Manage Your Business
How small businesses should be using Yelp
The following article is part of the Small Business Ad Academy, a series that offers timely advice on marketing and social media for small businesses, presented by Chase Ink®.
Many consumers use Yelp to find the best businesses in their community. In fact, more than 142 million people visit the website and mobile app each month.
However, Yelp also helps local businesses, especially those who are willing to learn from and leverage the most powerful form of organic marketing—word of mouth. Entrepreneurs who embrace Yelp are the most likely to reap its rewards, says John Carroll, a manager of local business outreach at Yelp.
"Consumers go to Yelp to celebrate local businesses. We get far more five-star reviews on Yelp (46 percent) than one- through five-star," says Carroll. "A review is social proof of your commitment to your customers — because Yelp is where customers who care the most go to be your brand ambassadors."
Anyone can write a review on Yelp at any time. But those businesses that establish an official presence on Yelp—free of charge—by "claiming" and populating their business page on the site generate much higher levels of engagement.
Carroll points to this Yelp statistic: Businesses that claim their free Yelp business page generate, on average, $8,000 in incremental revenue each year. "People who go to Yelp are looking for those personal experiences and human interactions that only local businesses can provide. Reviewers are your digital evangelists, and they're doing it for free."
Four ways to build a bigger Yelp presence
Claiming a Yelp page is easy. But business owners can really optimize and embellish their Yelp presence by taking a few more steps, says Carroll.
- Covering the bases: Adding the most basic information—such as a brief history of the business, areas of specialty and hours of operation—can have a huge impact on search results, through Yelp and other social channels. "Without hours of operation, your business won't show up in searches if users are looking for local businesses that are open right now," explains Carroll. Business owners must remember to take the few seconds to update their Yelp page anytime their operating hours, phone numbers, website URL or other details change. They can also track page visits and other relevant information by regularly checking dashboard metrics, and then updating their page if necessary.
- Adding photos: People like to see where they may be shopping or dining, and whom they can expect to meet there — both employees and patrons. Yelp allows businesses to post an unlimited number of photos on their page. Carroll recommends including at least 10, as Yelp metrics indicate that business pages with up to five Yelp reviews and 10 photos get 200 percent more views than those with no photos.
- Respond regularly: Good or bad, praiseworthy or disparaging, reviews are the lifeblood of local businesses. And each deserves a response, says Carroll. "Many business owners say they don't have time to respond to every review. But most get just a handful of them each week." Whether thanking a happy customer or offering to rectify a poor experience, business owners benefit by showing customers—and potential customers—that they care. Entrepreneurs that closely monitor reviews through their Yelp dashboard may also spot trends they can use to improve operations or customer service.
- Consider paying for ads: Businesses looking to broaden their outreach may want to consider taking out ads. Yelp reports that businesses that place Yelp Ads generate, on average, $23,000 in incremental revenue each year—nearly triple the average amount of revenue gained from claiming a free Yelp page. Also, consider purchasing these type of ads with the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ card because of the flexible rewards you can earn on your spend.
To get started, Carroll recommends that businesses audit their online presence—including Yelp—and use those insights to upgrade their presence on channels preferred by their targeted audience. "Don't spread yourself too thin," he says. "An online refresh on the sites that matter is a key to success."
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