When it comes to promoting a brand in local search, Yelp plays an important role. Here’s what your brand needs to know about using Yelp for business to build your reputation and reach.
There are few sites that can strike fear into the hearts of small business owners faster than Yelp. The popular review site allows customers to leave their impressions and experiences with various businesses, and with 73 million unique monthly visitors on mobile and 84 million unique monthly visitors on desktop, the potential impact of this site on consumer behavior is significant.
Yelp has also risen in importance recently due to the recent increase in the use of voice search. The sales of voice-first devices, such as the Amazon Echo and Dot, as well as the Google Home, has risen exponentially. After selling only 1.7 million devices in 2015 and 6.5 million in 2016, the sale of these devices is expected to hit 24.5 million in 2017. Additionally, voice search tied with AI and machine learning as the search marketing trend marketers saw as “the next big thing” in our 2017 Future of SEO and Content Marketing Survey.
Yelp, in particular, has become closely intertwined with Amazon’s Alexa, which uses it to provide users with information about local businesses. Through voice search, users can ask Alexa for information, like names and contact information for top-rated service providers in their area. On the app, they can then follow up on this query and receive even more information from Yelp, including the number of stars the business has. Are you ready for the voice-search tidal wave?
With all these new uses for Yelp, brands must better understand how they can build a strong presence on the review platform. Creating a strong digital presence now means that brands cannot afford to neglect alternate vertical search engines, like Yelp, to increase their visibility for all prospects. Here’s what you should know about Yelp for business and how you can use it to your advantage.
To succeed with Yelp for business, engage on the platform
You should create a business profile on Yelp so that you can actively engage with your customers on the platform. Fill out the profile completely so that customers can easily find your business. This includes checking your listed business hours and contact information.
To make your profile as appealing as possible, you should also include high-quality images of your business. Find a few different ones that capture the tone and atmosphere you try to create at your organization.
With your business profile, you will be able to engage with those providing the feedback. You can thank people for their feedback and let them know that you pay attention to what customers say and want to provide the optimal customer experience. This is the first step to successfully using Yelp for business.
Understand that the filter is not the same as a trashcan
For many businesses, Yelp’s filter, which decides which reviews are shown and which are not, can be a source of frustration — it can feel as though all the best reviews are swallowed by the filter. Keep in mind, however, that this filter isn’t a garbage bin. Even if a review does not get displayed now, it can still reappear in the right situation.
As the business owner, you can look at the reviews to see which ones have been screened out. You can then decide if there are any that you would like to try and pull out of the filter. Most reviews caught in the filter do not appear on the business page because the user does not actively use the platform. Reaching out to reviewers, thanking them for their kind words, but letting them know that Yelp has filtered out their review because of their inactivity might encourage them to become more active on Yelp.
You and others at your business may also be able to help this process by “friending” the reviewer and marking their reviews as helpful to encourage Yelp to display their reviews. Keep in mind that this process isn’t a guarantee, but when it works, it can be beneficial for your brand’s reputation on the site and your use of Yelp for business.
Ask customers to leave reviews
Yelp’s policies specifically forbid businesses from offering compensation for those leaving positive reviews, or for the removal of negative reviews. That doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot tell satisfied customers that you are active on the platform and that you appreciate feedback. By working to provide the outstanding customer experience and then letting customers know that they can find you on Yelp, you can cultivate reviews from some of your best customers, boosting your ratings and your reputation.
Ask Yelp to reexamine poor reviews when possible
Many brands think that when they receive a horrible review, they are effectively out of luck, but that doesn’t have to be the case. While a negative review made on legitimate grounds is something you will have to live with, Yelp does have stringent content guidelines that reviewers must abide by on the site. Yelp can remove the reviews that violate these guidelines.
As the business owner, you should familiarize yourself with these review guidelines. For example, reviews that represent a conflict of interest, such as one from an employee of a competitor, are not allowed. Reviews that do not stick to describing the customer experience, such as those that complain about employment processes or political ideologies, Yelp considers irrelevant and will remove as well. Feel free to contact the platform for reviews that might cross these boundaries and ask Yelp to take a look at the content. The removal of a few of your worst, unfounded reviews can be a great help to your star rating and your ranking, boosting your opportunities to use Yelp for business.
It’s important to note that this technique will only work for reviews that go against the spirit of what a Yelp review is supposed to be. As mentioned above, a negative review that’s legitimate will stay on the site.
The local SEO opportunity is huge: a Yelp case study on local search
Yelp has served as a prominent review site and an important part of local SEO for several years as customers appreciate the insight and value the opinions of past customers. With the rise of voice search, however, and Amazon’s Alexa incorporating this search vertical into their processing of queries about local businesses, brands need to pay even closer attention to their reputation on the site.
Learn more about VSO or Vertical Search Optimization.