Yelp is one of the most popular sites for customers to leave reviews. Just as importantly, millions of people go to Yelp to decide if they want to visit your business. Given the extraordinary power of Yelp to help direct customers toward or away from your business, it’s not the kind of thing that you want to leave to chance. At the very least, you want to keep one hand on the wheel. Fortunately, you can. Granted, this does fall on the list of what can be outsourced in a business, but you can also keep some or all of it in-house. Either way, keep reading for some tips on how to optimize your Yelp business listing.
Complete Profile Information
This one shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s worked on their Google Business Profile. One of the first steps to optimizing your Yelp business listing is that you need complete profile information. You should include a current phone number, an accurate address, and the business name. You should also include pertinent information like your website address if it’s not already on there, and your business hours.
Don’t ignore the category area, either. The more specific information you include about your business, such as categories, the more likely you will pop up for local searches. Not entirely sure what to pick. Take your cue from your competitors. Just make sure you don’t include anything that isn’t accurate. You’ll get torn to shreds in the reviews for stunts like that when customers show up looking for things you don’t actually offer.
If it makes sense, add photos. If nothing else, you want a photo of your storefront so people know what they’re looking for when they come looking. You should also consider adding images of the interior and even staff members if they’re game for it. If you’re running a business that makes a tangible product, like a restaurant, put images of your product online. It can serve as an enticement.
The odds are pretty good that you’ve done some keyword research for things like your content marketing strategy. You likely have several keywords sprinkled through your blog posts and website. Your Yelp business profile isn’t any different. You want some of those keywords on there because, again, it’s something that people search for and will likely boost your hits for local searches.
While this is another important element on the journey of how to optimize your Yelp business listing, don’t go overboard with the keywords. Otherwise, your profile won’t read as a person wrote it. That’s a big turnoff for a lot of people. Just make sure you drop one or two areas like your business description.
Yelp frowns on businesses asking for customer reviews, but businesses will do it regardless. The key is to do it in less obvious ways.
For example, you can put the Yelp badge on your website or even throw it up on the door of your business. You haven’t asked directly, but you have reminded customers that they can leave reviews for your business there.
It’s also important to remember that Yelp uses a weighted review system. It puts a higher weight on reviews from people who are active on Yelp than from less active people. That can work for or against you, as one positive review from an active reviewer can bring much attention to your business. Unfortunately, one negative review from the same reviewer can drive would-be customers away.
Pro tip: Never try to incentivize reviews from your customers. That kind of behavior will get the ban hammer dropped on your business from Yelp and many other major online sites that you may want to do business with at some point, like Amazon and eBay.
Responding to Reviews
Responding to reviews is notoriously tricky ground. For positive reviews, a private thank you is often sufficient. Although, you should make a point to friend the reviewer and check at least one of the boxes beneath their review.
Then, some reviews are constructive criticism. In these cases, the review generally means well, and they think they see a way to improve your business. This is a kid-glove situation. You want to acknowledge their thoughts, thank the reviewer for sharing them, and then offer a brief explanation about why you don’t or haven’t adopted that approach.
The toughest one for most business owners is the attack review based on a bad experience. When a customer posts a review about how one of your employees was rude, cruel, or grossly incompetent, most business owners feel horrified. For these, the best you can do is openly acknowledge the failure and offer a genuine apology. If you’re taking steps to ensure similar situations won’t happen in the future, mentions those steps in your response.
Then there are the troll reviews. You shouldn’t interact with trolls since there is no upside for you or your business. Instead, flag the review and hope the Yelp review filter removes it.
Put a Link to Your Yelp Profile on Your Website and Social Media
Most businesses maintain social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. While adding a link to your Yelp profile isn’t viable on every social media site, you can add or post links on most of them. Again, you shouldn’t ask for reviews on those social media when posting the link. After all, nobody likes feeling badgered to provide a review. Leaving the link on those sites is, however, a good way to encourage your regular customers and followers to go and leave reviews.
Wrapping It Up
Businesses ignore Yelp at their own peril. The sheer volume of traffic on the site can make it a godsend for your business in directing foot traffic. So, if you don't monitor and respond to reviews, or learn how to optimize your Yelp business listing, you will drive potential customers away from your business.
Fill out your profile as completely as you can, sprinkle in some keywords, and encourage reviews with a bit of subtlety. Be sure to include a link to your profile on your website and other social media profiles. This is a great way to encourage reviews. Finally, respond to all the reviews, except the troll ones, which you should flag.