In this article, we will look at the real-world issues related to Yelp reviews, their value to your business, and specific steps you can take to “hack” their system to the benefit of your small business. Yelp reviews for your business are one of the most effective ways to drive more business to you.
Yelp Reviews for your Business, The Backstory
As a digital marketing agency, we are constantly asked about the importance of online reviews (among other things). We have been hired by dozens of companies to help improve their online reviews and to help them make more money online. During this time, my team has created hundreds of “fake accounts” on Yelp and nearly every other online platform you can imagine – running countless tests in an effort to uncover tricks we can use to our clients advantage and to increase our understanding of these services.
Do Online Reviews Matter?
No, seriously … online reviews are important. Here are just a few stats that should help you understand just how important online reviews can be:
- 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
- 40% of consumers state that they form an opinion of a company or product simply by reading just one to three reviews.
- Star rating is the #1 factor used by online consumers to judge a business. Let me repeat that … the #1 factor!
- 68% of consumers say positive reviews make them TRUST a local business more.
- 58% of consumers have chosen NOT to buy a product or service because of bad reviews they read online.
Yelp claims over 100 million users. 72% of consumers say they trust Yelp reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. Wow. That’s a lot of power over consumers. Yelp was founded in 2004 and gets approx. 145 million unique visitors per month (99% of that traffic is from the U.S.). This makes Yelp the oldest, largest, and most trusted online business review site in the United States.
How Yelp Works
Yelp automatically sets up profiles for nearly every business in the U.S. This is done without the business owner’s knowledge or permission. Burying your head in the sand like an ostrich doesn’t change the fact that your business probably has a Yelp profile. Business owners can “claim” their business profile on Yelp through a fairly easy process. From there you can then fill out your profile with updated, detailed information, photos, etc. This allows you to present your business in a more complete fashion. It also allows you to stay informed when someone reviews your business online and makes it possible for you to respond to the reviews (which is very important).
Individual users / consumers can set up personal accounts and are free to review businesses as they see fit. Some users are very active. In fact, Yelp users are some of the most loyal and dedicated social users “out there”.
So What’s the Problem?
People suck. Sometimes people give bad reviews to the wrong business accidentally. Sometimes they give bad reviews for silly misunderstandings that may even be their fault. Sometimes your competitor trashes you, pretending to have been a customer of yours. There are all kinds of ways your reputation can be damaged on Yelp, and other sites like Yelp.
The best way to defend these sorts of attacks and misunderstandings is to secure a large number of positive reviews BEFORE something like this happens. Not only does this give the public greater context to see that you have an overwhelming number of great reviews with only 1 or 2 “sour apples” in the bag, but a large number of positive reviews actually discourages people from posting the negative review in the first place.
Getting Yelp Reviews Can Be a Challenge
Barrier #1: Customers Must Have a Yelp Account
In order to give a review on Yelp, you must have an account. Setting one up is easy and free. However, it is surprising how many of your customers may choose to NOT leave a review because they don’t want to go through the hassle of creating an account.
Barrier #2: The Reviews Don’t “Stick”
It is frustrating when you do finally get one of your customers to take the time to go online and give you a great review. You see it … then <bam> 2 days later it’s gone. It’s not really gone but it does stop showing in the primary list of reviews. This happens for a number of reasons but the most common reason is that the person who left you a review is not an active user. Yelp tends to not “trust” users who aren’t consistently active – so their reviews can disappear.
Barrier #3: It Is A Challenge to Outsource This Service
Most companies hire a marketing agency to help them with their online marketing. So many companies are busy doing what they do, they don’t have time to properly manage everything online. They hire someone to post blog articles, update the website, send out email blasts, and to get online reviews. Most digital agencies struggle to secure Yelp reviews and may even turn to methods which can get your business flagged as a cheater on Yelp. Then you’re REALLY in trouble.
So What’s the Answer?
In part 2 of this series, we will give you all the answers about what you can do (and how to do it) to get the most out of Yelp reviews for your business.
We will reveal some of our favorite tips and tricks as we help you Hack Yelp Reviews for your business.