Yelp For Business: Ultimate Guide to Leveraging Yelp For Your Company

Ann FeisterJuly 19th, 2020
Listen to this article

If your company isn’t using a Yelp business account, then you’re not capitalizing on one of the most widely used platforms for promoting your company and generating new business. 

Some business owners think of Yelp as simply a restaurant review site. While the platform is known for its sometimes snarky and over the top reviews of restaurants and other businesses, Yelp has more to offer than a soapbox for angry customers to address the displeasure they experienced over a botched Caesar salad. 

Yelp business reviews can so dramatically impact your business’ ability to grow and thrive, that they should be an area of your company’s marketing and advertising efforts that you closely monitor. 

It may sound like an exaggeration, but one survey found that 93% of consumers check a review site before purchasing a product or service. A whopping 85% of people trust review sites as much as recommendations from family or friends. 

With that many potential customers scanning review sites and homing in on the reviews that are less flattering to your brand, you'll need to remain vigilant while monitoring your brand's page for negative comments.

In addition to monitoring your page, you’ll want to know how to add a business to Yelp, how to manage your Yelp business page, how to set up Yelp check-in offers, and how to navigate all of the other features that could benefit your bottom line

Yelp business owners might be tempted to set up a business listing and call it a day. 

Unfortunately, an unsupervised Yelp page can be the equivalent of putting out a negative advertisement for your own company. If your page is overrun by negative comments and reviews, that’s not going to bode well for bringing in new customers who see that your existing customers aren’t satisfied. 

Follow this Yelp Business Owner Guide to avoid the pitfalls of negative reviews, lost business opportunities, and a tarnished online reputation. Here are our top tips for how to get your business on Yelp and how to thrive once you’re up and running. 

Yelp For Businesses: How Does Yelp Work?

If you’re new to the business review platform and are wondering how a Yelp business listing can help you grow your company and client base, these useful Yelp tips will get you pointed in the right direction. 

Yelp is a review site platform that lets users post reviews about their transactions with local businesses. While there has been some backlash from business owners who are plagued by negative or even fake reviews, the site is still a consumer go-to for recommendations. 

Many businesses that are involved in public controversies find themselves targeted on Yelp with negative reviews. These kinds of collaborative efforts by riled online groups are a growing trend because of the weight Yelp reviews for businesses carry with consumers. 

That being said, all 5-star reviews can have the polar opposite effect for Yelp business owners who are racking in positive feedback from happy clients. 

When a business has many ratings that are 4 and 5 stars and glowing reviews from their customers, it serves as an indicator to potential clients that this business has high standards and can be trusted to get the job done. 

Your Yelp business profile is going to provide many of your potential customers with their first impression of your company. 

Yelp Business Account Setup: How To Claim A Business On Yelp

Your Yelp business listing is how potential clients find your business on the Yelp website and mobile app. 

The first thing that users will see is your Yelp business profile, so making sure that it’s representative of the quality goods and services you provide is of the utmost importance. 

Add/Create A Business Account On Yelp

If you’re wondering, “How can I add my business to Yelp?” Ponder no more, adding a business to Yelp is a fairly fast and easy process. An initial search will let you know if a page already exists for your business or if you will need to start from scratch. 

If you don’t find your business listed, it’s time to build out a new Yelp business page

Just enter the general information about your Yelp for business page to get started. 

After filling out the basics, new Yelp business owners will likely get some offers that are exclusive to their area or business that can help kickstart a Yelp ad campaign. 

A $300 advertising credit and 50 percent off are the offers displayed at the time of this article’s writing. 

Once your Yelp business page is created, you’ll gain access to insights about who has been visiting your page, whether they accessed your page from a mobile device or desktop, how many times your business appeared in Yelp search results, and you’ll also be able to advertise on Yelp

You’ll need to allow a few days for data tracking to generate and for your page to be verified before these stats are available to view. 

How To Claim A Business On Yelp

If your business is already receiving reviews and has some information listed on Yelp, this option is for you. There are many unclaimed business pages in the Yelp-o-sphere, yours shouldn’t be one of them. 

To claim your page, go to the Yelp business pages for the step-by-step guide on how to claim a business on Yelp. 

You’ll be prompted to search for your business and can update details such as address, hours of operation, contact info, and more once you verify ownership. 

When you claim your page you’re able to interact with reviewers through the public comments section or in private messages. This is a great way to combat negative reviews. 

Starting a dialogue with an upset customer and rectifying their complaints in plain view for others to see can go a long way in creating trust with users who are visiting your Yelp business page. 

Yelp Business Reviews

Yelp business reviews can serve as both helpful and harmful if a company isn’t monitoring their page for content. Yelp business support offers an online booklet with guidance on how to effectively manage your reviews and showcase your business online. 

How To Remove Bad Yelp Reviews

Once you have ownership of your page, connecting with customers to repair a negative experience can also have a positive effect on your star rating. If you’re able to sway a customer to update a previous negative rating, the updated rating will be displayed alongside the old review. Reviewers are often privy to change a negative review to positive when their complaints are taken seriously and addressed in a satisfactory manner. 

Studies have shown that people recall negative experiences more strongly than they do positive experiences. Yikes! So mending the broken relationships with former customers might be an area to focus on if you’re trying to elevate your brand image. 

This approach to removing negative Yelp reviews is dependent upon whether or not a customer is willing to change their review once you address their previous concerns. It may be tempting to ask for an updated review, but it’s against Yelp policy to solicit reviews

It’s a tightrope balancing act to appease an upset former customer and then request an update to their review. Remain tactful, do your best to remedy their complaint, and bear in mind that some people can’t be pleased. 

Having a public forum and open discussion about what went wrong, how you addressed it, and the outcome is the best way to show future potential customers how dedicated you are to providing quality service. 

According to Yelp, businesses that respond to low reviews experience a 10 percent upgrade in their average star rating. 

People who leave 1-star reviews are likely feeling some elevated emotions at the time of their response, and readers will typically take any outlandish claims with a grain of salt if the reviewer seems to be unreasonable in the face of a sincere effort to fix the problem. 

So don’t lose too much sleep over an exceptionally scathing review. If you’ve done all you could to remedy the complaint and the online interaction reflects your concern over the matter, best to just move on to the next customer and make sure they receive your 5-star service. 

False and Defamatory Yelp Reviews

With these kinds of Yelp business reviews, you can attempt to have Yelp remove them for you. If you encounter a review on your site that you believe is fake, you can contact Yelp and request that it be removed. 

If reporting defamatory content to Yelp for business reviews, the content in question must be a clear violation of the platform’s user guidelines. 

Buying Fake Reviews on Yelp

This is a bad idea. 

One struggling burger chain found themselves in hot water recently when they were caught attempting to purchase fake positive reviews on Yelp in exchange for cash or gift cards

This plan backfired for the burger chain and they were smacked with a consumer alert on their Yelp page, according to reports. 

These paid reviews stand out because the accounts typically only have a few (if any) previous reviews and they tend to offer no specific information on the customer’s experience. 

Some telltale signs of a fake review are reviews that have vague general statements, celebrity photos as profile pictures, an overwhelming number of reviews, or just a couple of recent reviews.  

It’s said that there’s no such thing as bad press, but getting caught red handed trying to buy positive customer reviews might be the caveat to this old adage. 

Can I Ask for Yelp Reviews from Customers?

Yelp states that businesses aren’t supposed to ask for reviews from customers. Soliciting reviews could result in a consumer alert being posted on your Yelp page. This lets customers know you’ve been flagged for violations of Yelp policy. 

You can however remind happy clients that you’re listed on Yelp, set up a check-in offer (if available for your industry), put a link/badge to Yelp on your website, and engage with clients who have already left you a review on the site. 

The best way to receive positive Yelp reviews is to provide customers with exceptional service

How Much Does Yelp for Business Owners Cost?

A Yelp business page is more or less a requirement for all businesses anymore. The influential platform has a firm foothold in the consumer review marketplace, and to shun Yelp could potentially be detrimental to your business. 

But are the costs worth it for a Yelp business owner’s account? 

That answer is all dependent upon your cost per acquisition goals and what you’d consider a good return on your investment. 

If each lead is costing you $350 and your average transaction is only $100, unless that’s a recurring transaction that will pay off over the lifespan of the customer relationship, you may want to consider alternatives to a paid Yelp business account.

The Breakdown: How Much Does Yelp Cost?

Great question! Yelp customer support doesn’t give you much in the form of pricing until you’re on the phone with an actual sales representative. The costs reflected below are an estimated range and will vary based upon area, industry, bundled pricing, and other factors. 

Pricing options are determined by a number of variables, and packages are customizable. This allows you to set your own budget and create your own personalized marketing plan within Yelp’s platform. 

How to Advertise on Yelp

The advertising options available for businesses on Yelp are similar to those available on other platforms, such as Google Adwords or Facebook

Targeted ads are available on a CPC (cost per click) model or CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions). Yelp business owners are able to select a radius that they’d like their ads to be served in and the messaging in the ads. 

Business owners can also choose to feature a positive review from a real client and a photo for their ad when they advertise on Yelp.

To set up an ad for your business on Yelp, follow these steps after setting up or claiming your account:

  1. Click the Customize Ad button on the desktop version of your Yelp for business Ads dashboard

  2. Pick a review and photo or let Yelp pick a profile photo for you

  3. Set a distance and/or write custom text for your ad

How to Optimize Your Yelp Business Listing

In order to be found quickly and easily when potential clients are searching for your business or services, you’ll want to optimize your Yelp business account. Here are the best ways to optimize Yelp for your business. 

  1. Fill out all of your profile information.  This helps to rank you above competitors who haven’t filled out their full profile yet.

  2. Add photos to your page. This makes your site more visually appealing and highlights completed work.

  3. Engage with reviewers.  The Yelp community is keen on engagement, so responding to positive and negative reviews is helpful.

  4. Optimize keywords for SEO purposes. Think of the words your customers will use when searching for your business and incorporate those into your profile when appropriate. Don’t stuff in a glob of words with no purpose or context though. Keyword stuffing will lower your ranking, so tread lightly. 

  5. Choose categories mindfully. Don’t put yourself into a restaurant category if you’re an HVAC company, it might seem like the more categories you can cover the better, but again, this category stuffing will backfire and could potentially lower your ranking on the site. 

  6. Stay updated. Keep your Yelp business page up to date with your correct hours of operation, phone number, and other contact info.

Yelp Check-In Offers

Yelp check-in offers are industry-specific and provide a way to entice customers to let their friends and followers know that they’re using your business or service. These offers give users a special deal when they check in on their mobile app. 

Offers are only available to certain industries and typically are used by restaurants and brick and mortar establishments such as retailers. 

FAQ: Your Miscellaneous Yelp Questions Answered

Not all Yelp questions fit into a broader category. Some are random and therefore stand alone. 

Here are some common questions business owners have when building out a Yelp business page. 

Yelp Elite Members

What is a Yelp Elite Member? These are members of the Yelp community of writers, photographers, and adventure enthusiasts Yelp has identified as leaders on the platform. 

These elite members are issued a special badge that appears on their profile and is upgraded to gold after 5 years as an elite member and black after 10 years. 

Elite members are considered extra influential in the online community, and many people on the platform follow their reviews and check-ins. The Yelp Elite Squad (the name of the collective group of elite members) is somewhat of an incentive program for Yelp influencers. 

Yelp elite benefits include exclusive events and experiences. The path to elite-worthiness (as Yelp calls it) requires that members go the extra mile with their reviews, photos, and adventures. These members must apply to be granted elite status. 

How to Get Badges on Yelp 

Badges are given to Yelp business owners in certain regions and industries to let users know that Yelp has vetted those businesses and confirmed that they are licensed in their field. These badges are specific to trade licenses only. Business licenses and non-trade licenses are excluded from the badge program. 

You’ll be able to click on the Verified Badges link from the dropdown menu if your industry and area are eligible for badges. 

Yelp states that it can take up to 5 business days for them to verify a trade license. Badges are estimated to cost $1 per day with a paid Yelp business account. 

How to Delete a Yelp Account

This is tricky unless your business has closed. Even if a company is no longer operating, their reviews can still be seen on the site in many cases. Typically a closed business will still appear on Yelp to let users know that the business is no longer open. 

Yelp attests that it’s a consumer’s legal right to be able to access reviews about businesses. So even if you want to fly under the radar and not be listed on the site, customers can still post reviews about your business. This is how unclaimed pages are started (when users post about a business that doesn’t have a Yelp page yet). 

Is Yelp Worth it for Small Businesses?

Using Yelp for business reviews of your company can be both a boon to a small business and at times a thorn in the side of a burgeoning company. 

Deciding whether a Yelp business account is right for you depends on your industry, cost/conversion model, and expected lifetime of your customer relationship. 

Tracking your monthly leads before setting up a Yelp account to confirm an increase in conversions can be a helpful tool in assessing actual vs. perceived value of the review site. 

Negative Reviews of Yelp

According to Yelp reviewers are not more likely to leave a review when dissatisfied

Yelp has noted that most reviews are positive on their site. Even though Yelp isn't listed on their own site for consumers to leave a review, on other similar sites Yelp has some less than flattering feedback from previous customers. 

Most of these complaints centered around lax customer service, while others felt that the service wasn’t worth the value.

Favorable Yelp Business Reviews

For their part, Yelp has many positive reviews of their services posted on their site claiming that users are quite satisfied. Yelp states that “the average advertiser sees a 168 percent monthly lift in customer leads after advertising with Yelp for 12 months.”

The methodology used to determine if there is an increase in leads is based upon the month prior to advertising with the12th month of the Yelp advertising campaign. Yelp uses calls and directions mapped to a business, clicks to the business website, user photo uploads, check-ins, and other unspecified criteria to classify leads from their platform

How to Decide If Yelp is Right for Your Business

Analytics and revenue. 

There is no better way to track if something is working for your small business than through revenue and raw data. 

Comparing yearly, seasonal, and monthly trends within your own business/industry before and during your Yelp advertising campaign will give more insight into whether your ad spend is going to the right platform. 

Yelp provides access to some data through the Yelp business account dashboard. You should also refer to your own Google Analytics account to track metrics that are important to you that might not be included in the basic Yelp analytics dashboard. 

Some businesses thrive on Yelp while others wither on the vine. As with the pricing of the review site, a company’s success on the Yelp platform is dependent upon location, industry, and a business’ anticipated cost per acquisition. 

To determine if the platform’s paid advertising is beneficial to your business model, it might take some tweaking to find the right formula of ad spend, targeting, and ad content to reach your goals. 

With any new advertising campaign or platform, there is typically a learning curve. If you don’t see the results you’re looking for, consider running A/B testing with your advertising messaging, targeting options, and ad spend. 

Whether you use A/B testing, revenue tracking, or rely solely upon Yelp’s dashboard to decide if a paid account is right for you, there are many ways to track your progress.

Above all else, make sure that your clients can say that 5 stars isn’t enough for the stellar service and customer care that you provide. 

That’s the best way to keep your business growing, paid ads or not.

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help home service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

Learn More
Product IllustrationProduct Illustration

Related post

Pantheon 2020: Live Coverage

Live coverage of Pantheon 2020, ServiceTitan's annual conference for contractors — including recaps, links and resources for contractors and business owners from the trades. Pantheon 2020 is virtual and includes dozens of sessions with leading industry experts.

Pantheon 2020: Pro Tips for Closing Out Your Monthly Books in ServiceTitan

Svamal De Fonseka, Revenue Accounting Manager at Michael and Son Services in Alexandria, Va., provided tips and tricks for more effectively validating a service company’s financials in a virtual session during Pantheon 2020, ServiceTitan’s annual conference for the trades.

Pantheon 2020: How Women In the Trades Are Building Community

The women in the trades networking session for ServiceTitan’s Pantheon 2020 annual conference focused on the issues that women in the trades face today.