you can add a business from the mobile app. I use Yelp for iPhone but the Android app is very similar. If you are at a business location and it is not in the Yelp database you can add a business. You do this by clicking the “more” tab on the bottom right hand side of the app. Once in the “more” section of Yelp you can scroll all the way down and you will see “Add a Business”. Once you click this option you will be asked for the following:
- Notes for the Yelp Team
If you are not 100% sure of the address there is an option to “fill with Current Address”. I always look on the front of the building or ask the store owner for their address when I am adding a business. When selecting “fill with the Current Address” it tends to fill in a nearby address but not the exact address. An example is it will fill with 107 Main Street but the business is actually at 105 Main Street. I try my best to get the address in which the business owner receives mail. If you ever wonder what the address is, just ask the person behind the counter for a business card. Most of the time the business card will have the physical address.
If you need help adding a business or you would rather complete the task on desktop please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be more than happy to give you the steps to walk through the process while also offering you some tips and tricks on how to optimize your Yelp profile to get more customers and business.
Why Yelp Reviews Are Important
I will give you an example of a Saturday afternoon in my life. I am visiting a small town that is brand new to me. I have never visited and I want to check out the historic downtown scene. I will do a little research on Google Maps and other places before I leave, but generally speaking I am going to wing it and see what happens. As I enter the historic district of the small town I park at one end of Main Street and walk. As I am approaching the shops, stores, restaurants and entertainment venues I pull out my iPhone and open the Yelp app.
My Yelp app will tell me the places that other visitors and locals highly recommend. The fact that I have never visited this small town means I am likely to trust someone that has been here. I am even more willing to trust a group of people that has visited the downtown area. As I scroll through my Yelp App I see “A Great Play to Play” has received 15 reviews and the average star rating is 4.65. Impressive. I will remember that. I continue to scroll through Yelp and I see that “Main Street Steak House” has received 29 reviews and the average star rating in 2.34. Ouch. Once again, noted.
As you can see, the likelihood of me entering a business establishment is greatly affected by the Yelp Reviews. Rather than just assume that the “Main Street Steak House” is terrible I will read through some of the reviews. If the first six reviews mention poor service and a long wait I can rest assure you that I will not be dining at this steak house. I will use Yelp to find another dining location that will much better suit my needs. Unfortunately, the “Main Street Steak House” might not even realize that their sales have dropped because of the bad reviews. As a business owner you have the opportunity to respond to a review. If Yelp finds the review is not accurate or spam they will remove it. This is one of the main reasons I strongly urge all businesses to get started on Yelp today! If you need help reach out to me at email@example.com.
Another amazing feature about Yelp reviews are the photos and the tips. If I am a huge fan of bookstores and I have to choose from five different locations there is a good chance I will look at the photos to get the feel of the bookstore. Knowing me, I will go to all five locations but most consumers will only choose one or two. If your business has no photos on Yelp you could be missing out on business. There is also a “tip” option for Yelp users. I try to add a tip every time I do a review or check in to an establishment on Yelp. Sometimes this is as easy as “check out the upstairs” and other times it is “try the Coke Float!” These tips will let new customers in on some of the secrets of a business.
A perfect example of this is a coffee house near my home town. You can read the full review here: Haw River Ballroom Cup 22 Coffee Shop Reviews. I had no idea that the bottom floor contained a ping pong table. I absolutely love ping pong. Table tennis is one of the activities that brings me back to my childhood. When I first visited the Cup 22 Coffee Shop in Saxapahaw, North Carolina I was not using Yelp. Had I been using Yelp I would have likely noticed, in the review section of the Yelp Cup 22 page, that there was a ping pong table downstairs. I would have likely gone down and played a few games. I know better next time.
Internet Reviews are huge. If you don’t think so, just look at all the money Google is sinking into the growth of Google Plus and Google My Business. They are even offering an opportunity to get your business online at little to no charge. One of the most common searched phrases on the Internet is reviews. Companies like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List started online and have become multimillion dollar companies. This should tell you all you need to know.
Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with the learning curve that comes with technology. If this is a problem for you please feel free to reach out to me. I will be more than happy to help you walk through the process of getting your business listed on Yelp, Google My Business or any other website that allows users to offer reviews. As your business continues to grow the reviews will grow and you will get more and more customers from the Internet.
Does Yelp Rank in Google Search?
The answer is absolutely! Just the other day I was searching from computer repair services near my home town and the first three Google search results were all Yelp pages. After clicking on all three I decided to choose the one with the better reviews and better customer service. They received my business because they ranked in Google search and they had strong Yelp reviews. If you want to kill two birds with one stone you can build out your Yelp page and optimize it for search.
This may sound daunting to many which is why it is a service that I provide. I have helped doctors, lawyers and other service professionals get business and customers from the Internet. Some of these private practice professionals have built their business, from Internet searches, so much that they have had to expand and open even more offices. If you rank on the front page of Google search for the keyword phrases people are searching I can promise it will change the bottom line for your business. You will have so much business you will likely have to hire new employees and possibly open a second or third location.
It is important to understand that ranking in Google search is not easy. Some have debated Google Plus SEO vs Facebook. While Facebook has more users it is obvious that Google Plus offers better search ranking opportunities. That said, the most important thing to understand about ranking in search is not the social network you are using but the quality of content. Yelp provides quality content. If you have 25 reviews and they are solid, well thought out reviews, there is a good chance your business page will rank well because of these Yelp Reviews.
In the hierarchy of business profiles on the Internet I would rank them this way:
- Google Plus
I think Twitter and Instragram have a purpose but in terms of ranking in search they have little to no value. My personal opinion is that Internet users with the intent to buy are actually searching and not scrolling through photos on Tumblr, Instagram or other websites. You may ask about Pinterest. For all you need to know on Pinterest use this resource: How to Get Started on Pinterest for Business.
Should Businesses Focus on Yelp or Pinterest?
Before answering this question I always explain to each client that a different business could necessitate a different online marketing strategy. Retailers, boutiques, restaurants and fitness facilities could all benefit greatly from using Pinterest. Pinterest users often have the intent to buy, especially when they see that unique dress or the DIY for a kitchen counter. That said, there are many businesses that will not strongly benefit from Pinterest. If you have a bookstore or a legal business Pinterest is not easy. I strongly believe that most businesses should have a presence on Pinterest. This does not necessarily mean they need to sink as much time and energy into the social network.
Yelp, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. If you have a business that offers a product or service I think there should be quite a bit of focus on this social product. Time and again we have seen that Yelp is one of the highest ranking “social” apps or websites in Google search. Besides Wikipedia, I would say Yelp has the most front page search results. With this being the case, why not use the product that is 100% free?
If you have been wondering about which websites to use for your business please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have packages that help businesses with FourSquare, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Yelp and LinkedIn. If your desire is to gain exposure online I can likely help you research a larger audience. Rather than thinking you should do what every other business owner is doing it might be best to sit down with someone that has truly made money and increase sales through Internet Marketing.
Know Where Customers Are Looking Online
While many social media websites are talking about the craze of Instagram I strongly feel that businesses should recognize what users are doing on a specific social network. While the Psychology of Instagram is truly interesting is it something that most businesses will likely not want to study if they hope to get more customers. Unless you are focusing on the teen or college aged crowd there isn’t great use for Instagram. It is a branding tool for popular companies but a local restaurant or hardware store is not going to find shoppers on Instagram.
Even if shoppers or customers were on Instagram it is not build to get customers to a specific location. Comments are short and you can’t even post a clickable link on a photo. In fact, I would say one Yelp review is worth 5000 Instagram likes. Heck, one Yelp review might be worth 50,000 Instagram likes as the Instagram likes are coming from those that are not spending money; they are wasting time in between class or while there are commercials on MTV or VH1.
If you want to know the demographics of each social network feel free to reach out to me. I have a strong grasp as to what age range is using each platform. If you are selling homes in Atlanta, Georgia you probably could care less where the 16 year old girls are posting photos. This is something to consider when you allocate a budget to Internet marketing. Know where your audience is online. If they are searching Google for your services you need to be active on Yelp. Right now!