So you have an advertising budget just waiting to be spent. You’re getting contacted by Google, Yelp, Angie’s List and Yellow Pages. Which do you choose? Yelp seems logical, as many Millennials use the site religiously to choose where to dine, shop and do business. According to Yelp, advertising on their site will reach 142 million unique visitors a day. That’s a lot of traffic.
How do you advertise on Yelp?
National or regional businesses can advertise on Yelp through several channels, including Yelp Ads, Cost Per Click Advertising, Yelp Deals, gift certificates and professional videos.
The advertising is not focused around keyword searches, but categories or verticals assigned to a business by Yelp. Ads appear at the top of listings with a small box indicating that the listing is an advertisement as well as on competitors’ pages (competitor ads won’t show up on your Yelp page). Ads can include a call to action button that can lead to specials, a menu, making an appointment or your website.
Business owners can see metrics like how many customers clicked, called, visited a business pages or website and requested directions. As you can see in the screenshot below, sometimes multiple ads can be displayed on the same page, but Yelp “offers programs” to remove these listings (i.e., you pay more to be the only one on the page).
Do advertisers benefit from advertising on Yelp by having negative reviews hidden? Yelp vehemently denies they do any sort of manipulation in the reviews, but a San Francisco court ruled in 2014 that Yelp has the right to do it. According to the lawsuit, when businesses stopped advertising, good reviews suddenly disappeared. Yelp claims this is not true, of course.
Yelp Deals and Gift Certificates
Attempting to get in on that Groupon money, Yelp offers “deals” and gift certificates directly through the site. Deals are vouchers that offer a discount to customers if they buy the voucher. After Yelp takes a 30% cut (10% for gift certificates), businesses collect the rest. In comparison, Groupon takes 50% of the deals they offer. Businesses can easily set up or remove deals or gift certificates at any time through the business management page.
Who benefits from it?
According to Yelp, a typical ad campaign can cost $4,200 a year, with businesses generating more than $23,000 a year from Yelp (according to a study that Yelp commissioned). SproutSocial found the top-searched businesses on Yelp are restaurants (78%), beauty and spa (65%), food (63%), nightlife (60%) and home/local services (57%). The bottom three businesses were financial services (25%), real estate (30%) and health and medicine (32%).
But it’s not so much an industry that benefits from a Yelp ad as it is how a business uses Yelp. A business owner who actively manages a Yelp page, maintains it, has a lot of positive reviews and regularly engages with both positive and negative reviewers, is likely to be successful in using advertising. This could also be the result of having a good page in general, not specifically the advertising.
Is it for your business?
If you do any research online you will easily find bad experiences with Yelp advertising. Most small businesses find advertising with Yelp to be too expensive – Yelp’s standard ad package starts around $300 a month for 1,500 impressions, $500 a month for 4,000 impressions and $1,000 for 10,000 impressions. On top of that, Yelp requires contracts with a large penalty for canceling. And while Yelp had a long run of appearing at the top of SERPs, Google’s algorithm updates have been pushing Google+ pages to the top, decreasing Yelp’s traffic. Additionally, businesses don’t have much control over where and when ads display. Do these sound like good terms to you? Check out your marketing budget and do the math. How much would you be spending on Yelp versus other platforms? It may be best to see how much traffic you get from Yelp organically before you choose to invest money in their advertising.