If you’ve never heard of it, Yelp is a review site where users share opinions and ratings of local businesses across the U.S. The site has over 130 million monthly users and offers businesses a valuable means to increase brand awareness and generate new customers. Businesses can make their own profiles and includes the ability to add business information, answer comments, and advertising.

Who Should Be Using Yelp

You might be at a stage in your business where you aren't sure if using Yelp will benefit you. Well, Yelp helps consumers discover and review businesses in the following categories: restaurants and food, shopping, nightlife, entertainment, and service providers in all industries. If your business falls under one of these categories, then you should be using it. Even if your business isn't under these main categories, you'd still benefit from it.

Using Yelp for Businesses

Now that you have an understanding of whether you should be using Yelp to take your business to the next level, let's get you started.

Yelp Costs

It’s free to set up and manage a business profile on Yelp. But, you will have to pay $1 per day for business page upgrades, such as adding a call to action (CTA) button or removing competitor’s ads from your page. It's $600 per 1,000 impressions if you choose to use Yelp advertising.

Keep in mind that Yelp advertising is not 100% necessary. Your main goal is to have a profile where customers can leave reviews and you can easily respond to them.

Setting up an Account

It's very simple to set up an account and get started. Here are the six easy steps.

Claim or Register Your Business Page

You'll want to check that your business isn't already on Yelp. Often, customers will want to leave a review and see that the business doesn't have a page and take it upon themselves to create one. If this is the case, claim your page to give you admin rights. If there isn't a page already, start by making a new one.

Add Business Information to Your Page

Once you have your business profile, you need to complete the profile by providing as much information as possible about your business. This includes your physical address, website URL, hours of operation, contact information, and a detailed description of your business. Then, add at least five photos of your business.

You want your Yelp page to serve as a means of gathering information about your business. After all, many people use Yelp reviews to decide if they even want to step foot in a business.

Get Reviews From Existing Customers

Now that your profile is up and you have the necessary information, it's time to start gathering reviews. Like I said before, the main reason people use Yelp is to research business ratings as part of their decision-making process. Thus, it’s critical you spend time securing high-quality reviews from customers. Start by getting reviews from existing customers, friends, and family. Then, encourage new customers to leave reviews by offering incentives.

There are many types of incentives you can offer to customers when asking for reviews. Many businesses go the route of offering discounts or a small, but free item. All they have to do is leave a quality review and come in and show proof to receive their discount. Consider offering this incentive all the time so you never limit yourself to the number of new customers that leave reviews.

Be sure that the reviews are quality but don't appear as spam. Yelp will filter out reviews it deems to be inauthentic or “spammy".

Watch Your Account and Respond to Reviews

Having a Yelp profile with reviews isn't the end of this journey. The hardest part of running this profile is taking the time to respond to reviews, even the bad ones.

Check your account daily for new reviews, good and bad, and reply to them right away. Be sure to leave a public response to each one by going to the reviews section of your business account, finding the relevant review, and clicking “Add Public Comment.” Enter your response, click “Preview,” then “Post Comment.”

Look through your list of reviews and filter through the good reviews. Show your appreciation for good reviews by thanking the reviewer for their feedback. You can do this with a short reply, but be sure to change each response to avoid having your messages look automated.

It's crucial to use bad reviews as an opportunity to show compassion and the desire to improve. While it might seem fun or easy to respond in a snarky way, this can make you look unprofessional and that you can't accept feedback. As a general rule, start by apologizing for the experience or issue that the reviewer had, invite the reviewer to contact you directly to come to a resolution, and be sure not to get defensive.

Review Analytics

What's great about Yelp profiles is it tracks data to give you a ton of insightful information on the analytics page. Your dashboard includes data on those who visit your profile and what times they did it. Review and analyze these available metrics to gain insight into when users are the most active.

For example, a restaurant might find that customers are visiting its profile on weekdays before dinner. This could be a good indicator of when to run future marketing campaigns.

Enhance Your Business Page

As stated before, Yelp is free but offers a few paid services to help enhance your business page. These services include the addition of a call to action button, the inclusions of an enhanced photo gallery, and the removal of profile ads. You can also offer exclusive deals on your profile, such as a discount or gift certificates, to monetize your account.

There are a few reasons why a business would find it worth paying for these services. One is that you can remove competitor ads from your profile page, and easily add a button that increases your customer's actions on your profile. If I'm being fully transparent, to save money, you can link your website to your Yelp page and have the same features there for free.

Pros & Cons of Yelp for Business Owners

Businesses tend to have a love-hate relationship with Yelp.  Some love the free exposure and social proof it provides. Others understandably dislike how much bad reviews can impact them. Also, it doesn't help the fact that Yelp Ads are expensive.

Pros

To start, Yelp essentially validates your business online. By having a verified profile that you actively interact with, customers are more likely to spend money at your business. You also get increased exposure thanks to its 130 million active monthly users. While you can opt for enhanced business page features or Yelp Ads, it is free to create and manage your business page on Yelp.

Cons

The cons of using Yelp aren't that serious, but still worth noting. One of the biggest problems is people tend to only leave reviews when they are either extremely happy or extremely dissatisfied. Bad reviews can hurt a business that doesn’t have many reviews. It's also yet another social platform that you have to manage. For a business owner, you probably don't want to spend hours a day running your social media pages. Lastly, while advertising is optional, Yelp’s pay-per-click platform has a higher-than-average cost-per-acquisition compared to other paid search and social platforms, such as Google Ads.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Yelp is a great platform that can be used to generate exposure for your business and get your customers involved. It's important to keep up with your page and don't let good and bad reviews go unnoticed.