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