Yelp! Don't Hate, Appreciate!
We often hear, “I hate Yelp.” No social network is worth expending that much mental energy. We’re here to tell you “Don’t hate. Appreciate!” Why should you care about Yelp? If you’re a small business owner or manager, Yelp and other online review sites are important to your customers. The popularity of Yelp is soaring. A recent study showed that 85% of Americans learn about local businesses online and 49% of consumers read online reviews. Additionally, nearly one third of restaurant customers have read or posted reviews on Yelp. If those facts aren’t enough to persuade you, maybe your iPhone will? Siri, the iPhone’s personal assistant, pulls reviews from Yelp when making recommendations. Lastly, there is evidence that businesses that raise their Yelp rating by 1 star will see an approximate 10% gain in sales. While you can’t control your Yelp ratings, there are things you can do to help, such as providing better customer service both on and offline and enhancing your Yelp profile.
Here are 5 easy steps business owners can take to better utilize Yelp and make the most of their experience:
1. Claim your business page.
Go to your business’ profile on Yelp. Look for the briefcase and the words, “Work Here? Unlock this Business Page.” The steps of setting up a business owner account and claiming your listing are fairly easy. This will help with SEO and Yelp search.
2. Fill out your business profile completely.
Once you’ve claimed your page, you can add “About this business.” Yelp search is based on keywords, which come not only from reviews but also from your profile. If you serve casual French food and have an award-winning wine list, include that! Also, you will want to complete your business owner’s profile so you can respond to reviews.
3. Add some photos.
You will want to add the best quality photos possible. For restaurants, images are vital. We eat with our eyes. It is likely that your business already has some existing photos, added by a Yelper. Why not make sure you are providing images that best represent your business? For restaurants, we recommend adding at least 8 photos- one exterior photo, one interior photo, and at least 6 photos of your best dishes. Mobile users are unable to see “About This Business” but are likely to view photos to assist in their dining decision. For small businesses that are not restaurants, we recommend adding at least one storefront photo and one interior photo to tell the story of your business.
4. Take advantage of insights.
Now that you’ve finished your profile, check out the insights! Yelp offers amazing insights, not only on page views but also on user actions. User actions include mobile check ins, mobile calls, clicks to your website, and requests for directions to your business. These numbers will help you better understand your customers and how they are using Yelp. These metrics will also help you analyze trends over time.
Now that you’ve seen your insights, read and respond to reviews! If you’ve completed your business owner’s profile, Yelp will allow you to send 5 personal messages per day. Additionally, Yelp will allow you to make 3 public comments per day. If a review is good, and most reviews are, Yelp recommends that you respond via personal message. If there is a specific issue that needs to be addressed, such as misinformation or a problem you are working to correct, you may want to make a public comment instead. When responding to reviews, it is important to thank the reviewer for patronizing your business and for writing a review. Don’t forget, Yelp is a social network, and saying thank you will create goodwill in the community. If you have a negative review, do not take it personally. Use it as a learning tool, thank the reviewer for their feedback, and move on. If someone has written an incorrect review, it can be flagged. If they are a person that is never satisfied or just writes negative reviews, ignore it. Yelp has great advice on how to respond to reviews. Don’t worry about one bad review- 65% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews when researching local businesses.
Update: Since we posted this, Yelp announced they are partnering with Bing to power local search. Just one more reason to help your Yelp!