Word-of-mouth marketing has always been a valuable tool to business owners, but in recent years, social media has upped the ante. In fact, 82% of adults in the U.S. turn to online reviews before making a purchase. For Yelp, that translates into 84 million desktop users, 73 million mobile web users and 26 million mobile app users.
For small business owners across the U.S., those numbers should translate into a definitive need to factor Yelp into your marketing strategy. If you’re a new business owner, or simply new to Yelp, your next question is likely, “but how?” And while there are multiple ways you can use Yelp to your advantage, perhaps the best way to shape your approach is to look at these all-too-common Yelp mistakes.
1. Not Claiming Your Business Page
It’s free, it’s easy, and it can help you increase your revenue. Customers can review a business regardless of whether or not it’s been claimed, but claiming your business is a must, and if you haven’t done it yet, you need to do it now. It’s OK … I’ll wait right here.
Claiming your business allows you to add photos, a detailed description and up-to-date information. This is important for two reasons. The first, and arguably the leading reason you’re reading an article about Yelp in the first place, is that this information will help you convert potential customers to existing ones and grow your business.
Secondly, providing thorough and specific descriptions (think keywords) can have a big impact on your local SEO efforts, helping your business land in the top results for relevant searches.
Speaking of SEO, by claiming your Yelp page, you’ll gain ability to respond to reviews as the business owner, which helps create content. You’ll also be able to access Yelp Metrics, which provides valuable analytics about how Yelp users interact with your page. Both of these things are valuable tools when it comes to increasing visitors to your store or site.
As an added bonus, if you’ve claimed your business, you’ll have the opportunity to create Yelp Deals, which are prepaid vouchers that customers can buy at discounted rates. It’s an additional marketing tool that may be worthwhile for businesses. If you don’t have a marketing budget dedicated to some of those promotions already, using a tool like this can help you dip your toes in. (Growing a business can require significant resources, and many business owners even turn to financing options to get new acquisition channels started. You can check your business credit profile for free at Nav to see where you stand before you apply.)
2. Disregarding Yelp Metrics
As I mentioned, one of the reasons you should claim your business on Yelp is so that you can gain access to Yelp Metrics. Yelp Metrics can help business owners to make educated decisions about their efforts on the popular review site.
Among the interesting analytical tidbits included in Yelps analytical reports are traffic to you businesses page (over a month, a year, or two years) as well as how many times your establishment appeared in their organic search results. You’ll also be able to view information about user actions with regards to your business, specifically things like mobile check-ins, mobile calls, visits to your URL and Yelp Deals performance.
Analyzing this information can lead to a strong presence among consumers as well as the ability to better leverage Yelp for business growth. For example, if you find that your business is not showing up in relevant organic searches, it may mean that your business info/descriptions need some tweaking.
3. Assuming Your Business Isn’t Relevant on Yelp
There is this common belief that Yelp is just for restaurants and eating establishments, and while they do make up a big piece of Yelp businesses, they certainly don’t account for all of them. In fact, Shopping is the biggest business category on Yelp, accounting for 22% of reviews, with the Restaurants category coming in at 18% of total reviews.
Included among the industries listed on Yelp are Home and Local Services, Beauty and Fitness and even Auto. It’s true that they may not make up the biggest portion of the pie, if your business falls into them, it’s important to, at the very least, look into how you can leverage reviews and gain a positive presence among potential customers.
4. Not Responding to Reviews
Engaging with your customers is an absolute must if you want to increase loyalty and positive word of mouth. And while it’s true that this engagement strategy is helpful for both positive and negative feedback, responding to negative feedback can really help your branding.
The old cliché that there are “three sides to every story” is important to keep in mind here, especially when it comes to review responses, which are seen by the reviewer, the business owner and all Yelp users who look at your business profile.
Obviously, if you can remedy or smooth over a bad experience by reaching out to the affected customer, then that’s a win; it may even result in a change of heart (aka a revised review). But as a business owner, the way you respond has a much more significant impact on potential customers.
The 1/9/90 Rule, which is highly endorsed in the social media marketing world, is also highly endorsed by Yelp. This rule suggests that 1% of users are responsible for creating content, 9% are of them will engage with that content, and 90% of them will sit back and silently digest and make decisions based on that content.
When it comes to responding to negative reviews, the Search Engine Journal suggests that business owners focus on that 90% when responding to negative feedback on their Yelp page. Why? Because that huge chunk of viewers are potential customers, and even if your response doesn’t appease the 1%, it can go a long way in helping a Yelp user decide if your business is worthy of their patronage.
5. Ignoring the Competition
When it comes to putting your finger on the pulse of local competition, Yelp becomes an invaluable tool. If you’re not doing a little competitive research on Yelp, then you’re leaving dollars on that dreaded table.
By doing a little good-hearted digging in the name of competitive analysis, you’ll tap into a wealth of knowledge, particularly when it comes to reviews and Yelp Deals. In the end, you can gather information on some of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you identify reasons you may be lacking clients, or perhaps why their customers are in search of a new place to grab a bite, drink a beer, or pin down a reliable contractor.
With millions of regular users, Yelp is a serious force in consumer reviews, and when properly leveraged, Yelp can be an excellent, low maintenance tool with a huge impact. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make the most out of your listing and increase your customers without breaking your back or your bank account.
This article was originally written on July 5, 2017 and updated on February 1, 2021.