With 100 million unique visitors checking out Yelp, the online business review guide is increasingly being used by companies to spread the word out on their businesses. Yelp is more than just a local directory and information provider. It is a place for customers to review your business in a very public forum. A well-constructed profile that is abound with positive reviews can be the tipping point that makes prospective customers choose your business over another.
If you’ve yet to investigate using Yelp to promote your business, here is everything you need to know to get started.
Claim Your Listing
The process is a relatively quick and easy one.
- Click the “Claim My Business” button. Next, search to see if your business is already listed on Yelp.
- If your business isn’t listed, click on “Add your business to Yelp” at the bottom of the page. You will be directed to complete a profile of your business. Yelp moderators will review your business, and if approved, you will be able to register for a free account at the Yelp for Business Owners page.
- If your business is already listed, it will appear as either Locked or Unlocked. For “Unlocked” businesses, someone has already claimed the business. If it is your business, log in to your account (if you aren’t sure what the login is, check with other managers or employees who may have claimed the business already). If the business is still Locked, “Unlock” your business by providing your name and email address and by creating a password and agreeing to their terms of service.
The next step to taking full advantage of your Yelp listing is to optimize it to ensure that your customers can easily find your business. Do so by:
- Adding plenty of information. Complete all the fields, and provide your customers with a well-rounded snapshot of your business. Add business hours and any extra amenities or benefits you offer. For example, a coffee shop could promote free Wi-Fi and outdoor seating. In addition, you can display menus and price lists by sending a copy of your menu via the Yelp contact form.
- Tag your listing. Come up with several words that define your business, and include those keywords. A seafood restaurant could include “seafood, steak, bar and sushi” to ensure it shows up in multiple searches. Make sure to note whether you are kid- or pet-friendly, have vegetarian, gluten-free or vegan options, and other tidbits people want to know before visiting a business.
- Include pictures. A good image can speak a thousand words. A beautiful shot of your building, products, smiling employees or happy customers can speak volumes about your business.
- Ask your best customers to review you. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely people are to contact your business. When a customer praises you, say: “I really appreciate your kind words. If you have a moment, would you review us on Yelp? We want to spread the word about our business.”
- Offer incentives. Offering free stuff and discounts is a great way to encourage people to do business with you. List any coupons you have available on your site, or promote free giveaways you’re currently offering to encourage people to visit your Yelp page. In addition, you can offer Yelp Deals, which are similar to Groupon’s daily deal offers. For example, you could offer a $50 gift card for the cost of $25, and customers will claim the offer through Yelp when visiting your shop. Customers will claim these offers by announcing that they’ve visited your store or restaurant on their Twitter, Facebook and/or Yelp profiles; this helps put you on the radar with their friends (who represent a similar customer base).
Manage Your Listing
- Be involved. Write positive reviews for businesses that impress you, and recommend them. Those businesses will likely return the favor. Important: Don’t hurt your reputation by degrading other businesses—especially competitors.
- Respond positively to negative reviews. If someone criticizes your business, do not—we repeat, do not—try to publicly correct the person or defend yourself. You run the risk of appearing bitter or shady. That could rub potential new customers the wrong way. Even sending a private message to bad reviews to correct inaccuracies can backfire. Truly angry customers could see it as an attack and blast you even more. Your best bet is to show genuine appreciation to customers for helping you to improve your business. Explain what you will do to resolve the issue—and invite the bad reviewer back to see the improvements. Example: “It’s very unfortunate that you had a bad experience with us, and we take your feedback seriously. We’ve done ____ and ____ to ensure that this rare but unfortunate situation doesn’t occur again. Please visit us soon and let us rebuild your confidence in us.”
- Comment on positive reviews. When fellow Yelpers take the time to commend you, thank them and expand a bit on what the person said. For example, if a customer praises the beautifully landscaped grounds at your bed and breakfast, you could respond with “Thanks, our landscapers, John and Jane Doe, work year-round to ensure that our grounds are gorgeous during every season. We’ll share your feedback with them.” Or if someone commends the customer service in your shop, say “We really appreciate that. Dana, our service pro, has been helping customers for 20 years, and she prides herself on making our customers smile.”
That is a great way to praise the people who make your business great while also adding some subtle benefits of doing business with you.