Looking for a watch repair shop, someone to check in on your cats while you are on vacation, or a great pizza place nearby? Where do you look? Well more than 100 million people, me included, are turning to Yelp every month.

The key to Yelp is its geo-focus. All search results are delivered based on a location. Craving Korean barbecue? Yelp will give you a map view or list of restaurants near you which serve that tasty dish. You can choose a destination based on the proximity to your current location, or take into consideration the ratings and reviews of others.

Examples of Yelp map and list screen

Examples of Yelp map and list screen

At the push of a button you can call, map the your route to the destination or read reviews to decide which location makes the most sense for you. And it isn’t just restaurants which are benefiting from this service:

  • An HVAC company we are working with has seen Yelp grow to become their #2 traffic source, ahead of their newsletters and Facebook page. It also delvers three times as much traffic as Angie’s List.
  • A veterinarian has reported Yelp ads outperform Google by a margin of two to one.

Whether you like or not, there is a conversation about service providers happening online. It will  happen with or without you. So if you have a geographically focused business, you need to be paying attention to your Yelp profile. Fortunately, it isn’t very hard or time consuming. Just a few simple steps and a little attention each month can make a huge difference:

Create an account. You can sign up with Facebook or your email. There is no charge to having an account.

Find your business listing. Yelp populates its directory from listings on the web. If you have a web page, you probably are already be listed on Yelp. Find the page and follow the directions to claim the listing.

Review your profile. Be sure your phone number and address are correct. Remember that whatever you share will probably be viewed from a mobile device. Be brief, with a link to your website for more information.

Select a strong, eye-catching graphic for your avatar. It should be something which will stand out on a listing page, like the example above.

Get legitimate reviews. Most of the small business owners I talk to tell me their business is a word of mouth business. Well, Yelp reviews are word of mouth on steroids. Make it a habit to send the link to your review page to every customer. Your goal should be 2 – 4 new reviews each month. Don’t try to game the system by writing your own review; Yelp has instituted an aggressive filter program to prevent fraudulent postings, screening out overly glowing 5 star reviews. If you are delivering good service, the reviews will come.

Address bad reviews. Sometimes, a customer is unhappy. In the 21st century, they have lots of places to tell you about it. Treat the negative comments as a way to demonstrate your customer service skills. You don’t have to solve the problem online, but reach out, tell them you’re sorry, and invite them to call you to talk about it. Simply show customers and potential customers that you care.

Consider advertising. As with Google, advertising opportunities are available. The listings are clearly differentiated by the their color on the listing page. Should you advertise? If you have many competitors close by, this will help you move to the top of the page. If you are fairly isolated, you will be the number one listing anyway. Also, before you start paying for ads, be sure you have a complete profile and a good reviews. Paying to be at the top of the list without good reviews won’t drive a lot of traffic your way.

Yelp is part of an integrated social program. If you need help getting started, give us a call