Yelp For Small Businesses: The Top 10 Do's & Don'ts

It’s no secret that Yelp is still one of the most popular rating and review sites/apps. But if you’re a small business owner who hasn’t taken a much time to “deal with” establishing or maintaining a presence on Yelp, you’re not alone.

The site is tricky enough to figure out all on its own -- not to mention, there’s hardly any information out there about what you can do to improve your presence on the site.

Still, millions of people use the site each and every day to search for small businesses and service providers they can trust. And since I help busy business owners establish and maintain successful Yelp pages each and every day, I know that dedicating even a little bit of time to your presence on the site have a big impact.

That’s why in this post I’m sharing my top 10 Yelp do’s and don’ts. This fluff-free guide is all you need to start using Yelp’s platform to stand out from your competition and grow your business.

  • Do: Activate your Yelp page

I’m always surprised by how many small business owners aren’t even aware of their presence on the site. I talk more about navigating the basics here.

  • Do: Fill out all the information on your Yelp page

On your business page, there’s a lot of basic information that should be filled out. Everything including your address, phone number, website and hours need to be up to date and available for people searching the site.

  • Do: Add photos to your Yelp page

It’s important to add a few different photos for a few different reasons. The types of photos you should add will vary depending on your business, but generally you’ll want to include an exterior photo so people know when they’ve arrived at the right location, an interior photo so people know what type of experience to expect, and a photo of happy employees and/or customers.

  • Do: Ask happy customers for reviews

Whenever a happy customer expresses their satisfaction with anything related to your business, it’s always ok to ask them to leave a positive review. After all, the worst thing they could do is say no.

  • Do: Follow up via email with customers who review your business on Yelp

If you can, verbally ask customers to review your business on Yelp. Later, check to see if they’ve left a review and send them a Thank You email.

  • Don’t: Ask customers to write reviews while they’re at your place of business

Yelp tracks the origin of each review to make sure it's authentic. They do this so that it’s more difficult for dishonest businesses to write a bunch of false reviews under different accounts. A “side effect” of this precaution is that Yelp will tend to flag even legitimate reviews if people leave them on their mobile devices while they’re at your location.

  • Don’t: Offer incentives for positive reviews

This is a violation of Yelp’s Terms of Service and could cause you to be banned from the site.

  • Don’t: Get defensive in response to negative reviews

I know it’s tempting, but don’t delete them either. Even responding or deleting totally awful or false reviews will only add fuel to the fire. Respond to all reviews, and thank people for their feedback. In the end, this is how you win on Yelp.

  • Do: Feature Yelp on your website and other marketing material

The more people know that you’re active on Yelp, the more likely you are to get good reviews on the site,

  • Do: Cross-promote your Yelp page on social media sites

Businesses can share Yelp reviews on their other social media sites. Sharing the occasional screenshot of positive Yelp reviews on Facebook or Instagram is an easy way to show that you get love and support from your customers.

Become an actively engaged business on Yelp and start using this popular review platform to set you apart from your competitors.

Need help with Yelp? Let me show you how valuable it can be for your business

Facebook, Yelp, Google, Oh My! Where (And How) To Get Rave Reviews From Customers

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that online reviews now have the power to impact your business in a big way.

Another simple fact we can all understand: the better your customer experience, the more positive reviews your business is likely to get.

For most business owners, the challenging part is knowing where and how to invest your limited time and energy, from a marketing standpoint, to make the most of online customer reviews.

Good news: this is the “bread and butter” of what I do as a marketing consultant for local businesses. So in this post, I’m going to break down the best approach to getting and using online customer reviews in a way that drives real results in your business.

Where To Get Reviews

The short answer is that your business should be getting reviews on the top three review platforms: Facebook, Google and Yelp.

But the first step to simplifying things is understanding why each platform matters. After this, you’ll be able to decide which one is most likely to have the biggest impact on your bottom line. Then you can prioritize that platform and focus your time and energy on optimizing reviews there.

Review Platforms and Strategies

Facebook

Facebook is the place to be if your business tends to get a lot of customers through word-of-mouth. People sharing posts and leaving reviews on Facebook is “word-of-mouth” in the online world.

When someone connects with your company on Facebook (whether to leave you a review, like your page, share your posts, etc.), they’re often letting friends and family know how they feel about your business automatically. This is because that activity usually appears in their timeline when someone clicks their profile.

There’s a good chance your business benefits from having more people know, like and trust you. (For service providers such as plumbers, roofers, landscapers, etc., this is almost always the case.) And for that reason, Facebook is a good place for a lot of business owners focus.

The top 3 things to know about Facebook as a review platform:

  1. It’s free. You don’t have to pay to have a page on the site.

  2. You can increase awareness and attract more people to your page by running ads or boosting posts.

  3. Reviews on Facebook are fairly easy to monitor since anonymous reviews are rare here. Being able to see the person who left a review makes it easier to respond with respect and authenticity, even if you’re responding to neutral comments or negativity.

Google

If your business is in a highly competitive market or located area that attracts a lot of visitors/vacationers, Google is a great place for you to focus.

Since reviews show up in search results, people will have a better chance of discovering your business for the first time on Google if you’ve got a solid presence on the site. More reviews mean more visibility, which increases the opportunity for potential new customers to stumble upon you in their search results.

The top 3 things to know about Google as a review platform:

  1. It’s free. You don’t have to pay for a Google+ page or to list your business on the site.

  2. Google’s ad platform can be expensive, so stick with the basics (like having an active Google+ page and a significant number of reviews) to increase organic visibility.

  3. If you really want to take things to the next level, you could start a blog on your website. Writing a helpful weekly blog post won’t take a ton of time (try answering FAQs), and blog posts + comments also increase your visibility in search results.

Yelp

Oh Yelp. How you continue to be a consumer favorite for reviews, while complete confusing small business owners…

By now you probably know how popular Yelp is, across the board, among consumers. And if you’re like most business owners, you still feel like you’re in the dark about how to get an ROI from the review site.

Since Yelp is the number one place my clients need help, I think it’ll make more sense if I dive right into…

The top 3 things to know about Yelp as a review platform:

  1. Free + option to pay for “Premium Service”. It’s completely free for businesses to be on Yelp. It’s also 100% free for customers to leave reviews. However, Yelp notoriously tries to persuade business owners to “pay-to-play” with their “Premium Service”. But honestly, I’ve never seen someone get a notable return from investing in Yelp’s paid service, so I don’t recommend it.

  2. You should be aware of your presence on the site. And many business owners don’t know they’re on Yelp at all, because businesses are often added without being notified. Search for your business, “claim” your page and update your profile so it’s professional and informative.

  3. Manage your presence on Yelp and maintain a “customer-centric” attitude here. Since people are using Yelp 24/7 for the purpose of researching and leaving reviews, it’s important to check your Yelp profile on a frequent basis. If your potential customers are likely to research reviews before doing business with you, the fastest way for you to see results from your time and effort on the site is to respond to every review. Even if someone leaves a really bad review, responding with a simple, “thank you for the feedback,” will show that you respect your customers and have nothing to hide.

Did this post helped you get clear on which review platform you should prioritize? Let me know if you’ll be focused on Facebook, Google or Yelp and share why in the comments below.

Case Study: The Atlanta Taco Festival & How Not to Handle Social Media

If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE tacos. To me, there are only three food groups: tacos, pizza and Chinese food. So when someone messes with my love of tacos, I’ve got to call it out.

The wonderful and diverse city of Atlanta got to experience its first taco festival on May 1st. Why it took this long for a taco festival is beyond me, but I digress. This festival was advertised everywhere. The organizers got radio ads, Facebook ads and put flyers on pretty much every single telephone pole in the entire city and metro area. This event was going to be awesome sauce. Or so it was advertised.

The day finally came and the crowds descended upon Candler Park (the location of the festival). Thousands of hungry Atlantans came to feast on the gloriousness of tacos and beer. Some had ordered tickets ahead of time and received them in the mail, others picked them up Will Call and others had to redeem their Groupon/Living Social deal.

The event was touted to be a cashless/cardless festival, meaning people would receive a special wristband with an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip that came with some preloaded “points” and you were able to load more money onto it. The idea itself is great. You don’t have to carry cash, just scan your wristband. And it makes it super convenient to not overspend. And the festival would have been amazing, if their RFID technology didn’t fail.

You see, the Atlanta-area has been experiencing a lot of spring showers lately. These rain storms come and go all the time. Some last for 10 minutes, others for more than an hour. The weather decided to make an appearance that day and douse everyone with lotsa rain. LOTS. The park turned into a mud pit and the RFID technology failed.

So now thousands of people are standing in line waiting to get their wristbands, but they can’t get activated because the RFID scanners are failing. Also, the people standing in line to receive tacos or beer can’t get anything, because the RFID scanners that the vendors used were also failing. It was a giant mess, literally.

And the citizens of Atlanta let the event organizers know.

I tuned into the social media mess around 4 p.m. that day. Word was getting around that the festival was a total flop. It seemed like the event organizers had turned a blind eye to their social media. As if that isn’t bad enough, comments were being deleted. Turns out that deleting all the negative comments backfired, horribly. Memes were made. Photoshopped images of the event were posted. A hashtag was created. Hell hath no fury like the taco-loving people of Atlanta.

  • Then the organizers deleted the Facebook event.

  • Then they ended up deleting the main Atlanta Taco Festival Facebook page.

  • AND THEN they started deleting negative comments on their Instagram account and blocking those users.

I mean, seriously? The festival was bad enough and now all these complaints are falling on deaf ears. The event organizers totally dropped the ball on this. And now, there’s a dedicated Facebook group full of people who attended the festival and are disputing the company for a refund.

Here’s how to prevent a social media SNAFU from happening.

  1. Hire a dedicated person to handle all social media.
  2. Train this person on proper customer service for the event. Give them a script if needed.
  3. Have a crisis communication plan prepared just in case.
  4. Put a policy in place to never delete negative comments.
  5. If needed, give a statement that addresses all the complaints and concerns.
  6. Respectfully reply to ALL the comments.

Repeat steps 5-6 repeatedly.

Now excuse me while I daydream about my love of tacos.