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Amanda DiSilvestro

Best Practices: How to Use Yelp for Small Business

Amanda DiSilvestro

Several weeks ago Yelp redesigned their interface, and it’s gotten people talking. Yelp has always been one of the major tools when it comes to local search, but things have changed since it first started in 2004.

Small businesses won’t see any changes that are too detrimental or absolutely necessary, but they will see new opportunities to become more successful. It’s always a good idea to go back and re-check your presence on any network to make sure you’re taking full advantage. So for many, Yelp should be revisited now.

Top practices that will help your business succeed using Yelp

Because people are more likely to leave a review if they had a bad experience, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your business looking good amid the bad. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help:

  1. Consciously Work to Get a Larger Number of Reviews

There are things you can do to urge your customers to leave Yelp reviews. Those who've had a bad experience are usually the ones who visit Yelp all on their own. But those who had a good experience might need a more obvious avenue or motive to leave a good review. You have a few options:

  • Put a Yelp link on your company homepage that will take customers to your Yelp account page. Next to the link, you may want to have something like, “Leave us a review.”

  • Let your customers know you are offering special deals or coupons on your Yelp page. This will get them to your page and hopefully get you more reviews. You can learn about how to give special offers here.

  • Put a link to your Yelp account in your email signature.

  • Put a link to your Yelp account in your email marketing campaign or newsletter.

  • If you send out receipts, thank you emails or send customers to thank you pages, place a link to your Yelp account everywhere.

It’s important to note that these tactics are not going to get you better reviews, they are just going to get you more reviews. But this should be your goal. You can’t do anything to generate only good reviews — buying reviews is not allowed — you have to make sure you’re urging everyone to review your company if you want to remain in good graces with Yelp. Hopefully the more reviews you get, the better chance you’ll have an honest and fair depiction of your company.

  1. Respond to Negative Comments

The cool thing about Yelp is that the company has a chance to respond to negative comments and “wrong the right,” so to speak. This will not only make your company look good to the person who had the bad experience, it also shows others that you are trustworthy and have good customer service; you are aware of any problems your business might have, and you’re clearly doing something to improve. It’s also recommended not to respond immediately because you want to make sure your response is well-thought-out.

To reply to a bad review, you simply hit “reply” under the comment. You can also flag reviews, but only if they are clear profanity or go against something in Yelp’s Terms of Service.

  1. Consider Responding Privately

I like to respond publicly so everyone can see I’m doing something to solve the situation, but sometimes a private response is best. You can say publicly, “I’m sorry and I’ve responded to you privately,” though use your best judgment. If there is just a small misunderstanding or problem, a public response should work just fine. But if the person seems very unhappy about something serious, a private message is the way to go. Many businesses forget you have these two options, but knowing this can really work in your favor!

If you hover just under the reviewer’s name, there will be a link that pops up with “send message,” which is how you’ll respond privately.

Does Yelp filter reviews? Yelp does still filter reviews to make sure that fake reviews aren’t being posted. This has caused a lot of controversy in the past, much of which is still going on today because people think it filters good reviews. I actually spoke with Yelp’s Manager of Local Business Outreach, Morgan Remmers, and she explained that the filter system establishes an objective standard against which every review can be measured:

“The software looks at a wide range of data associated with every review, and the rules are the same for every business and every review, advertisers and non-advertisers alike […]. Even though it inevitably affects legitimate reviews from time-to-time and misses some fake ones, it helps protect the integrity of the site both for consumers and business owners alike.”

Do you have any tips for handling your business account on Yelp? Any personal stories of what worked or what didn’t work for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: socialmediamanagement.net

Author bio:

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, a nationally recognized SEO agency that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO firm HigherVisibility.com that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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