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Yelp for Business Owners: What You Need to Know

By Mark Lauer Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Mark Lauer
By Mark Lauer Reviewed By Mike Lucas

Why use Yelp? Yelp can be an extremely useful marketing tool for business owners. Utilizing this platform can help improve the following: 

  • Your online reputation
  • Search engine visibility
  • Customer engagement

Let’s go through how to use Yelp and why its features can help give you an edge in the marketing space. 

How Does Yelp Work?

Yelp is a website and mobile app that hosts business ratings and reviews along with general company information. Much of the content is crowd-sourced, with a business’s customers uploading reviews and/or photos based on their experiences. 

You can add your business to Yelp if a listing doesn’t exist yet; if it does, you can “claim” the listing and manage it by adding business hours and website information or post photos. You can also interact with customers by responding to their feedback, whether it’s positive or critical. 

A Yelp business listing is free, but you can choose to pay for certain advertising packages or other marketing services.

How to Claim a Business on Yelp

Even if you didn’t add your business to Yelp, you might already have a Yelp business listing if a customer (or several customers) reviewed your business on the site. To find your listing, search for your business name using the site’s search bar. Then check the listings to find your business’s name. Once you’ve determined the listing is for your business — check the geographic location and make sure review details and/or photos match your business — next, you should

  • Click on the Yelp business listing
  • Open the profile
  • Click on the “Claim this listing” link next to your company’s name.

If your business isn’t in the directory, you’ll need to create a listing. 

How to Add a Business to Yelp

How to get listed on Yelp is a fairly simple process.

  • Go to biz.yelp.com and select “Manage my free listing” in the upper right corner of the page.
  • Click in the “Your business name” search bar. When you start typing, you’ll see “Add to Yelp for free”; click that option. 
  • Follow the prompts and insert your zip code, business name, telephone number and email, as well as the website and physical address.
  • Include your work hours and range of prices in your listing. 
  • Remember to select your business category.

A businesswoman oversees a warehouse facility as she works on a tablet. You can access your Yelp business account through a mobile app.

  • Punch Up Your Yelp Business Listing

    When you’re writing your business description, include details that will appeal to customers and help you stand apart from the competition. For example, do you have free Wi-Fi? Is there free parking? Is your business pet-friendly? Does your building have any historical significance, or was it featured in a movie? 

    Also, remember to share high-quality photos of your business.

Yelp Business Account: Your Options

Your basic business listing is free, but Yelp has paid tools and programs for business owners.

Yelp Business Page Upgrades

Yelp offers features, or “upgrades”, for business owners’ pages. It has an array of options and costs about $1 and $2 per day, per option. 

  • Call to Action (CTA) feature

You can add a clickable call to action button to your listing. Potential customers can take advantage of offers or deals linked to your business, such as trial membership at an aerobics studio or a phone consultation with a home renovation company.

  • Photo slideshow

You can choose an array of rotating photos that will be the first thing users see when they view your Yelp business listing. 

  • Logo

You can upload your business’s logo to your listing and site search result, maintaining your branding. 

  • Remove competitors’ ads

Yelp puts related businesses’ ads in the middle of free listings, and this paid option allows you to remove them from your own business listing.

  • Business highlights

You can add up to 6 digital badges to your Yelp business account, and 2 will appear in the site’s search results. These badges highlight aspects of your business you’d like to promote (e.g., women-owned, certified professionals, vegan options)

  • Portfolio

Potential customers or clients can browse through virtual photo albums of completed projects.

  • License Verification

Your listing can include a badge noting that your business is licensed, which can help boost your credibility and customer confidence. Yelp staff must verify your trade license’s legitimacy before adding the badge.

  • Yelp Connect

Yelp Connect’s function is similar to other social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram, and allows you to post updates about your business to your page. These updates will appear to users who have “previously expressed interest in your business,” according to Yelp.

For $90, business owners can also “bundle” several of these options for a Yelp Enhanced Profile. 

Yelp Ads

This Yelp program for business owners allows you to create customized, targeted ads that can reach local and/or national audiences.

With the ad customization, you’ll craft your own ad copy and upload the photos you want to appear in the space. You can also target users searching with particular keywords (e.g., “coffee shop with Wi-Fi”) or who live in a certain geography. 

The overall Yelp advertising cost will vary, but the site charges for every ad click. Yelp for Business Owners also lets you set a maximum monthly advertising budget that can change according to anticipated seasonal demands. For example, a landscaping or pool-cleaning business can decrease their Yelp ads’ volume (or pause it) during the winter months and resume or increase it in the spring.

Yelp Business Reviews

Once you’ve set up your Yelp business listing and bolstered your profile, it’s time to gather some reviews. 

Make sure you often check the review section of your Yelp business account so none of your feedback remains unacknowledged. Create a habit to quickly respond to each one. You can manage reviews with the Yelp for Business Owners app also, so you don’t have to worry about coming back to your laptop or desktop to stay engaged.

How to Encourage Reviews

Yelp discourages aggressive soliciting of reviews for businesses, so don’t offer freebies or other kinds of incentives. Instead, consider:

  • Letting your existing customers know that you’re now on Yelp and that any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Be respectful; a subtle prompt could work in your favor.
  • Adding a Yelp widget to your website. By using Yelp’s review badges, you can showcase user reviews on your business’s site. This can help encourage traffic from your website to your Yelp business listing, increasing your visibility on that platform.
  • Reminding people through the company newsletters that you’re on Yelp. Include the Yelp link in your email signature. Use the same strategy in your social media content.
  • Adding attention-grabbing logos on your business cards, in your workplace and on your product packaging that your business is listed on Yelp. Keep in mind that Yelp offers “Find us on Yelp” signs for businesses in the U.S and Canada, so take advantage of that.

How to Handle Good Yelp Reviews

Thank your customers for their positive feedback. It might be tempting to let satisfied customer reviews stand on their own, but engaging with all feedback can help build a rapport with your customers and appeal to potential new patrons. 

How to Handle Bad Yelp Reviews

Be savvy with bad reviews. How you handle them will reflect on you and your business and can influence other customers’ opinions and willingness to patronize your company. 

  • Don’t get defensive when a customer complains about your business. Rather, listen. What’s the grievance?
  • Apologize, always.
  • Make the customer feel heard and understood. Contact the reviewer or request them to contact you so that you can come to an understanding.
  • Sometimes you may need to offer a free product or extra service to pacify the customer. Find a solution that works and use it to make it up to your customer.
  • You might consider asking dissatisfied customers to share feedback on how your business can improve. If you take their advice, encourage them to revisit your business.

Handling issues in a respectful manner will net you more customers in the end. Other customers who followed the situation may appreciate how you have addressed the matter.

What to Keep in Mind with Yelp Reviews

  • Some reviews can get flagged by Yelp’s filter. If there are positive reviews in the “not currently recommended” section, find out why they didn’t count. Reach out to the reviewer, let them know that their comments are invisible, then work with them to address that.
  • Ask Yelp to review customer comments you find irrelevant. Are there comments that don’t follow Yelp’s content guidelines? Are there comments where a customer complains about a product or service that isn’t related to your business? You can alert Yelp and get them removed.

How to Alert Yelp

Click the flag icon at the bottom of the comments in question, then select a valid reason for why you want to report those reviews. The moderators will then evaluate your report and might grant your request.

A cafe owner works on his tablet. Yelp has an app for business owners so you can access your listing across several devices.

Yelp for Business Owners: Track Your Metrics

When you log into your Yelp business account, go to the “activity” tab to view your listing’s metrics. You can learn the following details about your page:

  • How many people have visited your page
  • What people searched for and what devices they used
  • Users’ activity on your page, including mobile check-ins, searches for directions to your place, uploading photos, sending messages, etc.

Take advantage of the available Yelp tracking tools to learn more about your customers and what keeps them engaged.

That, too, can help you improve your online reputation and your marketing strategies.

Mark Lauer Business Advisor at Fast Capital 360
Mark Lauer has been a Business Advisor at Fast Capital 360 since the very beginning. He’s helped thousands of businesses reach their potential, grow and thrive, forging strong relationships along the way.
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