Are You Getting The Most Out Of Yelp?

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Don’t think there’s a Web savvy small business owner that doesn’t know about Yelp. It’s one of the most powerful and authoritative review sites on the Web. However, I was curious to know if SMB owners were really taking full advantage of the site or if there were avenues they were missing out on. To find out, I decided to give Luther Lowe, the manager of Local Business Outreach, a call to see if there were any hidden Yelp gems he could tell me about. What he did was highlight the extremely powerful Yelp for Business Owners and three things SMB owners should be doing to maximize their Yelp payout.

Unlock your Listing

The business owner side of Yelp is more than a year old, but it’s startling to see how many SMB owners still don’t know that it exists. If you haven’t unlocked your business listing yet, do it. All it takes is a simple phone verification and, once it’s done, gives you access to a whole new side of Yelp. Once unlocked, business owners will be able to:

  1. Send private communications with users.
  2. Create their About This Business section to provide more information to users and the search engines to spider.
  3. Place coupons, specials and announcements directly on your listing.
  4. Add photos.
  5. Get a badge to put Yelp reviews on your site to serve as both a testimonial and encouragement for other customers to leave review.
  6. Recommend other businesses in your area to build relationships.
  7. A comprehensive business dashboard.

Combined, these features become very, very powerful. For example, the added About the Business section gives you the opportunity to fill in all sorts of info about your business that will allow users to find out more about you, while also serving as important citations to help the search engines rank you for local searches. You can also use coupons to boost sales and determine how much in store traffic you’re receiving from Yelp.

The more information you can give users and the search engines about your business, the better. As Luther joked during our chat, if someone is looking for “movers” near “Chicago”, they’re not doing that search for kicks. They really do need someone to move their stuff. The ability to fill out a rich profile that gets index makes you more discoverable on Yelp and on the Internet. It’s a very powerful way for biz owners to get engage

The Yelp Dashboard

The Yelp dashboard gives business owners a way to quantify the amount of traffic their listing is receiving. To access this, click on the Summary tab to view your Business Trends. You’ll see a graph that looks something like this:

This type of analytical data is always very powerful because it helps you to identify which days are most popular for your business, what seasonal patterns exist, what days you should hold contests or promotions to get people into the store, and other sales patterns. You’ll also be able to see whether traffic for you page is increasing or decreasing.

Learn how to respond to reviews

One of the big things I chatted with Luther about was the feature released in April that allows business owners to publically respond to reviews left about them on the site. He noted that most business owners realize that coming in and being diplomatic really is in their best interest. Flame wars and fights benefit no one.

Business owners should use their chance to publicly respond to:

  • Do right by customers: If someone left a review with less than three stars, get in there and engage. Apologize for their bad experience, thank them for stopping by and tell them you’re working hard to change it. Often, you can get someone to change their 1-2 star review to at least a 4 just by speaking up and empathizing with their bad experience.
  • Update them: If someone was disappointed you didn’t carry a certain type of beer and you know do, comment publicly and let them (and everyone else) know that you’ve responded to their feedback and added the new beer type to the menu. Then, invite them in to have a taste.

If you haven’t investigated the business owner side of Yelp, I’d really encourage you to do so. It transforms the site into an incredible portal for SMB owners to really use the traffic they’re getting, to engage, and to build customer relationships that will result in increased conversions.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

21 Reactions
  1. This is fantastic! I’m one of those business owners that has HEARD of Yelp, but hasn’t taken the time to figure it out. Your overview has at least given me a place to start and an easy to-do list that will help me to take advantage of what it has to offer.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. The traffic insights and ability to add content to your listing are enough reason to pursue this. All the other stuff is just gravy.

  3. Absolutely beautiful write up Lisa. I’ve coached several friends through taking over their Yelp listings and working them properly. The social network market just isn’t understood or embraced by small businesses yet. It would be the first marketing venue I enhanced if in their shoes.

  4. Interesting… I didn’t realize there was more to Yelp than just reviews. I love getting this in-depth info broken down for us. I’m with Ivana, I don’t have the time to research and study these things on my own so these articles help a lot. Now I know that I should be spending some time on Yelp.

  5. Is Yelp open for international locations too? Have you listened to Steve Rucinski’s podcast interview with Luther Lowe of June 9?

    Small Business Trends Radio:

  6. This is some great stuff. I didn’t know all of this stuff existed for the business owners. I have posted reviews and referenced Yelp in the past, but this is a whole new level. Thanks!

  7. What a great place to start if you’re interested in Yelp. Articles and in-depth reviews such as yours really do help others to save loads of time when they’re ready to join. It helps to go into anything prepared and the information you’ve gathered here is sure to help many. Thanks for writing it!

  8. Thanks for the write-up and insight…I had not heard of it but intend to check it out and probably add it to the small biz recommendations that I make – right after I sign up myself.

  9. This is a great article. Yelp has helped patients find our holistic primary care in Santa Monica, California. Also, a small business needs a good website letting people know about what you offer. As a sample, here’s ours… We’ve been working on it for some time, and continue to keep it up to date and cared for. In kindness, Dr. Brendan Armm (Founder / Director, Lotus East-West Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine specializing in family medicine, orthopedics, pain management and integrative medicine)

  10. RedHotFranchises

    I think YELP is a great way to meet like minded people. I would recommend all Business owners to utilize this site.

  11. While a lot of small businesses are getting so busy trying to figure out Facebook, Yelp is indeed the most powerful tool for SB. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. This article and the responses are pure BS. Yelp is the bane of every small business owner in this country… and every one of you lying dogs know it. Fake reviews. Malicious reviews written by competitors posing as customers… blah blah blah. Anyone pretending that Yelp is a positive or beneficial tool for small business owners needs to pull their propaganda spewing head out of their ass

  13. Yelp isn’t going away. Someone finally hit the nail in the head when it comes to a user friendly place to review local business. Sure your competition could go in an write you a bad review, but in the long term when you have 50 reviews and 2 stars, there’s no one to blame but yourself. As an owner, you need to embrace it because it can be a great tool.

  14. This is a great article for those getting started on Yelp. I personally like using the announcement feature to help spread the word about all kinds of upcoming events.

  15. Here at The Termite Guy we love the fact that our business is listed on YELP–all of our locations are listed, actually, and it is free. Being listed on YELP helps drive traffic to our website, lends us credibility in the pest control industry and gives our valuable customers a forum to leave feedback on work we have performed at their property! We have found that people use our coupons and really like the promotions that we have offered. Thanks YELP!
    The Termite Guy Team

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