Getting Your Small Business Started On Yelp

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Yelp is one of the top ways for local businesses to get noticed and found by consumers, especially on mobile devices.  It is an easy and affordable way to market your company and it is not just for restaurants. If you run a company that uses or could leverage its local presence, Yelp is worth testing out. Brick and mortar businesses often are the most logical companies using Yelp.

My business does not have a “local” presence in the way that matters to mobile consumers (or any consumers since I serve business owners directly), so I tested Yelp with my TechBizTalk brand knowing it would not be found.

As you can see in the screenshot above, my business was not found. Right below that, you see a blue link “Add Your Business to Yelp” and that’s where you should start. Go directly to the small business page of Yelp.

Yelp knows they have to make it super easy and super fast to attract a business owner who is wearing many hats. The business page immediately lets you know the value proposition. On that page, you’ll see:

  • Create a Yelp Deal

Turn Yelp visitors into paying customers. Create a Deal in minutes. When Yelp users buy your Deal, you get paid.

  • Message Your Customers

You have a voice, so join the conversation regarding a business; reply to reviews either publicly or privately.

  • View Business Trends

What’s word-of-mouth doing for you? Stats and charts measure the performance of a business page on Yelp.

Then a button to “Create a free account now.”

After you locate your business, you’ll hit that simple and fast process I alluded to, as you can see in this screenshot, there isn’t much to do and you can be up and running in minutes. Unlike some other review services, that add lots of layers and steps, Yelp wants you to verify and get active in the community.

That’s it. You hit the Add button and your listing is live.

Here’s an important note: Yelp will review your listing to make sure you’re not a spammer or someone who doesn’t really own or manage the company.

So, if you’re serious about putting up a new listing, fill in all the blanks including your Web address and phone number because the listing goes up right away. You cannot change it until they finish the verification process. It isn’t instant, that’s all I can say at this point.  So you don’t want to play around with incomplete information.

Having an account gives you a lot more control and opportunity to engage. Once you have your listing complete, you can add special offers, upload photos, and interact with your customers. You also get access to the statistics on who visits your Yelp profile, which can be huge to creating smarter offers and coupons.

Creating offers, via Yelp advertising, has mostly pros in my view, but some people have complained that Yelp blackmails small business owners into paying for advertising.

Let me explain:  if you have a free listing on the service, competitor ads may show up on the same page next to or below your profile.

Before you freak out, many, many services do exactly this and no one blinks an eye. Look at Google, Facebook, and now Twitter, just to name a few. Your organic listing in Google very likely shows competitive pay-per-click ads at the top of the page.

The positive with Yelp is if you are an advertiser, they give you the option (and who wouldn’t take it) to block competitor ads when your profile comes up. You don’t get that option with the others I mentioned. Far from it. So, I see it as a huge opportunity, not blackmail.

Business is competitive. Yelp is not doing anything wrong. They are helping the retailer and other service-oriented business.

If you have been around as a retailer or local business for a while, then it is very probable you are already on Yelp and have reviews. All the more reason to claim and verify your listing.

As Lisa Barone points out in several posts, Yelp can be a small business owner’s best friend, “Two Reasons To Check Back In With Yelp” and “Yelp Data Shows Power of Mobile Marketing.”  You can also learn more about their advertising program.

How are you using Yelp?


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

12 Reactions
  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. My online business is only six months old and I can use all the exposure I can get, especially when it’s easy and not so expensive!

    Thanks again and hope you’re having a great day!

  2. Showing up on sites like Yelp and having accurate (and consistent) info is critical on the web today. Thanks for the post TJ!

    • Thanks Robert. Appreciate the comment. I find it so easy to just go in and update services like Yelp, Google Places, and others. It is only a few minutes and is time well spent. But so few business owners want to do it. I have customers who I have done it for, but even then, I can’t do it all, nor can i keep up with the comments/reviews for each one. This is not a rant, but an urging, pleading message for new business owners (and existing ones, too) to go and CLAIM your listings, your presence. Granted, you and I are in and on the web all the time, but if you can login to email, you can figure out how to sign up for Yelp. If you can open up Microsoft Word and create a document, you can sign up for Yelp. It isn’t that hard. It is such a great opportunity to engage with new and current customers. I read comments and reports daily on small businesses that generate real revenue from review sites.

  3. All excellent points TJ. For iPhone users, if you ask “Siri” to help you find a local business, guess what site powers her results? You got it – Yelp! Want to show up in Siri’s results? You better claim your business on Yelp and amass some credible reviews (and the more positive reviews the better!).

  4. Great post. It is so important for businesses, especially small businesses, to pay attention to Yelp. So many apps and websites use Yelp as a way to integrate information into their platform, that it is crazy not to have a complete and accurate Yelp profile. Now, the infamous Apple Maps is using Yelp for its business data. I have encouraged several clients to utilize Yelp (responding to comments, adding correct business details, etc) and the results are really amazing. If something helps you get more people in the door, you should pay attention to it.

  5. Yelp is a great site. However I think, listing your business is merely the first step. You then need to focus on encouraging customes to leave reviews for your business. This is essential to improve your presence.

  6. It’s so important to get on yelp and get your name out there. You have to be proactive about your social media and local search these days to make the big bucks.

  7. Putting you business on yelp is the single biggest mistake any one who cares dearly about their business can make!! DONT DO IT YOU WILL BE SORRY! read and research online before you make this critical mistake!!

  8. how do i get my bussness advertised on the web