If you’re a location-based small business and are looking to boost your local visibility in this new year, one thing is certain: you should pay attention to your Yelp profile. Yelp gets overlooked in too many discussions of social media marketing, but the website was one of the first to capitalize on the online community’s endless capacity for good recommendations.
Just how many people use Yelp? Yelp gets 78 million visits per month. Over a quarter of Yelp users are between 18-25 years of age, which means that the site skews quite a bit younger than other social media sites. That means you can capture a younger audience and turn them into regulars.
Here are some more Yelp facts you should pay some serious attention to:
- 85% of people surveyed said that they use the Internet to find local businesses to frequent.
- The majority of this group uses online reviews to make spending decisions. 27% read reviews regularly, and 49% read them at least occasionally.
- The majority of review readers (65%) read between 2 and 10 reviews before moving on.
- 72% of site users said they give the same weight to online reviews as they do to personal recommendations from a friend.
- You might think that if you’re not a restaurant, you don’t have to worry about Yelp, but this is wrong. Shopping and retail establishments now outnumber dining establishments on Yelp.
- If you’re concerned about your search rankings: Yelp will usually show up as one of the first search results, giving you a chance to beat out sites with much heavier web traffic.
- Yelp’s spam filtering is one of the best in the business, which keeps the quality of reviews high.
So what can you do to take advantage of Yelp for your small business?
- Claim your Yelp page. If you haven’t done this already, this is a no brainer and very simple to do. Simply fill out the appropriate information, including your address (so you can get the benefits of the local search) and your website (for SEO purposes and for pure customer convenience).
- Make sure your establishment is categorized appropriately. Many times, clients search Google for generic terms, like “chicago spas”. Having your business categorized appropriately will help it come up in the local results.
- Encourage customers to review you on Yelp. Technically, Yelp does not advise doing this, but as long as you’re not coercing positive reviews, but merely reviews, you’re not doing anything wrong. Businesses with high numbers of positive reviews come up higher on Yelp results, and in Google search results.
- Keep tabs on your Yelp page to make sure no damaging reviews are being posted. If you believe someone is being unfair in their review, you can respond (also called “dispute”) the review and defend your business. Having this kind of voice can be empowering, but be careful. You don’t want to stir up controversy and bring even more attention to the negative review. On the other hand, if the review is out of line, completely unhelpful, or looks like competitor spam, you can report it to Yelp and it will likely get taken down.
- It’s also a good idea to keep track of your positive reviews, and engage with them on social media. For example, you can thank the person while drawing attention to the positive aspects of the review, thus showing other customers favorable aspects of your business.
It’s funny that we’ve gotten this technological, but local presence in 2014 will be managed through a computer screen. Small businesses need to cover their bases, and in terms of local search, Yelp is definitely first base.